As with all good questions to be pondered, once answered there seems to be thousands of more questions that are then opened up, waiting to be answered to if only unlock the door to thousands of more mysteries waiting to find answers too.
This is where I seem to be at. After a long time spent pondering positive and negative freedom, I feel I have a stable enough grasp on what they both mean, and can analyze and discuss them enough to contribute to some sort of discussion surrounding the topic. But as I mentioned above, I’ve a sort of, philosophical wall of questions. One that, I feel, is making it hard for me to make that jump to fully understanding these concepts to the best of my ability. Even if I don’t find an “answer” to these questions, just being able to try to articulate them is enough to make me feel satisfied with them. One in particular has been burning in me for a couple of days, and has to deal with the very nature of subjectivity and objectivity and how we can relate these things to freedom. This scenario that I’ve been trying to unravel in my head has to do mainly with negative freedom, and freedom in religion also, but also covers the grand spectrum of the idea of freedom.
And just as a disclaimer, my purpose of this question is not to make any sort of religious or anti-religious statement, I just find this scenario to be the most helpful in trying to explain whatever it is I’m trying to say and considering the awesome amounts of discussions we had today concerning religion, I find it to be a very interesting topic to discuss right now.
Let’s say Person A follows a certain type of religion, and adheres to that religion’s particular text and rules. They lead the life they want to live with that particular text, and know the rules and restrictions that it lays out for them, and follow these as part of their daily practice. They know that there are restrictions being placed on things that on what they do by the wishes of the spiritual deity or higher power that they look to. Now, Person B, as on-looker of Person A and one who does not necessarily believe in the same walk of faith would look at the rules and in their mind not see them as restrictions for they do not see any credibility in the external force that these restrictions originated from. Person B, not believing in the same external deity that Person A does, would not see these rules being placed down from a real source.
Looking at this scenario, the person who is follows that particular religious text would say that yes, they do have some restrictions on their freedom to do what they want, but that they believe in these rules to help them lead the life that they want to live. While an on-looker who does not particular adhere to the same rules of faith and does not believe in the same way of thinking would say that the other person is actually free and that they themselves are the ones who are putting the restrictions on their lives, not anyone else.
So, who really is right in this scenario? I mean technically speaking, negative freedom is the freedom from interference of others, so in Person B’s ways of thinking, Person A is free. Because Person B does not believe in the spiritual deity or set of rules that Person A believes in, they believe that they themselves are enforcing the rules on themselves, and that there actually are no external restrictions. But for Person A, it is the total opposite. They do have an external force restricting some of the choices that they make, which means that in their mind there is some
Which finally brings us to the question. Considering the scenario, could that mean that in some cases, depending on the situation and too different degrees, that negative freedom could be totally subjective at times? Could it be that freedom is based on perspective and is not completely objective? Because in regards to this scenario, no one really knows if there is any sort of “higher power”, in which ever way you’d like to define that, or not out there. There is really only what we ourselves believe. And in that case then, since we only have what we ourselves believe to go off of, could freedom, and more specifically negative freedom, just be a token of our perspective?