Freedom

Freedom means to bring one’s own desires into the world and to act accordingly, to take responsibility for the fact of being born. This means: to do what one thinks is right and what one is convinced of, considering the given opportunities and possibilities, and to work for one’s own ideals and aspirations.

Traditionally, freedom is understood as independence, as absence of constraints. But since being dependent is an essential part of being human, this cannot be true. People are dependent and free at the same time. Freedom does not mean being able to do whatever you want, but refers to the uniqueness of each human. Freedom means to make this uniqueness visible in the world, in person. No one is totally without freedom.

However, depending on the social circumstances and one’s own location in a particular matrix, people are granted different privileges, or exposed to discrimination. It is important to consciously reflect upon such unjust conditions and to develop practices to counter them. Freedom is not the result of such struggle, but its premise.

Being free does not mean that there are as few obstructions as possible between one’s desire and its realization in the world (that I can do what I want). In fact being free means exploring every option at my disposal to bring my own convictions into the world. Therefore, persons who act freely can push the boundaries of a given reality, of what is thought to be possible—for instance by negotiation (with others as well as with themselves) or through conflicts.

Freedom is often equated with volition, but these are not the same. It is possible to voluntarily agree to something that does not correspond to one’s desire, be it for convenience or out of fear of conflict. Volition means choosing from given options without coercion. Free action, however, is directed towards an open and unpredictable future, it is not guaranteed by the mere absence of constraints. Rather, freedom is characterized precisely by its potential (or ability), to go beyond what has already been thought or imagined possible, to „lean out” of the given reality (as Italian philosopher Luisa Muraro put it). For example by beginning all over again.

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