Sorry for the length of this question, but could anyone suggest reading material for me that might help me learn about the type of 'freedom' I'm wondering about in the following example:
If a friend asks me to pick any color, I am free to choose whichever color I would like. It seems as free as a choice can possibly be. And yet, the process of choosing the color seems to take place without conscious involvement on my part. Well, I'm clearly involved but the name/image of a color simply emerges into my consciousness. I don't actually choose which color will come to mind, since any deliberation between colors on my part is only possible after the colors have simply popped into my head. So, if orange comes to mind, I might tell my friend "I pick orange". But then I might decide that, since orange is my favorite color, I was probably biased towards picking it, so I decide to choose a different color to express my 'freedom to choose'. But again, whichever color comes to mind as a replacement for orange just pops into my consciousness. I have no sense that I've actually chosen it, at least not in this more limited sense of "chosen". Clearly, in a broad sense, I have chosen it (my brain is a part of me), but in cases like this I feel like I'm removed from that decision despite the fact that it's quite strange to even talk about removing 'me' from anything my brain is doing.
I realize that the idea of choosing what I will become conscious of is nonsensical, since I'd have to be conscious of it first before choosing to be conscious of it. It leads to a regress. But this does seem to give weight to the notion that even conscious deliberation is not ultimately free. Of course, "free" is not a well defined term, but if you say that the mysterious cognitive processes I'm describing are still part of me and therefore I am free, then you must also say that you are freely responding to what I'm saying despite those words and ideas simply emerging into your consciousness without your consciousness playing a role. So you're free, but you don't have the impossibly infinite consciousnesses necessary to be ultimately free, right?
Or maybe, who cares? ;)