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What is your definition of 'freedom'?

Every now and then we all question our own sense of freedom and what it is to be 'free'. How it is to live in the 'land of the free'. As much as it can sometimes be a little deep to talk about with peers, I thought this would be the best place to propose a discussion on your personal opinion of what it is to be 'free'.

See, a lot of people I've asked define 'freedom' as the opportunity to do what ever you want... I then follow this with asking, 'If everyone did as they wished, you'd then be bound by a constant fear of the actions of others, would you not? Then how 'free' would you feel?'

I simply want to start this conversation not because I believe 'freedom' is a definable concept, but because everyones' opinions of the idea is different and it's interesting to hear those opinions.

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    Apr 26 2013: Freedom is the ability to let things go. In other words freedom has something to do with sincerity and unattachment. Excuse my bad English.
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      Apr 26 2013: Farah,
      Your English is good, and you make a good point. We sometimes think of freedom as "having" something, and it is equally important in my perception, to have freedom to let things go:>)

      Welcome to TED:>)
    • Apr 26 2013: I don't think that anybody here can top your 'definition' of freedom :)

      Thank you !
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        Apr 29 2013: Hello Mr. Don
        Firstly, if my idea of what freedom is confuses you, let me explain it. When there's a caged bird, the only way to make it free is to unattach it from the cage. When I have something and I worry about that something being gone (like money, car, power, respect, etc), actually I'm being enslaven by that something. The way to not being enslaven is to not worry about that something and accept the fact that it'll be gone someday (this means sincerity, letting things go, and unattachment). When I wrote that comment above, I didn't think about government, rules, society, etc so it won't be fair if I write what I've thought about it now.

        Secondly, there's no absolute truth so if yours isn't like this, it's okay. We have different ideals as individuals. :)
        Farah
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        Apr 29 2013: Hi Mr. Don
        Do you mean if it has nothing to do with sincerity and unattachment? Without sincerity there would be barbarism where ego takes place.

        If this doesn't what you mean, sorry cause I actually use that 'has something to do' as 'has some kind of relation with'. I couldn't find good words to describe that. Excuse my not-so-good English. :)
        Farah
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          Apr 30 2013: Hi Farah,

          The combination of sincerity and unattachment that you mention made be think of 'purity of heart'.

          Thank you, Tarantino and Bjork bless you.
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    Apr 23 2013: There are many things that curtail our freedom. IMO chief among these is fear. We all suffer fear of something; whether work, relationships, disease, or ultimately death. Many people who appear to have great freedom; they may be rich & healthy, but are slaves to fear. Conversely you can find poor people, with serious health problems, who are free from fear & anxiety.
    For me personally, my Christian faith brings a whole new dimension to freedom. I cannot say that fear has no part to play in my life. What I can say is that the real prospect of a better life brings things into sharp perspective. My faith may or may not be accurately targeted, but in a way that is irrelevant; as my present life in the here & now is greatly enhanced by the mere prospect.
    John 8:36 (NIV)
    So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

    :-)
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      Apr 30 2013: I lked the video, Don, thanks.
      I wouldn't call it a report, more an insight maybe, but that's not so important. He was a smart man, that's what important.
    • Apr 30 2013: Don Wesley, thank you!!!

      I wish you could see the smile across my face right now. Richard Feynman, my favorite scientist, had so much wisdom to impart to us. Such a pity he is gone.

      His words in this video resonated so much with me, and perhaps with many who have "common sense".

      His ability to communicate science in layman's terms made listening to him a joy. His love of science and inquiry was and is very contagious........I am alway in awe of his wisdom.

      One of my favorite quotes from him, and which I've shared before on TED:

      "You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird----So.....let's look at the bird and see what it's doing - that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something, and knowing something." R. Feynman

      And here's a quote someone from TED shared with me:

      "There are known knowns.
      These are things we know that we know.
      There are known unknowns.
      That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know.
      But, there are also unknown unknowns.
      These are things we don't know we don't know."

      Have a great day Don Wesley :D
    • Apr 30 2013: Worth a TED Talk on his own!
  • Apr 26 2013: Freedom is doing what you want so long as u respect other peoples freedom and obey the law
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      Apr 27 2013: I am an anarchist. There are two definitions. Neither of which will sway any real contingency. I believe that as long as you harm no others, in any way, relish in freedom as it can neither be given nor granted... only internalized. The word freedom insinuates escape from an external constraint. Our inept, yet highly moral governance, will dictate the meaning of' 'free' in mass. Taxation without representation means so little when engagement is quarter, drawn, and worth two cents.
  • Apr 25 2013: good question ..
    well, for me, I think freedom is the ability to do whatever you want ,however , without hurting the others by your actions.
    for example,a murder is something unacceptable ,because you're not allowed to do something that hurts the others, however, hurting the others isn't always a matter of material things.I mean a person may hurt the others morally , for instance, when a person makes fun of others beliefs, religions, races, prophets .. that's can't called "freedom" because that behavior hurts the others.
    • Apr 26 2013: what about when the practicing of one religion hurts the people who practice a different religion? should they stop?
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        Apr 26 2013: They should stop hurting, not practicing. Religion does not hurt. It's what people do with it.

        I would compare religion with fire. One can use fire to cook dinner or to burn his neighbor's house. Technically, it's fire that hurts. Shall we deem it harmful?
        • Apr 26 2013: for some it does. invoking the name of one god is blasphemy against another. a person should be as free to practice a religion as another is to mock it.

          i would agree with your fire analogy, however you get a problem when one fire user insists his neighbour not be allowed to use fire because it offends him.
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        Apr 26 2013: You raise an interesting question. Generally, I advocate tolerance, i.e. respecting choices and freedom of other people. But how far should the tolerance go? Shall we tolerate hate speech and slander and protect them as "free speech"? Where is the line where we stop tolerance towards things we consider wrong and immoral?

        Some people don't tolerate teenagers walking with their pants around their knees. Some don't tolerate homosexuality. Some are offended by nudity. Tolerance is one side of the coin. On the other side, how far should our conformity to the rules dominating in a society go? Should people be allowed to walk naked in the streets? If we object to public nudity and want to force everyone to cover their bodies (at least, some parts), why would we object to forcing women wearing hijab?
        • Apr 26 2013: Consider this, then; if one is free to object (violently even) to your paradigm you should be free to defend it equitably. If burning my house meant burning yours we both would have a vested interest in finding an alternative method to express our discontent lest we both become homeless.
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        Apr 26 2013: @ Stacey Harris

        Interesting. So, do you advocate "an eye for an eye" (which leaves everyone blind)? How about forgiveness and turning the other cheek?

        How about cases when one side is overwhelmingly more powerful than the other (by means of physical force, weapons, or influence)? I.e. cases when the weaker side cannot really object without facing dire consequences? Does it mean that the stronger side is free to impose its rules as it pleases?

        If someone mocks other people's religion and the people have violent protests in another part of the world harming the innocent - was the person mocking the religion free to do so given the consequences? Are the people committing violence in response to mocking justified in their actions?

        I don't think, these questions have logical answers. This is a vicious cycle. It's best for everyone if it never starts at all and, if someone starts it, stopped right away. I'd say, both sides are equally wrong in this situation.
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        Apr 26 2013: In case of "offending by nudity", "an eye for an eye" seems to be absurd. If I go naked in the street and someone is "offended" he can go naked too and "offend" me.

        Oh, boy. Discussions of morality are better left alone... There is no logic in why we consider things "moral" or "immoral". It's all seems to be about beliefs and emotional responses.
        • Apr 27 2013: arkady you've made so many brilliant points! i really think you're getting somewhere though so i don't think you need to conclude that it's impossible.

          i wonder if we can find a line between hate speech and slander? i have no problem with hate speech, the same as any debate even if we completely disagree we all learn something from having heard the other side. maybe it only becomes a problem when certain criteria are met, say doing it in a shopping mall rather than a speakers' area, or deliberately spreading falsehoods (by which case then it'd be deception that was the problem, not the speech itself).

          you really got me thinking with the being offended by nudity bit. i would be bothered if a bunch of people were walking about naked in public, but i don't think i'd be offended, it'd be more of a lack of manners thing, like i'd feel they were trying to impose on normal people just trying to go about their business. i'd feel the same way if someone was wearing a "fuck the police" t-shirt or spitting or defecating in public too though. i mean it's not that a person can't say whatever hateful things are on their mind or can't go about naked or wear what they want, because there are places designated for those things.

          similarly for religion, for freedom's sake, people need to practise it in their place of worship and leave others alone, and if any mocking is to be done that too should be in the proper place, eg not right in front of the place of worship.
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        Apr 27 2013: Ben, Re: designated places for hate speech. I like the idea. You said, you live in Japan. I've heard, some companies there have special rooms for employees with a rubber dummy of their boss where they can vent their frustrations. Is that true or is it an urban legend? Might be a useful idea. Some people believe, we need to vent out negative emotions once in a while rather than cook them inside.

