On Wisdom: Principles: Freedom

Music: Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor.
By J.S. Bach. Sequenced by George Pollen.

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Copyright by
Nicholas Gordon

1. Freedom is a physical impossibility and a metaphysical necessity.

2. While all events must have causes, being itself cannot have a cause since nothing can exist outside of, or prior to, being. At the root of all existence, then, is absolute freedom, which is why, at every moment of our existence, we experience our own being as beyond cause and effect.

3. This is true even as we know that we exist within the flow of cause and effect, and that everything we think, feel, say, and do has causes and produces effects.

4. Choice exists at the intersection of freedom and necessity, moving across from one to the other in the temporal act of choosing.

5. Thus in contemplation the choice seems free, while in hindsight it seems the effect of circumstance.

6. Because we are simultaneously enslaved and free, we have the grace and burden of choosing how to view ourselves, though neither a vision of absolute freedom nor one of total enslavement to cause and effect can be long sustained.

7. To the extent that we view ourselves as free, we are sovereign, shards of being itself, existing within but beyond circumstance, and wholly responsible for who we are and what we do. To the extent that we view ourselves as enslaved, we are machines, not responsible for who we are and what we do, helpless to engage our predetermined destiny.

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Previous: The Attributes of Wisdom: Goal of Happiness

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