Freedom Vs. The Perception of Freedom

Lately I have been debating the truth about freedom versus the perception of freedom. I wanted to have a discussion about this topic and see what others think. I know this is a much debated topic, but please bare with me. I would really like to hear some other opinions.

After much deliberation I have come to a reasonable conclusion that there is no such thing as freedom. I know the concept of freedom is debatable due to personal relativity, but I have some valid reasons to why I’ve come to my conclusion.

  1. What Freedom Is

I would define freedom as being completely relieved of one’s dependency on factors that, intentionally or unintentionally, dictate one’s life around those factors. In effect, I use the example of a drug addict. Their life, their entire existence, revolves around getting the next fix. With this argument, can it not be said that people are dependent upon several impulses as living creatures. We are subject to our necessity to eat, sleep, and hydrate. We cannot escape these necessary impulses and they control us. Could imagine what you would do if you were starving? What others could make you do if they controlled the source to fulfill that hunger? We have all heard the stories. We are confined to livable environments and these principles apply the same for drinking, sleeping, and more.

  1. What Freedom Is Not

Freedom of choice or being able to choose, is often confused with freedom itself. Having choices is not freedom, but rather a byproduct of having options or opportunities. Options and opportunities are as limited or expansive as one’s position (time, location, and/or status) in life.

  1. What this means

We measure our position and experiences in life to find a range in which we can apply our own personal freedoms, but in all actuality this concept is not real because all things are dependent on internal and external factors that are in constant control of our behaviors. So therefore freedom, much like many things in life is different to each individual but the same to all. It’s layered, perceptual, but above all, it’s unrealistic.

This is all I can fit. I look forward to some good discussions.

i agree logically it is stupid to beleive anyone has any kind of freedom, although i understand why people attack the notion so fiercely, I find it really hard to beleive, or to accept but if u beleive in cause and effect their is no other conclusion.

sorry but no one has freedom of thought… action or emotion. we are nothing but a bag of chemicals.

That definition is not merely freedom, it is non-existence.
Absolute freedom can never exist and has never been the meaning of the word.
It is not necessary for life and life could not exist in such an environment (nor could the universe itself).

Freedom is measured by the number of choices available for each decision (options).
Every person, being in a slightly different situation, requires (not merely wants) the ability to do something a little differently than someone else. Zero freedom would mean that they can’t. That would directly kill many people.

But more than that, when rules are set such that people might be doing different thing, but only for the purpose of maintaining the hierarchy, they are not actually living. Living is making decisions toward one’s own benefit. No decisions means no life. Decisions limited so much that no decision is toward the benefit of the life, is no different than holding a person’s head under water and telling them that they have to option to inhale if they want.

Freedom for the living means the ability to make choices or decisions toward your advantage.
Too much freedom is death because decisions can’t be made.
Too little freedom is death because decisions can’t be made.
So you are stuck with the situation of moderate freedom and have to decide on how much and of what type.

You are confusing the issue of types of freedom (inner vs outer). The addict has lost a type of freedom involving his emotional/instinctive balance. With no instinctive or emotional drive, no decisions can be made. There is no impetus or goal to decide about. With too strong of a drive/urge, or emotion, the ability to consider other options is overcome and thus limited by too much force within (rather than too much force from a governance).

The mind makes decisions based upon balancing incentives/urges/emotions. Without an urge or impetus from whatever source, there are no decisions to be made. The cognitive mind is designed to weigh emotional sway and decide which is better. Emotions are designed to weigh instinctive urges to decide which is better (at any one moment). Any urge that gets too strong removes the prior freedom to make a decision. “All things in moderation.”

If either the urge is lost or the urge cannot be “freely” constricted (weighed against other urges), there is no freedom.

I can agree with everything in that other than the last assertion. Choices are all that IS real. The perceptions are merely your data from which to make decisions. Admittedly often false data, often prearranged, but none the less, it is merely data. The ability to make decisions due to available options (including the options to alter perceptions) is inherent in any and all life, without which it isn’t a life.

