Are We Doomed to Be Free? Can We Make Sense of Everything?

Lucas Charbonnier

Hatched by Lucas Charbonnier

Jan 01, 2024

4 min read

0

Are We Doomed to Be Free? Can We Make Sense of Everything?

The concept of freedom is the ability to choose the direction of our existence in certain given situations. But is freedom itself a matter of choice? Can we choose not to be free? Is choosing not to be free still a choice? According to Sartre, "Man is condemned to be free." Freedom is an innate quality, not a stagnant state but a historical process. Freedom is an indefinite, intellectual, moral, and political liberation against all forms of dependence. Therefore, freedom is a natural and inalienable right, even for oneself. Slavery cannot be a right. The only natural right is to be born and remain free. Rousseau also rejects the idea of voluntary submission, which he sees as unnatural. He denounces Hobbes' "false social contract," seeing it as a contract of subordination between the wolf and the lamb. Civil or political submission can only be a disguised power relationship.

According to Rousseau, we cannot renounce freedom. We are free by nature. This freedom is not abstract but always exists in circumstances beyond our control. We do not choose our family, our era, or our situation of war or peace. The situation is given to us without our determination. Living in times of war leads to different choices (resistance or collaboration) than those we would have to make in times of peace. Sartre even argues that the more restrictive the situation, the more freedom we have. Man is not a nature but a radical freedom. He completely chooses his existence and is fully responsible for it. "Existence precedes essence." Freedom precedes nature. According to Sartre, we are "condemned to be free." Invoking physical, psychological, or social determinism is a result of bad faith, seeking excuses to avoid assuming our freedom. Radical atheism intensifies freedom. Its loss can only be the result of alienation, which makes man dependent on a higher and unjust force.

Now, let's explore the question of whether we can make sense of everything. Should we give up on making sense of everything? There are limits to reason. In Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, he shows that reason must make room for belief and stick to what can be experienced. It is an impossible and unnecessary task. It is an infinite task. And what about intuition? "The heart has its reasons, of which reason knows nothing." The heart grasps truths that reason is incapable of proving.

These two seemingly unrelated topics - freedom and making sense of everything - actually have common points. Both involve the limitations of human understanding and the innate qualities of human existence. While freedom is a natural and inalienable right, it exists within given circumstances beyond our control. Similarly, making sense of everything has its limits, as reason cannot explain everything and intuition plays a role in grasping truths.

So, what can we take away from these discussions? Here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Embrace your freedom: Recognize that you have the power to choose your existence and take responsibility for your actions. Do not shy away from making choices, even in challenging circumstances. Your freedom is a fundamental aspect of your being.
  • 2. Embrace the limits of reason: Understand that there are certain aspects of life and knowledge that cannot be fully explained or understood through reason alone. Allow room for intuition and belief, as they can provide insights that reason may miss.
  • 3. Seek a balance: Strive to find a balance between exercising your freedom and acknowledging the limits of human understanding. Embrace your freedom while also recognizing that there are certain aspects of life that may remain beyond complete comprehension.

In conclusion, the concepts of freedom and making sense of everything are interconnected. While freedom is a fundamental aspect of our existence, it exists within given circumstances beyond our control. Similarly, making sense of everything has its limitations, as reason alone cannot explain everything. By embracing our freedom, acknowledging the limits of reason, and seeking a balance, we can navigate our lives with a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

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