Identification, the self, and autonomy

Social Philosophy and Policy 20 (2):199-220 (2003)
Abstract
Autonomy, we suppose, is self-regulation or self-direction. There is a distinct idea that is easily confused with self-direction, namely, self-expression, self-fulfillment, or self-realization. Although it will turn out paradoxically that autonomy is neither self-regulation nor self-realization, it is reasonable to suppose that the former is a superior candidate. My teacher of Indian religion, Dr. Subodh Roy, blind from birth, chose not to undergo an operation that would have made him sighted because he believed, perhaps rightly, that the ability to see would interfere with his religious quest. He thereby chose not to realize one of his fundamental human capacities, one whose cultivation has produced some of the finest fruits of civilization. Joseph Raz describes a case in which a man places his life in jeopardy by undertaking a trip to deliver medical aid to a group of people in a distant place. Since he will be unable to secure food for several days, he, in effect, subordinates one of his own basic needs or interests to a goal that he deems more important. There is no reason to believe that, in refusing to express or realize a dimension of self, either Dr. Roy or Raz's philanthropist have failed to act autonomously
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Bernard Berofsky (2010). Free Will and the Mind–Body Problem. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (1):1 – 19.
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