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Philosophy of Freedom

  1. Apr 25, 2004 #1
    I believe I have posted this question before, but it was never discussed much. So, here it is again:

    An attempt to define freedom...

    A simple question can get us started:
    1) Is a man in a cage free, if he has no wish to leave that cage?

    It seems to me there are two possible answers:
    • A) No. In which case we determine freedom based on the physical.
    • B) Yes. In which case freedom is in the mind.
    No answers itself.

    In the case of B, move forward...

    However, if "yes", that gives us one more question:
    2) Is the man in the cage aware of a world beyond his cage?

    If the man is aware of all the world beyond his cage, and yet chooses to remain in his cage, is he:
    • A) Still held captive by fears and such? (which takes us back to 1)
    • B) Free, because he has veiwed all options and made a choice?
    In the case of B, he is free.

    However, if the man is not aware of the world beynd his cage, that gives rise to a third question:
    3) Is ignorance bliss?
    • A) Ignorance of other options means no freedom.
    • B) Ignorance of other options does not mean no freedom.

    Would anyone care to create further logical constructs, or answer the final two questions?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 27, 2004 #2
    Adam, I find a bit of fault with your deduction. If I may...

    It doesn't appear possible that a man in a cage is free, regardless of whether he wishes to be there or not. After all, if he were to change his mind, he would not be able to escape. Wanting to be there is simply accepting your lack of freedom.
  4. Apr 27, 2004 #3
    yes, mentat, i agree with you, but you know, there are more horizonts than bars of a cage, and we, supposedly, are sastified with the definition of "freedom" as being able to go freely anywhere in our world (which we also can't escape, as the cage mentioned above), an astronaut would have perhaps a different definition.

    One who has limitless imagination, is a permanent captive.
  5. Apr 27, 2004 #4
    or, a someone put it even nicer; (i'll try to translate doh, so it's approximate);

    Life a jail, Time a merciful executioner...
  6. Apr 27, 2004 #5
    The chance that he would not be able to escape is always there. And the chance that he will is too. I think he is free, supposing he has the power to allow himself out of the cage.
    I believe there is nothing in the anology presented by Adam that prohibits whether or not this man can get out of the cage. He is simply in the cage by his own choice. If he went in by his own choice, then surely he can let himself out (unless there is a certain special circumstance that prohibits this from happening). He does not know if a something will prohibit is exiting hte cage at his own wish [in the future]. Therefore, if he does not know if something in the future will in fact deter his attempt to leave the cage, (and of course, the man is aware this is a POSSIBILITY as is his freedom of exiting, which from his fram of reference is a higher probablity) then is he free? I don't think so, but I'd like to know. i.e, I request your analysis.
  7. Apr 27, 2004 #6
    Grand Inquisitor...
  8. Apr 29, 2004 #7


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    the mind is the disease

    Freedom = More Fed

    In my world translated, I saw Government - USA.

    Are Americans free? We say we are. Do you really want to pay taxes? Do you want your son/daughter/friend/fellow American overseas fighting right now? I do not want my child going when he/she is of age.

    What's that? That's the PRICE of freedom? How free are we Americans?

    "Good day sun shine$" almost the beatles
  9. Apr 29, 2004 #8
    There are laws in every situation. Compared to several other nations, USA (America may refer to N. America and S. America, BTW) has a lot of freedom. Yes, we are free. But like everything else we have limits, so that the society will be stable, not chaotic.
  10. Apr 30, 2004 #9
    Freedom is all in the mind. If freedom was based on physical then there is no such thing as freedom.
  11. Apr 30, 2004 #10
    Can a man be free if he's in a cage and wants out. But because he can't - he then forces his mind to change / convinces himself that he wants to be there i.e. accepts the situation and changes himself instead of his surroundings?
  12. Apr 30, 2004 #11
    That is pre-supposing that the mind is a physical entity. Is it? I believe it is a product of physical factors. (I.e. chemical reactions [in the brain/mind] etc.)
  13. Apr 30, 2004 #12
    That deduction, as far as I can see is a predilection man cannot get out. The anology according to Adam does not say that the man cannot get out of the cage. Just that he went in. Just because he is in a cage does not directly say that he is unable to exit the premises.
  14. Apr 30, 2004 #13
    I stand corrected and rephrase.

