What is… Freedom?


Noun: the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

Okay, that sounds simple enough, but I feel like I’m missing a few more layers to this important concept. I have a few questions to help me I’ve been thinking about if anyone can offer some thoughts as I dig in and try to understand freedom:

Where does freedom come from?
My initial thoughts: 
If I’m alone, I have every right and complete freedom to do whatever I want because there is no one telling me I can’t and there is no one to harm. However, as soon as I join another group, no matter how small (like a family unit), some of my freedoms might be limited.

Can my freedoms be taken away? How? 
My initial thoughts: 
My freedoms can be taken away in several ways — 
1. If my freedom/right to do something comes in direct conflict with the right/freedom of someone else, that freedom might be denied by social contract (written as law or by less formal contracts). Example, my right to throw rocks at someone’s head is taken away because of the other person’s right to be free from physical harm. 
2. My general freedom may be revoked if I violate someone else’s right that is protected by social contract. Example — I might go to jail (lose my general freedom) for throwing rocks and hitting someone on the head because we have agreed that physically harming someone else is punishable. 
3. My freedom/right might be restricted or taken away by someone else. Example — If I get hit with a rock and become blind, the rock thrower has taken away my right to see (which affects a lot of other rights such as the right to walk around without assistance).

Should certain freedoms or rights be limited? 
My initial thoughts:
Yes. Not all rights and freedoms are created equal. Rights and freedoms should be limited as they violate the rights and freedoms of others. This can be determined by laws, social contracts, and social norms.

Should certain freedoms or rights be clearly protected? 
My initial thoughts: 
Yes. Society determines which freedoms/rights should be given priority and explicitly protected. Other rights can be protected as well, though maybe not as clearly or by written contract.

Is perceived freedom the same as actual freedom? 
My initial thoughts: 
Perceived freedom, how free we feel, might actually be more powerful than law. The law can be enforced, but how we feel determines what freedoms we decide to exercise. For example, I might have the freedom of speech, protected by law, but I restrict my speech because of perceived (or in some cases real) consequences.

Are there certain freedoms that no one can take away, even by law? 
My initial thoughts: 
Yes. Certain rights cannot be regulated such as my free will, my thoughts and perceptions, etc.

Also, no one can force me to exercise my own freedoms — I might have the freedom of speech, but I also have the freedom not to use it.

What about consequences? 
My initial thoughts: 
As I exercise certain rights/freedoms, there are some natural consequences depending on what right we’re looking at. Other consequences are determined by the group (family, society, etc.) by social contract. 

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