TED Conversations

Eun A Jo


This conversation is closed.

Are we truly free?

"To see what is in front of one's own nose needs a constant struggle." - George Orwell.

A project called "Creating Freedom" collects various essays, films, and other work of art to discuss the subjects of power, control and freedom. (http://www.creatingfreedom.info/)
From Howard Zinn to Steven Pinker, "Creating Freedom" has consolidated interviews from investigative journalists, historians, psychologists, and more.

The trailer of the film The Lottery of Birth raises the question as to whether we are really free.

Is freedom an absolute, or a relative, condition?
Does freedom truly exist, or is it simply an ideological concept humans created to consolidate the restricted nature of our lives?

Are we truly free?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Apr 12 2012: I believe freedom is more complicated and encompasses many levels so that the answer to you question would be yes and no for everyone.

    I think of freedom as web or a tree branching out.
    We all have a certain level of freedoms to breath, to sleep, to react to our environment, to go up stream or down stream, these would be the trunk of our "freedom tree".

    Farther up the tree we would have freedoms that are presented to most of us but not all of us by opportunity. They could be anything from eating and drinking when or what we want to giving a life or taking a life. They may be regulated by availability, government, or maybe even just how we were physically born.

    Farther up the tree freedom branches out into so many different aspects of life governed by so many other factors its impossible to define. These branches will contain freedoms that not everyone can or will have.

    This could be freedom caused by having a lot of money. Yes on some branches money is freedom. Freedom to travel, to help someone, to eat to have a pet, to marry, to buy a book.

    Another branch might be freedom caused by power. This could be the freedom to take another's freedom or to impact those around you positively or negatively.

    One branch might be freedom caused by having charisma or good looks.
    All of these things would open or close doors and the more doors we have open the more free we are. Of course the problem is that at times when we open doors for ourselves we end open closing doors on others.
    • Apr 12 2012: I like your metaphor of freedom being a tree or a web branching out. I think it's very accurate and thought provoking. I hope that people will look at the problem you outline at the bottom of your post. The problem is that at times we open doors for ourselves and end up closing doors for others. Well put, thanks for your interesting metaphor and meme :D

      At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, having personally examined the branch of freedom of; having lots of money. For me it was more restricting than liberating, long hours, high stress etc. I worked hard but then partied more, having little to show at the end of it. I much prefer the freedom of having lower money, more time for recreation, lower stress etc. Plus paradoxically it helped me to save more and become more responsible.

      So I think that freedom also encompasses the freedom to choose which branches to explore and which to value.
    • thumb
      Apr 14 2012: Hi James,

      Well, Terry already mentions the metaphor which I found to be truly incredible. So I'll spare you with a repetitive remark.

      Thank you for sharing.
      And thanks to Terry too!

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.