The long Road to Freedom
The long Road to Freedom
By David Preussen 2008
Freedom, one of those terms so common and yet so undefined. What is it? Why do we want it? What is it good for? And where does it lead? Those are some of the question I will try to answer in this essay. What is it? I define freedom as a state of existence liberated from mere servitude and dependency, be it external or internal. “Freedom is the sole truth of Spirit (Geist)”, the German philosopher Hegel once wrote, and I agree with him. The whole process of evolution, the development of life, is but a strive for freedom. Freedom basically is everything, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. My whole philosophy is but an outcry for freedom, the kind of freedom neither the world around me nor the current level of development of my species offer.
Conscious freedom, freedom connected with awareness, is what this essay is concerned with. Freedom from awareness, the “freedom” a stone and other dead matter enjoys is something different, it is where everything began, the beginning of the road where the journey started. Conscious freedom requires a free will, the ability to choose freely, and the ability to choose freely requires a consciousness and freedom from tyranny; the tyranny of others, the tyranny of instincts and desires, the tyranny of necessity. Things like a stone or primitive animals are not free in this respect for they lack a consciousness and with it, next to many other things, the ability to choose. In order to gain a little freedom, life had to develop, to move on. The first life forms had neither a spirit nor a consciousness and were thus only slightly more free than a stone. “Free” in the sense that they possessed the freedom of movement, which, even thought still without even a trace of consciousness, was already a clear sign of advancement over the state of of being of mere dead matter like a stone or dirt.
The next step on the long road to freedom started with the development of what we call “consciousness”, the development of a consciousness was the key to unlock the first door to conscious freedom, the liberation from the mere servitude of a mere thing. Mammals it appears were the first beings to develop a consciousness of their own, the first to overcome the state of existence of a mere thing. And even thought not yet fully aware of themselves and their position as part of the whole, their state of being constituted a major advancement over primitive life forms void of a consciousness and with it self-awareness. It was a long journey from the first primitive life forms to the first beings possessing a consciousness, the first beings partly aware of their own existence, to the ancient Greek philosopher, the highest manifestation of consciousness and awareness humanity reached so far. Without a consciousness there can exist no awareness, no conscious freedom, a being without a consciousness is therefore only a thing. Conscious freedom, the freedom of choice, self-awarenesses, is what constitutes the main difference between us and a stone or single cell organism. We are aware of ourselves and our surroundings, our place in the world and our relation to others. A stone has no awareness, no consciousness, nothing. Void of everything but mere existence. Primitive life forms without a consciousness are somewhat more advanced but not very far, their primitive ability to react to changes, their unconscious perception, is only slightly above the niveau of a leave or dirt being effected by external forces like wind for they have no conscious control over their reactions. A consciousness and the awareness that comes with it is our greatest treasure and our greatest burden at the same time. Awareness is a two edged sword, for early man is was curse and blessing at once. The increased level of consciousness and self-awareness came with a high price to pay. With higher levels of awareness early man slowly became aware of his own misery, his servitude to nature and his instincts, his lack of freedom, his dependency. He certainly was more free than a stone or primitive animals, much more, yet he was still not truly free from servitude and dependency and he was aware of it which made it painful.
So here was early man, ignorant and void of knowledge, yet painfully aware of his own misery. While his level of consciousness and intelligence made him superior to all other animals, it also made him suffer far more. Not enough that he was aware of his own servitude and dependency, his consciousness most of the time was in constant conflict with his instincts. An antinomy of misery! Basically every day in the life of a man constitutes an almost endless amount of battles. This war between our consciousness on one side and instincts and desires on the other is going on ever since man became consciousness of himself. Like the Burgundy metaphysician Proudhon noticed; “man’s life is a permanent war, war with want, war with nature, war with his fellows, and consequently war with himself.” It’s this suffering, this state of injustice, this antinomy within, that is moving human society ever since. It is likely that this antinomy within is the very reason why humans started to believe in the existence of a soul in the first place, the concept of a “soul” is most likely nothing but an attempt to explain the existence of opposing elements within us, the concept of “good and evil”, “divine and mortal”, attempts to describe the conflict, the antinomy, that exists between them. But there is hope. An antinomy is a state of being in want of progress, discovering an antinomy means discovering a possibility for progress, for change. The antinomy between consciousness and instincts, humanity and animality, indicates that human developing is far from being done yet, humanity is the negation of animality and our journey to become fully rational beings, to become truly free, has only began. A change always requires to give something up in order to gain something new, in order to become semi-rational beings we had to give up parts of our animality, in order to become an adult one has to leave his childhood behind, and in order to become educated one has to leave ignorance behind. Isn’t it clear that we have not yet fully left animality behind us, far from it I would say, and thus that the change from one state to another apparently isn’t completed yet, that man, Homo sapiens sapiens, is merely a bridge species in the process of transition? All evidence and the very nature of our species point to the conclusion that our development is not done, that we, as a species, are still in a process of transition, a transition between what was and what could be, between the past and the future. We are neither fish nor meat, neither rational nor irrational, but something inbetween. And it’s this being inbetween what is the cause of our current misery and most of our self inflicted suffering in the past. Overcoming this intermediate state of being is the key to the second door on the long road to freedom we have yet to unlock, something which appears to be our destiny. Only by moving forward, by overcoming the antinomy within, man may ends his misery. Moving forward is no less than the cognition of necessity, it probably always was.
