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True limitless freedom is impossible Expand / Collapse
Posted 1/2/2012 5:05:21 PM


I was having a conversation recently with a young man who was an advocate of Anarchy and Limitless Freedoms. I tried to explain how that by definition limitless freedom was an impossibility. I did not even touch on the impossibility of anarchy.

The reason limitless freedom is impossible is because nearly every freedom you have is limited by another persons freedom.

For instance. He was advocating the idea that people should have the freedom to smoke in bars. My retort was simply that you limit the freedom of those who don't and have never smoked from having the freedom to enter that establishment without having toxic smoke in the air. And their freedom to enter any bar and not worry about there being smoke limits the freedom of the smoker to smoke where they like. Each side has a valid point from a pure freedom based point of view.

Or the idea that you do not have the freedom to drink as much as you like then drive. That freedom would limit my ability to drive on the road without fear of someone who is intoxicated crashing head on with me.

The same can be said about cellphones and texting.

The list is endless. My freedom of speech can infringe on your freedom from harassment.

My freedom to defend myself at all costs can come at the expense of a persons freedom to live.

One could always argue that if a regulation or law is required for its protection it might not be a freedom....because that is restricting an action to allow your own.

So...what are your thoughts? Is Limitless freedom possible?....and if so how?
Post #955871
Posted 1/2/2012 5:58:22 PM


That did...even if you did go esoteric on me. *chuckles*
Post #955875
Posted 1/12/2012 9:37:49 AM


The anarchist's idea of limitless freedom is self defeating for this very reason, as soon as it interact's with another person, one or both loose their freedom, usually the anarchist is really using the old revolutionary saying "Liberté, égalité, fraternité, ou la Mort!" or rather, "Everyone is equally free to obey our every whim"

The true anarchist nation is the despot, a dictatorship. The totalitarian dictator is the greatest anarch. The most powerful, (dictator) does whatever he damn well pleases, the less powerful can also do what they please, however they get shot.

The problem with the idea of limitless freedom, is that it doesn't exist. The universe is bound by absolutes and laws, the speed of light, gravity, the laws of physics, etc etc. So it seems to me that we, as part of that universe, are also bound by absolutes and laws as well. A religious person would say we were created in God's image.

From a strictly biological point of view we can see that certain moral absolutes are ingrained physically. Not murdering our own species and not lying are visible examples of the strongest ingrained programming (ie a lie detector test quickly shows that even a morally bankrupt liar's mind and body resists being untruthful)

By our nature man is a social animal, we pair bond with our partners and raise family units, from there we form tribes and communities. It is therefore our nature to limit or balance our personal freedoms with that of society.

For example, laws regarding marraige, divorce and child support. It is a biological instinct for a man to pairbond with his wife, and to raise and support their offspring together. These laws we have are natural extensions of the biological instinct. A man must legally pay child support as their biological instinct should have made them do. Anarchy is ultimately the denial of freedom and our biological nature, as it dehumanizes everyone and the strongest takes all.
Post #956410
Posted 1/19/2012 11:22:07 AM


Piobaire (1/18/2012) I agree with all the views you express, but I find myself wondering about the definition of freedom, itself.

Many would define it to be the capacity to do what we want. I wonder if it is'nt, in its' highest form, the licence or capacity to do what we ought to do.

To look at "absolute freedom" we must first ask ourselves what it is we wish to be free of. An old quote is "Don't you know that if you continue to obey someone, you become their slave, because you obey them" logically someone who is addicted to drugs is not free, they are a slave to their habit/addiction. By extension people are slaves to their culture, education, religion, upbringing, poverty, mental disorders, and a myriad of other factors. Even our personalities enslave us, ie the narcassist is enslaved by his narcassism. We are blinded by our own weaknesses and thus are incapable of achieving absolute freedom.

In the orriginal post, the person wanted to have the absolute freedom to smoke in public bars, I would argue he was enslaved by his addiction to niccotine, among other things. It raises the question of a contradiction, Does one have absolute freedom to chemical dependency and addiction? The reality is that addiction and dependancy cancels out the ability to be absolutely free, they are enslaved to their addiction/dependancy.

The anarchist, and indeed the communist, rely on the principle that if people are free they will naturally seek each other's interests and that society will take care of itself. To a degree they might be correct, what they fail is to factor in people.

