2022 Series

LECTURE FIVE: “The Idea of Freedom” Presented by Kyle Gleadell


What is freedom? As the Russian-American philosopher Jacob Klein points out, it is impossible to think of freedom without thinking of chains, of compulsion (and in most cases it is easier to think chains than it is to think freedom). However, what is of importance here? How are we to understand this relation of freedom and compulsion? In this lecture, I will address three distinct yet fundamentally related concepts of freedom. The freedom of thought, the freedom of will, and political freedom. As Klein puts forward, each concept of freedom is bound by truth, the idea of the Good, and law. But how are we to think of these? As I propose here, it may help to address the history of these notions in order to confront what we take for granted today.

As the title of this series suggests, today, we find ourselves amidst a crisis where freedom itself is at stake, and yet, as the root meaning of the Greek term Krisis suggests, we now have the opportunity to question and re-think what exactly is meant by freedom.


Freedom in Crisis

A monthly philosophy lecture series in seven parts.


Currently, we live in a very uncertain time. COVID-19 has lingered for almost two years and is very much still with us today. As we grapple with the effects of COVID we also confront issues concerning freedom, health, work, science, and many other ideals. We have seen large scale government intervention, increased governmental powers, including lockdowns, and potential vaccine mandates. However, we are also faced with a wealth of disinformation, and opportunistic political and social figures. How are we to understand all this? And are we actually facing a crisis that has been brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic or is it a crisis that has been with us much longer?  

The root meaning of the Greek word krisis is not catastrophe but decision. In this sense, to think about crisis implies that we must decide what we will do about it. A decision that might lead us to consider the crisis of society, with the attendant concepts of freedom and justice in a different way. Is freedom in crisis this turning point to start re-considering what it means to live in just society? 

In this series of lectures, we hope to open up a space of dialogue in order to engage with ways of thinking of the ideal of freedom, and throughout we will discuss the possibility of seeing our shared future differently. Each lecture will last roughly 45 minutes to 1 hour and will be followed by questions and conversation. 

We invite you to join us for a night of ideas, discussion and drinks as we ask what it means to be human in our contemporary world. 

No knowledge of philosophy is required; everyone is welcome. 

Free to attend but tickets required. All refreshments and food are available for purchase from Clancy’s Fish Pub, Fremantle. 

Part One: “Who’s Calling The Shots? Infection, Reflection and Medical Freedom”

Presented by PhD candidate Charles Foster


In this lecture, I will consider how the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent protests against lockdowns and vaccinations have exposed a tension surrounding how we understand our individual freedom and responsibility to others.

On the one hand, we are faced with an epidemiological imperative for mass vaccination to address this crisis, and on the other hand, respecting the longstanding principles of medical autonomy that entail the freedom to decline advised treatment. In order to better understand the intractable nature of this current problem, I will reflect upon the challenges faced in efforts to overcome the mistrust of vaccinations through public education.

By highlighting some persistent uncertainties in medical science and the profit-driven nature of pharmacological research, I will argue that addressing this crisis will require us to move beyond the reductive call to ‘trust the science’ about COVID vaccinations.