Do you find this [Freedom] to be an over-used word?
But I wonder how many people are truly free?
Roosevelt launched the four areas of freedom in 1942. They are
– freedom from want
– freedom to worship
– freedom of speech
– freedom from fear.
Yet, in comparison to many countries, Americans have more liberties. But is that good enough?
Like Brendan, it seems to me that most people don’t spend nearly enough time really digging deeply into what freedom might mean.
And I can get that it is not a simple thing.
Digging deeply into the biochemistry of our cells, and into the quantum mechanics that makes cellular chemistry possible.
Working up from there through the many layers of emergent properties that various levels of organisation and pattern make possible.
Getting in to the sorts of mechanisms the brain uses to create the simulation of reality that seems to be our experiential reality.
Digging deeply into the nature of understanding, how any distinction must necessarily evolve from a simple binary in the direction of something that more closely approximates the infinite range of possibilities that seem to exist in most realms of distinction.
Is freedom to worship really a freedom? Or is it a command?
What set of assumptions is present that presumes the need of worship?
What might freedom from want be?
I certainly align with creating systems that supply all of the necessities of life to every sapient entity (human and non-human, biological and non-biological), and unbounded replication is not a necessity, nor even a logical possibility. If want is used just in this sense – fresh air, clean water, nutritious food, secure housing, health-care, energy, communication, transportation all in reasonable abundance; then I align.
If it is used in the wider sense of desire, then no – not so much.
What of freedom of speech? Certainly we are all free to speak, and do we really want to be free from the consequences of speech?
What might that look like?
Do we want people to ignore our words, as having no consequence?
No freedom of action has any meaning if it is free from consequence.
It seems clear to me that we derive all meaning from consequence.
I think what most mean when they speak of freedom of speech is freedom from the unreasonable and injustice consequences of speech resulting from the declarative judgements of others who do not share our value sets.
In this sense, it seems that freedom of speech can only have real meaning in so far as it involves a shared set of values.
What might a minimum set of such shared values look like?
After being 40 years in that particular enquiry, it seems that the minimum set is 2:
A respect for all sapient life (human and non-human, biological and non-biological);
A reasonable respect for the freedom of action of all other sapient entities.
So what sort of speech is not acceptable in such a system?
Speech that incites threat to or disrespect for the life or liberty of another.
What of freedom from fear?
What might that mean?
Again, it seems that the only useful interpretation is a freedom from likelihood of death, injury or loss of freedom that are not directly as the result of ones own chosen set of actions.
In the more general sense, Frank Herbert’s Benegeserit Litany against fear seems appropriate:
“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.”