The Pursuit of Freedom and Happiness: Exploring the Interplay between the Two

Lucas Charbonnier

Lucas Charbonnier

Aug 25, 20234 min read

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The Pursuit of Freedom and Happiness: Exploring the Interplay between the Two

Introduction:

The concepts of freedom and happiness have long been intertwined with the human experience. From a philosophical standpoint, freedom represents the ability to do as one pleases, free from external constraints or oppression. On the other hand, happiness is often seen as the ultimate goal, a state of complete satisfaction and fulfillment. In this article, we will delve into the connection between these two concepts, examining how they intersect and influence one another in our lives.

Freedom and its Complexities:

The idea of freedom can be approached from different angles. Absolute freedom suggests that individuals are not bound by any external laws or constraints, allowing them to escape the determinism of natural laws. However, this notion raises questions about the extent to which individuals can truly be free from external influences. It is undeniable that we are conditioned and influenced by various factors in our environment, making it challenging to achieve absolute freedom.

Moreover, the concept of free will, often associated with freedom, becomes paradoxical and elusive when examined closely. While some philosophers argue that freedom can be experienced and known without proof, others, like Spinoza, point out the illusion of free will. They argue that our choices may be influenced by causes we are unaware of, suggesting that our freedom might be more limited than we perceive.

The Role of Law in Preserving Freedom:

At first glance, it may seem that freedom and law are incompatible. Adhering to rules and societal norms can be perceived as a loss of freedom. However, a deeper examination reveals that freedom in society is only possible when it is limited by legal frameworks. Laws ensure that individual liberties coexist rather than mutually destroy one another. By obeying the laws we have collectively established, we experience a certain degree of freedom. As Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, "obedience to the law we prescribe to ourselves is freedom."

Finding Happiness in Moderation:

Moving on to the pursuit of happiness, we encounter the question of whether complete satisfaction and the fulfillment of all our desires are realistic goals. Human existence is inevitably intertwined with experiences of unhappiness and suffering. Additionally, our desires are often contradictory and incompatible with one another. The ancient philosophies of Epicureanism and Stoicism offer insights into finding happiness by moderating our desires.

For the Epicureans, limiting our efforts to satisfying natural and necessary desires is key. By focusing on simple and limited desires, such as satisfying hunger or seeking companionship, we can achieve a state of contentment. On the other hand, Stoicism advises us to desire only what is within our control, relinquishing desires that depend on external factors. This perspective emphasizes the importance of personal agency and self-control in our pursuit of happiness.

The Collective Dimension of Happiness:

While personal happiness is essential, happiness also has a collective dimension. It is not only a matter of individual well-being but also a political concern. Philosopher Alain argues that it is our duty to not only seek personal happiness but also actively contribute to the happiness of others. This perspective highlights the role of collective solidarity in creating a society where happiness is attainable for all. It calls for the intervention of social structures, such as the state, to address social inequalities that cause suffering and unhappiness.

The Relationship Between Thinking and Happiness:

Lastly, we explore the intriguing question of whether thinking hinders or enhances happiness. Some argue that abstaining from thought can lead to happiness by preventing us from becoming aware of our miserable conditions. However, this perspective raises deeper questions about the nature of happiness and the role of self-awareness. Can we truly be happy if we deny ourselves the essence of our being as thinking beings? Is it possible for thinking itself to bring profound happiness?

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the pursuit of freedom and happiness is a complex and intertwined journey. While absolute freedom and complete satisfaction might be elusive, we can find freedom within the limitations imposed by laws and societal frameworks. Similarly, happiness can be attained through moderation in desires and by considering the collective well-being of others. Ultimately, the relationship between freedom and happiness is a deeply personal and philosophical exploration, where no definitive answers exist. However, by embracing self-reflection and considering the interconnectedness of our choices, we can strive towards a more fulfilling and harmonious existence.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Reflect on your desires: Take time to evaluate your desires and discern between those that are essential and those that are merely fleeting. Focusing on fulfilling natural and necessary desires can lead to a greater sense of contentment.
  • 2. Practice self-control: Develop the ability to distinguish between desires that are within your control and those that are not. By letting go of desires dependent on external factors, you can cultivate a sense of personal agency and resilience in the pursuit of happiness.
  • 3. Cultivate empathy and contribute to the well-being of others: Recognize that personal happiness is not isolated from the happiness of others. Actively seek ways to contribute to the collective happiness of society, whether through volunteering, supporting social causes, or advocating for justice and equality.

Remember, the journey towards freedom and happiness is a continuous process, and finding the right balance is a personal endeavor.

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