November 14, 2008

Freedom anybody?

This is a short post, rather a line of thought that I wish to pursue at a later date.
The usual definition of freedom is the ability to make a choice that is constrained only by personal, i.e. the decider's ability. This is to say that I have all the freedom in the world to do as I please and no one is going to question me about it. Obviously, this is not the freedom we are used to for we have to work within the limits of society.
My thought is whether there is another more sublime form of freedom, one wherein there is no choice at all.
I am FREE from having to make choices. The question that pops into my head is "Is life not a series of choices we make?"
The answer to that is a simple YES. Life is a series of choices we make. Since we are discussing freedom, and that has to encompass everything in life, should we not be free from having to make choices? Will that not be the most basic definition of freedom? Will that not mean that every point in life, we have the freedom to be, rather than choosing to being? In addition, as a final point, is the consciousness that we all revel in a reality? Do we believe that life is a continuous function of conscious decisions or is it a collection of unconscious choices?
Fleeting thoughts,
Claiming stake.


Suchitra said...

I am reminded of a conversation with my aunt.

She is an extremely talented and dedicated singer and could have made it big if she had wanted to. However, she was not allowed (or probably she chose, I might be doing her an injustice) to pursue a career as a professional singer. Instead she got married, had children, brought them up and managed the house. She did not sing professionally nor work anywhere in a professional capacity.

This being the situation, our conversation went something like this:

ME: Don't you ever feel that you might have been suppressed? That you were denied the freedom to really stretch your wings?

SHE: No. What freedom do you think I don't have now?

ME: Your prodigious talent was not used as it might have been. You don't earn. You are dependent on your husband or your sons for everything you want. Where educated women are changing the world you have all the potential but you don't use it beyond these four walls.

SHE: My talent is not wasted. I have not stopped singing all these years, have I? I can sing what I want to and when I want to, and stop when I want to. I am not limited by audiences, or their moods or fancies. I am not limited by brokers and middlemen. My music knows no boundaries.

As to the things you talk of, earning and suchlike, you don't know now, but think of how bothersome it would be to keep count of all the money and where it is and where it is coming from and going. I don't really need to think of bills and credits beyond the domestic expenses. People take care of me. I will stay here as long as God keeps me here, and then it will be with this son or the other one, or an ashram. Nothing to worry. Who says I am not free?

Freedom is an attitude, I guess. You are free when you don't seek freedom. You are free when you don't feel bound by the choices you make; you rule the choice and don't let it rule you!

aditya said...

@ Suchi
Is choice a reality? Is it a conscious action, or is it a spur of the moment, hormone driven, action that should not be construed as something on purpose.
Think of all the things that you have done in life and say if they all were done as a result of serious thought, giving each pro and con thought enough, taking all considerations into consideration, making sure that all alternatives are thought of, before deciding on this one.
Since the story is personal, I do not want to take anything away from it.
However, do you think that your aunt was thinking about the fickleness of the audience and the broker, the strain on personal life when she decided to get married? Or was it something that came after the action.
It is just to ask which came first, the egg or the hen. However, we know that in most cases the action came first, followed by the reason, for we cannot have an action that we cannot understand.

Suchitra said...

Think about this: we cannot act, when we think. And, we do not think, when we act. Action and thought are mutually exclusive. Thought may precede choice (which I interpret as action) but I guess that the choice, the action, is spur-of-the moment, probably influenced by the preceding thought but not wholly controlled by it.

I think freedom from making choices would actually amount to freedom from thinking of choices, if the action is indeed instinctive; thought is binding, action, pure action is not. You worry only when you think of past/present/future actions, don't you. :)

Total freedom from choice would perhaps imply lack of personal need for justification of past actions.

Rajaraman said...

Absolute freedom is never possible.
The human society is independant and and interdependant. Any action of ours is likely to affect someone close or far. But how we look at it or take that effect is a concern.
There can be a perfect demarcation of one self.
So Freedom is always comparitive

Also one need to be appreciative of others elbow space while acting on our own freedom

Destination Infinity said...

I wish to believe that we are free to decide our course of action. But I feel that the result of the action or the consequences of the action are not exactly in our control. There is a good chance that even the action in the first place was not under control.

Destination Infinity

aditya said...


