Overheating seminar: Freedom and nature

Sigurd Hverven

Master student, Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Arts and Ideas, University of Oslo

Sigurd Hverven (Photo: Private)


How should we think about freedom in light of the crisis in the relation between human and nature? This question is the recurring theme of Sigurd Hvervens master thesis in philosophy, “Individets frihet, i fellesskapet, på jorda” (in English: “Individual freedom, in the Community, on Earth”), delivered this spring. In this seminar, Hverven will present thoughts from his master thesis and draw lines to Thomas Hylland Eriksen’s introduction to the Overheating-project in the paper “An Overheated World”.


Today we face a fundamental problem: Human practice changes nature in ways threatening to life, also human life itself. The dominant political theory, liberalism, is confronted with itself: Its most precious thing, freedom, is threatened by the practice of human freedom. With G.W.F Hegel and Hans Jonas, Hverven shows that this paradox of liberalism is a sign of misunderstandings of freedom, nature and dependency. These misunderstandings have roots tracing back to the beginning of modern philosophy: René Descartes metaphysical dualism.


According to Hegel and Jonas freedom does not exist in atomistic individuals, cut off from the world. To them freedom does only exist in relation. Some dependence is necessary for freedom. As an alternative to the dominant, liberalistic concepts of freedom, Hverven outline a concept of “living freedom”, tying to show that moderation in relation to nature does not hurt freedom; it contributes to making it real.

Published May 29, 2015 9:43 AM - Last modified June 1, 2015 12:53 PM