July 21, 2003
Synopsis: an expansion of The Promethean Manifestoís discussions of self-expression concerning its importance, its fundamental aspects will and action, its relationship to the important concepts self-interest and capability, social influences upon it, and much more.
Note: portions of this essay appeared in The Promethean Manifesto, 2003 edition. All quotations not otherwise accredited were also from the same source.
Prometheanism offers the concept of self-expression as a way to understand its prime concept, the advancement of life:
"The advancement of life is a name for whatever improves life, remaking it stronger, discovering and distilling its vital essence and opening wide the body-and-mind to pour that essence forth. The beneficial side-effects of this life-advancing coincide often with many things well-established as desirable: happiness, satisfaction, plenty, understanding, wisdom, achievement. These are often named as goals in themselves, but they do not happen independently of the great goal, the advancement of what is essential to a life."
But what essence is that? And how can we understand it? To begin with, what name would illustrate that essence of life? The Promethean Manifesto advises:
"Know the essence of a life as self-expression."
The kind of self-expression emphasized by Prometheanism does not just follow the most general, inclusive, obvious and bland definition: 'expression of whatever self you are', which clearly has little inspirational use as a goal or guide, in that it says nothing important. Some people, it should be noted, live their lives by nothing more than it, however, and may even enshrine it (as in the uncommunicative maxims: 'be you' or 'be yourself'). No, Promethean self-expression means something more specific, but also something more changeable in time, adaptable in context, and something appropriate for each person. It also means something identifiable only by a given person. We cannot tell you what it means for you. A person might help another find out, but anyone who claims to know the essence of life for another lies, or fools themselves.
Self-expression does not merely refer to speech or other communication as in the most common use of the phrase. It means allowing the significance in one's character and in what one does to show itself however it must according to individuality, and not merely removing obstacles in the way, but striving for it. For some, that expression is often well-described as creativity. The expression might involve the self-improvement of education. For some, it does have a lot to do with language, for us as writers and philosophers, for example. However self-expression need not be verbal or communicative at all, having as many vibrant forms as the full diversity of people, and as many shades as their moments and moods. It might sometimes be invisible to other people, occurring internally. For one whose very identity and greatest purpose involves parenting, self-expression might be witnessed in comforting an infant; that might represent connecting with oneself, for a mother. For a businessman it might involve doing business profitably, for a scholar it might involve acquiring learning and understanding, for a craftsman it might involve working with his hands effectively and getting the job done well. It does have to do with success as a process, but clearly success is different for different people at different times.
Self-expression does not equate with the purpose of a life, much less "the meaning of life." Prometheanism does not claim to offer "the meaning of life" or that there is such a thing to be known. It simply advocates life and being on the side of the cause of life. If somehow we are satisfied with meaning we find following that cause, so much the better.
Part of self-expression might involve asserting a purpose (for oneself) but we understand self-expression better if we understand it akin to a process, an expenditure, which if it were a word would be a verb, and which might point to a noun we would call a purpose. We can call that purpose by a more conveniently descriptive name, our self-interest, which is to say the individualistic direction of one's self-expression envisioned as a journey with both charting and traveling  — a journey of life-advancing, seeking our own advantage. Of such a journey we may feel sure that however lost we might become along the way, we travel a journey like no other adventure, expedition, trip, circuit, voyage, odyssey, wandering, pilgrimage, crusade, march, promenade, hike, quest, jaunt, venture … or whatever kind of journey it might be like. We all must follow our own way, and we both know and do not know where we want to go and how to travel there — and our 'destination' of our self-interest only beckons as a goal; we never arrive.
And yet we can find riches on this journey of self-expression. (It seems like a treasure hunt at times even when, curiously, we might not look for any reward.) Of all the rewards, the potentially beneficial "side-effects" of life-advancing, most rewards we will notice result from capability — the power to achieve a thing through self-expression, increased by the accumulation of capability from the cooperative accomplishment of many people over time. Like a stellar body shrugging off bright light and other energies, self-expression warms us and illuminates us with its accomplishments (and sometimes, its somewhat untamable energy can present dangers, like any terrific power). But self-expression is the star in this metaphor. We should not confuse the emanations with the source. Nonetheless, the power of capability may help lead us to our self-interest better (or more accurately to feel self-expression more profoundly, and satisfy it more deeply), much like a blind man can find a fire by its warmth even if he cannot see it.
We can follow whatever we find wonderful. This means not only the gifts of capability from ourselves and others, but happiness and satisfaction, and feeling alive. Joseph Campbell called this "following your bliss" with good reason. Using other words, Nietzsche talked of the most spiritual will-to-power (see below), and of "sublimating" in the sense of making sublime or profound. Refining or distilling make apt metaphors as well. Whatever the words, expressing oneself as one must/should — sublimating self-expression — means taking the basis of any life in the widest possible sense, the self-expression of anyone, and making it something precious and all-too-rare. That defines the Promethean understanding of self-expression.
There is no really self-evident word for the Promethean concept of self-expression, though we consider "self-expression" the most fitting name in modern English. There have been other ways of saying it.