        I'm trying to actively oppose negative attitudes and avoid blame games of any kind. "Just say 'no' to negativism" as I read on a bumper sticker the other day. It helps.

        Strange that you think I made brilliant points. I thought, I am confused myself and confusing everybody here :-).
  • Apr 24 2013: Freedom is the ability to make decisions on you own without external influence. Now, there are 4 things you need in order to be free: 1) Food, no one is free with an empty belly. 2) Knowledge, freedom without knowledge is just an illusion. 3) Self-discipline, freedom without self-discipline leads you to self-destruction. 4) Responsibility, freedom without responsibility is debauchery. Freedom is not a fixed concept it varies depending on the situation you are living, you are more free when you are making decisions in a field where you have expertise, and less free when you make decisions about something you don't know well. You are more free alone and less free in a crowd... and so on.
    • Apr 28 2013: George QT
      I read many of the conversations.
      Yours stood out.
      If I were to vote on the best.
      Yours would win.

      Freedom is the ability to make decisions on you own without external influence. Now, there are 4 things you need in order to be free: 1) Food, no one is free with an empty belly. 2) Knowledge, freedom without knowledge is just an illusion. 3) Self-discipline, freedom without self-discipline leads you to self-destruction. 4) Responsibility, freedom without responsibility is debauchery. Freedom is not a fixed concept it varies depending on the situation you are living, you are more free when you are making decisions in a field where you have expertise, and less free when you make decisions about something you don't know well. You are more free alone and less free in a crowd... and so on.
  • Apr 30 2013: GREAT AND RELEVANT QUESTION IN THESE TIMES!

    The Bible puts freedom in full context. Freedom is a product of law and not the absense of it (now how unexpected is that!). Actually, let me start form the top down.

    DOMINION - (top level) The full physical territory and theoretical scope of influence. For God, this includes everything He created except our free will (a similar consequence of God's choice otherwise it wouldn't be free). Man's domain is the earth and his ideas.

    POWER - (lower level) The ability to produce change in something or someone else inside our realm of dominion.

    GOVERNMENT / KINGDOM - The system of power employed or power structure excersised.

    LAW - The proactive communication of that system of power and that which defines (and simultaneously limits) our freedom. JUDGEMENT - (sticking this one in there) The reactive communication and excersize of that power which limits our freedom.

    AUTHORITY - (the middle) The individual (legitimate) power that remains within the confines of the Law (what the Republic of America was built on).

    PURPOSE - (lower, more fundamental level) The internal goal that further limits our freedom, around which we exercise our (legitimate) authority, and the direct product of our identity.

    IDENTITY - (the core) In short, your position towards God, "your Creator".

    So, the more free you realize you are, the more responsibility you equally have - ignorance is (temporary) bliss. This may seem more familiar to some if you read them in reverse order.

    [Anecdote: God was free to ignore/destroy his creation but freely chose self-sacrifice to set the 1st example of the consequence of freedom.]
  • Apr 30 2013: I believe that freedom is the self confidence in yourself.
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    Apr 29 2013: Doing / acting / expressing / believing anything without impacting others negatively .....
  • Apr 28 2013: Freedom = Health
    If you have no health, how can you achieve the freedom.
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      Apr 28 2013: I agree Wong... a healthy mind and body are important in pursuit and recognition of freedom....well said:>)
  • Apr 27 2013: Seeing beauty in nature, sharing laughter with a child, helping a stranger in need. Feeling calm and well within myself. These are freedom.
  • Apr 27 2013: freedom = self awareness.
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    Apr 27 2013: Freedom is a complex idea which can be broken down into two general camps (sometimes they are called positive and negative freedom, but I dislike those terms because of the connotations they bring).

    For example, in many countries people are forced to pay taxes which funds a public education system. One camp would say that by compelling people to pay taxes for this purpose they are denying citizens the choice of where their money goes which limits their freedom. On the other hand, giving everybody access to education gives them more opportunity in a greater variety of career paths and the knowledge with which to participate in civil society, which therefore increases their freedom.

    I am in the latter camp. I don't believe freedom is about lack of restrictions. I believe freedom is about empowerment. People are free when they have the resources, knowledge and skills to pursue and generate opportunities for themselves and others. An empowered citizen in a lawful society is freer than an uneducated, destitute person who lives in a place free of the restrictions of government.
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    Apr 26 2013: What to do, how to act, what to think are things influenced or even driven by others. Even if I'm just walking down the street alone, there are so many rules governing my actions & behavior. So much media / input influencing my thought. So much invasive technology in our fabricated world. For me to feel free I need to be alone, in nature, meditating to focus on "nothing". I can find a sense of freedom there but only temporarily.

    Thanks for the posts.
    • Apr 26 2013: The less ego the more freedom.
      I guess, it goes like this
      Thanks !
      • Apr 28 2013: I like this condensed version better than mine. Thanks
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      Apr 28 2013: Tyler,
      I also LOVE the freedom I feel when experiencing nature, meditating, playing in the gardens, focusing on "nothing" ...and..... "everything":>)

      I'm wondering....
      Why is this feeling only temporary for you? Do you feel the same freedom when "driven by others", as you say?
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        Apr 28 2013: Hi dear Colleen
        great new picture..
        I think freedom is about being flexible...or lets say our capacity to challange every thing....
        cheers..
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          Apr 28 2013: Hello dear Mohammad....thank you.....nice to see you my friend:>)

          I agree...flexibility is a GREAT quality to have and enjoy. Even better when we can challange with a flexible, mindfully aware heart and mind?
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          Apr 28 2013: Dear Mohammad,
          I notice your new photo. I would send you an e-mial, but you do not have that feature in your profile. Are you aware that pointing a finger at people is sometimes thought of as threatening or aggressive? I thought you would like to know that because I feel certain that is not your intent.
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        Apr 29 2013: Dear Colleen
        really..?..!.....I like that pic....because i look like wolves in that pic....lol....
        of 'course i don't like to be threatening or aggressive...I am not..
        but I think you are right, maybe for this context that is not the best picture...
  • Apr 26 2013: No tension
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    Apr 26 2013: Freedom to me is only found alone.
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    Apr 26 2013: My definition of freedom changes depending on the situation, in tune with the environment or against its tune.

    At this point being free is being able to change not only yourself but also the tune.
    (... and being able to go further than to the closest grocery store without pain in my broken foot, but that's a different story, and it will soon change...)
    The definition changes for many in the course of life, I believe, it shifts from protest against supervisors (parents, teachers etc.) to meditative feeling of peace and openness, then back again. Depends on age, experiences, rules of conduct, physical constraints and many other factors related to other people or just to who you are. Change is constant, as they say.

    But in the end of the day being free is being and having an unrestricted right to be.
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      Apr 26 2013: I agree Anna, that how free we actually feel may change with situations. I also feel that no matter what the situation, I always have the freedom to choose how I think, feel, act and react to the situation, and as you say...change is constant. Maybe there are several levels and different feelings of freedom?

      Sorry about your broken foot.....hope it heals soon. I froze my toes skiing in Feb., and my mobility was somewhat restricted for awhile, so freedom of movement was challenged.....be well:>)
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    Apr 26 2013: I would associate freedom with will power. In many cases, "doing what we 'really' want" means denying ourselves many other things we may also want, but consider less worthy or important. It's a paradox, but freedom means imposing, sometimes, huge restrictions on ourselves. If we don't impose restrictions on ourselves voluntarily, other people will - police, credit card company, etc. or we will become slaves of our own passions - addictions, lust, temper.

    In other words, for me, freedom means self-control
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      Apr 26 2013: Arkady,
      That makes sense to me. If we are imposing restrictions on ourselves for the purpose of self control, we are using our freedom of choice.
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    Apr 25 2013: "you'd be bound by the constant fear of the reactions of others"I agree. this topic was discussed in my class a little. I remember my teacher saying " Your freedom begins when other people's ends" example; You say something that might offend the person next to you. you can either throw caution to the side or not speak so freely around that person whom you've offended.
    • Apr 25 2013: But couldn't it be argued that the choice itself is freedom? you still had the choice to throw caution to the side or limit what you say, and no one else made it for you. I think freedom is always there no matter if you live in a dictatorship or a democracy, because freedom is being able to make choices based on what you want. for example if you live in a dictatorship you can choose to fight or to obey. The choices may not always great but they are still your choices to make. So i guess freedom would be up to each individual to decide on how free they are.
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        Apr 25 2013: I agree John, that having choices is a freedom. If we are aware of limitations or restrictions due to laws, regulations and rules, we make choices within those constructs.

