Openness, constraint and emergence

Jenny Mackness, Nov 11, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

A popular definition of freedom is that it is the absence of restriction or constraint. We see this definition employed implicitly lot, as though any impedement is an infringement on one's freedom. But if we really were free in this sense we would be floating in space (or in society) unable to do anything. Action is possible only with reaction. To be able to move at all we require friction. Constraint. So yes, with Jenny Mackness, I agree that 'open' is not merely a 'lack of constraint'. That would be a poor definition. The question, though, is the extent to which we exercise choice in the nature of the constraint, and the manner in which we respond to the constraint.

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