What I would say is that absolute freedom requires that the individual be absolutely perfect. They must be free of any imperfection, internal or external, in order to be capable of exercising absolute freedom. In short, absolute freedom can only exist in a perfect society made of perfect individuals in perfect conditions.

So to answer your question, is freedom limited to doing what we "ought to do", then yes, in a way it is. If we choose to do something that we shouldn't, then we suffer (or are enslaved by) the consequences of that action. ie I choose to smoke, I become addicted to tobacco. I have the freedom to choose to be violent, then I will likely suffer violence in return (those who live by the sword, dye by the sword) By not doing what we "ought to do" we are actively limiting our freedom.
Post #956753
Posted 2/28/2012 2:11:52 PM


Actually, I believe that limitless freedom is possible, but only on a personal level (basically only to sociopaths), because you're right, it would negatively impact someone else's freedoms. My philosophy professor back in college put it best: "Your rights end where another's begin." Of course, one could always embrace "perverse freedom," personified by Fyodor Dostoevsky's Underground Man (Notes From the Underground), which is the freedom to even go against your best interests: "I think my liver is diseased; well, let it get worse!" Best line in the book, in my opinion.

MrCustomer and ksenia are absolutely correct when they say that no one can be free, not on an existinential level. Gravity still binds us, not hydrating will kill us, and we'll still go blind if we look at the sun long enough. But in this case I define freedom as the capacity to satisfy any attainable urge a person may have; I see this as a question on the societal level. Can I try to rob a bank? Can I dig a hole in my front yard? Can I trim my neighbor's bushes for him? Can I set up a lawn chair and beach umbrella in someone else's parking space at work and then sit there and read all day? The answer to all of these is yes. (I've actually done the last one; I won the bet fair and square!)

So is it possible? I believe technically yes. But humans are not designed to think like that. We're wired to form bonds and groups and families, to form society. There will always be loners and radicals, but the vast vast vast majority of people want rules and bounderies to tell them what the can do and where they cannot go.

Post #958819
Posted 2/29/2012 2:51:41 AM


i think William Goldings book 'Lord of the Flies'.showed we need rules and structure no matter how much we crave for true limitless freedom ........human instinct takes us back to an there really such a thing as true limitless freedom.....the strong will always win over the weak......human nature will alway intervene no matter the single point of view.......

this summary of the book says it all really.......

Free from the rules that adult society formerly imposed on them, the boys marooned on the island struggle with the conflicting human instincts that exist within each of them—the instinct to work toward civilization and order and the instinct to descend into savagery, violence, and chaos.

i am pretty but i am not beautiful, i SIN but i am not the devil, i am good but i am no angel......................~Marilyn Monroe~

Post #958832
Posted 2/29/2012 8:38:26 AM


Ooh, good example, and from a great book! But I think the fact that they're children skews it a bit, because children are creatures of impulse rather than logic. They tend to make decisions based purely on what they feel exactly at that time, without running it through any sort of thought process. It almost seems more like reactions than deliberate choices, a lot of the time. The synopsis of the book itself even says that what they feel is instict, and I believe that decisions have to be deliberate choices, and those come from deliberate weighing of options.
Post #958840
Posted 2/29/2012 8:20:26 PM


The lord of the Flies was inspired by the Swiss Family Robertson. In the Swiss Family a cultured and civilized family is shipwrecked on an isolated island. Here they reform a civilization, showing how family values and education would allow them to thrive in a civilized fashion in the face of any adversity. The Lord of the Flies was intended to show the opposite, where eduacted and civilized children (from a pretty decent private school if they were on on a school trip around the world) quickly decend into chaos and devolve to a primative state.

That aside, There are two levels of freedom, Individual Freedom and Society's Freedom. An individual's freedom is limited when it conflicts with another individual's freedom, or with the freedom of society as a whole. (ie civilization) To exercise freedom without regard to society and the freedom's of others can only occur in the absense of anyone else, set a person in the middle of nowhere and they can do what they want, but it would be a poor existance.

Really in the absense of civilization, the individual's freedom is also limited. Can you really exersise the freedom of speech when there is no media or audience, no language spoken or written?

