To be in possession of one’s self and one’s life is to be in control of it. Not omnipotent or omniscient control, of course. We have always to deal with the antecedents of our biology and untutored ego-function. Both lend themselves not to the individual responsibility on which America has built its hope and promise but to Henry James’ unsentimental description of life as a struggle wherein evil is apt to be strong, goodness weak, folly defiant and petty rages and easy mediocrity common.
Indeed, I believe the untutored ego-function enables us to exempt ourselves from a brave, intelligent, honest, legal and yes, challenging engagement with the nation’s commitment to the sovereign individual. I also believe, though, that each of us also wants and depends on everyone else to shoulder the burden of accountability because it is individual responsibility on which the freedom, comfort and security we enjoy is built.
As a means to self-possession, our philosophy overhauls our naïvely constructed practice of the ego-function, a naiveté we can’t afford to harbor given the function’s indispensability to our being in control of our lives.
We who study the philosophy and practice of autonomy and life believe the educated and trained ego-function is constitutive of America’s enlightened model of the sovereign individual and the pivotal or central means of our responsiveness to the civilized demands on our lives. Further, mastering this function, a responsibility that falls on all of us, is the key to making American democracy work for everybody, i.e., to achieving the promise of our country.