Between self-identification and wholeheartedness: a critical study of personal autonomy
Cojocaru, Stefan Lucian
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The twofold aim of this dissertation is to argue against the notion of autonomy of the will and to advance a view of personal autonomy as wholeheartedness. The first chapter introduces a number of useful concepts and offers an idea of the two directions-critical and constructive, respectively-to be developed in the dissertation. Chapter II classifies accounts of autonomy of the will in view of a dialectical criticism of these accounts as well as a detailed analysis of a number of theories that are representative of the outlined theoretical approaches. Chapters III-IV present a view of autonomy: first, an argument as to why a willing agent cannot govern himself; second, a reasoned exposition of my view of self-governance. The last chapter explores the relation between autonomy as wholeheartedness and morality. The detailed dialectical criticism of theories of autonomy of the will is guided by the intuition that the state of willing is not a one in which the agent governs himself. This phenomenological intuition stresses a fact which conceptions of autonomy of the will ignore: that the willing agent's motive does not stem from a positive drive or motivational force. Rather, it is essential to his motive that he lacks (in some sense) the motivation to do what he wills to do. Unlike desire, the will does not move one to act. Willing presupposes making a motivational effort, which means that the motive behind willing cannot be unfailingly the agent's own. The constructive part of the dissertation begins with an explication of the psychological mechanism behind the motivational gap inherent in willing, which I call "self-identification." In light of this explication, the will arises in states underlain by the agent's identification with objects external to his motivational self. In identifying with something, a person estranges himself from himself. Namely, he projects an identity in terms of the object(s) of his self-identification, and he must press his motivational self into following this projection. Thus, self-governance is to be sought in a state in which the agent has overcome self-identification, that is, in a state of wholeheartedness.
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