Santiago Zabala in the Columbia University Press Blog:
In order to respond to this important question, it is first necessary to emphasize that there isn’t much difference among philosophers, theologians, scientists, or artists when it comes to intellectual freedom. Whatever the training, traditions, or debates the intellectually free are those who know how their disciplines are framed. For example, when the scientist Laurent Ségalat, in his bookLa Science à bout de souffle?, criticized how the management of funds has become more important than search for truth in his field, he was both pointing out what frames his discipline and also exercising intellectual freedom. Only those who thrust us into the“absence of emergency” are intellectually free today.
When Martin Heidegger said in the 1940s that the “only emergency is the absence of emergency,” he was referring to a “frame” (“Ge-stell”), a technological power that had grown beyond our ability to control it. Today this framing power is globalization, where emergencies, as Heidegger specified, do not arise when something doesn’t function correctly but rather when “everything functions . . . and propels everything more and more toward further functioning.” This is why he was so concerned with the specialization and compartmentalization of knowledge that would inevitably limit and frame independent and critical thought. So to be intellectually free today means disclosing the emergency at the core of the absence of emergency, thrusting us into knowledge of those political, technological, and cultural impositions that frame our lives.
The recent passing of the philosopher Umberto Eco, the musician Prince, and the filmmaker Ettore Scola ought to remind us how important intellectual freedom is. Their works have all resisted orthodox interpretations of artistic creation, social stereotypes, and fascistic discrimination.