Free to be unfree

“My being non-alienated cannot be the same thing as what I would naturally do, not at least if what I would naturally do is supposed to mean what I would do anyway. ‘What I would do anyway’ is an incomplete phrase, and therefore, one without determinate sense. ‘Anyway’ means ‘in the absence of preventing factors or influences’, so the sense of ‘what I would do anyway’ depends on which factors or influences we are supposing to be absent. But it is just incoherent to suppose that all factors and influences could be absent; since something like this supposition is nonetheless resiliently an ingredient, albeit often a covert ingredient, of all sorts of thinking about autonomy, freedom, and the voluntary, we might call that supposition ‘the fantasy of freedom an sich’. For the supposition is indeed a fantasy: necessarily and universally, human action always pushes against some resistance. Moreover, it always pushes against some particular resistance: there is no more resistance an sich than there is freedom an sich. In the absence of either, then, there is no such thing as the pure and ahistorical state of unalienated nature, either.” – Sophie-Grace Chappell, “Rôles and Reasons” (footnote omitted; emphases in original)

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