In Act 2, Scene 2 of Hamlet, Shakespeare had tried to convey the true nature of man. He poetically expresses how man is unique and infinite in his abilities. These infinite abilities are testimony to the inherent freedom enjoyed by man. He is free to use his infinite faculties in ways he desires. He can aspire to become a doctor and can use his faculties accordingly to fulfil his ambition. He can aspire to become a civil servant and therefore he can adjust himself accordingly to get what he craves for. But there is a catch. He is not absolutely free during his lifetime. Although, he is born free but with the passage of time as he grows up, various restrictions limit him.
He can only become a doctor after acquiring the medical degree. Likewise, he cannot become a civil servant unless he passes CSS examination. Such restrictions or conditions are inevitable for proper functioning of human society. On the contrary, some chains tend to treat man as animals. Those restrictions are meant to tame humans like animals. Dictators and monarchs often resort to such tools in order to chain their subjects. Therefore, man is free by birth but in later phase of his life he has to face some restrictions. Some of the restrictions are inevitable that make him civilized while others are detrimental that tend to treat them as mere animals.
According to major theories of famous philosophers, man is born free. It is not merely a matter of theory but man is free in reality. John Locke in his “The Second Treatise of Civil Government” and Jean Jacques Rousseau in his magnum opus, The Social Contract, expounded that man is born free, Hobbes in his ‘Leviathan’ considered man as a free being to such an extent. which he called ‘absolute freedom’.
First of all, at birth, man is free from shackles of inequalities. All men are equal. They are not restricted by various chains of social stratification. Son of a king and a pauper is born alike. They have equal set of chromosomes. They have equality in every aspect. But with passage of me, those equalities diminish and various biases creep in. Son of a king and a pauper do not eat milar food, do not wear similar clothes and are not educated in similar fashion. Such discrepancy in upbringing proves to be a chain for both. Son of a king cannot behave like a son of pauper because milieu around him will not permit him to so. Similarly, a son of pauper cannot afford lavish lifestyle because socio-economic chains prevent him to do so.130
Secondly, all men are born with innate ability to reason and learn from their experiences using reason. Human reason is the most unbridled faculty of human being and also the m important one. It is a distinguishing factor for human beings that they transcendent animals owing to their intellect. Moreover, it is also most important tool for human beings to understand the deep realities of universe. For this very reason. Quran has encouraged man to exercise his reason Allah says. “There are signs for those who understand and “Don’t you understand or hearts of you are locked up?”
Thirdly, pursuit of happiness is a basic freedom and right. Everyman, irrespective of his colour, creed or any distinction, reserves the right to pursue what pleases him: American declaration of Independence and their constitution have borrowed this concept from John Locke According to Thomas Jefferson, who was one of those persons who drafted Declaration of Independence, pursuit of happiness is an inalienable right. But there are still restrictions which bar humans from wildly pursuing their mundane desires. Restrictions like religion and law are necessary to check misuse of any form of freedom
Chains of conscience are the first line of defence against misuse of freedom. Man has freedom when he is born but no conscience. Various factors contribute to the development of conscience. Parents teach their children about good and bad. Society guides them in this regard too when they become more independent. School environment also affects conscience. In fact, conscience develops with the passage of time. When conscience is fully developed, it becomes a watch dog over human desires. Whenever, man tries to exceed his limits or commit something immoral, conscience warns him. Often, conscience proves to be an effective deterrent and prevents man from committing an immoral act.
Sometimes, conscience fails and second line of defence is needed. Such line of defence against unwarranted acts is social control and pressure. Many sociologists consider it as the most important tool to discipline a man. Owing to inherent freedom and desire to pursue what pleases him, man does not care about right and wrong. His instincts force him to do whatever he likes but social pressure deters a man to wildly pursue his mundane pleasures. He fears societal reaction to his actions. He fears possible repercussions of his actions. He dreads wrath of society. He does not want himself to be ostracized from his social circle. As man is a social animal, he can only survive within a society. Man understands this fact and this is why he does not want to face ridicule or anger of society. Therefore, social control is a tool to discipline man
In the present time, when the society is fragmenting and social pressures are weakening. formal controls have become more important. Laws are form of formal control. Divine laws are pertinent in this regard. God has sent His apostles to guide mankind. Allah has created man as a free being but provided required guidance so that humans may remain on the right path. In Holy Quran, Allah Almighty says, “We have sent ye the guidance, to which if you hold fast, ye will not
go astray.” Religious guidance and laws are necessary because they not only provide religious strictures but also moral guidance. Islam is unique in this regard which provides all forms of guidance pertinent to human beings so that he may become a civilized man. Man-made laws are also for social order and control. Deviant behaviour of humans can be controlled using such aws. Such laws discipline men and prevent them from committing wrongful acts. In absence of law, man will become as free as a beast. Hobbes called for laws because he thought man is evil by nature and therefore should be disciplined. Laws are last line of defence against deviant or wrongful acts. If a man wants to steal some money, and neither his conscience nor social pressure restricts him from committing a crime, certainty of punishment will surely deter him. Therefore. laws are such chains that ensure social order.