In the whole history of humanity maybe a thousand traditions have names for it; maybe ten thousand people have glimpsed enough of it (and its importance) to give it names — mostly fleeting names that only captured something of a guess, or something that only made sense to them, or something they couldn't understand themselves. To other people, these names and the traditions built upon them became as unrecognizable as the tongues of Babel. For most who have envisioned it have missed something important, and so it needs a new, more deliberate name. Mostly it has not been named — by the very many who never know it well, because they rarely experience it well.
One of the few really deliberate attempts to name our self-expression might illustrate the problem of naming, and provide a parallel understanding for perspective. Friedrich Nietzsche's concept of "Wille zur Macht" translates directly to "will to power", causing no end of confusion to this day. Contrary to the appropriations of later National Socialists and the manipulations of their antecedents since Nietzsche's sister, the phrase has no necessary meaning of a desire to dominate socially, but instead refers to a drive to expend energy, a drive of something to expend itself, or the impulse of something to be expressed over other possible expressions. The concept implies movement, a flowing-forth (or even an "overflowing," as he put it), more than a stable "power relationship." Importantly, 'power' should be understood here with a definition reminiscent of physics, power as energy expension; Nietzsche was emphasizing expending in his phraseology.  Sometimes a more useful translation than "will-to-power" (we prefer hyphenation to imply a continual flow) might be "drive-to-express" as long as "drive" is not understood according to the Freudian psychological definition. As Nietzsche applied the idea to people in general, will-to-power seems roughly equivalent to self-expression in the all-inclusive sense; all things people do might be called "self-expression" literally, and especially all those things demonstrating characteristics of personality. Nietzsche even cast all life in terms of will-to-power:
But in the best Promethean sense of self-expression, which Nietzsche called "spiritual" will-to-power in some contexts, the phrase refers particularly to expression which strengthens and is profound. Like Nietzsche, depending on context Promethean writings use the phrase 'self-expression' to mean both any exercise and discharge of what one is and does (realizing that not every example of this is in fact life-advancing), and the more specific sense of the really desirable, highest expression of the self as that expression advances life.
(Also see Nietzsche's Antipolitique for more on will-to-power.)
So, now we can make up a short list of alternate names for self-expression in English based on Wille zur Macht:
Notice, though, that something gets lost with a step away from a preferable name, just as something gets lost in naming an unnamable thing at all. 
To these revisions we could add a parallel which relates to the general meaning of self-expression, borrowing a phrase from Rudolph Steiner :
And finally, a similar name which combines Nietzsche and Steiner, and brings us to our next point of discussion:
And its sometimes-useful, sometimes-troublesome distorted variant, obtained from the distinction of parts in the holistic principle of self-expression:
Will and Action
For reasons of utility, The Promethean Manifesto separates self-expression into will and action: "For a human being, self-expression incorporates both intentions toward expression, and that expression itself — that is, both will and action."
We separate will and action because it is easier in some contexts to visualize them separately, as we find it useful (and usual) to separate body and mind even though they cannot truly separate. Prometheanism contradicts the mind/body dualism endemic to all too much of 'Western philosophy' (and in fact a worldwide runaway infection of delusive language), in which worlds of the mind, the rational, the theoretical, the ideal, or the soul compete with worlds of the body, the impulsive, the flesh, the passions, or the instincts — including the limited reactions against the traditional 'mind' favoritism of this false dualism, reactions which simply favor 'body' vice versa, but do not transcend the dualism. Self-expression belongs to a human organism, the body-mind or mind-body and in fact all of its connections to its environment, with all the complexity that entails. Semantically, despite its preferable accuracy 'self-expression' will not do by itself; for example 'freedom of self-expression' can communicate much less than 'freedom of action' and 'freedom of will' can. Yet, we should not forget that the 'mental' and 'physical' aspects of self-expression remain one and the same system of the individual, and not get lost in the words. We should speak of will as it helps us to visualize, access, experience, further and refine self-expression. We should speak of action as it helps us to visualize, access, experience, further and refine self-expression. Will and action serve us as tools, otherwise they only distract from the important goal. In that respect, these two concepts mirror any other concept, including the idea "self-expression."
Both freedom of will and freedom of action involve both 'natural' (potential) limits on self-expression which make self-expression one thing rather than another thing for a particular human being (in effect, defining a person's basic characteristics), and relatively artificial limitations which interfere with the fulfillment of such potential. For example, political force as threat or violent compulsion prevents people from acting on their desires, even when they are capable of doing so — a limitation on action. In parallel, fear of confronting political force encourages people to alter their desires to those which are less troublesome, probably unconsciously — a limitation on will.
Both kinds of freedom, a free mind and a free body, liberate expression of the self.
