Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Freedom and its Attainability
Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), a Danish philosopher, wrote in his famous "Either/Or," "For freedom, therefore, I am fighting... I am fighting for the future, for either/or. That is the treasure I desire to bequeath to those whom I love in the world; yea, if my little son were at this instant of an age when he could thoroughly understand me, and my last hour had come, I would say to him, 'I leave to thee no fortune, no title and dignities, but I know where there lies buried a treasure which suffices to make thee richer than the whole world, and this treasure belongs to thee... This treasure is deposited in thine own inner self: there is an either/or which makes a man greater than the angels."
These words of the existentialist equate freedom with choice. Ability to choose is freedom and freedom is the ability to choose... Self-realization of the individual is the prerequsite to the ability to choose and therefore, freedom. But self-realization comes only after knowledge of oneself. "Know thyself" is the old sage's advice... Therefore, freedom is unattainable without self-knowledge... The question then becomes, is freedom possible when most people by virtue of their surroundings, upbringing and other factors are simply not capable of learning who they are... Because of this, true freedom also becomes simply absurd and a figment of our imagination...