The paradox of freedom

Posted on June 6, 2011


If freedom for a field is a wheel of fixed point of no axis, in the equal freedom of reply, then there is an inclination to say that this quality which we in ourselves understand, which is the freedom of the wheel to turn, to spin, to travel, depends on something not free, merely because we otherwise pay for the things we like, namely the fixed point around which this movement is achieved like the chewing of a cake which when eaten yields the aftertaste of sweetness. Similarly, if the same inclination arises that is to say that we are free because in our laws the recognition of our civic freedoms are equally those of binding prohibitions then the dog drinking from a human fountain has to be trained not to do so. The inclination is to say that we are free because those laws of the staples of the state that specify that the things that we mustn’t contravene, also specify a freedom for that which in return would otherwise be impossible, because civic life would be impossible. We would be overrun by chaos. In a sense, then, it seems that we are to say something such as the following, that we are free because we are not free. The question is, how is this to be interpreted? There is a strange paradox in this. If for example freedom of speech depends on laws that grant the freedom of restricting us to whatever can be freely replied then the things that we can say, which then it seems makes speech not free after all, tire us into a condition of passivity that we can yield to but categorically not overcome. That we are hypocritical. Or again, that if we are to say that, in this free country, nothing is free, because if everything costs money, then it is not free, then if it is money that grants us the freedom of choice, to choose a life, then it is freedom that depends on labour: on the strict control of an action, so that the actions is intrinsically not free. The examples are endless. So suppose we interpret this paradox in the following way: that this is wholly characteristic – that this shows us the nature of freedom, that it is always the case that a given freedom depends on a given restriction so that when you ask for the time finding that it is calibrated by a measure decided by others, where yet no others finally were, and that there was no beginning, no origin to it, so that it is to be said that it is precisely in those things in which it appears to be impossible to find a ‘fixed point’ that we are enslaved – then time itself is reduced to the sand that is its true tongue: silence.  For example, so that we are tyrannised by the indecision of mere empty air. Suppose a man who cannot decide on a wife, or a woman, or suppose a woman who cannot decide on a man or a husband. The freedom to explore desire that marriage grants to the vigilant, at least as it appears – that this restriction of desire, that is to say, appears to grant – to those with both eyes open – becomes impossible in the instance of both eyes closed and both the clock and the sand shut off so that there can be no true journey into the city. The person unable to decide or that is to say the person backsliding on his decisions is enslaved by this – that is by the absence of what we have said, which is any fixed point in regard to his desires. In order to be able to speak freely I need a grammar. I need to be able to observe the rules of speech to articulate my personal thoughts. The rules of spelling are needed if I am to command respect. The thesis that is being developed therefore, is not that here is a paradox that needs to be explained, or to say much the same thing, that here is a jackinabox puzzle, that needs to be unravelled, the ‘blank spot’, the blind area, in this, so that we can learn to see that the axis of the wheel – as in the first example – how this too is free – that is not it at all;  it is rather that this paradox that we have been looking at is the principle itself and that we will just have to learn to live with it.

Posted in: 1