Freedom is often seen as a positive concept. It signifies the absence of obstacles, limitations or constraints to one’s choices, actions and desires. The opposite of freedom is the state of constraint or coercion, which might be associated with a sense of duty or obligation to others. For this reason, many liberals have promoted the notion of negative liberty as a counterweight to libertarian ideas that might be interpreted as a form of moral coercion.
However, there is a third way of thinking about freedom. This alternative view involves a rethinking of the meaning of freedom itself. Instead of seeing it as the absence of constraints, libertarians might argue that freedom is actually a process of self-mastery or self-determination. In this context, libertarians might promote the idea of positive liberty as a kind of social engineering that would allow people to develop the habits of self-mastery and control that might lead them to the point where they no longer need the help or protection of the state.
This conception of liberation is much more ambitious than the idea that it just means not being subject to a system of rules and regulations or coercion. It would mean a transformation into an inner citadel of the soul or a noumenal self, immune to external forces. Unfortunately, this sort of self-mastery is a long and difficult road that most people will never achieve, even with the best of intentions. Furthermore, this vision of liberation can mask important forms of oppression. The idea of a nirvana or a purely noumenal self also runs the risk of making individuals appear too independent to be considered true liberals, which is not what we should really want.
The point of all this is that we need to think more carefully about what it means for something to be considered a form of freedom. It is certainly the case that we can be free only to the extent that we are able to manage our own lives without interference from the outside world, but that does not necessarily mean that we are all equally or even predominantly at that level of freedom.
If you are someone who struggles with distractions or is having trouble focusing on writing or other tasks, Freedom is an app that blocks distracting websites and apps for a set period of time. This can be helpful if you need to focus for an extended period of time, and it’s easy to use on both iOS and Android devices.
You can try the app for free by going to the Freedom website and entering your email address. You will then be prompted to choose the options that are most relevant for your needs and to select a device to install the application on. Once you’ve done this, click Start my free trial now to get started. You can then choose to block right away, schedule a time for later, or set a recurring session.