        Like I used to tell the guys in jail who often said it was "unfair" of the cops and courts to send them to jail for an offense. When we live in a society, there are usually certain rules and regulations. We have the choice to break those rules and regulations, or, abide by the rules and regulations. That is a free choice. It's like you say John.....we can choose to fight, or obey.

        Personally, I believe I have a great deal of freedom of choice. Part of that is due to the fact that I live in a free country, in a free state, and I do not intend to commit offenses that may threaten my freedom.

        Another part of the picture for me, is that I was taught from the time I was a child that there are consequences with the choices we make. The more information we have about consequences related to the choices, the more freedom we may feel.
        • Apr 26 2013: very good point colleen. too often the blame is misplaced. people say they "hate cops" when perhaps it's more likely it's the person who gave the police their orders that they're angry at.
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        Apr 26 2013: Well said, John.
        You are free if you decide you are free.

        When it comes to the choice between to fight or to obey - in a free world, whatever the system, its name or definition, you can actually chose both at the same time.
        It's a positive development that we are given the ability to make this choice, but it's only positive if what we're fighting for is something worthwile and that our fight is a good one.
        The internet gives us this ability.
        • Apr 26 2013: i'd disagree, freedom is not subjective. idealised bondage is not freedom.
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          Apr 28 2013: Ben,
          I think our perception of freedom is subjective.....don't you? If we are imprisoned, then it is obvious that we are physically restricted or limited.

          Regarding your other comment....
          "Ben Jarvis
          1 day ago: very good point colleen. too often the blame is misplaced. people say they "hate cops" when perhaps it's more likely it's the person who gave the police their orders that they're angry at."

          I also observed, with the offenders I worked with, that they were often angry at and frustrated with themselves. They did not feel that they were free to make choices for themselves. They often expressed the idea that they were being pushed along, or pulled along in this world and had no control.
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        Apr 26 2013: Hi Ben,

        "i'd disagree, freedom is not subjective. idealised bondage is not freedom."

        I believe it is subjective - think about a person confined to a wheelchair, something that many perceive as a substantial restriction of freedom. This person can still feel free despite this adversity and doesn't need to idealise it.
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        • Apr 26 2013: That's a good question. I believe that freedom is more of a noun because while freedom is an idea its not so much an action. It could fit well as a pronoun because freedom can be used to describe many actions, such as living free. However if I had to choose anything to attribute to freedom I would say that freedom is more of a symbol.
          I say this because freedom is different from person to person just as a symbol means something different for each person. Take the US seal for example. The picture of the bald eagle in the seal could mean honor and strength to one person and truth and majesty to another. Is one persons interpretation more correct than the other? No, its just that each person attributes the symbol to what's most important in their life.
          Freedom is the same way. To me freedom is the ability to make a choice based on what you want, but to someone else freedom could mean not being ruled over and forced to do things. Neither of us is wrong because freedom is relative to each person
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        Apr 29 2013: No John, because the person is still bound by the options presented. in this case none of us are free. Funny how beings who have never had something visualize so much and lst after it so much.
  • Apr 25 2013: Thanks Don

    I make no judgement on how many of us can achieve mastery of certain states of being, just congratulations to any who do.

    Mastery of unconditional love is a big achievement... Social media may hold some good information, personal work such as meditation is a great path to freedom.
    • Apr 25 2013: Personal works such as meditation is one of the way to really understand that you are not fully free. But you will look to all this with another eye. Plus, I do not consider meditation as one of the best personal works.
      • Apr 25 2013: Awareness is a key to change and meditation is certainly a pathway to awareness..

        Thats great you are clear on your beliefs about meditation.

        Meditation has certainly been a great life enhancing process for me and a big help on my path to freedom.
        • Apr 25 2013: Meditation is a powerful tool, but it has temptation as many things have, in this case escape from reality. Therefore we must use it accurately, deliberately. From my experience, meditation is not the single way to awareness. But, there are many kinds of meditations...
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    Apr 24 2013: Freedom means a state of being where you are free to act and think without forsaking the responsibility of your actions and thoughts to yourself and everybody else.
  • Apr 24 2013: Freedom means people who can understand each other,be kind,be generous,respect,justice
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      Apr 25 2013: Hi Edulover:>)
      I agree with you that understanding, kindness and respect are good foundations for freedom. If we cannot connect with our own freedom of choices, we cannot connect with the freedom of choices others have either.

      Pabitra insightfully reinforces this thought with his comment...
      "... free to act and think without forsaking the responsibility of your actions and thoughts to yourself and everybody else."
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    W. Ying

    • +2
    Apr 24 2013: .
    .
    Free to do anything without the violation of symbiosis (morality).
    .
  • Comment deleted

    • Apr 30 2013: I have found a complete and logical definition of freedom written in the Bible: Everything that can be is a result of what is. Everything that is is a result of God's creation. God did not make sin but chose to give us the responsibility of free choice (the equal potential to love or to hate, for example). Everything that exists has laws. So, there is no "absolute freedom" without natural consequence or moral judgement against a predefined set of laws which existed from creation. Freedom, therefore, is defined by the limit of law (or what is left - love, charity, kindness, patience, humility, peace, joy, etc... against which there is no law to limit). Furthermore, all this is externally imposed (natural law), but there is a deeper freedom which is imposed from within. The more you understand the weight of responsibility that freedom brings within 'natural law', the less free you choose to make yourlself (you quickly learn you can't win a boardgame of life if you don't play by the rules). So, the more externally free you think you are, the more inwardly ignorant you may be. The more internal law you impose upon your own self through self realization, the more internally and externally free you become as you literally then let who you are change your external circumstances instead of letting circumstance change who you are.
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    Apr 30 2013: Freedom is... The necessity to be left to your own devices. To be given the ability to not only succeed but also to fail, not only to help each other but to be abandoned by them. It is a trust of humanity in its resilience and is not given by other humans but by the very fact of existence. It must be protected at all costs.
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    Apr 30 2013: As I thought a bit after my first post here, need to add something more

    Ability / intension / desire of acting /standing against anything unjust /discriminative is also one's FREEDOM
    • Comment deleted

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        Apr 30 2013: Hi Don
        Thanks for your interest , let me combine both of posts here to make one whole definition

        Doing / acting / expressing / believing anything without impacting others negatively and also having the ability /intension / desire of acting/standing against anything unjust / discrminative .
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        Apr 30 2013: Hi Don
        You are welcome.
        Could I communicate , what I wanted to mean ?
        If, yes then it's fine with me. In school I didn't like memorizing "Definition" as written in book , instead interested more in understanding what " Definition" mean....In many instances my teachers were not happy with that so you know what could happen to my score :)

        May be here I again repeated by instinct habit.
        Have a good day
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      Apr 30 2013: I agree with all you say and would like to add - the internet gives you all of that.
      Cheers,
      Anna
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        Apr 30 2013: Thanks Anna.
        Well Internet enabled us to deliver most of the points I mentioned , except one, which is point that need one's physical presence to execute .
        Cheers
  • Apr 28 2013: My dear! Colleen, l'espressione 'il pensiero ritorna sul pensiero', ossia la consapevolezza, significa, in chiave operativa, rendere il pensiero oggetto di studio al fine di descrivere ed analizzare nei dettagli minimi le operazioni mentali che svolgiamo quando pensiamo, parliamo, osserviamo et similia . Alludo alla lezione di I.Kant, ripresa nel secolo scorso da S.Ceccato. Auguri dal cuore.
  • Apr 28 2013: Freedom is a state of mind.In the truest sense you are free, if you don't have to be afraid. An absence of fear, I think that would do it.
  • Apr 28 2013: J am sorry, because J speak English a little J shall talk italian language.
    Se si tiene conto delle operazioni mentali costitutive della libertà- intesa non in senso metafisico- abbiamo il potere di alternativa (che richiede una scelta), seguito dal potere di capacità (ossia l'essere in grado di mantenere la scelta compiuta). Infine la volontà può essere sempre vista dietro l'azione libera. Grazie della Vostra attenzione.
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      Apr 28 2013: Grazie Ghiringhelli,
      Sono d'accordo con la "scelta". Quando siamo consapevoli dei nostri pensieri e il fatto che abbiamo scelte, può portare ad una maggiore comprensione della libertà?
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    Apr 28 2013: Freedom is being able to think what tickles my fancy and being able to share my thoughts with others.
  • Apr 28 2013: I think freedom is relative. If you use the definition of freedom as in 'I can go anywhere I want', this is also the case. For example, if you give an animal in the zoo a large enough cage, it will feel free. If you now take that idea to our world, you can state that for the moment, we live in a cage, namely the Earth.