The Promethean Manifesto discusses both freedom of will and freedom of action, but stresses freedom of action; "the body" must have freedom to enable greater freedom of "the mind" and too many have been forgetting this (despite some of these successfully finding a means for progress in mental health and adeptness using a wide variety of techniques such as fields of psychology, or semantics), except for those subscribing to some 'libertarian' and 'anarchist' political traditions. Room to act serves as a prerequisite for full breadth of mental exercise, with the exception of the rare occasions for few people when external control over their actions inspires augmented mental independence as a reaction. Recall above the movement and cohesion important in naming self-expression; we might prefer 'will-to-action' instead of 'will and action', but here we might also point out the additional significance of action-to-will. The flow of self-expression runs both ways, as we will discuss more later. Thus political force (as just the preponderant example of a limitation on action, but not an exclusive one) should be removed as a necessary step, before we can expect to maximize freedom of will too, and with both, maximize self-expression.
For the most part also, the practitioners of traditions which stress some conception of (physical) political freedom do not address freedom of will even if they conceive of it , as though this remains of little relative import, or comprises a totally different issue, or remains a private matter. Surely only the last reason resonates, but it is time to look further into this personal, if not private matter.
Freedom of Will
— the Promethean axiom of freedom of will
Prometheanism makes the descriptive assumption called the axiom of freedom of will. A potential key to visualizing self-expression, freedom of will basically represents a power. This power, a deep inherent human capacity, can help us enormously to open the floodgates holding back our potential by finding out how to open the gates, and how to ride the chaos  within — as long as we recognize freedom of will's importance and use it (which inevitably requires a kind of following too), instead of ignoring it. Metaphorically, it refers to the power to self-express in terms of channeling the flow as opposed to flowing. (Again, this makes an artificial, though useful distinction.) Such a simultaneously liberating-and-controlling power over (and through) ourselves and by extension, our whole world, fully deserves the adjective awe-inspiring.
At the same time, many find it threatening, frightening, and "non-existent." The frequently tedious obsession in philosophy with whether or not "free will" exists likely has something to do with a preexisting desire among many of the would-be debunkers to wish freedom of will away, and reminds us why 'academic' often means unimportant — rather like the similarly immaterial tangent of what 'exist' means, another 'classic philosophical debate' which even more rarely serves a Promethean purpose. (We should however properly contrast the Promethean concept of freedom of will from any simplistic "free will" especially in the universal, Christian or judicial senses. See Freedom of Will and Complexity below.) But not only academics or intellectuals have problems with the rush and responsibility of facing freedom of will. Most people would like to think they have less control than they effectively do over what gets in the way of their desires, and yet they would also like to think their desires make fewer demands on them than they effectively do. For not only does freedom of will require skills of mastering, but skills of following, too.
The degree of the "fundamental potential" in each person may vary a great deal. It may be reduced or augmented. This is a critical point, because the extent to which people have freedom of will determines their capacity for self-expression, and therefore deeply influences their being alive.
The rest of what we do is more instinctively "willed," and comes less from our unique selves than from the more common environmental and genetic influences upon us. Enhancing freedom of will would seem to form a critical approach towards advancing the quality and strength of individual human life. Some have discovered this has much to do with exercise, practicing our potential as a process and a habit — developing critical and honest self-knowledge, finding self-awareness by experiment.
There can be no sensible 'choice' between augmenting freedom of will or not; about the power of choice there can be no choice. We only do. The struggle, the exercise, the continual work of strengthening and broadening and deepening this power maintains its reliable health and sometimes almost tangibly increases its potency (drastically, in periods of rapid progress). Otherwise this power decays, it simplifies, it petrifies, it shrinks, it suffers, it evidences symptoms and syndromes — and seemingly its individual does all of the same! It often seems as though a person loses any chance of further growth after a defining, often traumatic point or period of abandoning a constant struggle for growth — they can only hold their ground at most; otherwise, they seem to be all they will ever be — or they change for the sake of change, but not long can this substitute for that harder, more conscious change that slipped from their grasp. In effect, their apparent power to conceive and decide has crested, and begins to ebb. Such a liminal edge in life usually occurs anywhere from puberty to adulthood, but it might happen earlier, or not at all for those who always grow. Compare the many people who convey such uncompromising possibility in their youth around twenty years, compared with the very few who seem to have it later, even if they have more experience and information. (Can the tide turn? Another traumatic yet profound experience might bring an opportunity to answer.)
In the work of cultivating will supposed "moderation" in thought usually has little use but to excuse laziness — and its mediocre products, both lackluster human beings and their ill-considered opinions and wants. As Nietzsche exclaimed through his Zarathustra: "Oh, that you would reject all halfhearted willing and would become resolute in sloth and deed! Alas, that you would understand my word: Do whatever you will, but first be such as are able to will." [Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Third Part, On The Virtue That Makes Small, section 3] Once you have expanded freedom of will, what you want almost certainly becomes much more worthy; it deserves less concern than cultivating that expanded mastery in the first place.  Of course, this does not mean a human of adept and liberated will never draws towards foolish appetites or mistaken goals. Particularly, ignorance and distortion have troubled many of the most capable-minded; like anyone (and maybe more than anyone), they require accurate information as a raw material, as stuff with which to work. So, even though desires in worthy shapes typically follow developed freedom of will, their details still deserve some examination as well.