I do not understand what it is with you and interdependence. However, I feel that you have missed what was being said

Define control. For we are as much under the influence of others actions as we are of our own. As Suchi said, most actions are just spontaneous releases of choice. We make a choice spontaneously without ever thinking about it. We might have given the issue immense thought a long time back, however, it does not mean that the thought is valid at the time of the choice for the circumstance are liable to have changed. Action, choice, inaction, choice; neither seems to include thought

Destination Infinity said...

What I did this year, I might not have even planned for myself even last year. But still I may want to do them. Not because of myself but a lot of external influences. I might regret the same action next year.

These external influences are difficult to control. Forget controlling them, it is not even possible to not let them influence your decision. Fair enough. After all we are living in a society with collective efforts. When we say that we made a decision under such external influences, and if we constantly keep changing what is right and what is wrong, then where is the freedom? Where is the clarity of action under which we assumed that we were free?

Destination Infinity

aditya said...

@ DI
There is something that needs to be brought to light here. I am sure that Suchi will back me on this for I have spent a huge amount of time discussing this.
The clarity of freedom cannot be measured across time. It has be instantaneous. What I mean by this is at any given moment, we need to see if we have the freedom, as in all the choices that can be available are available. We must have the option, regardless of whether we exercise it or not. That is the true freedom. However, I am not sure if a decision made at time T-1 can be judged based on information present at time T. The clarity of action, like a random walk, must incorporate all information present up until that moment.
Again, the wrong and right are ephemeral. However, since there is not right carved in stone, we have to see if every action we take, is cognizant of what we believe to be right or wrong at that instant. Just because we changed our concept of right and wrong at T, decisions at T-1 are not invalid!

Destination Infinity said...

I do accept that point. But there is one more thing that we need to consider: Whenever we make a decision, we always consider whether we would be happy with that decision at T+1, for example. This is because, we make a decision at T but we don't enjoy the benefits of that decision at T itself. It always has to be T+n. Though we may be free to make a decision at T, we might still regret that very freedom later.

And we make decisions to make things better and make us more happy. Would anyone want to decide on something that would make his life sad? Unless there is an unseen benefit of such a sadness?

Destination Infinity

aditya said...

@ DI
Are we going around in circles here? For a moment I am not sure what it is that I am to reply.

In the end what I understand is that if I had a choice wherein I am freed from all future choices, would I take it?

The answer to that question, which is the core of our discussions here is depends. It depends on whether we are conciously aware of 1) the expectations before the decisions, 2) the decision itself based on the expectations and 3) the result and its ultimate comparison with the expectation.

The freedom from choice is not the freedom from having to choose. It is an understanding that all decisions, like all everything else is relative to the time it is taken in. That means that there is no point in thinking about it for eons before of time. All one can do is at the moment of decision try to maximize what is being offered.

Regret is something that I have dealt with time and again. I still believe, from our own discussions at Sincerely Sorry that regret is just one's way of agreeing that they are not happy with the outcome. I still maintain that the decision being mine, I do not regret it. I accept it as a logical conclusion of a decision, mine.

And I hope to understand by the last sentence that you too believe that there is a motive behind everything, either visible or invisible.

Destination Infinity said...

Sorry, I do tend to go off topic quite frequently.

I completely accept your POW that you take complete responsibility for your actions and decisions based on the information and knowledge at that point. If that was what the debate was about, I am in agreement.

But could you have done something better, if the freedom of action was suppressed from you (for eg.), is the question I am asking.

Destination Infinity

aditya said...

I generally do go off topic, however that is in conversations offline.
I do not quite get what you mean by suppression of freedom of action. Is to mean that I am not allowed to do something? Or something that I have not even thought about!

Again, if I do not do something at a given point in time, there is nothing to look back to, meaning there is no regrets?

A bit muddled here.

Destination Infinity said...

Not doing anything could be regretted much more than even the worst mistake made by doing something (Of course, these things are situational and a lot of times work otherwise as well).

What I meant by suppression of freedom of action was you not allowed to do something which you thought right at that point, and which you would have done, if you were allowed to.

Destination Infinity
(I am taking a short break here, I need to go home!! Thanks for the nice discussion)

aditya said...

Resuming where we left off...
And who is that someone who suppresses that action?

And with regard to the first section of the latest comment, the action of not doing something is also an action, is it not, something like the choice of not making a choice being a choice!