Eva von Redecker’s philosophical essay argues for the need to rethink the concept of freedom in view of the climate crisis. Her work is a fresh and engaging thought experiment at the intersection of philosophy, natural sciences, and environmentalism.
Von Redecker argues that rather than conceiving of freedom as a mainly spatial concept – freedom to roam, to do whatever we want whenever and wherever – we should include a temporal element in its reconception. Freedom thus becomes the freedom to stay, to live in the moment, to spend time in a meaningful way, both with other human beings and in/with nature. This rethinking gives us the capacity to reduce or even reverse the impact modernisation has had on the planet over the last two hundred years.
Von Redecker’s book will appeal to readers of philosophy as well as to readers interested in manifestos and treatises on political economy, such as Simon Sharpe’s Five Times Faster: Rethinking the Science, Economics, and Diplomacy of Climate Change, Eric Holthaus’s The Future Earth, and the numerous books on degrowth that have appeared in the last few years. Rather than providing practical solutions for alleviating the climate crisis, this personal philosophical essay aims to raise questions and prompt the reader to explore new ways of thinking.
The essay is divided into three parts: wealth of time, fulfilled time, and time of abundance. The word play models the systematic shift that von Redecker advocates: from a traditional concept of freedom focusing on the individual’s right to move freely in geographical space and based on the modern, capitalist view of history as linear progression and accumulation of riches, to a concept of freedom that sees us voluntarily staying put more often, living in the moment and being part of a community. The idea of ‘freedom to stay’ prioritises the well-being of the environment and future generations ahead of our own desires to travel and accumulate wealth.
Freedom to Stay combines autobiographical elements (von Redecker’s upbringing on an eco-farm, her father’s year-long battle with cancer, her interactions with loved ones that affect her thinking) with a tour de force account of Western philosophy, economics, and the natural sciences. Von Redecker draws on a wide range of sources, from Plato via Hobbes and Hutton to contemporary feminist thinkers such as Luisa Muraro. This is a truly interdisciplinary essay that pulls together highly disparate strands of thought in an engaging and thought-provoking manner.
Rights sold: Alfabet (NL) / Previous rights (Revolution for Life) sold to: F (Payot-Rivages) | CZ (Karolinum Press) | GR (Editions Gutenberg) | KOR (Minumsa) | ARG (Ubu Ediciones).