Choice

Existentialists talk about the faculty of Choice that humans possess, the inescapable despairing choice that is thrust upon us.
If we are in a situation where we compromise, we are choosing to compromise. We might as well do the opposite.
If your father threatens to throw you out of the house if you don't do so-and-so thing and you have no means of living on your own, you may feel that you don't have a choice, but you actually do. If you submit to your father's demands, you are choosing to do that. You might as well have chosen to leave the house. But you didn't, because it would be more problematic for you to do that.
The extreme example that is given to us is that of a man holding a gun to your head and commanding you to do something. Here again, you have a choice. You could just as well refuse to obey him and take the bullet.

But, the Choice we are talking about in this case is the Philosophical Choice, which is not the same as a Psychological Choice. A person whose only beloved daughter has been kidnapped and is being asked to do something illegal as ransom would probably have no Psychological Choice in the matter. To be able to consider Philosophical Choice requires a certain emotional detachment, an ability to view things rationally from a distance. Not many people can do that.

I feel, such a perspective of Philosophical Choice can be of therapeutic value. At least in some cases, if not all. Is it better to feel utterly helpless, vulnerable to whims of others and fate... or is it better to have some sense of control and responsibility? It can be a liberating thought, but it can also drown you in anguish.

It is liberating, when it gives you the 'last of human freedoms' - ["to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way" Viktor Frankl]
It is torturing when it makes you see that your life is a mess, that you have lost your dreams, perhaps forever, and that it is no one's fault but your own.

Who can predict the outcome?

Comments

Butters said…
I don't fully understand the difference between philosophical and psychological choice.
Awais Aftab said…
@ Butters

What I mean to say is that a philosopher can say that we always have a choice, but there would be circumstances in which the alternative option would be so psychologically unacceptable that it almost wouldn't register as a choice in the person's mind.
Sara said…
but how can one's dreams be lost forever?
sarah farooq said…
I understand that the element of 'choice' is always there but can it really be considered a choice, when either of the two decisions you make lead you down the same path?

If you've read or seen sophies choice, where she has to chose between two of her children. Whichever one she chose, she'd be equally regretful?
j said…
time cmz wn u knw tht both paths r leading to same path bt u hv to select one just coz may b it is bit ezy or it is just related to ur own pain,where u hv to bear pain just limited to ur own personality,u hv to chose tht one coz u cnt c otherz in pain,bt evn then choice is left nowhere,then where Choice is!!!
Butters said…
I understand the distinction, though I'm not sure the terminology is entirely appropriate. The term 'psychological choice' seems a bit odd to me, for reasons I cannot fully articulate at the moment.

Anyway, I think these are more two answers to a question, rather than two types of choice. The question being: 'do we or do we not have a choice?' Or 'do we have a choice all the time?', or 'how free are our choices?' etc.

We always have a choice in situations like the kind you described, but there are varying levels of freedom of our choices. One made with little coercion is free. One made under coercion is not free.