We’re not as free as we imagine. We’re at the mercy of hidden structures that both grant us movement and limit us from moving on our own. We are puppets blind to our strings. It has been the task of philosophy to study the strings, to measure their strength over us, and find a comfortable way to position ourselves among them. Following are three areas of philosophical inquiry, two of which are today reduced to nonsense by the third.
Metaphysics: Look to the stars
Philosophers have spent centuries debating metaphysics. They’ve been interested in the genetic code of the cosmos—and beyond. In this approach some strings are attributed to the framework of the world. Is there a Master who ties the knots? Metaphysicians ponder cause and effect, the nature of Being, the dimensions of time and space, and whether humans are free, determined or a little of both.
Metanarratives: Look to your eyes
This is cultural code. Economics, law, medicine, language, family, religion, politics, history: these are the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. There are as many versions of the Human Experience as there are people in the world today. What about the strings restricts us? What about them makes us special? How do we structure our lives within the cultural framework we’ve built around us?
Metadata: Look to the Cloud
This is the reign of binary code. The story of your life becomes the storage of your digitized life. You’re a victim of statistics, surveys, demographics. A line on a chart, a bullet point, the focus of a policy memo. You are your credit scores, tax returns, medical records, unpaid parking tickets. When a thief hacks into your files, he’s violating you. Your info is analyzed, in real time, for terrorist ties. Thought stalls; the Internet hums. Tired philosophical debates corrupt the data and slow the servers. The multibyte strings slip, looping around your neck. You do the math: there is no going further.