Review of Clive Hamilton, The Freedom Paradox: Towards a Post-secular Ethics
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As the author of the well-received, Growth Fetish and Affluenza, Clive Hamilton deserves a respectful audience. In those books and in the earlier sections of the present volume, Hamilton details the ways in which we can be ethically corrupted by marketing and the myriad influences of consumer culture. We think we enjoy freedom because we exercise consumer choice, but we fail to evince what Hamilton calls ‘inner freedom’ because we seldom reflect on whether our desires are worthy of us. The political goals of liberalism have freed us from political oppression but failed to deliver a genuine form of happiness.
If this is familiar, it is in his prescription of a cure that Hamilton introduces an original theory. Drawing upon the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, Hamilton makes a distinction between the world as it appears to us through our perception and forms of knowledge – the phenomenal world – and the reality of which that world is an appearance – the noumenal world. When he first...