Saturday, May 9, 2015

Some thoughts on freedom

If you are not free to change, then you are not free.  Freedom, thus by necessity incorporates change.  But a rock can change.  It may be worn down by water or split in two by a harder rock.  And no one would say that a rock is free.  Thus, we can say that freedom presupposes life, and that freedom presupposes choice.  Thus, to be free you must be alive, be able to change, and be able to change because you choose to change.  The choosing to change can involve choosing to direct one's thoughts in a certain way, choosing to move somewhere or to do something or any combination thereof.  However, it seems clear that the change involves movement of some kind.  Directing one's thought towards certain things involves movement in a sense, as does moving itself.    And we have already said that movement is always towards something or away from something and that it involves the "and" and the "or".  Thus, freedom cannot exist without the "and" and the "or".  But a pebble moves when swept by a current, and a pebble can hardly be said to be free.  For a person to be free, he must be able to choose to direct himself, to move, in a certain way.   Thus, freedom would seem to involve being able to draw from one's own personal reservoir of the "and" and the "or" to determine his own relationship with other beings and ideas, drawing from the "and" as one sees fit and drawing from the "or" as one sees fit, choosing which to draw from and when.  This personal reservoir, I would posit, is always there, but when one is not free, one is not able to draw from it.  Something or someone or preventing one from accessing this reservoir.  And when this is the case, and "and" and the "or" are not actualized but only exist in potential form. In the same way that the conservation of energy provides that total energy, i.e. potential energy plus actual energy, doesn't change (potential energy and actual energy change proportionately to each other, but there total remains the same), I would say that the size of the "and"/"or" reservoir does not change.  The potential "and/or" and the actual "and/or" may change in proportion to each other but the total remains the same.  In other words, the potential to be free is always there, at least for humans.  There may be something blocking this potential, whether it be socioeconomic straits or mental illness, but the possibility that these obstacles can be removed, however remote, is always there.  And that is why freedom is something we can aspire to, and why not being free results in anger, frustration and often rebellion.  It is because the potential to be free is generally within view.  

This and/or reservoir such not be confused with a reservoir of possibilities.  Rather, it is the possibility of acting on these possibilities.    It is the reservoir of the "and" and the "or" that each person has which either exists in potential form or is actualized. 

It might be said that each of us has a personal and/or reservoir, but collectively, those within a collective, whether it be a state or a country, have a collective and/or reservoir.   And when they can't act collectively to decide their future, i.e. when the "and/or? reservoir exists only in its potential form, the seeds of rebellion are sowed.