    We practically can not go much further than our world, maybe in a few years, other planets, but for a normal person, the Earth is the limit. So, do we feel free to go where we want? Yes, because the world is large enough cage to move in, so we don't notice the limits.
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      Apr 28 2013: Good point Brecht, and I agree that freedom is relative. If we believe there is no freedom, perhaps we build our own cage?

      Your profile looks like you are new to TED conversations? Welcome:>)
      • Apr 28 2013: Yes, I am new :) Thank you!
        You have a point there, if we think we aren't free, i think that we would also act to it.
  • Apr 28 2013: To be able to choose on any subject! Choose to take or leave, come or go, accept or deny, tolerate or............and so on
  • Apr 28 2013: comply or die, thats as free as one can be
    • Apr 28 2013: Interesting. Websters New World Dictionary: Comply L. see complete. Complete-- com- used as an intensive command + plere--to fill. To fill an intensive command. To fill an intensive command ("or die, that['s] as free as one can be".) 1. Lacking no component part; 2. ended, finished; 3. thorough, absolute--vt. com-pleted, com-pleting. sub 1. to end, finish; 2. to make whole, full, or perfect.

      Freedom seems to be a command here. Very useful. So is it from without? Or is it internalized and seemingly within? What if it was neither? Simply a recognition of what is already perfect. Can what is perfect die? Thanks.
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    Apr 28 2013: Freedom is a social construct therefor to generalise it would be incorrect. We all have different levels of freedom depending on how well we have discovered ourselves and the worlds around us.
    To me, freedom is being able to wake up in the morning and decide on my mood, my actions and my beliefs. However to that freedom there are constraints, these can vary tremendously from person to person - culture to culture - class to class. It would be nice to think of a world where we were all free, but we are trapped within the grasps of societies judgmental views. We would not behave in an publicly unacceptable way because we are conditioned not to as society and those within it would frown upon us. Yet surely this is for a reason and our own benefit and safety?
    The level of freedom I have in my life is relatively high simply because I let it be. Hopefully you all view yourselves as being free to some extent or another.
    xoxox
    xoxox
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    Apr 27 2013: Can you be free while being a POW or in jail wrongfully accused?
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      Apr 28 2013: Good question Rich!
      Those situations don't "feel" very free do they.

      I've read about POWs and listened to survivors of concentration camps. While they were obviously restricted and limited regarding freedom of movement, some of them express a feeling that nobody could take away their freedom to think and feel as they choose. I think it has been mentioned on this thread, that there are different levels and perceptions of freedom.

      Being imprisoned obviously takes away some of our freedoms. Can any situation take away our freedom to think and feel as we choose?
    • Apr 28 2013: What is "you" in this case?
  • Apr 27 2013: Perhaps Freedom is a State of Being......in which Fear is Absent with No Chance of Return.
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      Apr 28 2013: Scott,
      I agree that freedom is a state of being.....either a physical state...and/or a mental state.....on many different levels.

      Do you think/feel that in human form, we can create or experience fear being absent with no chance of return?

      I believe fear can be absent at various times....maybe even most of the time. My feeling is that fear is part of the human experience, and I cannot imagine being human and NEVER feeling any type of fear whatsoever. What is your thought/feeling about that?
  • Apr 27 2013: Freedom is an abstract idea. Its like the Jetsons in the 1970s. Its nice to look at, feels good, a pleasure for the auditory and visual senses, opens up the human imagination continuum but it doesn't really exist. I think it was a sage who was once asked: "how much freedom do humans have?". He answered by requesting the questioner to raise up one of his legs. Then he asked him to raise the other one simultaneously.
    So all the freedom a human being really has is the choice between which leg to raise up and when. The how and the why really becomes irrelevant. The question is not what freedom means or what it should. I think what really matters is the state of mind a human being exists in. I say, if any human being has the emotional capability and intellectual capacity to break free from the chains of preconceived notions and ideas infinitely, and think and rationalize anew, for me, that would be the ultimate freedom even if i were living in a 4 by 6 cell in a prison.
    Being intellectually stunted and emotionally repressed is the worst form of tyranny and oppression.
  • Apr 27 2013: I believe freedom is the inner ability to be able to do whatever one chooses. It may be to achieve a lifelong passion, this could be to write a book, to travel, etc. Of course within that freedom you as an individual have to consider the parameters of morality, legality and concern for your fellow man/woman. Freedom is not a free for all attitude it is a gift.
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    Apr 27 2013: “People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
    ― Abraham Lincoln
    Replace 'happy' with 'free'.
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    Apr 27 2013: Freedom is:

    'Live and Let live'.

    Simple.
  • Apr 26 2013: Freedom to me is the ability to live subject only to those rules you impose on yourself. It differs from anarchy and chaos by responsibility for both causes and effects of one's actions or inactions, and acceptance of the subsequent consequenses. The concept is frightning to most because there's no ability to control the actions of another under this model but then again under this model that control falls squarely on the shoulders of the individual. Along with the fall out.
  • Apr 26 2013: Pure freedom is the lack of constraint. It occupies a variety of dimensions and realities that are not simultaneous. We could be free of intellectual constraints; free of physical restraints; free of emotional constraints; but not necessarily all of those things at the same time. For me, freedom represents the ability to be independent, to be free to speak as I wish without fear of reprisal from those more powerful than I, and to be able to move about the world. I choose restraints and constraints to my freedom and independence because I care about my community and my environment and my people. Unconstrained freedom is the big bang. After that, it's all relative.
  • Apr 25 2013: To Don Wesley,

    Many - in fact, most - are enslaved without recognizing it, and the enslavers are themselves, some by habits and foregone conclusions and fears, others through self imposed disciplines. By slavery I mean the absence of freedom to do exactly as one pleases, not always a bad thing, often a very good thing, especially if self imposed. In a developed society it is an intricate web that circumscribes our behavior. We have the traffic police by consent, and if they manage to keep you from speeding, which may be your natural inclination, it is probably for your own good and for the good of the rest of society.
  • Apr 25 2013: Mothers love is unconditional to their children as a mothers love is a love of their children, that in no way indicates their being universally unconditionally loving to all.

    To understand and feel unconditional love is to know it and therefore obtain freedom of the heart. Mastery of unconditional love... Yay to anyone who can achieve that!
  • Apr 25 2013: We have freedom of the will. My actions are the result of my own FREE choice. Whoever said we don't have pure freedom. It's all fairy tales.
    Self-indulgence is not freedom from my point of view.

    How you define the word ''freedom''?
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      Apr 25 2013: Sholpan, would you not agree that even the choices presented before you are limited?
      • Apr 25 2013: If I understand you correctly, I guess that particular choices are there, we may choose one of those particular choices.))
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    Apr 25 2013: Theoretically, in a broader sense, no one is really free, we are always tied to something. Freedom is a matter of perception, a matter of thought. Are you willing to be content? if yes, you are free. I order to know we are free we need something opposite freedom. Freedom is a state of mind and a willingness to feel free, untangled by all that tend to pull us down; from gravity to all kinds socio-psychological reality. For me being free, is to be able to follow the natural rhythm of life.Period.
  • Apr 25 2013: Freedom of thought is the only true free will. The rest are restricted by outside influences. Expressing the thought for instance is dependent on society restrictions, freedom of gravity pull restricted by escape velocity,....
    Thought is the only one defying the laws of nature. The speed of thought, for instance is not restricted by the speed of light (speed) limit.
    • Apr 25 2013: that's a very good point. i've been increasingly concerned about the movement lately towards criminalizing fantasy, which is in essence nothing more than thought. many years ago we laughed at the expression "if he jumped off a bridge would you do it too?" because of course we are responsible for our own actions, yet nowadays inciting violence is a crime, and so is hate speech. we are free to think so then we are also free to decide whether to act or not, hence no speech can possibly be a crime.
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        Apr 25 2013: I agree Ben, that we have the right and freedom to think anything we choose. We are then free to decide whether or not to act based on our thought. I believe it is important to be aware of, and evaluate the consequences of our thought, which may manifest into action. When we have accurate information, we make a better choice. If we do not care about, or are not aware of the possible consequences, our choice is still free and the consequences may or may not lead to freedom.
    • Apr 25 2013: I think that thoughts are restricted as well. BUT, if we can consciously choose one or another thought or control thought process then we have as I have already said freedom of choice. But, no matter how you choose you thought and think about it (consciously or unconsciously) you still have the freedom of choice. But in this case, you know less about the freedom of choice. Generally, thoughts control us. Because it's difficult to have power over the thought process. And usually we swim in the river of thoughts unconsciously. But thought itself is restricted by an individual. IMHO
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        Apr 25 2013: Sholpan,
        You say..."Generally, thoughts control us".

