Index: Robert LeFevre Commentary Abstracts
To begin his amazing series of 60 half-hour educational lectures on the nature of freedom, Robert LeFevre begins with a positional talk on the meaning of the actual word, Liberty.
Communication About Freedom - MP3 Audio File
Speaking in 1970, LeFevre postulates that there are two growing and opposing forces in the world, liberty and tyranny, (or libertarianism versus authoritarianism, for the faint of heart.) But before we can compare the two forces, we need to be entirely confident that we all have a shared meaning of the word 'liberty'.
To do this we need communication skills. As well as the basics of vocalization and visualization, we need to be precise with our words, says LeFevre, and go beyond mere emotion. Human beings are amazing because of this ability to be precise with words and concepts, but the art of communication is more than mere words; it is one of the basic three conditions of humanity, which includes biological need and economic necessity. Learning how to communicate well means learning how to open a two-way street between speaker and listener. The speaker should gain attention quickly, and then gain rapport by focusing intently upon the listener. We should plug in to our listener and stay plugged in. LeFevre relates a tale of the first woman in his life he met who excelled at communication, by listening with rapt attention to LeFevre, the 15 year old boy; in the rest of his life as a professional communicator, he rarely met anyone better.
To keep the reader alert and interested, the speaker must stay in a temperate zone of rapport; the speaker should avoid the frigid zone of boredom, pomposity, and irrelevance, and should also avoid the torrid zone of antagonism and aggression, from the listener's point of view.
Precision is easy with concrete words, such as table. All the speaker has to do is show the listener a table. With abstract words, such as liberty, we need to use a four-point calibration scheme to get across the meaning of a new abstract term, in terms of already known old abstract terms. What is the new term identical to? What is it different from? What is it similar to? And what is it opposite from?
For instance, hot can be identical to fiery or burning. It is different from cool. It is similar to warm. And it is opposite to cold. What of human liberty? It is identical to freedom. But what is that?
Unfortunately, there are two general polarized meanings to the abstract concept of freedom. Here LeFevre uses an aphorism from Lincoln. The world needs a good definition of the word liberty. One is the freedom to do as you please and be free with your own life and your own property; LeFevre defines this as being true liberty. The second meaning of freedom is the ability for some men to be free with the lives and property of other men; LeFevre defines this as true tyranny.
Having established this initial platform on the two opposing forces of liberty and tyranny, LeFevre is ready to begin his second lecture.
Next: Yes, You Do Have a Philosophy