What is Liberation?

I have been reading a ton about Liberation Theology recently and plan to do a bunch of posts about it soon. Dussell is specifically inspiring me and I hope to do a book study and review here in the next few weeks.

In the mean time, while I struggle though his engaging but dense texts, I plan to explore the term itself. What is Liberation?

Here is part 1.

The Word:

The Oxford English Dictionary defines liberation as: “The action of liberating (esp. from confinement or servitude); the condition of being liberated; release. Also: an instance of this.” The etymology of the word (as presented by the Online Etymology Dictionary) is: “1620s, from L. liberatus, pp. of liberare ‘set free,’ from liber ‘free’ (see liberal). Meaning, ‘to free an occupied territory from the enemy.'”

Following this lead we see liberal as meaning:

Liberal (adj.) late 14c. from O.Fr. Liberal “befitting free men, noble, generous,” from L. liberalis “noble, generous,” lit. “pertaining to a free man,” from liber “free,” from PIE base *leudheros (cf.Gk. Eleutheros “free”), probably originally “belonging to the people” (though the precise semantic development is obscure), from *leudho- “people” (cf. O.C.S. ljudu, Lith. Liaudis, O.E. leod, Ger. Leute “nation, people”). Earliest reference in English is to the liberal arts. Sense of “free in bestowing” is from late 14c. With a meaning “free from restraint in speech or action” (late 15c.) liberal was used 16c.-17c. as a term of reproach. It revived in a positive sense in the Enlightenment, with a meaning “free from prejudice, tolerant,” which emerged 1776-88. Purely in reference to political opinion, “tending in favor of freedom and democracy” it dates from c.1801, from Fr. ٛiberal, originally applied in English by its opponents (often in French form and with suggestions of foreign lawlessness) to the party favorable to individual political freedoms.

The connection to liberal is obvious but very helpful, providing a broader definition. It also connects the idea of freedom to being noble, generous and of the people. It is not just a thought, idea or movement for fringe fanatics, as liberation is often portraye, but is a “noble” task. It brings out the best in us.


Check back for more as we examine liberation.

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