What is Freedom?

I shared this photo with my network yesterday and had some interesting responses.

Protest sign: "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free" -- Goethe

…free from armpit hair does this make her aware of her freedom from evolution or enslaved to vanity? – Michael C

It also sparked a conversation with a colleague today. He proposed that true freedom includes the freedom to restrict your freedoms, such as putting boundaries in place to support learning, and through this learning you could end up more free than you were before. The act of restricting your freedoms results in increased freedom. Now I completely agree that knowledge creates freedom, but I don’t believe that you’re actually reducing your freedom in order to achieve that, you’re just choosing not to exercise certain aspects of your freedom for a period of time.

He offered an example of study needs meaning you were no longer free to go to the pub. I maintained that I was still free to go to the pub in this hypothetical situation, but had chosen to direct my energy in to study instead.

In an analogous counter, I suggested that someone with $1,000,000 in the bank holidaying on only $1,000 was still a millionaire, even if she didn’t allow herself access to the account for the duration of the vacation.

I see the situation as a direction of energy and time into a goal, rather than the restriction of my freedom. We have the freedom to choose, but our choices do not restrict our freedoms. Even the choice to restrict our freedoms is only effective until we choose to lower those boundaries again, so they’re never actually gone.

The conversation was adjourned once we decided we needed to define freedom. So what say you?

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