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Freedom and Authenticity

March 8, 2013

The term “freedom” is complex, subtle, and sometimes paradoxical. One way to make a bit of progress with terms like this one is to trace connections between it and other terms. For example, you might try to get a better understanding of the term “knowledge” by tracing its connections with terms such as “belief” and “truth.” Similarly, the term “freedom” has connections with a host of other terms, including “coercion,” “determinism,” and “independence.” One of the less obvious connections is with the term “authenticity.”

Picture the tragic scenes in Crouch End, north London, early this year. The patrons of Harris + Hoole, a local coffee shop, had just learned to their horror that the supermarket chain Tesco owns a 49 per cent stake in the company. Shaken caffeine-guzzlers told the Guardian that they felt “duped” and “upset” because they’d thought it was an “independent” coffee shop. A rival coffee hawker sneered that Tesco was “trying to make money” out of “artisan values” – although, presumably, so was he.  Most charmingly, the manager of the café confided that head office had instructed her to make the store feel as independent as possible. “We try to be independent,” she said. “We want to be independent. We want to have that feel.”

Here’s the whole thing at the New Statesman.

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