Although augmenting freedom of will does have something to do with fitting together useful, descriptive ideas to form favorable worldviews — those which prove conducive to conceiving and pursuing worthwhile desires — still freedom of will has more to do with a brave curiosity, adaptability, and 'open-mindedness' of a rather uncompromising sort. This wants (and if intellectual, admires) ideas, but just as they fit nicely for a clear view of the world and what one wants in it, and it holds such worldviews together only to shatter them for remolding, like glass panes when they age to obscure the view. It is no slave to invention either. It looks out of others' windows too (as it imagines them) so long as they serve similarly well, but if not it moves on. 
Alfred Korzybski said "the map is not the territory"; likewise neither the mapmaking nor map-reading is the exploration. Exploration employs map-reading and often involves mapmaking. To illustrate the difference: the visionary founder of a religion might have exerted considerable freedom of will in order to inspire himself with his vision, and used it to his benefit, but the religion as an orthodoxy need not bring about the same capacity (or the same benefits) in its devotees — even if they understand it. Or, the sage founder of a school of thought might have had considerable freedom of will in order to formulate such a philosophy, and used it to achieve his ends, but his sagacity made into a doctrine is another matter — even understood. But also in either case, following the invention of the visionary or the sage (the 'mapmakers') could in some people result from exertion of exploratory faculties in the form of 'map-reading' (active evaluation), or even some additional 'mapmaking' in reinterpreting, and as such recreating a received map. We might name all of this 'exploration' aspect of the liberated will meta-intelligence, or meta-intellect in an intellectual, but make no mistake about intellectuals having a greater capacity for it. They can get distracted by ideas precisely because they have greater affinity for them.
Finally, we should remember that just as freedom of will clearly appears desirable and necessary for the advancement of life, so does freedom of action. The potential for self-expression in individuals is bound by inherent and evolving limits of their conceptions and mental impulses, or will, and the limits and controls placed on their expression in action. Remember that we cannot separate body-and-mind, because those two words describe the same organism. Self-expression involves a mental body and a physical mind as one being, one bodymind or mindbody, a whole integrated conscious-and-autonomic self-system. Without both freedom of will and action, we feel a lack because self-expression is limited, and life becomes less vibrant and strong, its potential unexpressed.
Freedom of Will and Complexity
— Nietzsche [BGE 19]
Many of the key elements which Prometheanism owes to Nietzsche (or to his inheritors) are indeed elemental — basic, foundational prerequisites. That is, these relate more to mentality and approach 'going in' than to particular thoughts or conclusions 'coming out' (which may differ from what Nietzsche wrote); the latter products (in which Promethean philosophers today may have some hope of outdoing Nietzsche by virtue of our accumulated advantages) count as suitably more superficial than the former in really advanced philosophy. All of which relates to a most complex conundrum for which this axiom of freedom of will was the Promethean answer: "People, as individuals, have a fundamental potential to determine and direct their own actions."
Some may incorrectly interpret Nietzsche's refutations of "the error of free will" (in Beyond Good and Evil: On The Prejudices of Philosophers; Twilight Of The Idols: The Four Great Errors; prematurely in Human, All-Too-Human I. 39; etc.) as, at first glance,
1) 'robotizing' or de-individualizing human decision (comparably to Thomas Hobbes' making an automaton of man) in contradiction to the claim of the axiom of freedom of will,
or others might incorrectly interpret them as
2) merely a refutation of the aims of pure "free will" in its traditional 'Western' postulate, i.e. free will as an original, self-evident and fully self-controllable cause of an individual's actions, not as a qualified descriptive assumption, as in Prometheanism.
In fact, all his work considered, we can surmise that Nietzsche intends neither of these; certainly not the former, and most probably something more than the latter. For "above all" in his criticisms of conventional philosophy Nietzsche meant to contradict superficiality in discussion of 'basic' concepts like: the individual, the ego, will, motive, cause, effect, agency, freedom, etc. — the sort of superficiality he exposed time and time again in the works of accepted philosophers, in the writing of Plato, Locke, Kant, Schopenhauer, and so many others.
Nietzsche spoke of the distortions surrounding will having to do with either the (primarily circumstantial) bent of linguistic structure, or the (usually subconscious) pre-existing biases and intentions of influential thinkers.  Originally, out of a desire to find causes, in fact a precondition of assuming everything had a cause (which may inevitably follow from grammar demanding a subject), mankind presumed to 'find' the phantom causes he 'knew' to exist for everything, and furthermore assumed he could fathom, if they did exist. "The most ancient and enduring philosophy was at work here and did not do anything else: all that happened was considered a doing, all doing the effect of a will; the world became to it a multiplicity of doers; a doer (a "subject") was slipped under all that had happened… Small wonder that later he [man] only found in things that which he had put into them." [TOTI: The Four Great Errors, section 3] According to Nietzsche, that same assumption of causality  which was responsible for the derivation of deities who could be responsible for empirical eventualities, and eventually of course a master deity of all causes, God, was also responsible for the derivation of complete individual responsibility for human acts, "free will" —"'freedom of the will' in the superlative metaphysical sense" [BGE 21] — ironically, a view simultaneous with overriding belief in a Master of causes, in post-Zoroastrian, Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition. What superficiality, thinks Nietzsche, what distortion — and furthermore what an opportunity for the most inhuman, unjust infliction of blame, guilt, shame, repression, punishment and revenge. In his opinion (from his experience), this was an opportunity realized with the most considerable genius in the Christian tradition.
