Do We Have Unlimited Freedom?

Freedom is a universal sentiment which we all relish. We all have a craving for freedom. Freedom to enjoy life according to our values, preferences, selections, interests, fantasies, whims and fancies etc. is something we all desire. We all have idiosyncrasies and we want the freedom to enjoy them too.

In USA, there is even a Statue of Liberty. Article 21 of Constitution of India confers upon its citizens, fundamental right to life and liberty. I presume that this must be true of constitutions of other nations also. Ironically, the fundamental right to liberty is ambiguous in its statement with inbuilt contradiction. It is ambiguous because it leaves freedom undefined and moreover, freedom can never be total. It is self-contradictory because each and every law is a constraint on human freedom.

So freedom is individually, socially and legally recognized sentiment. Freedom is easy to dream but difficult to realize. Because of conflict of interests in human society, one has to struggle throughout one’s life to achieve and sustain freedom. Human freedom is subject to several constraints.

1. Material constraints: One can enjoy one’s freedom only from the material position one is holding at the given moment, like Nero by virtue of his material position had the liberty to enjoy burning Rome. Since material position evolves over a period of time, hence historical or time dependent constraints to freedom are inevitable.¬†Therefore in the absence of proper definition of fundamental rights, all the fundamental rights are subject to descriptive and narrative, event specific definitions evolved by the esteemed judiciary.

2. Natural Laws: As stated before that every law is a constraint on human freedom, same is true of natural laws as well. Nature does not function in derogation of its laws. Hence relevant natural laws determine scope, limits and potential of available freedom. Therefore, for anything to exist and function, it has to dynamically and harmoniously resolve all the contradictions it faces all the time. In day-to-day living in human society it transforms into test of reasonableness of conduct, fair-play and justice.

3. Man made laws: Law in human society, in the absence of proper understanding of its nature has evolved into a plethora of mutually conflicting principles or a jig saw puzzle upon which judiciary is supposed to adjudicate in the final analysis.  Even the well-defined legal rights are subject to compliance with large number of so-called procedural laws, administrative laws, contractual obligations, customs and usage, systemic infirmities etc. Hence no legal right is absolute; it is always subject to a plethora of attendant conditions.

4. Rationality: The general demand for rationality as we see in human conduct is because nature is self-organizing. Anything can exist and function within the constraints of some harmonized ‘order’ and ‘system’ only. Teilhard de Chardin has summed up the general nature of organization in nature as “a distinct centre radiating at the core of systems of centers”. It implies that nature is organized into self- sustaining units or harmonious wholes and each and every unit has to exist in harmonious interaction with surrounding units. But contradictions’ being inherent in nature such as desire for freedom is antithetical to the need for discipline.