the freedom we run away from

We are condemned to be free. Because once you are thrown into the world, you are responsible for all that you do. Jean-Paul Sartre describes us as radically free. Free to choose from a dizzying array of options at every turn. Even while there are things that are inherently outside of our control, we are free. We are free to at least choose how to react to what has been done to us.

We are condemned to be free. And yet, for most of the things in our lives, we make the autopilot choices.

Some autopilot choices are fine. A common example would be to unconsciously drive home from work. Like any System 1 judgement and choice. These are normal forms of

More nefarious forms of autopilot choices look like these:

  • David Foster Wallace’s default mode: Where you let your internal monologue run free and take over; manifesting as a self-centered, apathetic and cynical world view.
  • Blind Faith: Automatically fall into social conventions; to couple our actions and thoughts too tightly to a job title, to a role or to the rules.
  • Philosophical Suicide: Where we surrender ourselves to substance, commodities, religion, min-max behaviour or mass media entertainment; in order to avoid needing to grasp with how free we actually are.

Most Of Your Choices Are Done On Autopilot

“The main thing we do with our freedom is to choose to believe that we are not free.”

Jean-Paul Sartre

Three weeks ago, I spent a few hours listening to a series of lectures on Existential Psychology from one of my favourite Youtube personalities, prof. Eric Dodson. I have been a fan of his Youtube introductory videos to key philosophical ideas. So when I found out that he was uploading his UWG lectures (they were made available online because of the COVID situation), I set aside my time to indulge in his lectures.

Do check the lectures out for yourself: Jean-Paul Sartre Lecture Series