Even a kid
has a clue about what freedom is, but to understand
all its aspects at once is impossible.
Lao Tse (on emptiness)
Thirty spokes meet at a nave;
|A paradox is a
tough, but interesting, concept, meaning something that
holds a seeming contradiction.
There are many sayings with a paradoxical character, and accepting this and its (im)possibilities in turn offers new freedom.
|A well known paradox is: "be spontaneous". If you follow this recommendation, your behavior can no longer be called spontaneous. If you spontaneously decide to do nothing, you are not spontaneous either. In this case it doesn't matter what you do, you're always doing it either wrong or right. Whether it actually is right or wrong cannot be determined.|
In the case of freedom as a paradox the contradiction is that freedom cannot exist without its counterpart: non-freedom. This non-freedom may mean:
|Fortunately, everyone is "bound" to this non-freedom. This in itself offers freedom to the individual. The association with non-freedom also makes that someone can be dualistic about freedom. If you find it difficult to bear the responsibility, you might opt for a non-free life with fewer responsibilities.|
"Life has no meaning".
Life is a zero sum game. This conclusion may be depressing, you can also regard
it as a basis for a very positive follow-up: you can
give your life any meaning you want; it's your own choice,
it's your own responsibility. You may make mistakes,
but the only one you can blame is yourself. Meaninglessness
as a possibility for assigning meaning is the paradox.
"Death makes life valuable".
Imagine being immortal, that - whatever you do - you cannot die. It would offer many possibilities, which we would all like to try for a while, but if you were imprisoned or if you got ill, and this imprisonment or illness would last forever, you would be facing a very unattractive prospect. The fact that life is finite makes it bearable for many and ensures that we do our best to give meaning to our lives and that we act carefully. Hopefully, that's what we all try, so that we may all benefit from it.
God does or does not exist" is a matter of faith.
His (or her or its) existence cannot be proven. If you
were able to prove it (with mathematical reasoning), a
lot of freedom in life would immediately be lost. There
are believers who think that freedom is a gift from God
to give life meaning.
Every individual may choose what to accept as truth. You are not ignorant if you do not accept God's existence as truth. Intelligence has nothing to do with faith, but it does offer possibilities of realizing your potential.
|"If you have nothing
to lose, you are very rich". The more we amass
in life, the more we have to lose. This is not a plea
for poverty, but if you don't really need it and it doesn't
make you happier, why would you amass things, status,
money etc. around you? The Bible said it: "dust thou
art, and unto dust shalt thou return" and (although
it was meant as a parody) Monty Python in The Life of
Brian: "you came from nothing en you end as nothing,
what did you lose? Nothing!"
Of course we amass things during our lives to make our lives as pleasant as possible, but owning them should not give us cause to worry about tomorrow. It shouldn't affect our freedom.
|We could continue like this
with many other paradoxes, but we return now to the relationship
Freedom also extends to animals and nature. In their culture, people are trying to overcome nature (to free themselves from the limits of nature), but the outdoors for example will always attract.
Animals do not worry about paradoxes, about the question whether life has meaning, whether there is a god, and only collect matter in the form of food or nesting materials to survive.
Many people deny animals their rights because they think that man is superior to animals. In itself, a higher rank is no argument to deny others their rights. Maybe animals even have properties that people find enviable: loyalty, naturalness, freedom from worry. An animal doesn't lie, is not arrogant.
|Freedom does not relate well to duty. But the duty to respect the freedom of others is not an inner contradiction but a paradoxical characteristic of freedom. We see no reason to exempt animals from the right to freedom and its consequences, but only justice.|
|More on paradoxes on the Internet:|