        Do thoughts control us? Or do we control our thoughts? Personally, I control my thoughts. I am aware of the freedom and intent to choose my thoughts.

        I agree with you that thought is restricted by an individual. Does that suggest that we DO control our thoughts?
        • Apr 26 2013: i might add that while we control our thoughts, perhaps some of the trouble that occurs in the world is caused when people fail to control their actions?
        • Apr 26 2013: I am glad that you control your thoughts...

          I meant to say, both thoughts control us and we control our thoughts. I just wanted to stress that usually we are not That ''free'' and...can't put it into words...my language capacity can't allow me to say that properly....Yes, thoughts are part of us. But thought itself is not me. BUT, we can choose one or another thought. We have freedom of the will. If 'you' don't choose your thought, thought will stay in 'your' brain and force to think about ''anything''....in this case you less know about the freedom of the will...just less..no more...no less...again it's not ''bad''...
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        Apr 28 2013: Спасибо Sholpan:>)

        I wish I could speak and write Russion and Zazakh as well as you do English:>)

        I THINK I control my thoughts. If I do not do it myself, somebody else might try...LOL:>)

        I agree with your statement that..."... usually we swim in the river of thoughts unconsciously. But thought itself is restricted by an individual".

        So, perhaps it depends on how conscious or unconscious we are of our thoughts? I think/feel that when we are more conscious, mindful and aware, we have more understanding and control of our thoughts. As you say...."we can choose one or another thought"......we choose. I think we are agreeing, and it is a good "thought" to agree on:>)

        Ben,
        I agree...we have freedom of thought. When the thought manifests into actions that are not legal, or violate the rights of others, it is not beneficial to anyone.
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      Apr 25 2013: Titus,
      I agree with you that freedom of thought reflects free will, and we are sometimes restricted by outside influences.

      I do not agree that expressing the thought is dependent on society restrictions, except in some countries and some situations?

      How is thought "defying the laws of nature", as you say?

      I do not understand the connection you are making between the laws of speed of light and speed of thought.
  • Apr 25 2013: Freedom is the condition in which an individual person can, without opposition or restraint, adopt for himself or herself the slavery of his or her choice, whether it is slavery to a vice, to a job, to a mode of thought, to an art or to a discipline for the betterment of self or society. Those who attempt to remain always free find that the constant struggle to be free is itself a form of enslavement. Those who choose the form of their enslavement wisely and early are the most fortunate, the most successful, and gratefully accept the restrictions it places on them. They are often thought by outside observers to be the freest individuals in society.
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    Apr 25 2013: Our distant ancestors were highly social anthropoids, and we still have the same genetic makeup. We are social beings by nature, and must ground our notion of "freedom" in our society.

    I've read citations from American Indian tribes (unfortunately I don't have the cite at hand) where the members praised the concept of "dependence" as one of their highest goods. Dependence on the tribe, and interdependence of the members, was what protected and perpetuated their small society. Freedom was a fairly meaningless concept, though as a result of their dependence they enjoyed certain freedoms - but not others. Most tribes needed to be rather well regulated by rules of behavior, and justice was swift and often severe for violations.

    So, we're hung up on "freedom" in our age.For the young in the late 1960s and '70s it was de rigueur to demonstrate that they would put up with no restrictions. Now, of course, they've (we've) grown up and know that it can't be that way. If we're going to be part of society - and we either are in society or we're psychotic - freedom must mean that we allow such restrictions on our actions as are necessary for the good of our society. Rather than our very exciting and romantic emphasis on the self, we mature to the understanding that the common good is often more important than my good.

    We have been wise to make laws that protect individual freedoms, that say that some individual rights trump social desires, that even the will of the majority can't run roughshod over the individual. But our rights in the end are not god-given, they are made and ensured by our society. The strictures of society are what give us freedom. Without our society we are not fully human, and our putative freedoms would be meaningless.
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    Apr 25 2013: Absolute freedom is chaos. So therefore it has to be freedom without the chaos.
    Freedom is eating as much ice cream as you want without getting diabetes. :)
    Cheers
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    Apr 24 2013: The free of me is " follow the not fasten regulation and can achieve your anticipation . "

    In my view I do not think the freedom is not the thorough liberation of your action because we must be resonsible for the conduct of we do .

    This is the existentialism .We alive ≠ We exist .If we want to be exist we must to create a reason or principle of our life .We can conscious ourselves but animal cannot , and this is because we know the value of our existence .

    We do not choose to be borned , but we must making choices throuhout the coming future . Because we know our existence and the result of the improper actions .

    We choose to be ourself ,try to form the distinct character .We are always suffering the torment from the free .
    Because we need to accept responsibility for our responses .

    And like the saying of Sartre , we cannot and mustn't abandon our obligation , plus we shouldn't weasel out from duty .Like : because I am a student that I should l learn ,and that is a deception .
    ..
    We also learn to enjoy the " must do " - free.

    So free is accepted your obligation and be voluntarily . Afer you execution of duty , the moment you do what the early you want to is " free " .
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    Apr 24 2013: Wouldn't absolute freedom mean you are not subject to any forces not under your control? If you have an irresistable need for food, water, or shelter then you are not free because that need controls you, you do not control that need. In our world absolute, total freedom would be opposed to survival. So, when we say "freedom" we must mean something other than absolute, total freedom.
  • Apr 24 2013: Caitlin.
    I am struck by your comment in your introduction whereby you question others and their answer of what it is to be free.
    You say many define it as "the opportunity to do what ever you want." You then state that a person (or everyone?) would be bound by a constant fear of the actions of others.
    I would like to know why you think this and would you also be bound by fear of your own actions?
    thanks
    If you reply I will try and get back to Ted within 24 hours.
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    Apr 30 2013: Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
    Where knowledge is free
    Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
    By narrow domestic walls
    Where words come out from the depth of truth
    Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
    Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
    Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
    Where the mind is led forward by thee
    Into ever-widening thought and action
    Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

    --------------------------------------------------------------

    Rabindranath Tagore
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    Apr 30 2013: The right of thinking without limits, and being able to build the personality you want, not the personality somebody imposes. The right of expressing yourself without being afraid of criticism and punishment. The right of belonging to the social groups you want to belong to. The right of being yourself.
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    Apr 29 2013: Freedom is braveheart!!!
  • Apr 29 2013: Freedom is the act of choosing between options, and accepting all issues related to that action. There is no such thing as absolute freedom, free will decisions will always carry restrictions
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    Apr 29 2013: Freedom are choices, decisions and acts one can do according to his own point of view. Rules should also exists in order to protect the humanity , to respect one another..rules may limit that harmful options of freedom which are able to get hurm somebody by the actions of others. Without rules freedom would be to take anybody a club and starting war. So, for me whatever it's your choice , your decision , your act as well as respect other's humanity it's freedom. We are Humans more than anything....
  • Apr 29 2013: My definition of freedom is to have the opportunity to do all the good we want, and believe all the truth we want.

    Any deviation limits our freedom and often the freedom of others.
  • Apr 29 2013: Yes. By consistently finding out WHO experiences the fear. The Fear is real. The Experiencer is not. Dreams can be very very convincing.
  • Apr 29 2013: This question has been on my mind for the past few days. I want to share the definition of freedom according to a child:

    The other day, I was in the car with my kids, on our way home. We live in a rural area and were ooh-ing and aaw-ing at all the calves and lambs in the fields. My daughter, who is six, said "How sad!" I was a little surprised and asked her what she meant. She said "I am so lucky I'm not stuck in a field like those baby cows and sheep".
  • Apr 29 2013: Freedom is Knowledge , where is knowledge there isn't fear , where isn't fear is peace .

    Freedom is equation with plenty of variables .
  • Apr 29 2013: Wonderful views so far from everyone.

    The first thing that jumps at me as to freedom defined would be "knowledge".

    If we have access to knowledge, and have an open mind, we are free.

    Learning truths is a wonderful way of gaining freedom.
  • Apr 29 2013: Freedom = Choice

    For me, we are blessed to have freedom in most of the countries to be who we want to be, what we want to do and with who we want to do it.
    I do think that freedom is a right that includes duties as weel. The duty to become someone better, to have and provide what is necessary for our children and people who have a lack of choices (due to their conditions and the struggle they need to face in order to only survive in some cases) and to achieve great things.

    The point of our lives should be to make a difference, to ourselves, to ours families and people we care about and even for people who don't have the same chance of freedom at the beginning.