Some ancient Greek philosopher were among the first to become aware of the boundaries of human existence, our limitations, our faults, our misery, the antinomy within. Among them was Plato who was probably the greatest metaphysical genius the world has ever seen. Plato acknowledged the conflict, the antinomy within. Like most ancient thinker he used the concept of “divine and mortal” in place of the concept of “humanity and animality” which I use to explain the origin and nature of the opposing elements within us. The fallowing excerpt is from his dialogue “Timaeus”: “When a man is always occupied with the cravings of desire and ambition, and is eagerly striving to satisfy them, all his thoughts must be mortal, and, as far as it is possible altogether to become such, he must be mortal every whit, because he has cherished his mortal part. But he who has been earnest in the love of knowledge and of true wisdom, and has exercised his intellect more than any other part of him, must have thoughts immortal and divine, if he attain truth, and in so far as human nature is capable of sharing in immortality, he must altogether be immortal; and since he is ever cherishing the divine power, and has the divinity within him in perfect order, he will be perfectly happy. .. each man should follow, and correct the courses of the head which were corrupted at our birth, and by learning the harmonies and revolutions of the universe, should assimilate the thinking being to the thought, renewing his original nature, and having assimilated them should attain to that perfect life which the gods have set before mankind, both for the present and the future.” Plato’s advice to happiness is to embrace and focus of what constitutes the essence of humanity within us, what he calls the “divine”, in order to overcome the limitations of animality, what he calls the “mortal”. The ancient thinker were already well aware that by his very nature, like the German philosopher Schopenhauer put it, “man is far less than what he should have been”. It’s probably one of the strongest arguments against creationism, the theory of intelligent design, and similar nonsense. Because in case of us humans one could only speak of unintelligent design, an obvious failure on part of the “designer”. What kind of almighty god would create creatures bound to misery and conflict? Developing a consciousness opened Pandora’s box so to speak and now we have to finish the journey we started or to remain stuck in this intermediate state and suffer forever. Freedom was never free but something people had to fight for! The long road to conscious freedom from mere dead matter to semi-intelligent life was no different in this respect and it is still a long way, a long fight, till we are able to reach true freedom. True freedom is what awaits us at the end of the road, it is where everything started and where it will end. But when we reached the end of the road we will be something more resembling divine gods, truly free and self-aware. What has to be prevented at all costs is the destruction of the little process our species made so far in its long and painful evolution by mongrelization, segregation is the way by which life progresses and develops, mongrelization destroys the progress made by a return to the smallest common nominator. Destroying the progress our species made so far on the long road to freedom constitutes at once a crime against nature, against all those past generation since man left the trees because it nullifies most of the progress they made, and against future generations because it denies them their hereditary right. “Some races are obviously superior to others. A more thorough adjustment to the conditions of existence has given them spirit, vitality, scope and relative stability… it is therefore of the greatest importance not to obscure this superiority by intermarriage with inferior stock, and thus nullify the progress made by a painful evolution and a prolonged sifting of souls. Reason protests as much as instinct against any fusion .. greatness falls whenever contact leads to (such) amalgamation.”, the American-Spanish philosopher George Santayana pointed out in his book “The Life of Reason.”
Freedom is everything. The strive for freedom is not “only” at once driving force and goal of the development of life, but also the motor of human progress, the key behind the development and evolution of civilization. The mind in order to put it’s capacity to use for higher matters, higher in the sense of above the mere necessity, requires freedom, freedom from all those lower things which try to keep the mind down and contented with lower matters; the tyranny of instincts, animalic desires, and the mere necessity of survival. In Africa for example the multitude of man never reached freedom from their animalic desires and instincts and so they never came into a position to content themselves with higher matters, higher in the sense of above the mere necessity for human survival, and so they basically did not develop at all. Culture, religion, science, art, written language, those are all higher matters for they are above the mere necessity for human survival. Humans do not content themselves with those before they have reached a certain level of freedom and the leisure that comes with it. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle already noticed a long time ago, that; “man, in order to think, in order to feel himself free, in order to become man, must be freed from the material cares of daily life.” In his book “Metaphysics” Aristotle pointed out that: “the sciences which do not aim at giving pleasure or at the necessities of life were discovered .. first in the places where men first began to have leisure. This is why the mathematical arts were founded in Egypt; for there the priestly caste was allowed to be at leisure.” Leisure is precisely what freedom is about, leisure is the freedom to do nothing, not being forced to do anything be it by external or internal tyrants or the mere necessity of survival. Freedom, external and internal, is at once motor and product of progress, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. Denying people their freedom constitutes a crime against life since it effectively denies them the chance of further progress, next to reproduction, the main goal of life itself. Everything natural has a purpose and a cause, and the purpose and cause of progress and development is freedom.
People strive for freedom because “it is that which ought to he the most noble and the most becoming to those who are really educated, release from perturbation, release from fear”, short; peace of mind, release from all those internal and external demons and their tyranny is what freedom is all about and that is why we want it so much. Freedom is the Ambrosia of existence, without it we are nothing. The essay started with a Hegel quotation and so I may end it with one; “to be free is nothing, to become free is everything.”
My newest essay I hope you enjoy. The essay is available for republication as long as reprints include verbatim copy of the article in its entirety, the name of the author, and meta-research as the original source including a “link” to the essay.
~ by metadave on April 12, 2008.
Posted in Education, Enlightenment, History, Philosophy/Metaphysics, Science
Tags: aristitle, creationism, evolution, Hegel, human development, metadave, metaphysics, philosophy, Plato, Preussen, Schopenhauer, skeptikosexaminer