While it is clear that Nietzsche's assault on free will is primarily motivated by a desire to free man from the weight of blame, a responsibility which would come from complete control over one's nature and one's actions — which in Beyond Good and Evil he adeptly shows cannot be assumed, and which he considers an error resulting from the aim of establishing blame and guilt in the Christian tradition (but not only in that ) — still he makes an overall point that man is built of necessities. However, once again, this claim has nothing to do with the reductive point of view; Nietzsche does not intend to suggest that man is 'just' necessity in a predictable sense; man is not a robot; man is not simple; man is more than the sum of parts. He makes this clear in BGE 21: "Suppose someone were thus to see through the boorish simplicity of this celebrated concept of 'free will' and put it out of his head altogether, I beg of him to carry his enlightenment a step further, and also put out of his head the contrary of this monstrous conception of 'free will': I mean 'unfree will,' which amounts to a misuse of cause and effect." Both free will and unfree will are myths, or more explicitly, descriptions too inaccurate and spare to be serviceable. Such things as cause and effect in the process of thought must necessarily be understood as metaphors (much more than in merely the sense that any language is metaphor), as "conventional fictions" as he puts it, and not exacting functional determinations in themselves. He noted also that "It is almost always a symptom of what is lacking in oneself when a thinker senses in every 'causal connection' and 'psychological necessity' something of constraint, need, compulsion to obey, pressure, and unfreedom; it is suspicious to have such feelings — the person betrays himself." Some of these people "do not wish to be answerable for anything, or blamed for anything, and owing to an inward self-contempt, seek to lay the blame for themselves somewhere else."
Any apparent contradiction between the Promethean axiom of freedom of will and the recognition of necessity in how a human thinks and acts according to a variety of determinants relies on an error of simplification. The key concept able to reconcile the Nietzschean (and Promethean) claim of necessity as a fundamental with the Promethean depiction of a certain freedom of will (not complete freedom of will, not pure 'free will', NB) is complexity.
'Freedom of will' in Prometheanism relates to a complex system of apparently relatively simple elements — necessities — which Nietzsche would come to call wills-to-power. At a most basic level these can be traced to a molecular or even subatomic level, at a larger scale the functions of the organs and cells in the human body-mind or mind-body, over which we still seem to have little or no conscious 'control', and at a still more complex, holistic level, the 'decision-making' processes of what we call our consciousness. Still we must recognize, unless our discomfort with the idea prevents us from considering it, the obvious sense made by the proposition that still, we are not exactly uncontrolled in our thought; we do not 'decide' what to think, we do not select thoughts among all possible choices; thoughts occur and we do rarely have much success explaining why. Likewise our decisions follow paths and limits and controls — necessities.
Admitting the limitations of philosophy or the sciences, Prometheanism describes the complex 'sum total' of simpler necessitated 'wills' — the apparent overall cognizant expressive process — as exhibited 'freedom-of-will' which cannot really be defined, predicted, or exactly understood. Nor can the consciousness be divided into simpler parts — necessities, drives, or wills — and thereby analyzed, since "the sum is greater than its parts" as in any complex system, e.g. planetary weather, not to mention a complex system of complex systems, like a human being and everything influencing or influenced by that individual.
In a complex system, some organization may become appreciable but is characterized as emergent, not predetermined. Analysts of complex systems look at emergent patterns such as those associated with 'strange attractors' and attempt to describe them. Prediction can be effected within certain limitations by studying patterns and simpler elements, but prediction as in determination becomes impossible when the parts function in the whole, just as (simpler) weather patterns may be predicted within a short future, and with possibilities of error, using chaos mathematics or complexity mathematics, which in general reconciles parts that operate according to determination at a simple level with unpredictable, rich complexity of the interaction of many such parts.
But Nietzsche's work predated the construction of those verbal and scientific scaffolds we can now stand upon, anticipating them and almost requiring them; Nietzsche all but invented complexity ahead of its time because he needed it to make sense of human willing. With our understanding of chaos theory in mathematics, Nietzsche's insight can finally in a sense be properly received, and appreciated. What we 'are' as beings may be composed basically of inherent 'musts' but the totality doesn't fail to be complicated, interesting, and capable of surpassing the simple programming of a robot. The wonderful human mystery still remains, no matter how much more we learn to describe it better. (A situation comparable to that of the astronomical sciences exploring the immensity of the universe, or quantum physicists exploring the tiny, but likewise immensely complex inner depths of the universe.) In fact Nietzsche's achievement is tantamount to broadening the recognized complexity of the human consciousness, in contradiction to the oversimplified philosophical tenet of free will.
