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Different concepts of freedom

Categories Society, Sociological Theories, Sociology

Essay, Pages 6 (1340 words)



Essay, Pages 6 (1340 words)


Freedom means different things to different people and it is a concept that has been debated by great thinkers, politicians and writers throughout history. It is hard to pinpoint an exact value of the word “freedom” simply because the concept relies ultimately on your stance and outlook. To me, freedom is a utopian ideal of a perfect state of being where one is free from coercion and restraint and everyone can do as they please so long as they do not harm others.

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It is the free will to set one’s own boundaries and not having to compromise one’s moral grounds, ethics and beliefs.

The utopian freedom

The utopian freedom is being free of obligations and responsibilities that are not a consequence of one’s own choice. I would like to think that freedom means the ability to think for one’s self even if this is different from what is considered to be the status quo and to express the ideas.

In one of Cat Stevens’ songs, the lyrics are ended with, “Say what you mean, mean what you’re thinking, think anything. ” Allowing people the freedom to think is a scary proposition but they must be given that freedom. We must remember that we can make both wrong and right choices.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err”. We must hold ourselves accountable for what and how we think.

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However, the difficulty with using the word freedom as a goal of society is that freedom in this sense cannot be attained. In human interaction we must give up freedom in one direction to receive it in another because very often, one man’s liberty becomes another man’s license. Restrictions of freedom come in the forms of boundaries: set by governments, religions, society and even one’s own needs.

Freedom ends where law begins

Many believe that freedom ends where law begins, however we must realise that unless freedom is restrained in certain ways, no one can enjoy freedom to any degree. I believe that in the absence of sanction, everyone’s personal agendas would clash and anarchy would ensue. Freedom in the modern world is most generally associated with liberty which in my mind is freedom to which rules have been added to equal the rights of all and freedom ultimately becomes liberty in order for people to live together in a state of tolerance and equality.

Therefore the paradox of freedom is that in its foundations, it requires limits. As Mill states in his work, “On Liberty” “each individual should exercise sovereign control over his or her own body or life” but when this freedom’s consequence is harm being inflicted upon others, freedom should be restricted. The “raw” concept of freedom, in its denotated context, suggests a lack or abolition of limits yet the realistic viewpoint should be that in order for all of us to enjoy freedom to an optimal degree, we must submit to some rule and in this way our freedom is emphasised and not taken away.

Your own needs restrict your freedom: from the most basic physiological needs through your comfort to greediness We have to submit to employers and rules in order to earn a keep. We submit to conventions of society to be accepted. Necessity is often the destroyer of freedom as in order to sustain our daily living with things such as food, clothing, electricity we conform and work under systems.

Different concepts of freedom

I think that in societies such as the Rastafarian tradition, the minimal needs of such systems means that there is more freedom as the less you have and the less you need, the more difficult it is for somebody to take it away from you. I feel that people who strive towards material wants such as big houses and fancy cars can have no freedom as they are victims to greed . They will also always be chasing more and will never have peace and thus freedom. Is there a kind of freedom that cannot be taken away from you? To me this is the freedom to truth.

Pope John Paul the Second said that to be free is to attain the fruit of truth, to act in truth, to submit to the truth and not to change the truth to suit oneself and one’s interests. When we are able to accept that truth cannot be compromised we can start our road to freedom. We must continuously acquire an education in order to be free and not allow ourselves to be brainwashed by things such as propaganda, false news and prohibitions. Education often controls and limits our mind and we must continue to seek different viewpoints in order to find the truth in order to be truly free.

In the Seventies, young people fought and would lay down their lives for freedom: the freedom to say and hear the truth, the freedom not to have to take part in wars, the freedom not to be made to do things that one did not stand for. Nowadays, I think that the youth want comfort and security and will rather have this at the price of being free and liberated from the restrictions of governments and conservative societies. Why is this? “Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away , poor fools.

And their grandchildren are once more slaves” It is a vicious cycle that when we have it easy, we do not thirst for freedom because we become slaves to comfort, wealth and success and in this give away our power and freedom; but in time, there arises a generation that will not be tempted by such superficial ideals and are the generation of rebels and revolutionaries. Living in a relatively democratic and equal society, freedom in my mind could be very different from the view an oppressed society could have.

My parents grew up in communist Poland where you were not able to leave the country and to them freedom meant being able to choose the place you wanted to live in or being able to explore the world. They expressed their freedom by not joining The Party despite the temptation of privileges. The majority of people see freedom as being able to do whatsoever they wish and not accepting any responsibility for it. For Hitler, freedom meant conquering the whole world. For Fidel Castro, power is freedom. For Serbs in Yugoslavia, freedom means eliminating other nations from their country.

For Blacks in South Africa during apartheid, freedom meant the right not to be discriminated against and to be able to enjoy the same facilities and rights that the white population had access to. Muslim women in many instances have no rights and their freedom is curtailed by the simple detail of their gender. Freedom is also associated with Political concepts such as Democracy, Capitalism and Socialism and each of these systems promises the optimum amount of freedom, however freedom is very rarely attained in countries as there are so many rules that restrict people’s thoughts, capacities.

These different concepts illustrate how different people’s views and situations influence their thoughts on “freedom” and is a ways to show that there can never be agreement reached on the word because it means so many different things to so many different people, communities, societies etc. My idea of freedom is different on many levels with that of others and I think that because of this, freedom will never be captured and pinned down.

It is a thing of the imagination and because people’s perceptions vary so vastly, we can only hope that people’s ideals of freedom coincide with what is right and just.


  1. Andrew Heywood, “Freedom, Toleration and Liberation”  D. H. Lawrence, “Classical American Literature”, 1922 http://www. quotegarden. com/freedom. html
  2. Peter Landry, “On Liberty” http://www. bluepete. com/Literature/Essays/BluePete/Liberty. htm Stuart Mill, “On Liberty” 1972 1 http://www. quotegarden. com/freedom. html 2 (1859) 1972 3 D. H Lawrence, Classical American Literature, 1922.

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Different concepts of freedom. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/think-agreement-can-reached-meaning-11272-new-essay

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