Gabriela Nogueira

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Do you think that animals are completely free?

I've been thinking a lot about this and, personally, I think that animals are free. They have no obligations or judgments. They only follow their instinct, different from us human beings, that follow reason. So, that's the point: Do they know that they are free? And what worth the animal's freedom if they don't know that they are free? Is the idea of freedom exclusive of the rational beings?

I really would like to know your opinions, they are very important.
Thank you!

  • Apr 11 2013: Q: WHO is Free?
    A: I am Free
    Q: Who are you? Are you your body or do you have a body? Are you your brain or do you have a brain? Are you your mind or do you have a mind? Are you your Ego or do you have a Ego? If YOU end up being NONE of these things, WHO are you?

    Find out who you are and the question of freedom will be irrelevant.
  • Apr 11 2013: First of all: Animals, other then humans, don't think the way we do.
    When an animal, that has been domesticated for many generations is set free, they revert back to the wild. Dogs for instance. Cats & horses do this to.
    I feel it's not so much what they are thinking but what instinct is telling them to do.
    That very same instinct, when triggered, rules their judgement & obligations. How to learn to catch prey and help feed offspring etc. If an animal has reverted, they either learn quickly or die.
    Being free is an ingrained feeling shared by all animals including humans. Humans try to put tags on it where as other animals just do it.
    You can not put a price tag on freedom for animals nor really tell what they are thinking.
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    Apr 11 2013: I like how most people on here post a reply that is some sort of conclusion. An absolute. I think the idea of having a "debate" thread is to argue for one's opinion .. Oh well. Personally, I think that freedom is not enjoyed without a consciouss mind, y'know? Humans are the first (as we know) being able to reflect on their existence, and thereby I think we're the only ones able to realise that we're free, when we're not working -- those couples of minutes when you get down and think " I have spare time between this and studying, or going to a friends place" or something like that, that's our sudden realisation of freedom. Then again, if we were always free, then we wouldn't have freedom. I think freedom is defined by the consciouss mind realising that for a little while you don't have any concerns to take care of, but it is a neccesity that you do have concerns the rest of the time.
    • Apr 11 2013: I enjoyed reading your thoughts. Reminded me of Mr. Einstein who said:

      “Honestly, I cannot understand what people mean when they talk about the freedom of the human will. I have a feeling, for instance, that I will something or other; but what relation this has with freedom I cannot understand at all. I feel that I will to light my pipe and I do it; but how can I connect this up with the idea of freedom? What is behind the act of willing to light the pipe? Another act of willing? Schopenhauer once said: Der Mensch kann was er will; er kann aber nicht wollen was er will (Man can do what he will but he cannot will what he wills).”
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    Apr 25 2013: Freedom is an idea and it belongs to the realm of thoughts. So, it could apply only to conscious beings which have ability of abstract thinking. The animals can not be free or slaved the same way they can not talk or play chess, cause in their realm it does not exist.
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    Apr 18 2013: Yay, awesome I love new stuff. I will check this out later and perhaps get back to you - thanks for sharing.
  • Apr 18 2013: The less Ego, the more freedom. Maybe animals are more free than humans, but less free than plants.
    The absolute freedom is 'not to be', but there is nobody to enjoy freedom :)
    • Apr 18 2013: But that means, the more freedom, the less life. Would you want to be a plant to have all that 'freedom?'

      I cannot separate freedom and why we are here on this planet. We are here to learn and decide what we love. The most freedom we have is when we can do what we love.

      When we shape ourselves to love good and truth, we have all the freedom in the world. Any infraction is missing the mark (evil) and becomes an opportunity to learn how to be a better person.

      If done right (and I very much emphasize doing) we end-up in a heavenly state of mind where we have 100% freedom.
      So yes!, "the less Ego, the more freedom."
      • Apr 18 2013: Iow. " He who loses his life shall find it "
        It's not about death or plant life , it's about awakening, liberation from Ego and yes, freedom.
        It's never absolute, but one may take ' restrictions' of ' to be' as the necessary condition of the very possibility to enjoy the freedom of not-to-choose-for-my-dearest-self.
        It's Dao :)
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    Gord G

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    Apr 18 2013: Animals appear to possess pure intention in their actions. How can a sentient being be more free than absolute conviction to the reality of their existence. Homo sapiens's desires circumvent true freedom of mind and action. This is to say the guilt of morality and ethics confines us. The freedom of animals…are the chains that bind us to our humanity and define what we fear the most.

    But ALL of this is conjecture.
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    Apr 18 2013: Free? Free is an absolute term. (Everything) in nature / matter has it's limitations. Animals are only free until until exacted upon by an outside force. Not free.
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    Apr 18 2013: What's freedom, anyway? Are we free to choose, for instance, whether to eat or not to eat, to drink or not to drink, to sleep or not to sleep? To what degree? When you ought to go, you ought to go, you know. Who makes a decision to come into this life? Who can make a decision not to die? I don't think, we can talk of any real freedom while our spirit (whatever it is believed to make decisions) is bound to support the flesh.