    Freedom is the most important value we should take care of and people need to realize how lucky we are to have a certain degree of freedom in our societies and lives.
  • Apr 29 2013: I feel freedom means different things to different people. To me it simply means being able to do the things I like to do without being influenced by financial or social constraints. For example I like learning about new technologies and want to create something special as my legacy to this world. However currently my job and my responsibilities would not permit me that luxury of time. I would love to be in a situation where I can dedicatedly chase my passion without having to worry about where my next bread is going to come from. That day I can say I have complete freedom.
  • Apr 29 2013: I like the fact you asked for a definition. We define freedom by our experiences and by our desires for more of freedom. Both are needed.

    Freedom is about relationships with others and is defined at life levels: home, community, region, national and planetary. It includes your social or cultural experience to define and your efforts or desire to have greater opportunities, which if withheld, decrease freedom.

    True freedom includes love and this means a person will self limit and not demand for himself what would be inconvenient or harmful to others. A simple example would be three persons arrive at a doorway of a building. All three cannot pass at the same moment, for if they tried they would bump into one another or be offended in some way. However, in kindness if one opens the door for the others, they all pass freely and all benefit. True freedom involves not doing something that would harm or deny others. Freedom of speech does not mean a person should say anything that comes to mind. Freedom to smoke does not mean a person should do so when others would be offended or harmed.

    True freedom means a nation will enforce laws of equal opportunity so that all who are able will rise to one's highest level of capability. This leads to happiness knowing that real freedom is granted for one to express himself in ways that contribute good to people.

    One can define freedom to newly experienced higher values when true freedom is discovered and valued.

    True freedom does not exist in selfishness. It exists in selflessness; in love. True freedom is enjoyable when law is applied equally and for the benefit of the group----of any size.
  • Apr 29 2013: Dear all,
    The subject of freedom is very important to me. As a filmmaker I talked to many people about this subject. And since I was born in freedom, I felt that my concept of freedom is not as profound as that of people who know what it is to live in unfreedom. And we should most of all learn from them.
    Please check the festival we are organizing called About Freedom Film&Festival. This is also what we aim at. Show the stories on freedom to everyone in the world. Maybe it is interesting to visit the website because all stories will be online after the 5th of May via www.aboutfreedom.net
    Best, Barbara
  • Apr 28 2013: My personal opinion of what it is to be 'free'. --
    Freedom is an intangible feature of conscious life.

    Freedom allows for courage to be afraid to complain
    to government, but to go ahead and do it.

    With Freedom, people are seldom afraid to complain
    openly, privately, secretly, or to themselves.

    But, without Freedom, when complaint can result in
    personal loss, courage is often hard to find, and
    open complaint dies quickly.

    Crowds are often used to issue complaints to restrictive
    governments, but can be usurped by "posers" hidden
    within the crowds to forward their private agendas.
  • Apr 28 2013: I appreciate all kinds of definitions provided by all the users here, thanks for each! I will not offer another definition but a personal observation. The discourse of freedom is now everywhere, and it has become one of the few concepts that really move, mobilize people (advertisements, protests, even Arab spring etc). The promise of freedom is now a significant incentive for a variety of actions both on the personal and communal levels. However, I feel that we should be a bit cautious about such a discourse. Instead, a more emphasis should be invested in the idea of justice. I firmly believe that justice comes first, and we had better give more emphasis on justice as a more valuable asset.
    • Apr 28 2013: Justice has become outdated.
      Why that is? I don't know.
      I just feel that the US's system needs an update.
      A hunch? A sent? A taste? Something to do with seeing
      minor officials wearing battle helmets, flack jackets, belts
      full of goodies, and nasty Glocks. And that's when they go
      out to visit their young men on probation. Peeking into
      windows, and bad attitudes. Scary.

      Enforcement has grown a bit too large and may become a problem
      sooner than we think. Freedoms restricted is not really the right answer. And our government is leaning in that direction.

      Where I live, in a retirement community, the police are new-hires.
      The old ones, on night shifts, or gone. sniff, sniff. Something...
  • Apr 28 2013: Fear makes you not do things that you would otherwise have done.From the beginning people wanted freedom from oppressive regimes and rulers because they could not bear to live with the constant threat of punishment or worse. It is when people got over their fear of their oppressors that freedom was fought for and many times won.But having said that, sometimes one wonders weather we got what we really fought for ! Is any society really free ? Are we truly unafraid, do we trust our governments, the more one ponders the more you will be inclined to believe that freedom died when freedom fighters died, Otherwise we would not have to even ask the question, " what is freedom ?"
  • Apr 28 2013: My definition is: "a freedom is a recognised and accepted duty." Why? Because it is always possible to do what is a duty.
  • Apr 28 2013: My dear!,Steen the problem is the consciousness. Pensare è facile, essendo una spontaneità biologica, mentre sapere come si fa, cioè acquisiirne la consapevolezza -il pensiero che ritorna sul pensiero- è difficile. Inoltre la lingua italiana distingue i termini 'coscienza' e 'consapevolezza'. Il primo sembra essere il soggetto temporalizzato come durata, il secondo invece come momento. Il tedesco distingue invece tra Bewusstsein e Gewissen. La ringrazio sentitamente.
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      Apr 28 2013: Che cosa si intende con il pensiero che ritorna al pensiero?
  • Apr 28 2013: My view of freedom stems from the concept of individual liberty.

    We don't grow up in a vacuum, but rather learn a whole range of givens and circumstances that help define who we are and how we respond to our siblings, parents, and others which in turn results in feedback that helps satisfy our basic cares, wants and needs.

    As a result, many of us, as we become adults continue the traditions of our family including religious beliefs and adopt these cultural influences including politics, way of life, etc., automatically.

    Freedom can become a factor in our lives when knowledge and a greater exposure to life affects changes in our views. The value of freedom stems from the concept of liberty. The idea that an individual is entitled to their own pursuit of happiness and therefore entitled to choices in terms of belief systems, politics, lifestyle, etc., as an individual right - to me is the crux of what the idea of freedom is all about.

    Political freedom is what keeps authority from imposing the will of the majority on everyone. It is what the Bill of Right is all about in the US Constitution.
  • Apr 28 2013: Yes, "freedom", as it is generally understood, is akin to relativity (or so it seems to me--though my understanding is limited). It varies from person to person. From my experience, Freedom is an ultimate, transcendent reality. A definition in words would be: Freedom is a state of being that experiences no effect. A consciousness/mind without seeds.You know, cause and effect---accumulating karma which constantly needs to be resolved back to our natural purity. It may not lend itself to the back and forth of conversation. I don't know. Or it could be understood as a different way of understanding relativity, where, in this case, the answer to your question indicates where people are in themselves; even at the moment they form an answer; which could change, as our consciousness is usually all over the place. Great question.
  • Apr 27 2013: Ability.
  • Apr 27 2013: The ability to go to Cuba whenever you choose.
  • Apr 27 2013: To quote, I think pretty accurately, one of my favorite talks, by Caroline Casey-Being absolutely truly yourself is freedom. Hearing her say this so impacted my life, I even made it into a little piece of art that I have displayed in my home in Ashdod, Israel. Thanks to TED for the inspiration and for how it has changed and continues to change and impact my life.
  • Apr 27 2013: Freedom : The ability to do what I want without posing harm to another.
    This comes with the philosophy that people can do whatever they want with their lives as long as they do not harm anyone.

    I consider expressions like the 'Land of the Free' to be either false or an oxymoron since people who are living in the 'land' do not have full autonomy over parts of it, instead they are required to give tax and must enslave themselves to others for the right to build a home on the land.
    So they either do not own the land at all or they waver their freedom to own it.

    The common rational behind today's lack of freedom is that in ages past it was way worse: "don't you know that 1000 years ago slavery, bigotry and human trafficking were common place?, look at how free and enlightened we are now..."
  • Apr 27 2013: My definition of freedom would be something that gives me the opportunity to make my own decisions wisely. That something would be the understanding of the nature of my mind and be conscious, aware of the present. Not dwelling on the past or the future that hasn't come.
  • Apr 27 2013: I guess it depends on what is it that one wants to be free from! Mostly we need to set free from ourselves which is the most difficult one.
  • Apr 27 2013: I believe that South Africa as a nation is a great picture of freedom. Today we celebrate Freedom Day, the first democratic elections in South Africa. As I travel through South Africa, even though I still see poverty and illness, I also see freedom at work. I see people following their dreams, no matter what their race, gender, religious belief or culture. Freedom does not mean freedom from struggle but it instead means the freedom to take steps forward, freedom to hope for a brighter future. South African society is by no means perfect, but it is a society filled with amazing people who have such potential to change the world.
  • Apr 27 2013: I think you are free if you truly believe you are free. The only way our freedom is taken from us is when we allow it to be taken or we give it away. Every moment we feel free, we are. (personal opinion. If someone said it better, please thank them for it.)
  • Apr 27 2013: This has been explored in detail by the school of Classical Liberalism (not recognizable by modern liberalism which is against certain fundamental freedoms recognized by the classical model). So, if you want to learn the basics, search for that or check out the videos at the learnliberty organization.

