Toward a situated Freedom.

I wrote a thread entitled the “death of Hegel” which was lost in the server malfunction. I intend this thread to be related, but I wish to take a different angle…Not a historical account of why Hegelianism is dead, but a discussion of what Hegel’s untenable system can tell us today. Specifically about freedom. I do not wish to advance Hegel’s claim that freedom lies in realized Geist, but I think his critique of leftist revolutions and negative freedom is relevant today. I also intend this to be a sweeping critique of Capitalist definitions as well as Marxists, both being in the tradition of negative freedom. I may, however, end up focusing on the Capitalist definition as it is the dominate definition in my society.

We are all more or less familiar with the rhetoric our mass media and lay society throws around about freedom, but it’s not as easy to pin down exactly what our society feels is freedom. We are obviously in the liberal tradition regarding freedom, but it is a negative or unsituated freedom, that is, a freedom that is not uniquely human. For starters we have things like the right to property, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. All of which are more or less contentless and empty. They tell us nothing of the circumstances in which we live, they are equivalent to the Marxist demand for creativity, expression, and equality.

When I say they are contentless, I do not mean that they are not meaningful, all I mean to say is that they create no social structures or organizations by which they ought to be employed. They are practically ambiguous, and not uniquely human, which is to say that they cannot be a guiding principle, but will always be an ideology separated from humanity. Private property, for example, is generally couched in terms of the “invisible hand”, which seems to take pride in it’s situationlessness. It’s atrocities and inhuman nature is justified by the very fact that it is inhuman, beyond humanity. A very odd notion if you ask me, that freedom would lie in humanities subservience to a bunk science. A replacement of the religious justification of social order. One went from being poor because of divine decree to being poor because of an economic decree that isn’t properly anything but an idea. If you don’t like my characterization of the “invisible hand”, it is because you have not yet come to terms with it’s dual nature. It is meant as a justification for the power structure, and something that creates nothing, and thus fulfills the contentless definition of truth. It offers us nothing but a rationalization, it is as empty as Marxist calls for creativity.

The same goes for notions of liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They are both unsituated and inhuman. They are abstract ideas meant to protect us from encroachments, but somehow they have come to be the very definition of freedom that we all hold. Freedom to govern ourselves, a complete self-responsibility. They offer us nothing but abstracts. They do not take into account our psychology or our concrete situation as a social animal with unique needs. We see in our society, in the general feeling of emptiness and unrest that we all feel, that these notions of freedom are not sufficient. They have generated a society that does not fulfill our needs, they are alienating precisely because they are not situated. They create a society that is expressively dead, and gives us no enjoyment.

Consider a revolution that occurs using modern day notions of freedom. It would take down all structures, and be incapable of building up any others. This is what is meant by situationless freedom. How does one order one’s society according to the idea that we ought to be expressive and creative, or according to the idea that we ought to be able to own property and be free to govern ourselves. One can’t, the only option these definitions offer is anarchy, which is to say that they offer nothing. Yet, we share a basic nature by virtue of our genetics and our common heritage. Both Capitalist and Marxist notions of freedom fail. They are not freedom, but ideological rhetoric and philosophic reaction.

Toward a situated freedom, means exactly that. One must take into account human nature and needs when one defines freedom. Such a definition will neither be the expressivism of Marx, nor the self-responsibility of Capitalism. It will incorporate both, and generate a definite social structure that reflects our expressivist needs and our needs of liberty. Liberty will be couched within expressivism. I haven’t the slightest clue what this will look like, that is not the point. The point is that current definitions of freedom lack a uniquely human element, thus are impractical or alienating. Human freedom has a shape and a form, it ought to be understood in terms of definite social structure and take into account human goals and needs. It ought to be situated in us, not an abstract free for all that is not human.

No, this is not a thread about the best form of government, or the form that maintains the most freedom. It is a discussion of what human freedom is.

I think freedom has everything to do with social interaction and very little to do with material objects or resources.

People seek material objects or resources merely for the prestige of social interaction beyond survival therefore freedom is dominated by sociality.

Yes, toward a socialist definition of freedom. However, “things” make it a lot easier for human to survive, and our use of tools to do work is a basic fact of our lives. So it would seem that a definition of freedom would need to include our tendency to use tools and create science and technology that make better tools. Yet, there is no reason that this fact should dominate our definition of freedom as it does in the enlightenment/capitalist current of though. Nor is it any reason to suggest that we ought to have a definition that includes private property…our nature does not seem to demand that we own the tools and technology that we use, but simply that the tendency to create and use tools is part of our nature.

But I agree, in this society, a move toward a situated definition of freedom is a move away from an emphasis on material objects.

If I had to define freedom it would all have to do with social status, social recognition and the ability to act on one’s own impulses.

What would be considered anti freedom to me is low or no social status at all through that of disenfranchising alienation along with little to no social recognition either followed by a inability to act on one’s own impulses by that of confinement.

What exactly does “things” or abstracts have to do with freedom itself?

It may enlarge our survival capability but I largely find freedom to be limited and dominated by social interaction.

Furthermore if we look at ancient or modern isolative hunter gatherer cultures in the absence of technology you can still find a rich source of social interaction.

I mean that we are predisposed to use tools, and we are also predisposed to try and advance the efficiency of our tools. This does not mean that someone that uses a modern axe is more free than someone that used stone axes in primitive times. It simply means that a decent definition of freedom ought to incorporate and allow for these dispositions through concrete social structures or situated circumstances, if you prefer.

Nods. How would you define your understanding of situated freedom?

What do you think of relativism?

‘Freedom’ is nothing more than an egoic belief. Once infected with the ‘belief’ (virus) we will do literally anything, commit any horror, to insure survival of the ‘belief’ and to propagate it. (safety in numbers) The ‘belief’ of ‘freedom’ is particularly insidious.

Interesting opinion.

What would you offer in contrast that would be seemingly less insidious?

No ‘beliefs’. All ‘beliefs’ are insidious.
I realize that ‘critical thought’ is less ‘energy efficient’ than simple ‘belief’, in the short run, but the results are definitely less ‘vile’ and destructive.

No belief or thought means death which to me seems counterproductive in living.

Odd, I meditate, which means no thought and I have no beliefs yet I appear to not be dead.
I don’t think that I’m dead. Can’t be 100% positive though…
Actually, my life is wondrously beautiful, so rich with 'texture and quite full. Thank you.
It seems that you have never experienced a thoughtless meditative state, nor a moment free from ‘belief’, so out of the darkness you judge and convict. How uncommon…