On freedom

What deeply interests me is my own personal freedom.

I used to think freedom meant being able to do what you wanted when you wanted. This is the common understanding of freedom and in a sense it is freedom. The problem here though is that it treats freedom as if it is an independent entity; something that exists independently of context and human action.

Not only that but it ignores the fact that human desire is a malleable thing.

Through the media human sexual preferences have been changed drastically. For example in the 60s Charlton Heston with his hairy chest was a sex icon; now Justin Bieber with his pre-pubescent physiognomy is a sex icon.

Humans acting freely have not brought about this change; it has been brought about through the media.

So what this indicates is that there is a freedom that goes deeper then just being able to do what you want when you want. This is because freedom seems to me to include freedom from things such as control and influence.

You can argue all day long about who is doing this controlling and manipulating of human preferences.

If you manage to find who is responsible and change them for a better person you would have done nothing about the underlying cause of the control. That is your innate capacity to be controlled in such a way.

A useful analogy is that of a dog on a leash.

Instead of focusing on who holds the leash we should examine the mechanism of the leash itself. Once we understand the leash and the latch we can take them off. It wouldn’t matter who is the holder of the leash.

Another advantage of this approach is that the means of control, the way in which we are influenced is directly available to us. This is because in order to manipulate us they have to do something to us.

The good thing here is that even if a person isn’t deliberately manipulating us we can analyse what is being done to us and the effect it is having and see that it is control even if the perpetrator of the action is oblivious to this.

I think I have given a good example of this in my critiques of education. The teachers are well-intentioned and often oblivious of what they are being used to do. This masks the control from people who look at the leash-holder.


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