Definitions of the question terms
The word ‘duties’, in the plural, can receive a rather broad definition. We will give it here the meaning of” Obligation imposed, in a particular circumstance, by morality, the law, propriety, etc. “.
The word ‘recognize’ in this context can then be presented as:” To admit and proclaim the official status, the legal existence of”, which gives the word “duties” a legal connotation.
As for freedom, it is the very heart of the question. It will be given two meanings in the introduction, which will have to be clarified in the development of the assignment: “The power to exercise one’s will or to make choices” or “The state of a person who can act and think without constraint”.
According to the second definition, is freedom the power to act and think without constraints? In this case, duties are opposed to it, since they seem to be constraints.
But isn’t freedom rather the power to exercise one’s will and to make choices, which can only be done by establishing precise rules and principles on which to base and enlighten reason?
We raise here a question which will serve for our third part, because it would allow us to get out of the deadlocked alternative of the confrontation between freedom and duties.
Plan and development
I. Duties are a constraint that limit individual freedom
A parallel can be drawn between moral freedom and physical freedom, understood in a restricted sense.
Like a caged animal, duties (the cage) limit the animal’s ability and scope (freedoms) of action.
It can also be argued that man is not only limited in his freedom, but that he is 100% determined and that there is no room for freedom. Thus Baruch Spinoza shows that free will is only an illusion.
II. Collective freedom is nevertheless guaranteed by duties
In his Social Contract, Jean-Jacques Rousseau says nothing else: it is by giving one’s freedom that one keeps it. To lay down and recognize duties are to create a social contract, and each one giving of his freedom, finally gives it to nobody.
In this sense, Aristotle considers that the political animal that is man becomes a citizen only because he obeys and recognizes equal duties for all.
III. Freedom is founded and enlightened by constraint
Immanuel Kant situates freedom in the fact of acting in accordance with his reason and universal reason. It is in this sense not to do anything at any time, but by the duties that our conscience and especially our reason gives us to know, to do the good.
The Stoics and Baruch Spinoza find a way out of the dilemma of recognizing one’s duties in order to gain freedom in the idea that true freedom is found in the knowledge that one has of the nature of things. Now this nature of things is made of constraints and duties. Freedom is then the knowledge of necessity, and thus to recognize one’s duties.
→ Correction: Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion (1927)
→ Correction: does the plurality of cultures hinder the unity of humankind?