Freedom: The ability to choose what do and do what I choose with out influence is the individual perception of freedom. but if you “loose” all the parts of an engine… it doesn’t run. Yes they are free but they can produce nothing. when a car runs well it is free. when the breaks start sticking, it’s less free. when multiple things go wrong it becomes in car cerated :slight_smile: When something always invades your thoughts (like the next hit or that girl down the street or that next cigarette) you are incarcerated.Freedom is not a term for the individual. It’s a term for nations or Humanity.


First I would like to thank you for engaging in this conversation with me. This is precisely the type of conversation that I wanted to have. Now on to my arguments.

I think that we both fundamentally have a subtle agreement about what freedom is.

You stated, “That definition is not merely freedom, it is non-existence.”

I would have to disagree. People in captivity, wholly owned by their masters exist. The world was once shaped on a class of people who weren’t free, that all existed. They have thoughts and emotions. Not being free doesn’t mean you don’t exist and that is not my argument. The way you talk about freedom, categorizes freedom in degrees ranging from less to more, which goes very close to my mentioning of freedom being experienced through layers and perception. That is where the fundamental problem lies with defining freedom. People can’t define it and disagree on its meaning because when you really think about it, freedom only can make sense in layers, much like your categorizations. Something that is everything, is nothing at all. Life is built with constraints: hunger, thirst, and sleep. These are the masters of life. Therefore from the very beginning of existence all living things are dictated and motivated by appeasing the masters of life. Freedom sits opposite of enslavement and dictation. My simple version of the definition will fit any scaled definition of freedom regardless of how one tries to view it; emotionally, internal, external, universal, spiritual, physical, and so on. It fits because the very notion of freedom comes from one’s opposition to enslavement or dictation. Do you think the first conscious human beings realized they were free? Or did they they finally understood freedom after the first beings were enslaved? With that being said I would come to think that freedom was at some point defined in opposition to enslavement. This is ultimately true with American History. Even if not true in the other case. When people began to realize just how many restrictions there are (internal and external), then freedom begins to come in layers. My argument is simple, there is no real freedom. Only what you perceive or believe to be free, which are often just options or opportunity.

Your mentioned: “Decisions limited so much that no decision is toward the benefit of the life, no different than holding a person’s head under water and telling them that they have to option to inhale if they want.”

Well this is not entirely true. If you hold someone’s head underwater with the intention to drown them, then you have made the decision for them; this only propounds my argument against freedom. However, suppose one looked at it from your view point. You are given a choices: drown yourself, let the person drown you, or see if the person will spare you. These are not optimal choices or options, but they are options nonetheless. This is why I cannot accept options or opportunities as freedom. When you try to define options and opportunities as freedom then you play a dangerous game for the following reasons:

  1. You are saying that those in captivity or who are enslaved have less options than supposed free men. We know this is not true. Societies have been littered with slaves who had better life styles and options/opportunities than their peers. As I stated this was based on their position (location, time, and/or status) within the hierarchy. You can even find cases where slaves in wealthy households had more opportunities than poor, free, men/women. As a matter of fact, when slavery first ended in America, some slaves chose to go back to their masters in order to provide for themselves and their families while others struggled to make in the new, cruel, free, world. So if a slave has more options than a free person, do they have more freedom simply because they have more opportunities? I could not agree to that.

  2. How do you judge freedom in comparison to opportunities? Do you judge by quantity or quality? For example, the son of a rich family has his entire life mapped out by his parents. He will focus on his growth, he will attend the best schools, join the best developmental clubs, and attend the best college to become a entrepreneur. He has one choice, one path, in life. The son of a middle class family is given the freedom to do as he wishes; find his own way in life. He is free to work at fast food restaurants, hang with his friends, attend whatever college he wants, etc… At the point when they are walking into adulthood the son of the rich family is in a better position in life than the middle class son, ultimately affording him the ability to do more in life than the son of the middle class family. So based on what others argue about freedom, you could say that the son of the rich family had less freedom, but his path led to more options in the long run which equated to more freedom. So how do you judge this in comparison to freedom? What is worth more or can be viewed as more freedom? The path with less options but more rewards, quality. Or the path with more options but less rewards. This can be applied to slaves of wealthy households vs poor freemen as well (hypothetically). You see opportunities are available to all whether considering them free or not. They are diverse whether free or not. True that those enslaved have less of these options but they are still present. Not to mention this gets more complex when you account for all social classes and other factors. Opportunity simply cannot be freedom because it opens the door to say that all people are free to a degree and all people are not to a degree. I simply went with we are not.

