Freedom is the absence of choice vs autonomy

There is something that has caught my attention this morning and I wonder what everyone else’s take is on this.
I am on the road at the moment so I don’t have time to find the exact quote, but I will do so later.
I remember reading Richard mention that freedom, contrary to how it is usually understood, is the absence of choice.
The reason this has come up because lately I find myself shuttling back and forth trying to decide what is the ‘best’ way to go ahead with this house purchase so I am having some great experiential insight as to how choice does not lead to freedom.

However this quote still puts my mind into somewhat of a gridlock which is why I know it is a useful direction to look!
The gridlock arises when I contemplate where autonomy comes in.
Because in actual freedom one has complete autonomy and yet one’s freedom is marked by absence of choice.
I am having some inklings of understanding this experientially but I thought it might be fun to see how you guys understand this?

My thoughts …

The autonomy aspect of freedom is cause you aren’t forced , compelled , or bound to say or do or believe anything — there are no emotional, psychological or psychic ties that bind you.

The absence of choice aspect is because it’s unavoidable and inevitable that the most sensible thing to say or do or consider-to-be-the-case is just that - precisely what is most sensible. And this is automatically ascertained by the brain, just like the eyes automatically see. So there’s no choice per se. You can’t choose to do anything but that which is sensible … and it’s not up to you what is sensible (rather it’s more what the facts are).

This is really freeing because then you have no responsibility in what happens. Because it wasn’t ‘your’ decision. All you did was allow the most sensible decision to be made. And part and parcel of that is your own life experiences. Someone else with more experience might choose something else … but that’s a hypothetical, not an actuality. You can only choose what is most sensible as far as you understand it.

Incidentally you don’t have to be actually free to operate this way. I find myself also in a position to buy a house. When I approach the issue with wanting to do the ‘right’ thing or ‘not screw up’ then I feel anxious and stressed. But if I instead approach it with “what’s the most sensible decision I can make?” then there’s no anxiety or stress about the decision, it’s clear what to do or what the things to look into next are.


I think also another aspect of freedom is not being able to choose to be sad or angry or malicious etc. without this choice there’s no possibility of that ‘dark side’ seeping through (because it is no longer extant). So the absence of this choice is remarkably freeing! You don’t have to be on guard or watch what you say or do. You are fully completely free to do whatever you “want” because it is going to be happy and harmless and benevolent and sensible. So you are free to enjoy it fully. Not speaking from experience of actual freedom here but EEs and PCEs can have this aspect.


Thanks @claudiu yes I was very much looking at it in a similar way to what you wrote.
Autonomy means no longer being driven/controlled/compelled by something to act in a specific way. The ‘best choice’ can only be contemplated by removing oneself from actuality and operating from a belief, it can only ever be a hypothetical.
In actuality one will always act in the best way/only way possible based on the facts one has access to. When ‘I’ am no longer there to muck things up it means one has no other ‘alternative’ as it were but to act in the optimum each moment. When living in a perfect and benevolent universe one has no other choice but to act in a way that is benevolent. So there is no choice and yet one is free to act in the most sensible way. Super fun to contemplate this!

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There is a lot of territory to cover between a simple and sensible decision (which toothbrush should I choose?) where the consequences are small potatoes and something as monumental as buying a house, having a child, moving to another country or ending a marriage. With the second category the pros and cons are harder to weigh up and the consequences far-reaching. The reason buying a house is so hard is that most people (barring seasoned developers) only do it a couple of times in their lives max, and don’t know very much about its complexities. There aren’t many opportunities to practice.

I don’t know if escaping into some idealised utopia of decision making in the actual world is necessarily helpful. I think it’s better to see your ‘back and forth’ as resulting from emotional conflict that can be investigated. Then once that’s done, and you’ve done your homework you can plunge ahead. Sometimes in life processes are more akin to a ball in a pin-ball machine than a linear move from A to B!

But I agree that there is definitely this ‘que sera, sera’ aspect to the big decisions now after AF. But I still do think about the big decisions. As to whether this will become a smooth and choiceless movement where all decisions seem inevitable and utterly natural in the future, remains to be seen.

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Right thanks @Srinath that is super useful and a lot more down to earth than where I was going :laughing:

So the point is that the ‘problem’ is not in the complexity of decision making but rather the emotional investment into the whole thing. And by focusing on this idealised concept I am looking to escape (and thus reinforce) this emotional burden as opposed to investigating and resolving it!

I can see that I kind of stopped short at seeing that the emotional investment is in looking for the ‘best decision’, what I see now is that ‘best decision’ in itself is comprised of many smaller emotional structures, this is where I need to be looking.

Well often going with the ‘why when I’m actually free I’ll …’ thing is just a form of emotional avoidance.

Sometimes seeing something as silly requires considerable emotional work. A house buy is a big emotional investment and identity lynchpin for most people. It marks a supposed rite of passage in middle class society. By feeling into all the beliefs, fantasies and emotions around it, you will free up energy to focus on it more factually.

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Yes you couldn’t be more on point! I was surprised to see all those fantasies come up through this process. Fantasies of now ‘being a someone’, having reached some sort of ‘upper level’ and a ‘financial invincibility’ etc, no wonder these swing the other way into the fears of ‘getting it wrong’!

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I shall focus on this going forward, thanks again @Srinath :smiley:

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