How does psychology define freedom?

What is the Essence of Freedom?

In recent times, discussions about freedom have become increasingly prevalent. However, the true nature of freedom is often overlooked amidst these conversations. Are we inherently born free, or is freedom something acquired through life experiences? Must one actively conquer freedom, and what common ground exists between the freedom of a bachelor and the freedom championed by a politician addressing constituents?

The External Manifestations of Freedom

“All individuals are born free,” echoes a sentiment cherished by those advocating for humanity’s betterment. Yet, there have always been those who feel that our relationship with freedom is more complex than it initially appears.

In the realm of literature, students have diligently explored the theme of freedom in Pushkin’s poetry. However, with maturity comes the realization of the various facets of freedom coexisting within Pushkin’s verses: natural (will), romantic, rebellious-romantic, liberal, and the poet’s own freedom.

Psychologists offer their unique perspective on freedom, challenging the notion of innate freedom. Psychology links freedom with our actions rather than our inherent selves. Until actions manifest, discussing human freedom seems pointless, or more accurately, premature.

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However, a newborn, entering the world, immediately engages in numerous actions. In a loving family, a child sleeps when sleepy, eats when hungry, crawls, jumps, and plays at will. Does this signify freedom? Not necessarily, as psychologist Dmitry Leontiev1 explains – these are manifestations of spontaneity, immediate impulses.

Acting freely doesn’t equate to acting virtuously; freedom is not an evaluative category. True expressions of freedom are actions undertaken with a clear understanding of consequences and a willingness to be accountable. For instance, tossing a flowerpot at a car blaring its alarm in the middle of the night is a spontaneous act. However, if, while tossing, one is aware of the irate neighbor with a wrench likely to appear at the doorstep, it transforms into an act of freedom. Interestingly, this implies that acting freely doesn’t imply acting well; freedom is not inherently virtuous. Acting freely—voluntarily, with full awareness of consequences and a willingness to be accountable—can involve making quite harmful decisions.

The Two Sides of the Coin

There exists an unexpected facet of freedom when viewed objectively: freedom only truly exists in an inseparable connection with responsibility.

Dmitry Leontiev, with over 25 years of research into the psychological aspects of freedom, proposes even more radical forms of this concept. He asserts that freedom and responsibility are intertwined, forming a symbiotic relationship. In essence, the more freedom one has, the greater the responsibility that accompanies it.

This dual nature of freedom challenges the romanticized notion of absolute, unbridled liberation. True freedom, according to psychological insights, is a delicate balance between spontaneous actions and the conscientious acceptance of their repercussions.

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The Psychological Landscape of Freedom

Delving deeper into the psychological landscape of freedom reveals a complex interplay of cognitive functions. Lower mental functions operate mechanically, whereas higher functions involve conscious, experience-based decision-making aligned with personal beliefs.

Understanding freedom, therefore, requires acknowledging the intricate interplay between the lower and higher mental functions. While their external manifestations may appear similar, the underlying motivations often differ significantly.

Psychology compels us to recognize that freedom is not a one-size-fits-all concept. It evolves through experiences, shaped by the dynamic interplay of spontaneity and conscious choice. As individuals navigate the complexities of freedom, understanding the psychological dimensions becomes paramount.

The Intersection of Freedom and Politics

In the realm of politics, the discourse on freedom takes center stage. How does the freedom extolled by a politician resonate with the personal freedom of an individual? Political rhetoric often emphasizes collective freedom, promising a shared liberation that addresses societal concerns.

Exploring this intersection unveils the nuanced relationship between personal and collective freedom. While politicians advocate for societal liberties, it is crucial to recognize the intricate dance between individual autonomy and communal responsibilities.

Conclusion

In unraveling the enigma of freedom, psychology serves as a guide, offering insights into the intricate dance between spontaneity and conscious choice. Freedom, as revealed by psychological perspectives, is not a static concept but a dynamic force shaped by individual experiences.

Understanding freedom necessitates acknowledging its dual nature – a delicate equilibrium between spontaneity and responsibility. As individuals navigate this psychological landscape, they find themselves at the crossroads of personal autonomy and societal obligations, a juncture where the true essence of freedom comes to light.

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5 Comments

  1. I crave freedom, but its a tightrope between impulse and consequences.

  2. Actions define true freedom.

  3. Freedoms tricky; surface vibes match, but deep down, motives play different tunes.

  4. Got it, lets go!

  5. I get the concept.

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