Feeling free

Freedom is important to happiness and well-being. However, freedom is not that straightforward to pin down. When do we perceive an influence as coercion, and when do we accept it as natural law? I’m sure the inability to violate the constraints of physics does not cause anyone grief. That’s because we are pretty certain that other people cannot violate those laws either.

Freedom is the possession of the relevant capabilities needed to pursue your goals, as measured against a specific reference. Even though being able to teleport to work is something that does aid me in the pursuit of my goals, my inability to do so does not cause me grief because it is a capability that is far beyond my reference point.

People feel more free when rules are clear, because in those situations choices are made by examining the different consequences in your head and then picking the choice with the consequences that you most prefer. This thought pattern pretty much defines what free will is. This is the reason why games are enjoyable. This is why computer programming is fun — the product is difficult to produce but easy to judge.

Freedom can bring unhappiness. A tough choice is a choice for which you know that the consequences vary widely but you don’t know in which direction. It’s uncertainty in outcomes resulting from ignorance, a situation where you know that it’s important to make the right decision but you don’t know which decision is correct. Feeling vexed in this situation is important because it motivates the improvement of knowledge – by necessity, the failure to improve knowledge has to feel frustrating.

2 Responses to “Feeling free”

  1. sc says:

    sc was here!