From Bruce Buchanan (950204.1245 EST)
Bill Powers (950203.0930 MST) writes:
We've been through this before. "Feeling free" has nothing to do with
it, . ... the feeling of freedom at one level disappears when you consider
higher levels of goals. Once you have decided what you want to happen,
the external world completely dictates your choices of actions (which
are really subgoals), and sometimes narrows them to a single choice.
Well, it still seems to me that "Feeling free", as a basic if subjective
aspect of experience, in which we are aware of possible choices and the
consequences of alternative commitments, is still a legitimate way to
describe one perspective. Admittedly it is not the whole story. But then
neither is any particular theoretical formulation of the situation,
There is freedom only in the sense that we have a hierarchy of goals,
and these determine the kinds of outcomes our behaviors will create.
I agree that, abstractly considered, this is the organization that makes
But even there, if we choose to ignore the highest goals, we will simply
die and render the question moot. I suppose we _can_ ignore them: people
have been known to starve themselves, burn themselves to death . . ..
But to what extent do such acts represent true freedom. . .?
To choose to ignore the "highest" goal implies, I think, an overriding goal
or value. It may be a choice to end life in order to end pain and
suffering. The lives of the saints show that people may die willingly for
what they believe to be a higher value, perhaps represented by their god,
and also believe this is a true assertion of freedom. The Christians
confronting the lions in the arena, as the alternative to bowing to the
imposition of Roman rules, were choosing freedom in terms of their own
meanings and values. They wanted to feel free, and their reference
variables required these choices in their circumstances. I would not see
this as inconsistent with PCT.
. . . perhaps the ultimate freedom is the freedom to
become a fully-functioning member of your species. The present
environment may decide what you have to do in order to achieve that
goal, but it has no influence at all over the goal itself.
Agreed! This freedom remains problematical, of course, because the full
potential of any individual is unknown except in relation to challanges and
responses as these develop skills and character and greater potential.
Such freedom, and the growth and creativity it necessarily implies, seems
to epitomize the highest value we can know. Perhaps our assertion of this
freedom serves some higher evolutionary cause or purpose, but that we
cannot know, although this might still be a belief and value for many.