    Freedom is all internal. If freedom was based on the external then there is no such thing as freedom.
  15. Apr 30, 2004 #14
    Only the man's body is confined his mind is still free to roam where it will. "Iron bars do not a prison make."
    Are you really just a physical body or do you live in your mind? Which is the real you?
    Do you have a spirit that can freely roam where and when it pleases or are you trapped in your body forever chained to only the physical reality of your body and the circumstances that it is in. Are we not then prisoners of our bodies and prisoners in our class rooms, office, work area or even bedrooms?
    If you are a prisoner of your physical body then you are a prisoner always wherever you go or whatever you do.
    Only our minds can be or are really free. Our minds are also the only contact that we have with any reality except possibly a spiritual reality. It is our perceptions of our reality that makes us prisoners or makes us free.
  16. Apr 30, 2004 #15
    Internal ideas are influenced by external ideas. Does a new born baby have any concept of freedom? No, because he/she has not experienced what contrasts freedom and its opposite, being ensnared. 'Experience' is a product of the interpretation of external occurances by the mind.
  17. Apr 30, 2004 #16
    Imagine being trapped, in a box we call a cage. You just sit there waiting for a very extended period of time, to get out. Like a long plane flight, (say one from the USA to somewhere like India, which I believe takes 18+ hours to complete, round trip on one flight) for hours and hours. You are bound to get extremely impatient. I have experienced it myself, and I am sure you have.
    Basically, you just want to leave this "cage" (a metaphor for the airplane), so you can run free somewhere else, not wait to be let out.

    Your mind can be "free", as you say, but the full sensation of freedom is not attained without interaction with the physical world.

    Your mind/brain controls the body, which is you. The mind and body are not seperate. "you" is a reference to the mind/brain.

    Whoa there! A prisoner in your own body?? :eek:
    The spirit, if you'd like to call it that, is you. It is impermeable. If the spirit left the body, then you'd be dead. (ah, I imply an after life here! :eek: no, rather, when I say the aforementioned, I refer to spirit when spirit=consciousness) Unless you simply dispise your body and wish to die, I don't think you are a prisoner. You can freely roam with your own body.
    (Even though there are limits). Imprisonment is being put somewhere you have no wish to be (this could be mentally, or physically) and being forced to stay there. Classrooms, office, work, bedrooms...are not imprisonments unless you don't want to be there, and are being forced to stay there.

    Brilliantly put. :smile:
  18. May 1, 2004 #17

    Yeah ... just a little question on the side, maybe I should have waited before the original question had been answered a bit more :D
  19. May 1, 2004 #18
    Not big on english but i agree with this quote.
  20. May 1, 2004 #19
    Read our own post here. Can you see that everything you say is about waiting, wanting and attitude. All subjective feelings. None of this is about being physically imprisoned. It is all about wanting that which cannot be had.
    Accepting what is and being content with what we have is all that is required to be free. Again it is attitude and acceptance, all subjective and nothing physical.

    Again sensations are perceptions of our sensory input. There is no sensation of freedom. There is nothing that says that the prisoner cannot interact with the physical world of his cage. It is the desire to be elsewhere and do other things that makes him a prisoner not the cage.

    I do not wholly accept the above. I am not my body. I am my mind and/or spirit nor am I convince that they cannot be separated but that is another topic.

    Being a prisoner of your own body is simply just a way of say that you are body oriented or dominated and nothing else, where your sense of being resides.

    Thanks, I was kinda proud of it myself. :biggrin:
    Last edited: May 1, 2004
  21. May 1, 2004 #20
    Which is natural human nature. It is a fact that you will get agravated after waiting so much. You will want change.

