1. When people living in some region of the world declare that their group has the right to live autonomously, they are saying that they ought to be allowed to govern themselves. In making this claim, they are, in essence, rejecting the political and legal authority of those not in their group. They are insisting that whatever power these outsiders may have over them, this power is illegitimate; they, and they alone, have the authority to determine and enforce the rules and policies that govern their lives.

2. When an individual makes a similar declaration about some sphere of his/her own life, he/she, too, is denying that anyone else has the authority to control his/her activity within this sphere; he/she is saying that any exercise of power over this activity is illegitimate unless he/she authorizes it herself.

3. The demand to be permitted to govern ourselves reflects the conviction that we are, in essence, self-governors. An activist is one who acts. In order to act, one must initiate one’s action. Since nothing and no one has the power to act except the activist him/herself. He/she alone is entitled to exercise this power, if he/she is entitled to act.

4. Every activist has an authority over him/ herself that is grounded, not in his/her political or social role, nor in any law or custom, but in the simple fact that he/she alone can initiate her actions. 5. Despite the special inalienable nature of our authority over ourselves, it is possible for us to fail to govern ourselves, just as it is possible for a political leader to fail to govern those who fall within her domain.forces that move her.

7. There is certainly widespread agreement about the paradigm threats to personal autonomy: brainwashing, compulsion, addiction, depression, anxiety, and many other conditions are prevented from governing themselves. 8. Everything we do is a response to the past and present circumstances over which we have no control. Given everything we know about what is and what ought to be, we have to determine how we are going to act.

9. Necessarily, theoretical reasoners are passive bystanders to the events on the basis of which they predict future events. But activists are not mere observers of the passing scene. As practical reasoners, we have no choice but to determine our responses to what we observe — even if everything we do — and so, everything we decide to do — is determined by events in the past. To make up our minds, we need not be sophisticated reasoners. We need not even be capable of doubting the legitimacy of our most powerful motives.

10. And since no fact can play the role of a reason unless someone takes it to be a reason, activists necessarily have the ultimate authority over the powers that move them.

11. The content of our desire to govern ourselves when we act thus remains obscure to us, even as the legitimacy of this desire is clear.

12. Autonomy is both open and closed; it requires some degree of self-modeling. Furthermore, autonomy is closely related to individuality and self-governance, the combination of the two yielding independent functionality through the organized interaction of processes.

13. The value of autonomy in explaining the individuality of minds, as well as the openness of mind in terms of its integration into the world and with its infrastructure suggests that it may be able to cast similar insight onto living systems.