Monday, December 12, 2011

Some Thoughts on Freedom

I recently received a comment on one of the more popular posts, which I decided deserved a response in its own post. If necessary, read the old post first, then come back to the comment and my reply.

I am told, deer almost never travel more than five miles from their birthplaces during their lives. If an enclosure were located outside the normal unimpeded limits of a deer's lifetime wanderings would the deer enclosed be imprisoned? Perhaps, but note that it makes a difference to our intuitions whether someone install that enclosure[..] A jail without a jailer is not a jail. D. Dennett Elbow Room. The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting. Now, it seems to me that the jail V is talking about is too many things at the same time. It's of course the prison created by the authoritative regime on the deviants as on the regular citizens and its employees, but it's also the happy unaware life, it's an existence without principles, it's the life of whom fears the death. But where is the jailer? In this passage V looks to me much more schizophrenic than in the rest of the graphic novel, in the sense that he's obsessed with an idea over any logical limit.

I will first say to the analogy of a deer that yes, the deer is imprisoned. Allow me to illustrate it this way - Does one's perception of a thing change the reality of it? Because you are not able to smell a rose, does it mean that a rose has no scent? The answer is an obvious "no". Therefore, does the deer's perception of being free to go wherever it chooses mean that it is not in a cage, simply because it has not seen the bars? No.Who put up the enclosure? That would be the jailer.

Now, we do find a point of agreement in that one of the jails he is talking about is that which was created by the regime. However, I believe that if you think about it, there is no contradiction or schizophrenia in the places he takes the bigger concept of freedom. Bear in mind, I live with a paranoid schizophrenic, so I have an idea of what I’m talking about.

You start with the idea of the “happy unaware life”. Go back to the analogy of the deer. It has an happy, unaware life in its enclosure, yet it is still enclosed. It goes with the saying that “ignorance is bliss”, however, if you think about some of the people you know who are ignorant by choice, it seldom ends well. I talk to my dad a lot about things that I think are coming down the pipe, whether it be civil unrest, food shortages, a currency collapse, or anything else, always with knowledge to back up my beliefs, and it brings out things he tries not to think about. Some things he tries not to consider or even know. He does not seek out information about the things I tell him. Each time we discuss things, he says that he knows I’m right, but prefers not to think about them because it can be overwhelming in an already hectic life (can I get an Amen?). But consider, if he goes on the path ignoring everything he sees and hears for too long, remaining ignorant and complacent, how overwhelmed will he be if the excrement hits the impeller? Ignorance is temporary bliss. The happy unaware life ends in pain at the confrontation of knowledge willfully ignored.

As a side note, know that I love my dad and we are fairly close. Simply using him as a “case study”, if you will.

“Existence without principles”. Can you think of a world that would be worse to live in than one in which there was no standard to live by? Nothing to live for? Now, I’m a God-fearing, Bible-believing man. In Scripture, examples of lives like that never have a happy ending. In the New Testament, Christ and his apostles spoke to this idea as being in bondage to sin. A slave. The master – Satan. Life without principles and purpose is a life of slavery to an invisible, but real master. Spiritual slavery is still slavery, or prison, if you prefer.

“The life of whom fears the death”. Now this can turn into an interesting philosophical discussion. It is said that babies are only born with two fears – falling and loud noises. All other fears are learned fears. Why does one become afraid of spiders? Either a parent taught them to be, or they had a bad experience. Water? Big dogs? Same thing. The fears are learned either through experience or teaching, rational or irrational. We all know that fear has the potential to be debilitating, to make us feel, shall we say, imprisoned. It limits the places that we allow ourselves to go and the things we allow ourselves to do. Who is responsible for our continued state of fear? Is it not ourselves? If we bear responsibility for our fear, who then keeps us imprisoned by it? Who then is the jailer? Is it not ourselves? “I have met the enemy, and it is me.”

Most people fear death. Why? Is it not the experiences and teachings we have had ingrained in us that death is painful and the end? How do we overcome our fears? By confronting them. In confrontation of fears, most of them irrational, we conquer them and release ourselves of them in the confrontation, proving to ourselves that there was nothing to fear. Death is often more difficult to overcome the fear of. We can’t threaten to kill ourselves and put the gun to our head and start to pull the trigger in order to rid ourselves of the fear of death. The fear of death is much more of a mental and spiritual fear. Spiritually, if you have made yourself right in your relationship with God, and you trust him, you will have no fear of death. Second, you have to rationalize (mental) that death is not the worst thing that can happen to you. If you are prepared, death is a release, another step in life, not the end of it.

I think that the point V was making was not some eclectic form of philosophy, but rather in the exposing of multiple jailers. Government, ignorance, Satan, and ourselves offer resistance to us in differing ways, but the end is the same – imprisonment. This list may not be, and probably isn’t exhaustive, but creates an answer to the questions posed, and perhaps provides a springboard for understanding if other issues of prison/prisoner arise.

Discussion, anyone?

Act Free.

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