I am of the mind of Masamune Shirow, "Man is still at heart a weak organism, even if he does use science as a weapon to fight the natural universe, he can really only function when he's created an entire society,... Society creates the people, and when the people come together they create the society."

The basis here, as an example, is that language only exists if there is other people to use it with, isolated by oneself, it is just noise, like any other animal. Man creates a society which creates a language they can mutually communicate with, verbal language, alphabets, written language, poetry etc, are governed by laws without which it is just random noise and markings without meaning.

Laws, rules, society, is what makes speach, words, language and communication possible. Sounds have meanings because of society's rules that give them meaning. You can understand this post only because shapes are given definition (letters) words are given meaning and language. "i&U hu&I^78kj uih6t8hiplyut g8778 hfiur9 hfisuy7 TT78yyt87 8yt87G&% ^*^&%T8gyg67 5tuYT768 T*^T*8 &* %T*&ghg8 7%^* & h&ITY&* "for example is meaningless because it ignores the laws.

The freedom of speach is dependant upon and limited by the society's rules of language and it's various mediums. Regardless of the laws, censorship etc, when it comes right down to it Freedom of Speach only exists because of rules. Absolute freedom of these rules is just meaningless, incoherant sounds and random markings, and thus not freedom if one cannot express.

By this reasoning, Freedom only really exists within the boundaries of society and civilization, true freedom is the balance of an individual's freedom with that of society's, because without that soceity, without the civilization (and the laws therein) man's freedom would be extremely limited because individually he is only a weak organism.
Post #958884
Posted 3/1/2012 1:04:27 PM


Really! I never knew Lord of the Flies was in response to Swiss Family Robinson. But I believe that their being children still throws a different spin on the original topic.

I think that an individual's freedoms are just that, individual. Going back to my--admittedly stupid--example of digging a hole, I have the freedom to do that, whether in my front yard or in the woods where no one will probably ever see it. To use your example about freedom of speech, MrCustomer, I can exercise that even if I am in the middle of the forest where there's no one to hear me; my freedom to say things is not dependant upon other people hearing what I say. I agree with you that societally, freedom of speech is limited by what people as a society decide, but individually, I have the physical ability to say whatever I want. It's not a completely accurate comparison, I know, because I'm comparing what can be done to what should be done, but it's a deep, complicated topic...
Post #958912
Posted 3/1/2012 7:43:56 PM


You miss the point abit. I don't refer to the limits such as political correctness, libel, legality or censurship might impose upon us, but rather on our basic ability to have language and ability to express ourselves in the first place.

Yes, you don't need someone else to hear you to exersize your freedom of speech in the middle of a forest alone, but you did need civilization as a whole to have given you a language in the first place.

If you were left at birth in a forest by yourself and by pure luck survived, you would have no language, at best with your stunted emotional and educational growth you would be a clever animal. at best you could grunt and make crude guestures.

At best if you wanted to dig a hole, you could claw the earth with your bare hands. If you were exceptionally clever you might use a stick or a rock.

You however are much more fortunate, you have civilization and society. You were raised by that society who had existing skills and resources to pass to you, such as language. You learnt how to speak, read and write, and how to express yourself, beyond that you learnt many other things that could be applied when speaching (philosophy, religion, history, math, science, poetry, art etc etc)

So when you decide to go out in the woods by yourself, and dig a hole with a shovel, and rant to yourself about the philosophies of Plato. Consider that you are using a Tool, invented and developed by civilization, made of metals that require mining, metalurgy and smithing, again, developed by civilization. That you learnt your language from civilization, that Plato's philosophies are known to you because of written languages, the printing press and an education system.

That you have time to dig a hole and rant to yourself is thanks to being able to refridgerate food, purchased from a grocery store, wear manufactured clothing and live in a manufactured building.

Otherwise, without society and civilization, you would have been to busy hunting and gathering food in the forest and running away from cougars and wolves and bears, oh my, to spend much time clawing at the ground with your bare hands while grunting at a nearby bush, that is if you managed to survive at all.

Thus our freedom is dependant upon society's support, our freedom is enabled at the most basic level by what society and civilization has given us, language, culture, education and resourses and technology. We have freedoms because of the choices that society has made available to us.
Post #958937
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