"The Paradox of Freedom and the Importance of Connection with Others"

Lucas Charbonnier

Lucas Charbonnier

Sep 16, 20234 min read

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"The Paradox of Freedom and the Importance of Connection with Others"

Introduction:

In the realm of existential philosophy, the concept of freedom has been a subject of great contemplation. Are we truly free to choose our own path in life, or are we bound by the circumstances that surround us? This article explores the paradox of freedom and delves into the significance of connection with others in shaping our understanding of ourselves and the world.

The Native Nature of Freedom:

The innate nature of freedom asserts that it is not a stagnant state but a continuous process of liberation. From an intellectual, moral, and political perspective, freedom is the liberation from all forms of dependency. It is an inalienable right for every individual, even for oneself. The idea of willingly relinquishing freedom goes against its very essence. Rousseau argues that slavery can never be considered a right, and the only true natural right is to be born and remain free.

The Illusion of Voluntary Submission:

Rousseau refutes the notion of voluntary submission, which he sees as a disguised power dynamic. He criticizes Hobbes' concept of a "false social contract," which he views as a contract of subjugation between the strong and the weak. Civil or political submission can only be a masked power struggle. True freedom, according to Rousseau, is not a predetermined nature but a radical liberty. Human beings have the power to choose their existence and are fully accountable for their actions. Sartre's famous statement, "existence precedes essence," emphasizes that freedom precedes any predetermined nature. Sartre believes that we are "condemned to be free," and attributing our choices to physical, psychological, or social determinism is a form of self-deception.

The Role of Others in Self-Understanding:

The concept of "autrui," or others, plays a crucial role in understanding ourselves. The interaction between multiple consciousnesses, known as intersubjectivity, allows each individual to perceive themselves as subjects in relation to others. The presence of others not only grants us a deeper understanding of the world but also provides a necessary distance for self-reflection. Often, we lack objectivity when viewing ourselves too closely. The gaze of others allows us to see ourselves as objects, enabling us to become aware of our own existence. However, this gaze can also lead to the alienation of our freedom, as we may feel confined by the labels and judgments of others.

The Search for Authentic Connection:

While the gaze of others may initially feel like a loss of freedom, it is possible to establish genuine and non-conflicting relationships with others. Through dialogue, intersubjectivity can be used to collectively seek truth. In friendships or romantic relationships, the commandment to "love your neighbor as yourself" challenges us to consider the role of love as a duty. Immanuel Kant argues that love is a matter of sensation, not a matter of will. However, what we owe to others is not love but respect. Respecting others as ends in themselves, treating them as human beings with inherent dignity, is the foundation of moral virtue. Generosity, in this context, is not limited to those we love but extends to all, driven by our duty to humanity and respect for others.

The Paradox of Connection and Solitude:

The presence of others does not completely eliminate solitude, as each individual's consciousness is unique and ultimately unshareable. In fact, the presence of others can paradoxically exacerbate our sense of solitude. Misunderstandings and conflicts can arise, highlighting the limits of true connection. However, while the presence of others may not completely eradicate solitude, it can bring solace by offering us moments of understanding and connection.

Conclusion:

In the exploration of freedom and the significance of connection with others, we find a delicate balance between individuality and communal existence. While freedom is an inherent right, our interactions with others shape our understanding of ourselves and the world. To navigate this paradox, it is crucial to remember that true freedom lies in the choices we make and the connections we foster. Here are three actionable pieces of advice to consider:

  • 1. Embrace your freedom: Recognize that you have the power to choose your own path and take responsibility for your actions.
  • 2. Foster genuine connections: Seek out authentic relationships that allow for dialogue and mutual understanding, treating others with respect and dignity.
  • 3. Embrace solitude as a part of self-discovery: Understand that moments of solitude can provide valuable opportunities for self-reflection and personal growth.

In embracing our freedom and forging meaningful connections, we can navigate the paradox of freedom and find fulfillment in both our individuality and our interactions with others.

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