In his 2005 essay â€œLiberating Ã¢â‚¬ËœLiberatory’ Education, or What Do We mean by Ã¢â‚¬ËœLiberty’ Anyway?â€œ, Jeffrey Ringer critiques the work of critical pedagogues in composition who do not reflect critically on their use of the concept of liberty. He writes that his â€œcentral concern […] deals with the way in which North Americans have habitualized oversimplified definitions of libertyâ€œ (774). In particular, the conceptions of liberty proposed by many of the critical pedagogues Ringer critiques implicitly equate liberty with individualism and freedom from constraints (761-762). Ringer writes that â€œliberty is not just freedom from constraintâ€œ; nor is it getting freedom at someone else’s expense (769). Instead, liberty needs to be defined as freedom to and needs to be â€œcooperative, collective, and communalâ€œ (763). Drawing from the work of political philosopher Yves Simon, Ringer believes there are three concepts central to liberty: authority, autonomy, and the common good. Authority, which should not be confused with authoritarianism, â€œacts inclusively for the benefit of othersâ€œ and â€œworks to engender (or perfect) autonomy in those over whom it has authorityâ€œ (771). Autonomy for Ringer is not freedom of choice, as it is often construed by liberal individualism, but instead â€œmeans that one wills what he or she chooses. It is just that what he or she chooses accords with just lawsâ€œ (774). Autonomy, then, is the choice of doing what is just or is right and â€œresonates with the collective aims of critical pedagogyâ€œ because its emphasis on just choices affirms egalitarian relations (775). The common good is not just a common intention, but is rather â€œan end of such a nature that it has to be intended in common and achieved through common actionâ€œ (775, qting. Simon, emphasis original). Ringer’s vision of common good is an egalitarian, democratic society, which, drawing on the work of Paulo Freire, strives to develop the full humanity of citizens through fellowship and solidarity. â€œ[T]his fellowship,â€œ for Ringer, â€œmust be characterized by dialogue, a process that would allow individuals in communities to collaboratively establish and critically reflect upon their goalsâ€œ (776). This dialogue is characterized by the virtues of a non-sentimental but committed love, humility, and faith (777). Ringer concludes by asserting that liberty â€œnecessitates Freirean praxis, the coupling of action and reflection that occur repeatedly and continuouslyâ€œ (779).
Ringer, Jeffrey M. â€œLiberating Ã¢â‚¬ËœLiberatory’ Education, or What Do We mean by Ã¢â‚¬ËœLiberty’ Anyway?â€œ JAC 25.4 (2005): 761-782.