  3. Adding layers to something that is tasteless (unsatisfying) only adds flavor to the blandness of its contents, but it does not change the root of it. I going go out into left field. How many ways can you cook chicken? You can fry it, grill it, stew it, roast it, pull it, bake it, etc… In the end, it’s all chicken. The flavor of the content is based on how each individual prefers to season it and cook it. Freedom is the same, we come up with all of these different ways to view it, apply it, accept it, and not accept it. All while denying the fact that, “it is what it is”, and it’s impossible to achieve. We add the words “options” and “opportunities” to the word freedom, to add an applicable element of the word to our lives. Just because you have options does not mean you are free. Just because you have more options or even better options doesn’t mean your free. It means you have more or better options based on your position. An argument that leads to this question, are all men created equal?

Lastly you stated: “You are confusing the issue of types of freedom (inner vs outer)”

For the sake of this argument the type doesn’t matter because the argument covers all types, including factors that seek to restrict them.

I have much more to say but I have typed too much. Like I said, I enjoy these conversations. Sometime later I will post the discussion, Are all men created equal? please join the debate when you see it.

That will change shortly. :sunglasses:

I’m significantly older than you. Thus before I continue this, I have a question for you;

Which would you choose;
A) A government that proclaimed that freedom is just a fantasy and that you are to do exactly as you are told.
B) A government that proclaimed that specific rules are to be obeyed, but beyond those few, you are free.


…and please don’t come back with, “I’m not talking about that kind of freedom”.

A sobering thought. That happens to be true.

Actually, it isn’t.

There is a big pile of dirt in the yard. That is a “big bag of chemicals” (minus the bag).
A person, or any thinking system is far more than “nothing but a bag of chemicals”.
The order of those chemicals is a far grater issue than merely them being in a bag.

You are a big bag of chemicals with a quite unique arrangement.
Your particular arrangement of those chemicals is what you call “me”.
The chemicals are comparatively irrelevant.

I agree but that doesn’t go against what I said.

[i]"You are nothing but a bag of chemicals.
Love is just a chemical reaction.
No one loves you.
You have no free-will.
Freedom is a fantasy.
In the cosmos, you are insignificant.
All good things must end.
Don’t worry, everyone dies.
Your Self is a fantasy.
Nothing will become of you when you die.
Nothing is certain.
Truth doesn’t exist.
There is no God.
You are wrong in every thought.
Your vote is irrelevant.
Anything you say might offend someone.
Anything you do might harm someone.
You might harm yourself.
You are an insignificant piece of nothing surrounded by criminals, terrorists, and diseases.

There are too many of you.
Women are better than you.
Blacks are bigger than you.
Jews are wiser than you."[/i]

Psychologically, where do you think that leads?

“We have elite expertise and technology.
You can’t survive without our protection.
Bow while we still allow you to exist.”

The Perception of the Lack of Freedom (and worth).

As the slave thinks to himself…“Oh but it is all true… technically

This is a philosophy forum. Philosophy seeks the truth, not what sounds good or what makes people feel all warm and tingly inside.
So, what the hell is your point?

Also, I don’t agree with all the “items” you listed.

No one agrees with ALL of them. But they don’t have to all agree on each, as long as no one concept gets too much collective against it.

And as far as seeking truth;
Each of those can be rationally disputed.
Each is not “truth”, but an exaggerated psychologically negative perspective.

If you were seeking truth, you would look at the opposite perspective and see the balance, seeing that it is all merely language and concept confusion.
Note; “Freedom is not having choices [don’t be upset that you have no choice]… freedom is options [you have the option to breath in the water and die a different way].”

Freedom; I am an emperor and all do as I say, I have freedom.
Free will; my consciousness may do what it wants [1].

Freedom2; I choose to allow others to do what they will, and if they do the same I get to do what I want ~ given that those things are mutually beneficial, or I subjugate my freedom so that in a given instance another’s is found; that is ‘our’ freedom.

