Freedom! What is it? How do you use it? This word is widely used but its true meaning, in a philosophical sense, is often misunderstood. Not the least of the problems is the political connotation of this word, polluting any public discussion. Many fools living in poor countries think they are not free because they cannot buy an i-phone.
In a physical sense, freedom is the possibility for a mechanical piece to move in a certain direction when a force is applies to it. As we will see, from a 4th way perspective this definition is still suitable for the majority of mankind...
Gurdjieff teaches us that ordinary man can DO nothing, because he is DECIDING nothing, and thus his freedom is nil.
Freedom is the possibility to make a choice. Obvious, but keeping this in mind, beyond the appearances is man really free?
A few examples will help to get the point:
I like chocolate and I don't like coffee. So when I have to choose between 2 cakes, I will "choose" the chocolate one and let the coffee one. Can I be considered "free" too choose my cake? From a societal point of view, yes: No tyrant denies me the right to "choose" my cake. But from a philosophical point of view, certainly not as I am not choosing my taste...
Similarly a man is not free to choose the color of the shirt he is buying: He did not choose to like this color and not that one so he will buy the shirt with this color. Where is the decision here? A ball of metal is taking the same kind of "decision" when moving.
Now an apparently only more sophisticated example:
One has to choose how to go to his work: by car or by bus? The decision will be taken after analysis of the situation: cost of the bus ticket and of gasoline, availability of the bus, and some emotional considerations, ecological, aesthetic, etc. But here, too, nothing is "decided". In a given situation, with his emotions that he did not chooses, his knowledge and his intellectual – computing – possibilities, there is only one possible outcome, and thus no choice and thus no freedom.
Next example, maybe really more sophisticated this time:
A man read some political book, is convinced that it is right, and devotes his life to a fight for his ideal. This time, is it a choice? He is deliberately sacrificing a lot of things for the sake of his ideal. His choice, really? No, again in this given situation, with this man and his emotions, knowledge, etc, there was a single possible outcome, the making of a new set of emotions whose result is that he will satisfy them by devotion to the ideal instead of satisfying his former emotions with a quite life.
So, freedom does not exist at all? For ordinary men, no, all is mechanical.
To be free, some key points emerge from the examples; first you absolutely must realize and acknowledge that such as you are you have no freedom at all.
Then you must be able to change of emotions, to change of attitudes. Obviously, without this, freedom is empty, false, without any substance.
I would define real freedom as freedom to choose who you are.
And instead of being randomly influenced by any ideology, you will consider them all, and seek and choose the influence of... well, what else than a higher force?
Welcome to the Work.