The Freedom Instinct
Posted by PintofStout on May 4, 2006
I often ponder whether there is a natural tendency in individuals to seek freedom and independence; if independent individuals is a kind of social entropy the race is trying to achieve. Nietzsche believed it was a will to power (as opposed to the popular will to truth) that drives men to action. Some people will interpret that (probably Nietzsche himself) as meaning power over other people. I like to think that it could be power over our own lives that we will ourselves to. If I could believe my interpretation of will to power, then it is quite possible that, based on this most basic drive, we are trying to progress toward independence, the pinnacle of power over your life. My interpretation can even account for those seeking power over others; they are simply insecure with themselves and seek to control others to compensate and free themselves from their insecurities.
Fred Reed wrote on his site FredOnEverything.net about people who are seeking adventure by going to “survival” camps and skydiving and such. What he concluded was it’s a basic drive for men to want to seek freedom, adventure, and the spontaneity of independence. When I read his article, he was putting into words what I suspected at different times. All the times as an adolescent when I really desired to leave wherever I was at, the feeling after reading On The Road, and the predilection to blues songs about rambling were signs of my natural need for adventure. Well, maybe not the blues songs. And I wasn’t exactly happy at home as an adolescent, but still, as I was once told by my Aunt W___ after explaining my reaction to the Kerouac book, all of her boys expressed similar desires to go adventuring and explore the country and the world.
The idea of recognizing the desire for adventure and freedom, the opposite of the job-mortgage-security lifestyle most of us live, is a particularly poignant lesson in knowing thyself. To come closer to achieving the highest degree of power over our own fates, I think knowing the subtle motivations of our genetic makeup and recognizing ourselves as civilized animals – but animals nonetheless – is as important as the cognitive goals we create for ourselves. How else can self-control be achieved?
Be sure to check out Fred’s article here.