    Basically, freedom means the ability to do what you want without harming others. Civil freedom/liberty is indistinguishable from economic freedom, though modern liberalism attempts to drive a wedge between the two. One is not free if the majority can vote to seize their assets and give them to someone else, no matter how well-intentioned the goal is.

    The US is not the freest nation on earth, and it is becoming less free on a continual basis. Consider Ben Franklin's words in light of the recent Boston Marathon bombing: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." What would Ben say about people excepting a city-wide lock-down and door-to-door searches? Well, according to Ben, since we're giving up liberty, we deserve neither liberty not safety, and that's probably what we'll get unless people learn that they really aren't free.

    Mark Twain may have said, "It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled." Whether or not he said it, it appears to be true. The US is constantly bombarded with the message that it is free, so much so that it is quite challenging to convince its citizens that they are not. After all, I probably haven't convinced you, dear reader. Have I?
  • Apr 27 2013: Freedom is a very confusing word. We aren't free here. The word freedom would be indicative of an unrestricted state. We are definitely not unrestricted.

    In this context the word freedom really has more to do with our history of cultural oppression and greed. Governments exercise authority over people they don't really have. It then causes rebellion, instability, and the eventual collapse of said government.

    The Roman Empire was very well structured in comparison to other cultures during their time. However, certain practices eventually ended up destroying them. Well that and a massive invasion force.

    Freedom, to me, is more about cultural awareness. It's about letting people express themselves. It's about giving everyone the same opportunities in life. It's about checks and balances. It's actually really complicated.
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    Apr 27 2013: A few years ago I would probably answered with some glib comment about it being a philosophical concept, however, today I would define freedom as a person's ability to define and justify themselves within their own community or society as being equally valid and valuable to that of the majority or status quo.

    If a person lives in fear from their neighbours, their state rulers or police force they are not free.

    I do not consider freedom to be a licence to do as you please. Rather, it is the ability to try to change things, or to protest if you disagree with those in power - while still being able to live openly without persecution.

    Freedom in thought or in privacy is not freedom.

    Democracy is only a force for good if it protects its minority groups from harm or harassment and measures out favour without prejudice.

    The persecution of the Coptic Christians and liberal society in post revolution Egypt is a sign that their form of democratic freedom has been hijacked by the new rulers to become a commonly corrupt form of democracy which has a meaning more like "winner takes all and be damned with anyone who voted against us". This is the case in Zimbabwe, where Robert Mugabe rules like a big chief under the pretence of being a demoniacally elected president, while government paid and armed thugs beat up, evict and murder anyone aligned to the opposition.

    In some cases where a population is very diverse, it may be an advantage for the leader to be from a minority community / sect / tribe - so long as all peoples respect that leader. Once that leader becomes entrenched, closed minded, partisan and corrupt they civil unrest and revolution - Syria being the latest example.
  • Apr 27 2013: Freedom is complicate,there isn't absolute freedom.but,for me ,it's my freedom to do these things I'm interested!
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    Apr 27 2013: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
    ― Abraham Lincoln
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      Apr 27 2013: No one would no better than not so honest Abe
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    Apr 27 2013: Hi Don Wesley,
    I am glad that you share the same thought. Don, i really don’t know how I reached (consciously) to that conclusion. When I wrote it I just follow my intuition (?). All I can say, I think that it is life and all its trials and tribulations, everyday things, experiential questioning (what I called questioning as we go on living) self introspection, observation and of course intuition.
    i also felt we all feel nearly the same thing about freedom but the difference is a matter of interpretation and description and the sociopolitical realities that we are tied to.
    I would also like to suggest you to read any book by J.Krishnamurti.

    Uba D Tmar
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    Apr 27 2013: No worries.
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    Apr 27 2013: i believe freedom to be how closely do you fallow true eternal principles. there's obviously restrictions and laws found in organizations. within that organization you agree to fallow the agreements of those within that organization. in america you agree to fallow certain laws. as long as you obey them like a kite with a string attached to it you remain in flight. ultimate freedom comes from following the laws in that ultimate organization what ever that might be. the more you know the more your able to follow those laws. the more you do follow those laws the more trust the organization has in you. and ultimately the more power you attain. and the cycle continues.
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      Apr 27 2013: Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose... (Janis Joplin)
      Good tune. :)
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        Apr 27 2013: Tyler, I was wondering when someone would write this.
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      Apr 27 2013: A noun, said she raising her eyebrow in awe of the question's timeless relevance ;-)
      Cheers.
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          Apr 27 2013: And illusion is just an abstract noun, she said, putting on her blue robe, looking for her red pills...

          It has little information in it, she concluded, staring at his back.

          Cheers,
          Anna
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    Apr 25 2013: Caitlin, I think we will converge towards a common ground of definition of freedom if we can answer this question.
    Are we free to give up freedom?
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      Apr 26 2013: Perhaps, it's the only way to become free. This idea is somewhat consistent with my idea of self-control expressed above. It's a self-refuting idea.
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      Apr 26 2013: Pabrita and Arkady,
      "Are we free to give up freedom?"

      Part of the definition of freedom is..."the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint or from the power of another".

      This part of the definition includes, "the power of another".

      I also consider will power and self control to be freedoms for me.

      Another part of the definition is..."the quality or state of being exempt or released usu. from something onerous; the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken".

      It appears that freedom is considered a "quality" we have, or choose for ourselves. As well as the freedom from control of others.

      Considering the definitions, I would say that we CAN give up freedom, because if it is a quality in ourselves, it is something that we first need to recognize and believe in. If we do not recognize it, then it does not exist for us.

      We may be restricted by external forces, and we could still have the freedom to choose how we think, feel, act and react to the situation.
  • Apr 25 2013: Hi Caitlin.
    Since you didn't reply to my question I realized that I didn't really have a fixed definition for freedom.
    It has always been a state or condition, perhaps a feeling, for me rather than words strung together.
    Border-less or boundary-less would fit somehow for me.
    When people want and seek security, I want and seek freedom.
    I still would choose it over security but I don't think I can define it,
    In my life, where there has been borders or boundaries, there has been prison, fear, insecurity, something to manage out of this fear and insecurity, along with suspicion and the fear and reality of its loss one day.

