Someone I talked to recently said that freedom is in our character and our capacity to step outside of our comfort zone. For some reason, a part of me agreed with this sentence, while the other part wanted to oppose it. Frankly, this thought seemed very romantic to me, since I have an analytical and materialist point of view. Because there are many social, economic, political, … shackles on our freedom. Okay, let’s say this thought is just bullshit from someone in our head who doesn’t want to get out of their comfort zone. In this case, when we step out of our comfort zone, don’t we create greater bondage that we call freedom? So only our measure of shackles grows, but we are still not free. If we look at it from another perspective, the perception of life imposed by society, that is, go to university, graduate, get a job, get married, have children, retire and die, do we feel free or happy when we have fulfilled these duties completely? Can we talk about freedom if everyone has superfluous works that they call necessity?
Freedom? By Gitanjali Sahoo
History of Freedom
Today we’re going in reverse. Before my definition, we will talk about thinkers who thought and made inferences about this subject years ago and make inferences accordingly.
In Spinoza’s idea of God Nature (Pantheism), God is free. But this freedom is not the result of will or choice. Making a request does not require it to come true. Therefore, the act or thought of will is imperfect. Spinoza thought that God must be perfect. Since the perfect God must exist as a result of necessity, the concept of freedom is also a product of necessity according to this idea. If this is true for God, where is the person in that? In his book Ethica, Spinoza talks about the reason for existence and the need to be interconnected. From this, we may conclude that none of us is free, but rather interdependent because we are each other’s cause or effect.
I read a saying that where our freedom begins, someone else’s freedom ends. I think this statement supports Spinoza’s thought. So what makes us think we are free? Spinoza answers this question by ignorance. We fear what we can’t explain and don’t want to scrutinize it. I believe that this is due to the ignorance that Spinoza speaks of. Because we do not know for sure the reason for our freedom or existence, we cannot explain it.
For Spinoza, the definition of freedom is knowing one’s nature and acting following the necessity of one’s nature. Freedom is a solid character payoff.
Kant does not approve of thinkers who say that the idea of freedom is coincidental. He thinks it is against the principle of causality. But he does not prevent himself from conflicting about freedom. To explain freedom with causality, the proposition that every event is the result of another removes the idea of a beginning. Accordingly, there is no freedom. When he could not get a result from this, Kant resorted to the principles of moral laws. According to moral laws (ethics), the assumption of freedom is a necessity. However, this freedom is only the freedom of thought (idea). Freedom of behaviour still cannot go beyond natural necessity.
According to Albert Camus, who approached the issue of freedom from a different perspective and made an inference from the meaning of life, the principle of life is absurd because it has no cause or effect. But despite the absurdity, it is also mandatory. He defines continuing this nonsense without committing suicide as a rebellion against life. And the decision not to commit suicide is freedom for him. From this point of view, freedom is not metaphysical for Camus like Kant, but it is personal and similar to Kant’s. Freedom is a concept that goes no further than freedom of thought and action for Camus. The absurdity of the principle of life also reduces time from past, present, and future to the present only. Living according to the future is bondage and far from freedom. It is necessary to become conscious of the nonsense.
Sartre explains freedom by being. Freedom is human existence. Here we can say that Hegel has a similar view with the thought of “Wesen ist was gewesen ist” (“What happened is what happened”).
The necessity of existence reduces freedom to responsibility. We are responsible for everything we have or do not have. Because our existence is necessary. With simple logic, necessity makes us responsible.
Awareness of Freedom
In the light of the inferences of valuable thinkers, our path seems to have come to awareness again. To me, freedom is our handcuffs, our shackles, and it begins when we become aware of them. Sometimes we think that we are free when we are peaceful, happy, and carefree. But this feeling is just comfort. The feeling of freedom is a feeling that we can get when we look at ourselves with the awareness of our troubles, sadness, grief, and pain and accept them. In another way, freedom of thought is perhaps our only freedom. So instead of wearing ourselves out in search of freedom and chasing after it, it’s something we can do to look within first.
If our freedom depends on a dictator and we are all interdependent, then, as Spinoza said, we can defeat the dictator by creating freedom of action and thought for each other. It can be a mafia, a university student, a lecturer… No dictator can rule a society that is aware of its shackles and wants to get rid of them. It is in our hands to provide freedom of expression to those who are aware.
Albert Camus, Sisifos Söyleni
Jean-Paul Sartre, Varlık ve Hiçlik