Free will2; as everything I experience are mental qualia and not in the physical, then I am not of the physical and can choose my own thoughts from which qualia may be derived.
I am informed by my own mind in a relationship with the material world [which is nothing like my experienced world].
Being born in relative ignorance I rely primarily upon input from the senses, which I can deny [even pain]. My brain and body serves to inform, there are many processes to this - between what I want of my servant and what it delivers; free will is somewhat cyclic, as is the lack of.

If I choose to usually push yellow buttons, then I have made that choice, as it is unimportant the brain will function as my servant in performing such menial tasks or make unimportant decisions. My consciousness is that part which is not performing such duties.
I am also wired to be ‘the listener’ such that if the body/vehicle needs to say, move quickly away from danger, then I will let it do that until it says I am safe. If [as an adult] I choose to, I can disobey and get eaten or suffer death and injury to the vehicle.

The whole thing is a cyclic relationship.

  1. Everywhere in the brain where the lack of free will may be measured, is not the area of the brain making conscious decisions! Thus, the consciousness is not being overridden, it is merely the vehicle performing its tasks.

What ? Come on, you can do better that.

Hmm… then why haven’t You?

Free-will ends up being all about how it is defined, but is that ever corrected in the spirit of seeking truth?
Freedom; “choice vs options” - is there really anything but a connotative difference between those?
Love is merely one of all of the emotional directions that result from chemical reactions and thus isn’t defined with, “it is merely a chemical reaction”.
A “bag of chemicals” is pretty irrelevant to what anyone is.
You might be insignificant when viewing the cosmos, but you are the very source of significance to your life.
Self isn’t a fantasy. It is merely an epistemological label for “you”. Do you exist or don’t you?
The whole “God, Heaven, and Hell” bit is merely language issues. I don’t see you trying to keep it straight.
on and on…

It’s also not what suits a surly cynic’s self-inflicted angst, either.

A car is not “nothing but” a heap of metal and plastics. If I gave you a heap of metal and plastics, I’d doubt you could make a car of it. A book is not “nothing but” wood pulp, glue and ink, as different books have had very real and very different effects on the world. If someone offered to buy your house for a couple of hundred euros as it’s nothing but a pile of bricks, I’d hope you’d be sure to point out that it’s more than just a pile of bricks, it’s a very particular arrangement that has considerable extra value as such, compared to “just” a pile of bricks. We’re chemical assemblies, which is more than just a bag of chemicals.

It’s as tempting and self-serving to grasp at unpleasant/depressing interpretations, to prove to oneself that one is a Real Thinker ™ who has the courage to see beyond the fluffy feel-good world of the peons and do Real Thinking ™ wherever it may lead, whatever the cost to ones happiness etc etc, as it is to go for the new age peace and light tingly-bongly hippy nonsense, in my opinion. Although it’s far more common in philosophical circles.

In the end, it’s only contextual sensitivity and a carefulness of the implications of language that’s at play. But that’s all philosophy is.

@James S Saint"

Damn, so much stupidity in one post.

Free-will ends up being all about how it is defined ? Everything ends up being all about how it is defined. How could it be otherwise? You’re not saying anything at all.

Love IS a chemical reaction. It’s not a magical event. The fact that chemical reactions can lead to different events does not mean that love isn’t in fact, a chemical reaction.

So what? You want to lie to people? Make up some fairy tales ? Again, what is your point ?
Furthermore, I was commenting on the veracity of that statement, not on its usefulness.

Did I ever argued otherwise ?

It really depends on what you mean by “you” or “I”. Weren’t you just arguing that it all depends on how we define things ?

Merely language issues?!

Then I won’t bother reading the rest of this one…


Holy shit. You are you arguing against ? When I say that we are “just” bags of chemicals (it isn’t my statement but I do agree with it), I’m simply stating that a reductionist view is accurate. Now, I hate the term reductionist because it implies that there is something more… but I don’t know what other term to use here.
By saying we are a bag of chemicals we’re saying, there’s no magic, there’s no immaterial stuff, no supernatural. That’s it.

I never said you weren’t a specific arrangement of matter. In fact, I have argued , in previous threads, that that is exactly what you are.

Yet there IS something else.
There is an order that yields a behavior (that thing they used to call “spirit”).

Or are you proposing that there is no difference AT ALL between a person walking down the street and a person crushed up into a plastic bag?
The chemicals are the same.