Highly inspired by my college’s Philosophical Society’s (Philosoc) first Panel Discussion on “Censorship and Freedom in India: Philosophical Issues”, I thought about commenting on the notion of freedom in itself through this post. Freedom is a highly discussed virtue in the philosophical word and many philosophical theories have encouraged and motivated the followers on the highly inspirational path of freedom. But what actually is freedom? How does one attain freedom? Is freedom good? Does it come with any conditions?
For me freedom is a value neutral. How one interprets is what matters. Having the freedom to define our own freedom is freedom. However freedom isn’t unconditioned. It is not an absolutist concept, it’s highly relative. It’s like standing on the tennis court with a ball and racket in your hand and getting prepared to serve. It’s completely your choice how you want to serve and which area of the service box you want to target. Yet you are required to hit in the service box, above the net, or else your service will be counted as a fault. You have what one can call a selective freedom. You are expected to hit in a certain area of which you have the freedom to choose.
However, one major difference between defining notion of freedom in the real life scenario verses the analogy of the game of tennis is that, while serving and exercising your freedom to serve anywhere in the service box, you will always know a great deal of consequences. Of course you can’t possibly guess where the opponent will hit the shot, but you surely know, if in case the ball doesn’t bounce in the service box, it will be a fault and you stand to lose the point. There is less ambiguity there. However in a real life scenario there is even less known about the dire consequences. Whatever information we use before exercising the freedom is the hypothetical scenario we assume might take place to judge the various consequences.
Thus sometimes attaining freedom isn’t so easy and it takes effort and courage to stand up for yourself without letting the thought of any dire consequence affect you.
“Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.”
I really liked this very idea which was discussed by one of the panelist while talking about how freedom is dangerous; and yet it is perceived as one of the most fundamentally defining notion for a human being, thus how being a human is dangerous.
However the concept of the freedom of conscience is very slippery. It is highly complicated issue. It overlaps in terms of, what can be freedom for someone can be unethical considering a larger picture. Freedom isn’t only an individualistic concept. There can be a freedom of a sole individual, but there are other types of freedoms as well, such as a freedom of a person living in a society from the society’s point of view. A freedom of a person in his own family is also a whole new type. Another example would be the freedom of a soldier in his military.
“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”
I would totally agree to this. Even after considering the dangerousness involved with freedom, how attaining freedom involves effort and courage, and how it is a complicated and slippery concept, I would still prefer my freedom over slavery or being driven. However I understand there will always be a compromise and condition involved. But hey that’s okay, Whatever Works. With freedom only I can find or create my own meaning of life.