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satyagraha's avatar

Does the pursuit of freedom restrict one's freedom?

Asked by satyagraha (278points) February 17th, 2011

It seems as if the pursuit of freedom limits prevents you from doing certain actions, namely those which constrict your freedom. But then doesn’t the pursuit of freedom itself restrict your freedom? Any help getting me out of this pseudo-paradox?

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19 Answers

cackle's avatar

Name something that constricts your freedom?

satyagraha's avatar

If freedom is something you care about, then you might want to avoid submitting to a tyrannical dictator. But now you’ve lost the freedom to submit to that tyrannical dictator.

cackle's avatar

If you pursue freedom, why would you ever submit to a tyrannical dictator? If you are under a tyrannical dictator, you’re still free to do as you please but with possible consequences. It’s your choice if you want to submit to consequences.

satyagraha's avatar

Sure you wouldn’t want to, but you’ve lost the freedom to do it. Since presumably freedom is something you care about, this is an issue to you.

cackle's avatar

You haven’t lost freedom under tyranny. You still have the freedom to reject tyranny and act as you wish.

abaraxadac's avatar

Ahh. I get the conundrum. By taking action, you lose the option of taking that action, because you’ve already taken it.
On the other hand, doesn’t submitting to a tyrannical dictator require the continued submission to the same? You seem to assume that the day after you submit, you do not have to submit again, because you already did it, when in fact you continually make the choice to submit throughout your domination by him(or her).
-A clarification of your original statement: Does trying to become free limit you from pursuing actions that would restrict your freedom in the future? Yes, it does. This is not such a hypocritical factor as you might imagine, as in a four dimensional world, one has to look at what actions taken now will affect ones state through time. You admit that the pursuit itself of freedom in the future limits what actions are available to you right now, but in the long run you ultimately have many more actions available to you, because you limit yourself from those that would limit you.
There is a difference in external limiters, and those you place on yourself.

JilltheTooth's avatar

The definition of “freedom” would seem to be paramount here. Freedom as one person alone is very different from Freedom in a community.

bkcunningham's avatar

You have to work to keep your freedoms. You would replace your pursuit of freedoms to a pursuit to sustain your freedoms. As you can see happening now in America.

tinyfaery's avatar

As soon as you decide upon one idea/course of action you no longer have the freedom to pursue that opposite idea or action.

roundsquare's avatar

Does it help if I say this: No one has complete freedom. Your degree of freedom is limited by the rules of the system in which you exist. Depending on the level of abstraction you are talking about, this could mean the laws of physics, social norms or political/legal restriction.

kess's avatar

The only time you lose your freedom is when you limit the freedom of another…
If you limit your own freedom for the benefit of another, you actually gain more freedom for yourself.

So if your outlook in this life is to give as much freedom to another, even to the extent of limiting your own freedom, you would realise that you have not lost but gain more freedom.

perspicacious's avatar

I don’t agree with that. Our Constitutional guarantee is the pursuit of liberty and happiness rather than the pursuit of freedom.

bkcunningham's avatar

That is in the US Declaration of Independence. Not the US Constitution.

perspicacious's avatar

@bkcunningham You’re right, yes it is word for word. It’s also implied in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments (due process clause). The government cannot deprive anyone of life and liberty without it. So it is also Constitutionally guaranteed.

bkcunningham's avatar

@perspicacious you are correct. I don’t know what you were disagreeing with in the previous post. But regarding this exchange between us with the Declaration and the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments; pursuit of liberty and happiness isn’t the same as being “deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.”

perspicacious's avatar

@bkcunningham We disagree. It’s been a long time since con law class and I never practiced it. The implication in the due process clause is that you have the right to pursue it without government interference. I believe that was on the bar.

starsofeight's avatar

If there are rules and limitations inherent in or imposed upon the action of pursuing, that might well detract from or lessen one’s appreciation of the object pursued.

Jeruba's avatar

@satyagraha, I appreciate the paradox, but I think the idea of losing the freedom to submit to a tyrannical dictator is an absurd example.

Instead, this would be my answer: freedom is not free; it has a cost. The cost may be in defending it by various means, or it may simply be in accepting the responsibility that is a necessary concomitant of freedom. You may regard the cost as constraining your freedom, but the freedom you take without cost is not freedom, though it may be license.

iamthemob's avatar

There are two things at issue here, among others more than likely – (1) as mentioned, what you consider freedom, and (2) the difference between freedom and choice.

When you submit to a tyrannical dictator, for example, you have essentially chosen the freedom to be unconcerned with making your own choices about many aspects of your life – as they are decided for you.

Choosing a path where you are attempting to ensure that you have more choice available for you may entail that you deny submitting, but in theory does not prevent you from at some point in the future submitting.

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