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Freedom: its Meaning

Nature volume 150, pages 100101 (25 July 1942) | Download Citation



A VARIED assortment of essays make up this book. Though it is certainly useful to have these different points of view and different subjects brought together for comparison, the method has disadvantages. The essays are arranged in alphabetical order of the authors' names, an arrangement more convenient for the editor than the reader. Three of the essays (those by Bergson and Profs. J. Dewey and A. N. Whitehead) are chapters taken from published books, and it is possible that their original context suited them better. There is a serious gap in the ground covered: namely, no more than incidental references to the legal aspect of freedom. Prof. H. J. Laski could have done this very well, but he has preferred to discuss the problem of nationalism as an obstacle to freedom. If only each writer, before finally committing himself, could have read a preliminary draft of the other contributions, it would have been an improvement. For example, it would have saved Dr. V. Stefansson 'flogging a dead horse' if he had read the explanation by his fellow anthropologist, Prof. Boas, that primitive man lacks the concept of freedom. Unfortunately, this last suggestion is a counsel of perfection. Only a superhuman editor could cope with such conditions.

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