Saturday, December 19, 2015

Locke on Free Will

"Is it worth the name of freedom to be at liberty to play the fool, and draw shame and misery upon a man’s self? If to break loose from the conduct of reason, and to want that restraint of examination and judgment which keeps us from choosing or doing the worse, be liberty, true liberty, madmen and fools are the only freemen: but yet, I think, nobody would choose to be mad for the sake of such liberty, but he that is mad already. The constant desire of happiness, and the constraint it puts upon us to act for it, nobody, I think, accounts an abridgment of liberty, or at least an abridgment of liberty to be complained of."

-- John Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding

It is our desire for happiness, Locke says, that determines the will. I agree with this, though it must be observed that, for the most part, we know not what truly leads to our own happiness. And so we suffer in our pursuit of it. Locke points to our ability to judge and alter our desires as the source of true freedom, which too seems agreeable to me - it is this judgement that occurs most efficaciously during mindfulness meditation practice, wherein one truly sees the objects of desire as they are and is able to correctly judge whether they conduce to happiness or suffering.

Last exam Monday, then off to Florida for Pagan-Christian Shiny Tree Day.