In Prometheanism, 'freedom of will' is both inherently expressive, not determinate, and very far from Locke's theory of man as a tabula rasa. We might consider freedom of will as a space within which mental expression can exercise itself, expression with both inherent and changeable qualities, not the capacity to be or do anything, and thereby become responsible for causing everything or everything associated with oneself, including acts or results associated with moral disapproval. Unlike the absolute metaphysical "free will" of Christian development which justified blame for both common natural behavior (cf. "original sin") and individual deviation (cf. "mortal sin") by means of causation, Promethean 'freedom of will' is understood to be limited by factors, and fully rooted within the 'container' of a mind-body as an aspect of it.
Prometheanism does not even emphasize causatives within the complexity of human psychosomatics, as much as patterns, associations between elements of natures, experience, perspective, etc., associations which can change. This patternist view neatly ignores the quibbling over causation which rarely provides a useful angle. One way of thinking about freedom of will would be to call it an apparent emergent quality in a pattern called the self-expression of an individual, some of which we might accurately describe as voluntary and some of which we might not (and who could say for certain?), some of which might be described as cause and some of which might be described as effect (but again, who could say for certain?) or even both cause and effect, as is the case with a manifested interconnection or interdependence between elements; where indeed does one 'weave' end and another begin in the pattern, when distinguishing elements of such a system — a most Complex system?
Furthermore Promethean freedom of will is a term of convenience, a semantic reference point. It describes an aspect of the 'deeper' foundation, self-expression, and not a definitive essential of the philosophy, as it was in orthodox Christian thought. When useful (and not a means of assigning blame and guilt for ridiculous absolute self-responsibility), it can be used, otherwise it can be discarded, in favor of just self-expression for example. In The Promethean Manifesto it is used as a catalyst for movement towards personal and cooperative change.
Calling the process of expression coalescing within limits 'freedom-of-will' would seem to serve as a necessary label for anything so indeterminate, yet so important as to need labeling and recognition. Note that 'freedom' need not signify absolute freedom (something we in our modern political systems know all too well), which the careful wording of the axiom stresses, making any notion that this principle is essentially the same as the Christian or enlightenment "free will" seem rather careless, a circumstantial association at most.
It is important not to be confused by the similarity of labels for quite different substances. The idea of freedom of will in Nietzsche's context of objection (above, distinguished as "free will") means something quite different from the Promethean phrase. Even if poison were labeled antidote, life were called suffering or vice versa — as they indeed have been! — people of progressive intelligence should learn not to be too confused, distracted or enslaved by labeling language.  The use of the word 'freedom' is beneficial though, because it suggests the extensive potential of self-exercise, rather than an external mandate of deterministic circumstance, and secondly fits the apparent 'space' for deviation in the potential expression of any particular human.
As Nietzsche frequently did, we might consider the intentions behind both adopted labels and adopted substances to which labels refer. For instance, among conventional philosophers, some "determinists" who have decided will is thoroughly deterministic have actually found this liberating — by focusing on only some implications, such as freeing people from punishment, as opposed to other implications. This is quite possibly why they favored "determinism" in the first place. And, some who conversely advocate "free will" have found that liberating by focusing on precisely different implications, such as resistance to circumstantial conformity, as opposed to other implications such as guilt. Do they really disagree as much as they believe? 
Strangely enough — considering what most have been led to expect by other philosophy as the so-called "search for truth" — in Prometheanism the most important thing about an appreciation of philosophical principles like 'freedom of will' is not 'objective' accuracy but whether each person comes away with a profitable adjustment to understanding — one that enables further progress of life-advancement for that person. Just as it was a most healthy antidote for Nietzsche to point out the necessities in willing to those who in his day would blame man on the basis of an atomistic soul with complete, metaphysical free will, today we find ourselves more in a position of having to stress the sense in which a kind of freedom (i.e. self-control) is or can be inherent in willing to people who feel out of control or controlled. (Admittedly such freedom-control is metaphorical and descriptive, but then what language is not, and does that constitute an objection to its Promethean utility?)
As far as language goes, it serves the interest of accuracy in brief for The Promethean Manifesto to say the axiom of freedom of will implies "that you and I naturally have an independent power over ourselves, sometimes consciously, sometimes less consciously." Further, it serves the interest of mobilization toward unchaining self-expression to assert: "we must shape societal concepts and organization to reflect this."
Once created, if we are to believe Nietzsche, "essentially for the purpose of punishment" and following from the mostly unexamined result of linguistic confinement, should we not think it appropriate to employ the idea of freedom of will — now that we have inherited it — as a clean, liberating influence, in some deeper awareness of complexity and depth than humanity had in the past? Nietzsche would have enjoyed the irony.
Social Influences on Self-Expression
A person's concept of self-expression (by whatever articulation, or none at all) can liberate or limit their capabilities and experience of life according to how expansive or how limited, respectively, the concept seems to that individual. Their idea of self-expression has considerable effect in application upon their own self-expression. But further, such conceptions commonly shared can have huge consequences among groups of people.
