Help please with definition of the term "freedom"


#1

I have often heard JP II, Father Corapi, and many respected Catholic apologists define freedom not as the ability to do whatever one wants in life (which is how most would define it), but rather as the ability to do what one ought to do. True freedom removes the roadblocks to doing good, and thus the person is free to do what he should. I have always been fascinated in this desription. But I started to think back to Adam and Eve. Not having committed sin, their bodies were completely integrated and they presumably possessed this true freedom which would have allowed them to only choose good. But yet they chose evil and the answer often given is that evil occurs because God respects us so much that He allows us free will, the ability to choose good or evil. Now, this seems to revert to the old definition of freedom–the ability to choose whatever we want! can you clear this up for me?


#2

Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By free wil one shapes one’s own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude.

As long as freedom has not boudn itself definitively to its ultimate good which is God, there is the possibility of choosing between good and evil , and thus of growing in perfection or of failing and sinning. This freedom characterizes properly human acts. It is the basis of praise or blame, merit or reproach.

The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is not true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to “the slavery of sin.” (CCC 1731-1733)

In fact, the whole section, starting with #1730, speaks to your question.

David


#3

When I hear the term “freedom” it makes me wonder about it. Everyone will agree that we live in a free society. But did anyone ever wonder if it is actually free. Adam and Eve were free to roam around in the garden of eden but was not free to do what ever they wanted, they had rules. As people we have freedom of choice, but is it really free. Aren’t there people in our everyday lives that try to tell us what to choose. Also in America we have all these freedom issues but none of it is really free. Military personel who provide us with freedom are dying, is that not a price that we pay, so how can it be free. Nothing in this world is free, we all have to pay for things in some way. The only thing that is free to me is eternal life, but to gain eternal life we have to make sacrifices. Also didn’t Jesus give His life for our sins, now how is that free. Our salvation was given to us by His death, a price that He gladly paid. Freedom is an act or choice with the absence of constraint or necessity atleast that is what I think the dictionary will tell us. But how much of us really act or choose in that manner.


#4

With all due respect, I got completely lost in the responses to my question.

Simply now, is a Catholic definition of “freedom” the ability to do and choose whatever we want in life or, since JPII says authentic freedom must be grounded in the truth, is it the ability to choose only what is good and proper? If it is the latter, why did Adam and Eve, who before the fall would have possessed this true freedom to choose only good, still choose evil?


#5

Yeah…

Freedom is technically* the right to exercise our will anyway we so please.

Authentic freedom however, is the right to exercise our will in accordance to the will of God. We are free to exercise our will, but we will be judged according to our actions in the Last Judgment – so from another perspective, we are not free to do everything. We are given free choice, but we must use it to do what is right – our free will must always be in harmony with God’s. If not, we will face the consequences of our actions.


#6

“Freedom is the power to act or not to act, and so to perform deliberate acts of one’s own. Freedom attains perfection in its acts when directed toward God, the sovereign Good” (CCC 1745). Freedom is in one sense the ability to choose to do what we want to do, but because choosing against God is a choice against the good, “by deviating from the moral law man violates his own freedom” (CCC 1740). Choosing God helps us increase our ability to choose what we want to do, because “progress in virtue, knowledge of the good, and ascesis enhance the mastery of the will over its acts” (CCC 1734). So freedom in a broad sense is the ability to choose what we want, but choices against the good lead to slavery, and so even if they may be the result of free will, they are an abuse of the gift of freedom. True freedom is the freedom to do good, because doing good makes us the masters of ourselves. In this life, however, this gift of true freedom, like all gifts, can be abused by choosing not to do good, and the choice to abuse it is a free choice because it is chosen by the will.

An analogy may help here, especially because we are not used to thinking of freedom this way (at least in our society). In the sense that freedom means we are allowed to do whatever we choose, an alcoholic would be more free if he had more choices of alcoholic drinks to choose from. It is clear, though, that the alcoholic is only really free when he becomes free from his addiction to alcohol. Having more choices of which alcohol to drink may make him feel freer, but it is really an abuse of his freedom because his will is unable to master his acts.


#7

“Freedom is the power to act or not to act, and so to perform deliberate acts of one’s own. Freedom attains perfection in its acts when directed toward God, the sovereign Good” (CCC 1745). Freedom is in one sense the ability to choose to do what we want to do, but because choosing against God is a choice against the good, “by deviating from the moral law man violates his own freedom” (CCC 1740). Choosing God helps us increase our ability to choose what we want to do, because “progress in virtue, knowledge of the good, and ascesis enhance the mastery of the will over its acts” (CCC 1734). So freedom in a broad sense is the ability to choose what we want, but choices against the good lead to slavery, and so even if they may be the result of free will, they are an abuse of the gift of freedom. True freedom is the freedom to do good, because doing good makes us the masters of ourselves. In this life, however, this gift of true freedom, like all gifts, can be abused by choosing not to do good, and the choice to abuse it is a free choice because it is chosen by the will.

An analogy may help here, especially because we are not used to thinking of freedom this way (at least in our society). In the sense that freedom means we are allowed to do whatever we choose, an alcoholic would be more free if he had more choices of alcoholic drinks to choose from. It is clear, though, that the alcoholic is only really free when he becomes free from his addiction to alcohol. Having more choices of which alcohol to drink may make him feel freer, but it is really an abuse of his freedom because his will is unable to master his acts.


#8

Awesome answer, Grace and Glory.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.