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  1. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    Freedom?

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by Aled James Taylor, Jul 28, 2014.

    It seems to me that people have far less freedom than they tend to imagine.

    Whenever you choose one thing rather than something else, you do so for a reason, and that reason, to a great extent, dictates your conclusion.

    You may argue, ‘But I can choose whatever I like’, but then it would be your personal preferences that make the decision for you, and you have little control over what you like and dislike.

    You could argue, ‘I choose in accordance with what I think and believe’, but why would you think or believe one thing rather than something else? There will be a reason for this, and this reason guides you, even railroads you, to a particular conclusion.

    However deeply you investigate why you choose the things you choose, you find layer upon layer of reasons. ‘Freedom’ is ever elusive.

    It seems we are each a Frankenstein creation of our own upbringing and experiences.
     
  2. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is the standard "free will" debate. As far as I am concerned, there is freedom so long as you are allowed to do stupid pointless things and to do or say things that other people don't like.
     
  3. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why would you want to do stupid pointless things?
    You don't have to comply with someone eases likes, but you will find yourself being compelled to comply with your own. Being compelled to do something isn't free-will.
     
  4. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    You are right. Many spiritual teachings suggest that the "you" that you know is only a false representation of who you really are. What you think you know of yourself is only the result of input and output from your surroundings. That is why they tend to teach you to return to your true self.

    That being said, people also have VASTLY more freedom than they give themselves credit, even with the limitation of "reality." For example, a dog has no choice but to be a dog. It cannot choose to change its role. People, on the other hand, despite whatever others may try to force on them, can choose the purpose for which they live and die, and they can choose what to do with the life that they have, be it a historian, writer, doctor, etc. Even in a situation where a person points a gun at you and forces you to do something, you still have choices even if you feel like you have none. You could always choose to die or find a way to escape.

    In the end, the only thing that limits freedom is fear, and this fear is inadvertently caused by having TOO MUCH freedom. I am sure many people have felt situations where they have so many choices that they find it difficult to make a choice, such as when deciding what to eat in a restaurant. When you have so many choices that you can make, the resulting consequence is that you tend to become paralyzed. The lack of direction and understanding of the countless options forces you to box yourself in to just what you know and can grasp so that you can be more comfortable with your decisions. This is the same as what people call a "comfort zone."

    This is no different from shopping online. The more you filter your results, the less choices you have, and you tend to avoid things that you do not know about, which only further reduces your choices until you learn about it. That is also why they say knowledge will set you free. As you expand your knowledge and understanding, you can slowly start to regain the choices that you filtered out due to not understanding it before.

    So yes, we certainly are, "each a Frankenstein creation of our own upbringing and experiences," but the freedom is still there.
     
  5. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    People seem to have freedom to choose how to live their life. For example, I could choose to enroll on an engineering course to improve my qualifications, or I could spend my spare time developing my writing skills instead. This seems like a free choice, but the more I think about it (in the ways I'm accustomed to thinking), the more the answer just falls out at the end of the process. It seems to be the same no matter what issue you consider, the answer (wright or wrong) eventually becomes obvious. It becomes a 'no-brainer'. The alternative is to pick something at random. There is little freedom in either of these.

    Fear is certainly an influencing factor, but choosing not to be frightened is beyond our abilities and we need good reason to act against our fear. But then we're back to reasons dictating our decisions and freedom is once again illusive.

    If you'r faced with a choice, as in a restaurant, of options you know nothing about, it's not surprising people become 'paralyzed'. You can't think about something you don't know, because you have nothing to think about. Of the options on the menu that I do know about, I may quite like several of them and have difficulty deciding. This makes the choice more difficult, but it doesn't make it any more free. I may say to myself, "I don't really know what I want," but ultimately, it's what I want that will tell me what to choose.

    There is also risk taking. You could pick something you know nothing about, as a kind of experiment, on the off chance it might be good. But some people are willing to take such risks and others not, and there will be a reason for this.
     
  6. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    People do stupid pointless things all the time. Peer pressure makes people do things they don't want to do and know they shouldn't do. Your own likes or dislikes very often are balanced against the needs of others and things like laws and customs. But in the end, you can choose to live or you can choose to die. Nothing constrains the way you make your choice. For instance, you could make every major decision by tossing a coin. No one and nothing will stop you. Freedom.
     
  7. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, there are many influences on our thinking as you say, peer pressure, laws, customs etc. It seems that whichever of these is strongest in your mind at a particular time, will be the thing that dominates your thinking and 'railroads' you to a particular conclusion. Just because your personal desire is outweighed by an external influence, doesn't make the situation any more free.

    The way in which you tend to think, constrains the way you make your choice (some may think critically, others wishfully etc). The particular options and arguments you consider also constrain your thinking. Your beliefs, ambitions, and desires will also have an influence. Then there are your memories and your perception of your memories. All these things relate to, and influence each other. (I tried to draw a schematic of it once but ended up with something that looked like several spiders having a fight). And there are the external influences you already mentioned.

    You would have to be in a very sorry state indeed to choose to die. Self preservation is a very strong influence and this takes a great deal to outweigh.

    As you say, you could choose to toss a coin but this, in itself, would be a choice and you would have a reason for making it. (People often do this only when they can't make up their minds and have to choose something). If the coin decides, it's not really your decision, so it's not your freedom. Do you make all your decisions by tossing a coin? If not, what's stopping you? I suspect that knowing what you want, is sufficient to stop you doing this.
     
  8. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're basically arguing determinism. Nothing new here.
     
    Simpson17866 likes this.
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