The measuring stick of freedom in any region or nation-state remains the capacity (or rather, the perceived capacity) of its population for unfettered self-expression. If said population has an extremely limited interpretation of self-expression, the members of this group may still regard themselves as enjoying a great deal of freedom if their capacity to express themselves in their limited fashion remains maximized, and no relative comparison beyond their shared conceptual limits ever draws their attention.
An individual attempt to widen the horizons of self-expression, and the self-knowledge that such an action will probably also require, may seem somewhat insignificant in the face of an overwhelming social pressure that subtly restricts behavior. (Also see On Conformity for an examination of that pressure.) Whether you, the reader, regard self-expression as a fundamentally important facet of your life will depend not only upon your actual appreciation of what self-expression means, but also upon your definition of success. Gaining substantial wealth and/or public popularity, if these constitute at least one or two of the prevalent definitions of success, may require expressing oneself only within 'acceptable' limits. Even social-cultural or business mavericks have their limits. Such limits, when crossed, can easily result in the dismissal of promising expression or talent as anti-social, even pathological behavior. A dim awareness of this phenomenon seems to penetrate the fascination many people may display — often privately and amongst a select company — with individuals who exceed such limits, even if such figures remain 'dangerous', 'immoral' or fall into some other such 'undesirable' category in popular media. (Some varying examples drawn from both subcultures and popular culture might include: Aleister Crowley, Timothy Leary, Charles Manson, Madonna, and Eminem.)
To appreciate this does not imply blanket support for each and every mould-breaking iconoclast who receives the (not always unwanted) attention of the state and the media. Awareness of the phenomenon of fascination with such individuals however, may provide a deep insight into the capacities for self-expression inherent in the culture and lifestyles of the society in which one finds oneself. Many people, the authors included, hold a variety of individuals and/or their work(s) in very high regard, and seek to learn from them and perhaps in some ways become more like them. However, such a feeling becomes poisonous when, instead of encouraging self-expression and individual growth, it instead distracts from one's personal aspirations. This occurs when prominent people become a 'safety-valve' of sorts, living the kind of lives that others aspire to live, and effectively tapping the pressure of will within their admirers which otherwise could push those people to live for themselves. An attempt to put more life in your years can become stultified easily enough if the path seems too steep between yourself and the person you appreciate as having more to their life, if their achievements seem to belittle yours, or if a low sense of self-worth truly alienates you from these people and their behaviors.
One can look at popular 'stars' in the music or film industries and perhaps become stunted either because one feels a distinct lack of having 'what it takes' to reach such supposed dizzy heights, or because one regards these people as proof that people can 'make it' in 'the system'. Remaining satisfied with this possibility in one's life, one does not seek to change one's current state of affairs. Or in a more intimate example, some parents may say they wish to "live their life through their children." If this manifests as a desire to "provide the kind of life for their children that they never had," this may seem an entirely laudable goal. And yet, the question of motivations would seem crucial to understand the process a parent might go through in deciding their child should represent a second lease of life for them. It might serve the parent as an authentic form of self-expression, a means of great personal success and an inspiration toward feeling more alive — or it might distract from the parent's self-expression and effectively present an obstacle to their own breadth of living as they might realize it.
Both of above paths to personal stultification and many others occur daily in many individuals visibly and invisibly. But whether this occurs through the mock-worship of talented (and some not-so talented) 'public-eye' characters, or through the desire to pass the baton of one's self expression onto one's children, the problem remains similar in kind and the damage potentially devastating.
Again, this does not mean to denigrate the choice to express oneself through parenthood, or through support (and perhaps even some kinds of emulation) of an impressive human being. Overlook at your peril, however, the key word in the preceding sentence — choice. As the existentialists have pointed out, even not-choosing constitutes a choice. Effectively, even the most casual, haphazardly determined decision arrived at without reasoning amounts to a choice — an arrival at one possibility to the exclusion of others. (Concerning the issue of control over choice see Freedom of Will and Complexity above.) And yet, adequate reasoning need not have produced every adequate choice. Suitably wise choices can follow from poor reasons or limited reasoning. This describes the benevolent intentions behind many traditions and cultural practices.
It remains an important part of the human condition that to live means to make mistakes — in part, to do many things for poor reasons. Following traditions and culture  can fulfill the role of attempting to soften the blow of mistakes, hopefully preventing or at least minimizing those oft-repeated mistakes that can result in physical or psychological frailties or fatalities. And this function of historical culture and tradition in this sense provides perhaps its primary raison d'etre — along with the inescapable necessity for every human being of some acceptance of received knowledge and practices from other people. 
Tradition, then, can potentially provide the desired end product of an excellent decision-making process, effectively wise choices for individuals, without requiring the preceding stages of wise reasoning. This remains an important social function insofar as an individual enters life initially (as an infant), or a new area of life (such as learning a new trade, or living in a new environment). On those occasions of orientation, tradition provides life-affirming and life improving factors when an individual lacks the capacity for reasoning properly to avoid doing themselves some kind of harm. Of course one can choose to ignore the societal received wisdom from one's peers and parents and the symbols and institutions of one's society, and it remains important that people maintain the capacity for making such a choice.