    The question "Am I free?" has only one possible answer: "Now that you asked - no". I think, not asking such questions we have a better chance at freedom and happiness :-)
    • Apr 18 2013: Hi Arkady, please allow me to share this,
      "Because of the difference between heavenly and infernal freedom, some have had difficulty in framing a comprehensive definition of this term. The Writings [by Swedenborg] overcome this difficulty, however, and supply one which covers every kind of freedom by saying that freedom is to think and will from affection, and to act from liberty according to what seems to be reason.
      If these are heavenly, the freedom is heavenly, real, and what is called freedom itself; if they are infernal, it is infernal freedom, only apparent, and actually non-freedom.
      The difference is that in the former, we are led gently by the Lord according to our affections; in the latter we are driven roughly by infernal spirits according to their affections. Note that the freedom which is essential for our regeneration is spiritual -freedom to will and think.
      Freedom to do evil and speak falsity is rightly limited. Note also that freedom goes hand in hand with rationality, for which reason it cannot exist until one is of the age at which rationality begins."

      Does this help at all?
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        Apr 19 2013: How do you determine if your will is "guided by the Lord" or "driven by infernal spirits"? I understand those as metaphors. Some people would argue about using such terms, but I understand that they refer to quite real concepts in our life. In some cases, the distinction is fairly clear (e.g., when we have an affection for alcohol or a friend's wife). But in other cases, it's very controversial - e.g. how would you determine if people who passionately persecute homosexuals are "driven by the Lord" or "infernal spirits"?

        This is slightly off-topic, so, perhaps, we shouldn't go too deep here.
        • Apr 19 2013: "How do you determine if your will is "guided by the Lord" or "driven by infernal spirits"?"
          It is all about why we do anything, our basic motive. We have been given the intellect to (if there is any interest in the first place) look 'down' at our will and see why we do what we do. Check our basic motive.
          Every single move we make is caused by some love (or affection). It is basically directed toward, or benefiting, someone. If it is ourselves, it could well be selfish. The human mind is very capable to justify any action in 3 seconds flat, whether it is shoplifting or causing an explosion. But we do have to raise our mind/intellect above our person and honestly evaluate our wishes or lusts.

          Indeed things are very different if we do not believe a God exist. Where do we then base our motives on?

          My personal opinion is that to "passionately persecute homosexuals" or any living of life we do not agree with, is taking on a 'job' that is not loving. We are not here to condemn anybody. I have my opinions about homosexuals, because the whole approach is based on ignorance of what it is that makes us male or female.
          We should protect people, and sometimes a person against him/her self, but that should only be based on love, not hate.

          Only humans have the freedom to examine motives. Animals do not have the freedom to contemplate their thoughts, let alone their actions.
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        Apr 24 2013: Re: "Animals do not have the freedom to contemplate their thoughts,"

        This is an interesting notion. Is this true? I know, there are observations of apes, dolphins, and whales which conclude that they have self-awareness.

        But that, mostly, has to do with recognizing themselves in a mirror. This is weird.

        How do I know that I'm thinking about my thoughts? And if I make an experiment with someone else (animal or human) to find out if they are thinking about their thoughts, how do I know what they are thinking and how do I make sure that what they are thinking about is their thoughts?

        And then, when I contemplate my thoughts - am I not focusing on "self" and, therefore, cannot be free? So, if selflessness increases our freedom while selfishness does the opposite, what does self-awareness do for our freedom?

        Oh, bother... I quit. Buddha was absolutely right refusing to even consider such questions

        I have to repeat what I said in the first post:
        The question "Am I free?" has only one possible answer: "Now that you asked - no". I think, not asking such questions we have a better chance at freedom and happiness :-)
        • Apr 24 2013: Hi Arkady "Re: "Animals do not have the freedom to contemplate their thoughts,"
          What i meant here (connected with the sentence before) is to not have the freedom to contemplate their thoughts regarding their goog or bad motives.

          We can reflect on our thoughts, to examine if the thought that comes-up about doing something, is something we could do, or something we should totally abhore.

          There are results possible of our thoughts, and following up on them, that end us in jail, or under a car.

          Seems to me this is the best description of what it means to be human, and an image and likeness of our Creator. I'm being called to the table and don't have the freedom to ignore that LOL

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        Apr 24 2013: Re: "Seems to me this is the best description of what it means to be human, and an image and likeness of our Creator."