    Well, my point is, you'll eventually get tired of being confined in a cage. Eventually.
    But I believe I am beginning to see your point. For someone with intense mental capabilities (like a Taoist priest--they are AMAZING when it comes to physical capabilities) that control your body's sensations, it is relatively easy to [overall] sit in a cage for years.

    the other stuff, about being a prisoner in your body and the mind and body being seperate entities is not my line of expertise. Anything I say concerning that is not going to be accurate. But I'll give it some thought.
  22. May 3, 2004 #21
    to me, freedom is a state of mind.

    if, you accept full responsibility for your physical experience, then you know that you are in a gage by your own design. upon acceptance, you can use your spiritual - mental freedom to explore the experience confident in your freedom.

    love and peace,
    olde drunk
  23. May 3, 2004 #22
    freedom is a state of mind;but mind still needs to survive,doesnt it? :frown:
  24. May 3, 2004 #23

    Les Sleeth

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    Gold Member

    Like a lot of topics discussed in philosophy, freedom has several aspects to it. If we put the different aspects in competition, you know "either-or", then we will fail to understand all the features of freedom.

    For example, there is freedom from oppression by others. This is not an easy issue to figure out. There are others who want to stop us from being able to watch porn, for instance. They might be correct that watching porn isn't good for a person, but the question is if they should decide for everyone whether or not porn can be watched. Another complication is the person who thinks his freedom is paramount even if what he does harms others. The smoking issue is one of those, where smokers have been hard to convince that non-smokers have the right to breathe and be "free" from their smoke.

    After the question of freedom from others' oppression, is the question of freedom from one's own psychological oppression. As Royce implies, the fears, conditioning, and illusions of one's own mind can be more stifling than oppression by others.

    To your last question of if ignorance is bliss, I think one first has to understand what ignorance is. If to be aware of oneself and one's environment is to be conscious, then any behavior or bit of psychology which decreases that awareness is ignorance. Conditioning is one such example of a trait which decreases our awareness. I have a friend who was raised in domineering family. Now, at age 60, he is a nice guy until there's competition for a limited resourse he really wants, and which he also wants to get an unfair share of. At that time he shifts into this dominance mode, brow beating friends, putting spin on his arguments so he seems justified in taking a bigger share, occasionally just taking what he wants, etc.

    He is ignorant of the reasons behind his own behavior, of a clear understanding of the whole situation, of the resentment he is causing to the group, of the resistance that comes up from others trying to stop him, and of the potentials for a more stress-free, loving experience through sharing. Blinded by his own self-centered conditioning, his "ignorance" is not bliss, but actually a source of misery for him and others. In my opinion, ignorance is never bliss overall (I say "overall" because admittedly, there might be an occasional situation where it isn't so bad, such as a child who is about to be killed in a plane crash. I probably would just hold them or something similarly comforting, rather then try to make them aware of what was about to happen.)

    There is another aspect to freedom, which is what reality itself allows. We are not free to breathe underwater (without equipment). We are free to try, but the reality of nature which gave us our body denies us life if we inhale water. There are lots of things like that, where reality smashes us for not accepting the limitations it has in place.

    Finally, there is a cool element to the lack of freedom, which is that it can offer opportunities. Take a 100 yard field. It can be left free to be whatever chance circumstances decide. But if you create certain limitations, say mark off ten yard lines, put up goal posts on the ends, create some rules, etc., you get a game! Or, you could plow it, plant stuff, and so on which restricts the field's use for other things, but produces something valuable that wouldn't be possible if the field were left 100% free. In the same way, I accept or impose on myself limitations which help me develop in ways that I want to develop.

    So, my answer is that freedom is multi-faceted, and looking at it simplistically doesn't seem to yield much insight.
    Last edited: May 3, 2004
  25. May 3, 2004 #24
    So you are saying that descipline is freedom? How so? is forcing someone to do something for their own good freedom?
  26. May 3, 2004 #25

    Les Sleeth

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    If you keep in mind how I've separated out the various categories of freedom, then you will be able to see I am not suggesting what you say above.

    However, before answering your question, I think I need to cite an exception to my ideas, and that is the relationship between parents and underage offspring. Parents, by law, are required to set limitations for their kids. There is no doubt that humans as a whole need some serious parenting lessons; but just so we don't get sidetracked, let's for now assume parents are doing the best they can with the tools they have at their disposal.

    Okay, back to your question. I did not say it is okay for those who manage to gain power to impose what they think is best on others. I did say that that SELF-imposed discipline (i.e., not discipline enforced by others) might help one develop, or even escape one's conditioning, and than in turn can lead to a type of freedom.
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