The Cosmology of Freedom

By Robert Cummings Neville

Subjects: Philosophy Of Religion
Paperback : 9780791427583, 385 pages, October 1995
Hardcover : 9780791427576, 385 pages, October 1995

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Table of contents

Preface to the New Edition


Part 1: Freedom and Cosmology

1. Freedom as an Intellectual Problem

The Task

The Hypothesis


Freedom and Theory

2. The Cosmological Scheme

Metaphysical Categories

Cosmological Categories


3. A General Theory of Value

The Dialectical Question of Value


Aristotelian Criticism and the Paradoxes of Participation

Experiential Evidence

Part 2: Personal Freedom

Preliminary Remarks

4. External Liberties

Internal and External


Discursive Individuals

Organisms and Persons

External Liberties

5. Intentional Action

Freedom and Free Will




6. Free Choice

Determinism and Alternatives for Choice

Possibilities and Potentialities


Determinism and Conditions of Choice



7. Freedom in Creativity

The Discernment of Values

Normative Invention

Creativity and Personal Freedom

Part 3: Social Freedom

Preliminary Remarks

8. Freedom of Opportunity

Social Values

Values, Rights, and Freedoms

Freedom to Participate in Culture

Freedom to Participate in Organized Society

Freedom of Historical Action

9. Freedom of Social Pluralism

The Public and the Private

Dewey's Public and McLuhan's Media

The Environment-Creativity Thesis

The Right to Privacy

Social Pluralism

10. Freedom of Integral Social Life

Social Conditions

Social Meaning

Social Change, Revolution, and New Sensibilities

A Pluralistic Style of Integral Social Life

11. Freedom of Political Life

The Principle of Participatory Democracy

Power, Conflict, and Social Change

Wisdom, Authority, and Expertise

Institutions and Government

The Limits of Freedom

Bibliographical Essay


The book shows the connections between the personal and the social dimensions of freedom, and how all the meanings of freedom are functions of the natural cosmos.


Neville's The Cosmology of Freedom corrects the tendency to believe that freedom consists in one thing alone, for instance not being constrained, or being able to choose between live options, or participating in a democratic political process. He lays out in systematic fashion the connections between personal dimensions of freedom, such as external liberty (Hobbes), the ability to act on the basis of one's intentions (Spinoza), choice between live options (James), and creativity (Whitehead), and social dimensions of freedom, such as opportunity (Du Bois), social pluralism (Dewey), integral life-style (Tillich), and participatory politics (Dahl). Discerning the nuances of these dimensions of freedom, it becomes a matter of experience and empirical investigation to determine in specific circumstance whether, in what senses, and to what degree a person or society is free.

To distinguish and to relate these senses of freedom, a broad philosophical perspective is required. Neville provides a functional philosophical cosmology that shows how all the senses of freedom are functions of the natural cosmos. In conjunction with his theory of divine creation in God the Creator, this book is an important argument for reconciling human freedom and divine creativity.

Robert Cummings Neville is Professor of Philosophy, Religion, and Theology at Boston University where he is also Dean of the School of Theology. He is past president of the American Academy of Religion, the Metaphysical Society of America, and the International Society for Chinese Philosophy. Neville has also written Behind the Masks of God: An Essay Toward Comparative Theology; New Essays in Metaphysics; The Puritan Smile: A Look Toward Moral Reflection; The Tao and the Daimon; Eternity and Time's Flow; God the Creator: On the Transcendence and Presence of God; The Highroad Around Modernism; Reconstruction of Thinking; Recovery of the Measure: Interpretation and Nature; A Theology Primer; Normative Cultures; and The Truth of Broken Symbols, all published by SUNY Press.