Those who are free don’t want anything. They don’t want anything from their mind, they don’t want anything from their emotions, they don’t want anything from anyone, and they don’t want anything from life. They don’t want anything.~ Adyashanti
Imagine not having desires, ambitions, dreams. Imagine not wanting to be a good person, or wanting to feel love, or not caring about if what you write will ever be read. It’s mind numbing. Kant’s idea of free will, of the autonomy of the will made possible by reason is a good state to live in Kant believes. The other argument is by William Blake when he writes:
Those who restrain desire, do so because there’s is weak enough to be restrained, and the restrainer or reason usurps its place & governs the unwilling. And being restrained it by degrees becomes passive till it is only the shadow of desire.
There’s a disconnect with the idea of freedom that occurred in Germany during the Romantic revolution. At one point, with Kant and Fichte we get intoxicated by the the idea of freedom and the duty that comes along with it. Kant writes as if our freedom were in a vacuum and our passions not tugging at us, or certainly not in any case at him. However, with this idea of freedom, there is something beneath the surface tugging behind the veil of our psyches. So on one side we have austere reason and on the other side we have the rest of the Romantics that say not a bit of it, who are passionate, sincere, driven, who suggest something dark in the recesses of our mind, that’s always active, organizing, and creative. Romanticism is the reaction to the Enlightenment, to reason and science, telling our inner humanity that there’s more going on inside of us than mere matter in motion, and certainly more than a math equation can describe.
We don’t want to be completely driven by our passions like the Byronic heroes who are almost driven into madness, nor would we want to live a life destitute of passion. It’s about getting the blend right and the only way I know how to align passions and reasons is by cultivating oneself mostly by means of the greatest things thought, often times dressed up in narrative form that would move us–books are my route. There are other ways to learn, but I think the greatest return in study is with a great story with great themes and great characters that tackle great ideas. The aesthetic dimension has to flare our passions, and if a book is making you feel uncomfortable like Dante’s Inferno, or telling you to keep marching on like Faust, or telling you to keep asking questions like Socrates, that’s when I know I’m on to something. I suppose there’s great movies out there too.