Freedom from Necessity

cc photo by flickr user David Woo

cc photo by flickr user David Woo

Necessity is the bane of freedom. Freedom is an attitude, where one dispels any myths involving Necessities, and instead consciously chooses to do whatever they do.

At the basic level, long as we can choose death, we have choice. With choice, we are free to choose.

But why choose death if we can choose life? Indeed, why choose anything else if there is a “Best” choice? Yet the very assumption that we must Necessarily take the choice that brings us the greatest benefit — whether it be wealth, health, fame, or fortune — that idea itself destroys freedom. In fact, the very concept of “freedom” implies liberation from the tyrannical regime of Optimization. Where is freedom, if we accept that we can only take the One Best Choice? Are we not free to choose the “lesser” paths?

And thus they say, ignorance is bliss. Ignorance allows one, not knowing any better, to consider all choices as roughly equal, and allows one to choose the perilous path while being blissfully unaware of the consequences. Not so with knowledge. Knowledge informs us about our choices, and in the process, severely restricts the “optimal” choices that we have. Worse, the so called “intellectual” process of weighing pros and cons takes an unnecessary toll on our lives, often without really optimizing it — there are too many choices which, although apparently “Better”, eventually turn out to be for the worse.

Yet why should we allow knowledge (or the illusion of such) to become a liability? The grand paradox is that while we accept the Axiom of Optimal Choice because it promises we are better off than without it, this very acceptance leads to the our loss of freedom (which we claim we value) and the anxieties of incurring the opportunity costs that entails the axiom. To put it simply, the paradox lies in the observation that our optimal choice is to reject the axiom.

Let us be reckless, for we are free. Let us take the perilous path, for we are free. Let us choose death, for we are free. Let us burn in hell, for we are free. The mere contemplation of such possibilities, the willingness to take them, is in itself the most liberating idea.



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