The sense of freedom

That we can justify both free will and determinism probably means that neither is correct, and that a blend of the two is closer to actuality. Something like David Hume’s image of being in a closed room, where free will exists within limits. And even if humans are no more than physical particulars consistent only of molecules determined entirely by physical law, what’s important, ethically speaking, is that we have a sense of choice, a sense of freedom. It’s in this sense of freedom that I am interested. Whether consciousness is free in a metaphysical sense is ultimately irrelevant because we can never wholly transcend our phenomenology, our subjectivity, and so the sense of freedom is always present.[1] Like William James artfully describes, even choosing not to choose is itself a choice, and so again the sense of freedom rears its head. In this freedom, we have no choice except to choose.

JM Kincaid


[1] At best consciousness can approach the limit of objectivity. The process of attempting to transcend the subjective fatefully leads us to the precipice of truth, but like trying to comprehend the present moment, when one reaches the cusp of understanding, existence proceeds in its endless Heraclitean flux, the circumstances of reality change, and objective knowledge moves just out of reach. Transcendence is more a process, a pursuit, than something to be accomplished.

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3 thoughts on “The sense of freedom

  1. “That we can justify both free will and determinism probably means that neither is correct, and that a blend of the two is closer to actuality.”

    What if there’s a third option that we could not even conceive of?

      • But don’t you think that it would make sense for something so complicated and abstract to be outside of the realm of human knowledge? How can we objectively see from the outside in? We cannot. I think we can only speak to our own experience from within our own perspective, which can never capture the larger truth (if there even is one) outside of our perspective. Since we live in this cave our whole lives, what gives us the right, the motive to speculate as to what is outside of the cave? Do we even recognize the cave itself, or is it just some silly concept of a completely different phenomena?

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