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.