Freedom can mean many things for different people. Freedom is a universal word because it means different things to different people. Freedom Can mean not being ensalved or even being free to express ones thought. It can not have a single definition. Freedom is a simply word that can have thousands of meanings to it
Within philosophy there arr ideas called positive liberty and negative liberty. Positive liberty is the ability to freely act on what we think is right to take control of one's life. Negative liberty is lack of barriers or constraints external to the person acting. The example from Stanford's encyclopaedia is shown with this example: "Imagine you are driving a car through town, and you come to a fork in the road. You turn left, but no one was forcing you to go one way or the other. Next you come to a crossroads. You turn right, but no one was preventing you from going left or straight on. There is no traffic to speak of and there are no diversions or police roadblocks. So you seem, as a driver, to be completely free. But this picture of your situation might change quite dramatically if we consider that the reason you went left and then right is that you're addicted to cigarettes and you're desperate to get to the tobacconists before it closes. Rather than driving, you feel you are being driven, as your urge to smoke leads you uncontrollably to turn the wheel first to the left and then to the right. Moreover, you're perfectly aware that your turning right at the crossroads means you'll probably miss a train that was to take you to an appointment you care about very much. You long to be free of this irrational desire that is not only threatening your longevity but is also stopping you right now from doing what you think you ought to be doing."
Looking at freedom from the first perspective is negative freedom. There are no obstacles to speak of. The second shows a lack of positive freedom because he is controlled by his urges to go to the tobacconist.
From this, it would appear that there may be at least two definitions of the term freedom. There's also the idea of freedom to do something and freedom from others doing something harmful to us.
Within society we are free within the confines of the legal system. However, some laws also provide us or help to provide us the liberty to take more control over our lives. This is a bit of a paradox within the context of positive freedom.
Anyway, I believe I showed that there can be more than one definition for freedom. Here is the source for the ideas and the above example:
I understand why people say everyone who wants to be free is latching onto a common wish, a human need that is universally felt. But freedom has as many manifestations as oppression, and I just don't feel a common goal is arrived upon or desired. If you take intellectual freedom, just a tiny aspect of freedom, that could apply to an activist who wants to launch new ideas without being beaten up, an inventor who wants the financial freedom to follow an idea, a student who wants to learn freely without censorship, or even the much more philosophical concept of whether we're ever intellectually free from the impressions society has made on us. These four scenarios express different forms of freedom, which would produce different problems and different emotions and different solutions, and whilst they have similarity, the differences shouldn't be ignored.
What does "freedom" mean to you? Being able to think and act without restraint? Not being enslaved, imprisoned and/or oppressed? Self-determination? Perhaps the definition of "freedom" is contextual. My headline for this response is "Freedom is power" and I say that because I'm beginning to think freedom also includes having ability and being able to use it. Have you seen the film Jumper(2008)? Jumpers have a freedom most people only dream of; they can go anywhere they want, anytime they want.
The freedom can be defined exactly too, as a quantity of options. Then it gets some more, quite unexpected meanings.
Freedom is the information I receive from all my perceptions. It grows with a number of opportunities that I can observe, and it is proportional to my intelligence and the hierarchy of the environment.
Freedom in my eyes is being able to do whatever your wish without external limitations or restrictions, hence in a sense we are not "free" as we are bonded and subject to law. However, that core idea of freedom, actions without limitations, doesn't change. What can change is what the freedom is applied to; speech, thought, association, action? This doesn't mean that the concept of being free is different.
To most reasonable people, freedom means more than just ‘free to do whatever I want’. Taken literally, that approach would produce anarchy—every man, woman, and child for himself or herself. Fortunately, none of us has to live that way (unless you’re reading this in Somalia or a similar disaster area).
Certainly freedom does mean the right to do as one pleases—to think, believe, speak, worship (or not worship), move about, gather, and generally act as you choose—but only until your choices start to infringe on another person’s freedom.