Willing liberates: that is the true doctrine of will and freedom. (Nietzsche)
Although doing our True Will is freedom, we cannot freely choose what that will consists of.
Here is why we do not have a free will (based on my knowledge in cognitive science; for a more detailed scientific argument, read the book Free Will by Sam Harris):
- The human will is a product of the nervous system, which functions largely beyond conscious awareness.
- Even if the human will were a product of conscious mental states, one’s conscious thoughts are never freely chosen (freedom is a nonsensical concept on this level of description).
- The human will is never even experienced as free in the present moment of action, only illusorily in retrospective rationalization.
Still, we can feel free in doing our True Will, which is a matter of self-efficacy, top-down executive control, and autonomous affective conditioning. The role of consciousness in freedom is merely to put attentional emphasis on the emotion of true pride.
We while cannot willfully shift from one will to another, we can train and condition ourselves to be more likely to have a will that is powered by pride and true to our deepest values—rather than like a leaf in the wind, whirled around by gusts of emotions that diminish our power of action.
Freedom is the opposite of being a slave to one’s emotions.
Freedom is what we experience when we do what we truly want to do without being compelled by negative emotions, compulsive desires, other people, or our ideas of other people and what we think they might think.
Freedom is what we experience when we do what we truly want to do out of pride from a state of mindcoolness true to our personal values.
Freedom is what we experience when we do what we truly want to do expressing the strength of our will.
By the way, the non-existence of free will is not just a moot matter of semantics. In practical fact, it is a necessary requirement for adopting a non-judgmental attitude.
- On the Freedom To Do What We (Truly) Want
- On the Emptiness of Freedom
- Will Vs. Flow: Can You Force Yourself to Do Something?
- Ad Libertatem Naturae: To the Freedom of Nature
- How to Have Freedom Without Free Will
- How Moderation Gives Us Freedom
- Silence Is Freedom
- The Fight-or-Flight Approach to Freedom