A New Framework for Seeing Clearly, Thinking Freely and Loving Your Life

10 Brief Lessons in Autonomy

Arnold Siegel
5 min readJan 21, 2020



The usefulness of our inquiries into “how should we live,” and “how to achieve our country” depends in large part on our willingness to see clearly, think freely and act accordingly. That is, we must take full advantage of America’s emancipation of our minds. Of course, learning how to employ the freedom of the autonomous subject is both the opportunity and the challenge of a lifetime. Emancipation has empowered us to be the authors of our lives and the chemists of our emotions. It is our freedom that will tell us how we should live and achieve our country.

What follows are ten brief lessons in autonomy.


Achieving our country depends on the autonomous subject’s performative response to a variety of societal expectations. We are asked to responsibly process the impersonal forms of self-possession and to particularize their use under the specific conditions and circumstances asking us for a response. This form of self-possession (qualified individual freedom) is foundational to regulating the emergent order of the American experiment with a society of autonomous subjects.


Qualified individual freedom in America is regulated by this country’s cultural matrix composed of its founding documents, the Constitution and Declaration of Independence as well as its political, economic and social institutions, its arts and sciences, its enforcement of its laws, conventions, customs, normatives, etc. To compensate for the absence of a naturally (or supernaturally) permanent foundational governor/soul, we are asked to oversee our own behavior by following these forms and, by virtue of our intellectual and emotional regulation, transform the responsiveness of the naked animal into that of a civilized citizen capable of tolerating the angst that accompanies such responsibility.


Human beings are not born humane, cultured and autonomously responsible. We’re born with uncivilized natural instincts and must be educated to understand our civil and rational duties and possibilities. Every day, we must wrest control from the brutality, timidity or…



Arnold Siegel

Philosopher, Contemporary American thinker, Founder of Autonomy and Life https://autonomyandlife.com