Our trusty online dictionary yourdictionary.com defines freedom as follows:
1.the state or quality of being free; esp.,
a.exemption or liberation from the control of some other person or some arbitrary power; liberty; independence
b.exemption from arbitrary restrictions on a specified civil right; civil or political liberty: freedom of speech
c.exemption or immunity from a specified obligation, discomfort, etc.: freedom from want
d.exemption or release from imprisonment
e.a being able to act, move, use, etc. without hindrance or restraint: to have the freedom of the house
f.a being able of itself to choose or determine action freely: freedom of the will
g.ease of movement or performance; facility
h.a being free from the usual rules, patterns, etc.
i.frankness or easiness of manner; sometimes, an excessive frankness or familiarity
Does anything seem missing from these definitions?
Let me suggest otherwise by way of example.
An alcoholic goes into a bar and sits down.
Let us assume that if he begins to drink he will not stop until he is thrown out/drunk or out of money.
My question is, does the alcoholic have a free choice?
If he chooses to take a drink he is giving in to his alcoholic addiction which inhibits his freedom. If he chooses not to buy a drink he opposes his addiction and exercises his free will not to drink.
But as I am sure you can see he only has one choice which is free and in that case is he really free? It is hardly a choice at all if there is only one option.
I suggest that our definition of freedom is what is at fault. Freedom is not to be able to choose as we please rather it is the ability to choose what we ought to choose; a freedom for excellence.
If as a child we are put into a room with a piano to practice our simple pieces, we are free to practice or not to practice. This is a real choice we can make. We can choose to work hard and become better or smash the piano with a hammer and never practice again.
If we choose to work hard at our piano we become more free because we are now able to play more complicated pieces, improvise and even compose. But if we do not practice we inhibit what we can become. When we make our initial choice it is free but it is a choice to end our freedom (not to practice) or enhance our freedom(practice).
How is this related to my blog? I am not quite sure.
I would love to hear your thoughts on my thoughts. I am sure it has some implications for the freedom 'from' or freedom 'for' debate but I suspect it will just confuse the debate mightily.