Do you have a focus word this year?
I kinda like “Being” – which immediately splits into both ontology and epistemology – the nature of being and the nature of our understanding of it – the two of which seem to both be tightly interlinked and extremely deep (perhaps infinitely so),
It now seems beyond all reasonable doubt to me, that as conscious entities, we each get to live in our own subjective “virtual reality” which is a more or less accurate model of the reality in which we exist, that has components from our deep genetic history, components from culture, and components from our own experience and choices.
So there seems to be a very real sense in which, to a significant degree, we really do get to experience what we expect (at various conscious and subconscious levels).
At the deeper levels of ontology, it seems that reality really is a profound mix of the random and the causal, with many different levels of randomness constrained by levels of filters that deliver various probability distributions over various time scales.
This seems to deliver a world that, when dealing with large collections of things can very closely approximate hard causality, but at the level of individuals (all levels) is much less predictable.
It seems to me, that it is only in such a world, that is a finely balanced mix of the random and the causal, can the idea of freedom have any sort of real meaning. And that meaning is not a simple meaning, but it does allow for individual behaviour to have a significant degree of independence from many of the tendencies their past.
And from systems theory it is clear that every level of complexity requires boundaries to survive, so at our highest ethical levels we need to be actively responsible in social and ecological contexts.
Freedom in this sense is not a simple freedom to follow the whims of our deep genetic past, but rather a responsibility to make the best choices we each individually can in all contexts, acknowledging both our fundamental reliance on many levels of cooperation and the fundamental uncertainties at all levels, and accepting both diversity, and that individuals will make mistakes, and our need to embody forgiveness and rehabilitation in non-naive ways (at the.highest levels we can achieve).
So it aint simple!
So in this sense, it seems to me that hard rules are the very antithesis of freedom, yet at the same time, if we are not be overwhelmed by hard rules, we each need to develop active responsibility and awareness on as many levels as we can.
So like you, I love ontology, and I cannot completely separate it from epistemology, they seem to be two sides of the same coin. We may only be able to hold one side clearly in view at a time, and it is still the same coin.