Robert Rowland Smith

Absolute liberty

As you’ll know from its homepage, The Society for Curious Thought has this for its strapline:

liberty of conscience, liberty of thought and feeling; absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment on all subjects, practical or speculative and scientific and

moral, or theological

My question is whether such complete liberty and absolute freedom is either possible or desirable.

Take ‘liberty of thought’: is that possible? From a psychoanalytic perspective, certainly not. The psyche is fashioned out of constraint, from strictures, impediments and prohibitions. The very thing we think with is the product of such fetters – actually, the psyche even fetters itself through repression – so one wonders whether the objects of thought that it produces can ever be unequivocally free.

Secondly, thought, from a more cognitive, less psychoanalytic perspective, could be said to work by internal constraint. Although it can be playful, thought is not play, but involves some process, however minimal. Ok, one doesn’t want thought censored, but one wants it structured; indeed thought could be said to be a structuring of the world, and in this structuring, it gives shape to itself.

Even if liberty of thought were possible, would it be desirable? Absolute liberty means absolute loss of connection: no bonds or commitments, no relationship or attachment. That is the cost of liberty

Robert Rowland Smith

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