Defining Freethinking

Posted on 8th August 2019

Freethinking is to take responsibility for your own thoughts, challenge the accepted system and dwell in the possibilty of ideas.

It is not necessarily what you think but how you think it, that makes you a freethinker.

As, Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), writer, pacifist and anarchist defines:

“Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking.”

In 1944, the philospher Bertrand Russell wrote, The Value of Free Thought. How to Become a Truth-Seeker and Break the Chains of Mental Slavery. In the opening paragraph, he writes:

“What makes a freethinker is not his beliefs but the way in which he holds them. If he holds them because his elders told him they were true when he was young, or if he holds them because if he did not he would be unhappy, his thought is not free; but if he holds them because, after careful thought he finds a balance of evidence in their favour, then his thought is free, however odd his conclusions may seem.”

“The person who is free in any respect is free from something; what is the free thinker free from? To be worthy of the name, he must be free of two things: the force of tradition, and the tyranny of his own passions. No one is completely free from either, but in the measure of a man’s emancipation he deserves to be called a free thinker.”

Freethinkers know that meaning must originate in the mind. If the universe is mindless and the cosmos does not care, you must care in your own mind, if you wish to have purpose.

Individuals are free to choose, within the limits of their own morality. Freethinking  is a passion where it is much rather your thoughts than yourself that is free.

Some freethinkers find meaning in human compassion, social progress, the beauty of humanity (art, music, literature), personal happiness, pleasure, joy, love, and the advancement of knowledge.

Perhaps the greatest quality for a freethinker to have  is to be a life long learner and seek continuous learning as the philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632 – 1677) writes:

“The highest activity a human being can attain is learning for understanding, because to understand is to be free.”



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