What is the difference between “freedom from…” and “freedom to…”?

Question by ? ? ? ?: What is the difference between “freedom from…” and “freedom to…”?
What is the difference between “freedom from…” and “freedom to…”?

As in: “We were given freedom from oppression” and “They weren’t bestowed with the freedom to express themselves.”

I think I came across this while reading “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. It’s a novel about life in a false-utopian dictatorship-like society. Actually, more like a totalitarian society. It’s about how every person in society has a role such as “the handmaid”, “the wife”, “the Marthas”, “the Commander”, “the Econowives” etc. The main character, Offred eventually learns of the dystopia in the society she lives in and secretly plans a revolution. It’s a pretty good book really.

Best answer:

Answer by glittergirl
If you are free FROM something, you have escaped a situation that you don’t want to be in.

If you are free TO do something, you are given the ability to do what you want, that you couldn’t do before.

Truly, there is no difference. The person who wants to be free wants to get away from something, so they can get to something else.

Those that are running FROM financial debt are running TO financial independence, wealth, or at least not living paycheck to paycheck.

Those running FROM an abusive relationship are running TO singlehood, another lover, or safety.

If you’re running FROM something, you are running TO something.

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2 Responses to “What is the difference between “freedom from…” and “freedom to…”?”

  1. I haven’t read the book but it seems you have pretty much answered your own question.
    “Freedom from” means that you are free from oppression, worry, anxiety,pain,hunger, etc.,while “freedom to” means that you are free to do as you please, or as you wish,or as you think or as you feel.
    Sounds like a good book.It obviously made you think about the meaning of “Freedom.”
    “Freedom”, of course, does not mean “license”, as in the right to do whatever you want even though it might be hurtful or destructive to someone/something else!

  2. Freedom to is the liberty to do whatever you want. Freedom from is the freedom to live without being hurt or oppressed by anyone. In order to ensure that people don’t get hurt (the freedom from), some of our liberties (freedoms to) have to be suppressed. Utopias usually allow maximum “freedom to”, trusting its people to use their liberty responsibly and not hurt anyone.

    The society described in “The Handmaid’s Tale” is a dystopia. Offred admits “Women were not protected then. (…) Now we walk along the same street, in red pairs, and no man shouts obscenities at us, speaks to us, touches us. No one whistles.” Women are absolutely protected from being raped, assaulted and from being treated as sex objects, but they lose their right to choose how to live their life.

    Anyway, Atwood wrote it because she was concerned that the alliance of certain feminist and religious groups, which were zealously battling pornography, could lead to forced protection of women from all dangers. Obviously, such a thing would be detrimental to women.

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