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man is free, save for his depths

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  • George Walton
    Emile Cioran: Man is free, save for his depths. On the surface, he does as he likes; down there, will is a meaningless syllable. Yet another paradox
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 31, 2005
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      Emile Cioran:

      "Man is free, save for his depths. On the surface, he does as he likes; down there, will is a meaningless syllable."



      Yet another paradox [elliptical non sequitor?] expressed about that most elusive of philosophical chimeras---human freedom.

      Isn't it reasonable to suggest however that most men and women apprehend their own personal freedom only to the extent it is exercised up on the surface? They are "thrown" adventitiously into a particular historical matrix at birth; then they are raised in a particular community to see the world in a particular way; and then they invaribly go to the grave duly accommodating this or that script. It might be a religous script or a political [ethnological] script. It is usually a combination of both. But what it is matters far less then that it is. In other words, its primary function is to make a clear disctinction between what is to be done and what is not to be done. That way most are able to experience the psychological balm...the emotional equillibrium and equanimity...that emanates up from out of the depths a foundation. They simply delude themselves into believing it is a freely chosen foundation.

      After all, is this not the sort of freedom embraced by literally hundreds and hundreds of conflicting and contradictory fanatics out there?

      Some might think, "I want to be free do as I please...." but most are quick to add "but I still know there is only one right thing to do." Isn't that what is most important about freedom---that it ensnares you in the conforting illusion of either/or? And doesn't this suggest that in embracing the one true authentic freedom it is the surest way in which to escape it? Lots of people worship and adore freedom....the freedom to turn human social interaction into a bee hive. They just smugly convince themselves that unlike the bees they have thought this all up themselves.

      But: in escaping their freedom by naming it...by scripting it...by knowing it...what exactly have they escaped from?

      That of course is where we really start to get lost.

      To wit: if we do go below the surface [say, philosophically] and choose to abandon all the psychologically motivated religous and political and enlightened truths what do you find then? Is this freedom? The nihilism script?

      In the end we are still lost. Our "will" propells us in the general direction of food and sex...subsistence and reproduction. That perhaps is the part of us which might most reasonably be construed as the closest we will ever come to a foundation---biological, evolutionary predispositions we all come into the world with. But after that freedom is probably nothing more than whatever we think it is...want or need it to be.

      Freedom is whatever works. Whatever we can rationalize.

      Just don't expect to ever fully understand what that means.

      After all, I doubt if we will ever have that much freedom.



      george



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