"If Barry Schwartz is right to say that choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied, is there a case today for taking some of it away from us?"
Barry, here, defines choice within a commodity culture.
The great choices, that determine who we are, existed before modern liberal democracies, and their free market promotion, and they will exist long afterwards.
Whether we are true to our word?
How we choose to see others who are different from ourselves?
Our relationship with authority?
Whether we choose to believe that there is more than can be seen?
These choices have not diminished but their import may have been occluded by choices that are merely cosmetic.
So because we are swamped with only cosmetic choices, that really do not affect who we are, as people, those important choices that do are often overlooked or put off.
And because of being swamped with commodity choices the choices that really matter are paralysed to us.
For choices are either driven by motive or impulsive in nature.
When our impulses are satisfied by a plethora of choice we then loose the capacity to be driven by motive.
There are no motivating forces, no ethics or rules that you hold because you want to hold them and you become dissatisfied with life because everything is wishy-washy, or a game with no finality, no direction to where you want to be.
So, do I think that there may be a case for taking some of them away?
Certainly there is a case for stopping manufacturers making one item and then branding it in several ways to give the illusion of choice.
And if a clear message could not be provided through the marketing a single entity for multiple differing consumers then it might force manufacturers to restrict their branding activity. This could open the door to other manufacturers which might be a good thing for the marketplace.
However, the free market should never be called into question precisely because who other than a parent of a child should hold the authority to restrict choice?
There is a strong case, here, for education to focus on the important choices that people would never have to confront if the marketplace were king.
This suggests that the free market should have no power over our schools.
And the curriculum of schools should not just be focused on academics or job-related courses, but should foster dialogue on philosophy as a means of addressing issues without really providing a right or wrong answer.
In such classes, where children should be encouraged to explore those choices, the government should be excluded from dictating their values, nor should our teachers be dictating values past those of discipline and hard work.
Our children should be allowed to determine the answers to the great questions themselves through the exploration of great works of literature, thought, ethics and religion. The teachers job should be as chair as bring the question at hand to the table through the introduction of those works and ideas.
This also suggests a different calibre of teacher, one not affiliated with a specific school but a nomad between schools. A wandering nobody.
My perfect job description.
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