        It's tough to be a human. We cannot even understand what's going on in our own head. Imagine what it's like to be a Creator and have to manage all this mess. I'm not sure if even God is free to do what he loves :-).
  • Apr 17 2013: If you're talking about animals in the wild, then yes, but not domesticated animals. I would also point out that animals do think and feel, much like humans, only most people never understand. They only experience their pets. Animals do consider their actions and deaths.
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    Apr 16 2013: They? Does this question exclude humans as animals? Additionally, "free" may be a human concept. In nature there are many cases where one creature uses another as a host. How would "free" apply in these cases?
    If you think that "we" are rational beings listen to Dan Ariely's TEDTalk,
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      Apr 17 2013: Hello Theodore,
      Thanks for the suggestion, I really loved it!
      I've already read some articles about we're not being in control of our decision, about the "free wil" does not existing. It made me curious and then decide to ask about it here.
      Well, as you said, "free" is a human concept. So, I just think that animals are free for us, human beings. But they (irrational beings) don't know it because they just follow their instincts. Because of this, their "freedom" is really limited. They can't think about their actions, they don't "know that they die", as we, human beings.
      • Apr 17 2013: Although lots of people don't use their freedom of choice, that does not mean we do not have that freewil.

        This is an article what our life would be like if we did not have freewil. You have the freedom to read it, or not :)
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          Apr 17 2013: The is no conclusive evidence of "free will." This link certainly does not provide any. There is a limited ability at best, certainly as it applies to conscious thought.
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          Apr 17 2013: Yes, Adriaan, I agree that we are free to do what we want to. But we live in a society, we have rules and laws. My freedom ends where yours begings, so, if I do something against the law, I will have consequences. I think that free will and freedom are two different concepts. Free will is the capacity of being in control of our decisions, and freedom is capacity to apply that free will with actions.
          Thank you for the article :)
      • Apr 17 2013: Hi Theodore
        "The is no conclusive evidence of "free will.""
        Free will is a spiritual application of thought 'overseeing' our will.
        In fact this was one of the main reasons for God having His body made in Mary. This allowed Him to interact with evil spirits and correct their bad influence on humanity.

        But I'm sure none of this makes sense to you since you are not free to change your mind LOL
    • Apr 17 2013: Good talk, but I didn't draw the conclusions you did, in free or not.
  • Apr 15 2013: The Swedenborgian view regarding animals is that harmless animals represent all the many good affections people may possess as a part of their emotional makeup. Savage animals represent destructive and harmful passions.

    Animals are not free because they are bound by their instinct. Humans can change their loves, ideas (their mind) and act against all of those. We can pretend (for a reason), animals cannot.

    We can force ourselves to do something we don't want to because our will and understanding are not bound together but one can influence the other. That means we could even love our enemies and wish someone the best, while we don't care about him/her.

    Humans have three levels of development, civic, moral and spiritual. Animals do not. We humans can do good for goodness sake and believe truth for the sake of truth, not for the sake of rewards or higher income, regard or prestige.
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    Apr 15 2013: An animal was created for the purpose of serving man in any way it could. I do not believe that animals have a conscious understanding of freedom because animal instinct goes against the reasonable philosophical concept that you exist and know you can die. Animals are not aware of death, or more or less worried about their life, other than staying alive by eating. We human beings have the mental capacity to understand our existence and accept the fact that we are mortal. We can develop complex thinking processes that the animal mind cannot comprehend, such as philosophy, intimacy, existence and other complex thoughts and theories.
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    Gord G

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    Apr 15 2013: I find it difficult to determine my own freedom, and I have an intimate connection to my consciousness. My thoughts regarding an animal's sense of freedom are hopelessly tainted by the rhetoric of my species.
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    Apr 11 2013: I recently learned that the Buddha experienced his past lives during his life of enlightenment, and he reported that he was a cat. Buddhism regards the importance of obtaining liberation from the suffering in this world, so if you take the idea that there are various forms of life but they are still sharing the same world as we, you may as well consider they are likely not unthinking, irrational beings and they are here for a reason, such as we.

    Buddhism is not the only religion that believes in an animal soul, so you may be interested in doing research on this topic.
  • Apr 11 2013: IMO: The meanings of words like "religion" "good" and "free" are defined by each of us individually.

    Traditionally freedom has meant freedom from a tyrannical government, and by that meaning, wild animals enjoy some freedom.

    Some people think that freedom means that one is free from being told what to do. They think that a modern boss or supervisor, who tells people what to do and how to do it, and has control over their wages and whether they have a job tomorrow, is a modern tyrant. Modern workers are just slaves by a different name, and have no freedom. Wild animals are free from tyranny, but domestic animals suffer absolute tyranny.

    Some people believe that true freedom means freedom from hunger and poverty. If you cannot obtain water that is fit to drink, then freedom is meaningless. Many wild animals experience hunger almost constantly. I suppose most wild animals find water, but I wonder how much of it is polluted.

    Do you think deer are enjoying freedom when they live in constant fear of predators, especially human predators? Also, they are constantly getting killed by automobiles, by just crossing roads, which are everywhere in the USA. I suppose they still enjoy some limited form of freedom.

    Are the wild animals truly free when humans can burn down their homes and gardens, without so much as consulting or even notifying the animals first?

    My opinion is that freedom is very much in the mind of the individual. I doubt that there are many animals that think about freedom. Wild animals are too busy doing what is important, finding food and caring for their young. Thinking about freedom is a luxury. Did freedom exist before a human first thought of the concept?