    Freedom of the human spirit, whatever that may be.
    All of life, through all of time, is but a picture, and can be missing no part, or the picture is incomplete.
    Ultimately I guess, freedom would be freedom from fear, which is what everyone fears, supposing what others would do if we all were free. What about what each one fears they might do instead of what others might do?
    Being free of that then, might constitute freedom.
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    • Apr 26 2013: do you think of people only acted in such a way that no-one would be in fear, that could be considered virtuous?
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        • Apr 26 2013: yes i understood that they were not your words, however i'm interested in your personal thoughts on the subject. the words of feynmann you posted above are akin to what i was trying (and failing) to explain in a previous comment to you.
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    • Apr 25 2013: How we can get to freedom? We can't even come to a consensus and define what this word means.))
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        • Apr 25 2013: Thank you for information. I shall try to learn the other better ways of thinking. Really. I prefer to trust myself and i am still learning it. But, I know that the experience of another man no matter great mind he is or not, is not your experience. To each his own.
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  • Apr 25 2013: A mothers love is unconditional and often... completely selfless.
    • Apr 25 2013: From my point of view, its less selfless. But, a mothers ''unconditional'' love is intended to ''go'' to their OWN children. Hence, it's not unconditional.
  • Apr 25 2013: Right and Wrong are black and white.. Reality is shares of the rainbow...
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    • Apr 25 2013: excellent point about virtue. in a society of many, to be free we also have to allow others to be free, which is perhaps the root of virtue?
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        • Apr 25 2013: i thought i was agreeing, perhaps i've misunderstood? anyway, i mean if one is free, then all must be free, and we can only be that way if all are following essentially a non-interference policy. to me, allowing others to have their freedom is morally good and virtuous, in a golden rule kind of way. does that make sense? conversely if a person keeps another from being free then anyone may keep anyone from being free, so without virtue we have no freedom.
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        • Apr 25 2013: indeed this is interesting already.
          there's the psychology of cheats and suckers to consider. i wouldn't condone forcing others to act a certain way, but i would condone preventing others from abusing other members of society for their own benefit at detriment to society as a whole. if cheats are tolerated, what you get is more cheats, since nobody wants to be a sucker.
          for example say you're driving down the highway and you get stuck in a jam. you do the right thing and stay out of the emergency lane, but there's 1 guy who says pfft i'm not waiting here and drives down the emergency lane. now if nothing happens to him (basically if there's no police car following him), somewhere there's going to be someone else who decides to do the same thing, and with the number of cars using the emergency lane to jump the queue rising, more and more people reach the point where they think they don't want to be a sucker by remaining stuck when others are passing freely. you might have seen it in reality for yourself, but the psychological process was well covered in an article in nature a number of years back, and was brought up in one of jonathan haidt's ted talks, the earlier one, sorry forget what it was called. i remember about it being observed in various animal groups too, monkeys, hyenas etc. even animals have found that the group benefits by punishing those who act selfishly
          sorry i don't usually like to give suggestions to read or watch but in this case i want to make an exception. one of the most enlightening episodes of bbc's horizon i've ever watched is called "nice guys finish first". it can be found on youtube.
  • Apr 25 2013: to me freedom is the liberty to do whatever you want whenever you want. living in a society of many though this means that freedom must also be limited to only those things which do not subtract from the freedom of others, or our own freedom will be reduced by others exercising their own freedom. when the 2 conflict, the natural state is default - eg the freedom to play music vs the freedom to sit in silence. i've had similar discussions in the past and found that many have difficulty grasping the concept that curtailing some freedoms to some degree actually gives us more freedom.
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      • Apr 25 2013: big fan of feynmann! my point is not that if you don't like something you shouldn't have to go somewhere else, but that if 2 people have 2 conflicting things they want to do, which should go somewhere else. in a music hall you wouldn't ask a musician to go somewhere else to play so you could have peace, but in a library you would. similarly you can't build a factory in a residential area, and this gives society more freedom, by curtailing the freedom of the factory builder to build where they like. if u want to read in silence naturally the library is the place for that kind of thing, and if you want to make noise do it where noise has its place.
      • Apr 25 2013: yes i apologize, i am finding it difficult to explain.
        would you mind elaborating a bit on what you meant by "You don't like it? Go somewhere else!" in relation to my comment? or let me know in particular what part makes the least sense?
  • Apr 25 2013: Freedom of mind. Complete trust in self.

    Freedom of self. To feel.

    Freedom of Heart. To love unconditionally and to receive love unconditionally.
    • Apr 25 2013: why would you ever completely trust yourself? surely there's always some possibility that you might be wrong?
    • Apr 25 2013: Love is a most selfish of human sentiments. It is never unconditional and it should never be.
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    Apr 25 2013: Freedom is the ability to make your own choices, so long as the result of those choices do not infringe upon the freedom of anyone else to do the same.
    There are many bumper stickers by military personnel that says "freedom is not free". Our freedom comes at the price of those who made sacrifices so that it may be so for us. We need to respect the fact that freedom has consequences if it is not regarded as universal.
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    Apr 25 2013: The ability to create goals overcome barriers in the pursuit of and attainment of goals.

    Otherwise this might happen:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wnevk-6h6aI

    You gotta love Mr Frenches maniacal laugh
    • Apr 25 2013: can the freedom of others be ignored in the pursuit of these goals? what do you think about individual freedom and the freedom of society?
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        Apr 25 2013: Life is not a zero sum game, in fact quite the opposite.
        • Apr 25 2013: that doesn't explain your point either, please elaborate?
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        Apr 25 2013: The more the government does for you the less freedom you have. As it is at least half of your life is spent paying taxes so at least half of your life you are a financial slave.

        Of course if you live in Somalia you are not a slave but you are subject to theft or being killed so the rule of law has it's advantages.

        In either case you are subject to force that you have to yield to.

        The situation that does not require force is the free market as 2 individuals exchange in pursuit of their own interest. You want a burrito more than the money in your pocket and the burrito vendor wants your money more than the burrito in his cart. This causes a thank you thank you moment

        In this example the exchange is not a zero sum game, it is win win.

        The conjecture is that the big evil corporations have created a zero sum game but they have not. E.G. Walmart allows you to buy more crap for less money which is why people go there in droves. Walmart raises the standard of living of it's customers.

        Governments are not productive because they don't have to respond to market forces. As they grow they take money that would be in the market place by force (if you doubt this talk to Wesley Snipes or Willie Nelson or the guy from the TV show survivor), this money is no longer available to be used in the market place and so the market place shrinks. How far can the freedom be subjugated think North Korea #177 in freedom out of 177 countries. This is why in the USSR the number one product was vodka as the people had to medicate as their goals and freedom were so oppressed.

        http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking

        So you can see that with government freedom is a zero sum game once it goes beyond the rule of law.
        • Apr 26 2013: i agree with you completely, but that's not the whole story. what about business monopolies?

          there are both non zero sum games and zero sum games present.

          when government taxes money through taxes, where does it go?

          thanks for taking the time to explain in detail by the way!
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        Apr 26 2013: Consider that if the government did not bail out GM the biggest manufacturing company in history would now be extinct.

        At one time Montgomery Ward begat Sears which begat Walmart

        Monopolies come and go who cares, the one who really benefits is the customer.

        Where do taxes go? look at the budget it goes to a ton of entitlements to corporations (corporate welfare) of which if they got rid of them the budget would be balanced, as well as medicare that the average citizen currently receives 7 times more than he pays in in services, as well as the other ponzi scheme called social security which is rife with corruption, and the corruption known as defense contractors. It sure as hell isn't filtering down to students or good roads now is it?
        • Apr 26 2013: quite right the government should never bail out a company that's the exact opposite of capitalism. gm however does not hold a monopoly.

          there are no monopolies because whenever a company tries to form one they're prevented from doing so by the government - removing the freedom of corporations to set up monopolies gives more freedom to the customer.

          excellent points about defense contractors! i'm glad we're on the same page about corporate welfare. to me though that's the fault or the public sector corrupting government for its own selfish ends. i wonder where you place the blame? is it corporations' fault for lobbying the money out of government, or the government's fault for agreeing?
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        Apr 26 2013: It is the fault of the people for acquiescing there responsibility/freedom to government.
  • Apr 24 2013: Lack of constraints.
    • Apr 25 2013: if you are not constrained, then no-one else is constrained either. are you free if anyone else is able to do whatever they like?
  • Apr 24 2013: I feel like the definition of freedom is subjective. But what's most important about the idea of freedom, and the reality of being free itself - is the ability, or perhaps the availability of a platform where what you believe in, as well as your thoughts and opinions - have a place in the larger scope of things (community/society). Being free is where diversity can develop without being scrutinized, where everyone can grow within the pace that they have set out. There isn't one true definition of freedom, because they change within the parameters of an individual, and so if you look at it on a bigger scale - it is extremely vast. But I think we share an ultimate definition, which is to be able to do what we consider to be right. but then freedom itself is contained within the parameters of safety for all. does that make sense? I hope it does. thank you for the question!
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    Apr 24 2013: Freedom from oppression, suppression, repression is freedom. Freedom from private and public aggression is freedom. Hunger, fear, disease, thirst, illiteracy … are aggression affects and death, war, famine … are effects. This could make for some simple and effective law writing, but might disenfranchise the wealthy amoral few.

    A sane person cannot be free when others are victims. Leaders free of consequences are masters, and people without representation are slaves. Far too many politicians are nuts and need to be mentally and emotionally evaluated prior to being allowed any candidacy / election.
  • Apr 24 2013: Interesting, Caitlin.
    I am going to write down the very first thing that comes to mind, and see if I agree with myself in the morning...!
    I feel that freedom is choice.
    As an example, I want to use my choice to become a parent.

    To reproduce is indeed what I am genetically designed to do, but I CHOSE to create a life and took the responsibility to raise it into an independent individual.
    Before the children were born, I considered the possibility that being a parent could 'burden' me.
    After they were born, I realized (and am STILL realizing, they're only 5 and 6!) how their development enriches mine, how their achievements give me a sense of joy and accomplishment as well, how their growth helps me grow.
    In fact, the 'burden' I expected never came, and I suspect, never will.
    My choice to make a human being (two even) resulted in an overwhelming feeling of freedom.
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    Apr 24 2013: There is a thin line between 'being free' and 'being free to be bound'.
    Freedom is never crossing that line to the bondage of unbridled desires.
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    Apr 24 2013: The ability to make a decision and execute it at any time on any subject, anywhere.

    This definition is flawed however, because the only way it could work would be if a singular person without influence from others was not inhibited from making those decisions e.g. socially, obligatory.