— George Orwell, in his intended introduction to the first edition of Animal Farm
For 'the received wisdom' becomes a horrifying bane when it simply replaces reasoning and expression resulting from personal choices, even when an individual has no need of established behaviors or practices. Unfortunately this very affliction appears to have become a hereditary curse for many societies across the globe, including the societies in which the authors currently find themselves. Peer pressure and expectations can coerce one into doing only 'the done thing'. Sometimes peer pressure becomes third-party force, the ultimate restriction on behavior and expression. Even more than it creates violence, force creates fear. But fear as a phenomenon extends further than those limits.
Fear, potentially the most damaging of emotions, will usually dampen genuine unhindered self-expression. While in many cases this relates directly to a fear of direct consequences, its more common manifestation occurs in the form of an internal dialogue; the fear of what other people might think or say works insidiously, often carrying out its work with no outward sign. On many occasions, this internal process may occur almost automatically; having become a habit it remains on the periphery of consciousness and railroads a person's behavior in a very consistent and thorough manner.
Enabled by the devastating and sometimes subtle effect of fear, the sort of conformity discussed above may work hand-in-hand with diminished or blocked self-expression in an inseparable feedback pattern. If our living becomes less powerful due to diminished self-expression, we become less able to believe in the value of our own life and our potential as we determine it. We become less independent, more receptive to inherited and received behaviors instead on others' judgments and opinions for a sense of worth. This dependence constitutes a symptom of the suppression, or even decay of a strong life. Further, this phenomenon of conformity can easily become an apparent cause of that degradation too in the ways discussed above, distracting from self-expression and taking over from it, eventually forming an entrenched resistance to self-expression. We cannot in such cases separate our observation of conformity with our understanding of lacking self-expression, because they form one entire inseparable pattern of personal and social decay. Such cases defy deliberate logical analysis designed to find a remedy to address a cause; having snowballed too far they have no clear cause to address anymore. As though caught in a trap, people require ejection from the same old pattern by radical means, not mere modification of their situation. To a person or to people thus trapped by personal withering and socio-cultural decay, causing them to notice their situation may seem the most disturbingly radical of those means.
Unfortunately behaviors and motivations remain difficult to change without knowledge of them. Too often a self-suppressing behavior or belief taken from a social source will link with an internal motivation to wreak havoc on a person's ability to self-express. This means that urges and impulses that arise naturally from one's body, or naturally from one's personality can become dangerously redirected or stunted, and with or without conscious awareness, will seek alternative means of release.
Many classic dangerous instances of impulse-redirection will come to mind here, including mundane substance abuse and injurious crimes. But Prometheans and those with some Promethean interests will find particular relevance in the following problem. Sublimation of urges and impulses in the Nietzschean sense for a 'great work' probably cannot occur if one remains ignorant of their source(s) and — importantly — the course they take from originally arising to finally emerging or expressing themselves in some way, including the social influences involved. If one chooses to sublimate one's energies and divert them from their typical path, usually off course from the path of least resistance, one must do so with considered knowledge of causes and consequences. In a very particular way, focusing oneself to engage a great goal requires self-limitation (streamlining), but self-limitation without self-knowledge means self-immolation.
2. In fact there are indications Nietzsche intended his theory in a physical- or chemical- scientific sense, for all other patterns of matter and energy as well as people. Will-to-power applies remarkably well to molecular interactions as they contribute to the larger scales of people. [back]
3. By 'unnamable thing' we mean more than the problem of every word being different from its referent; we mean a referent deeper than or more complicated than any possible comprehension linked to semantic structures. Some may find this reminiscent of the problem of naming the divine in a mystical or religious tradition. For example the Hebrew tetragrammaton (YHWH or JHVH) also known as Ha-Shem, 'the name', was never meant to be spoken in mystical Jewish tradition — for speaking it committed the transgression of limiting God by defining God, or so we might reasonably theorize. Cf. "you shall not take the name of YHVH your God in vain" (Exodus 20:7). Substitutes like "adonai" or 'my lord' were assigned to the boundless and ineffable. This issue was colorfully dramatized in the movie Pi. For an unavoided naming problem and one more closely aligned to Prometheanism's pursuit of self-expression, see the Tao Te Ching in which much of the text painstakingly devotes itself to addressing potential confusions resulting from naming Tao.
4. Steiner sought to solve numerous linguistic and philosophical problems through introducing the concept of thought-into-motion. Many who struggle with philosophical problems frame them in such a way that the concepts they deal with remain static. For example, such an approach has led many to ask how Plato's forms could possibly include the 'essence' of every object each form represented. (Plato's theory conceived of 'forms' as the ultimate archetypal expression or concept of anything, from chairs to circles, where each object in a multiplicity has a singular 'ideal' from whence it derives its 'essence'.) It seems a particular prejudice of the 'Western mindset' that concepts must remain petrified. How could one possibly conceptualise an idea such as 'chairness' that would remain descriptive of all chairs? Steiner's approach to such a problem simply requires that one regard thoughts as something that can remain singular entities and yet remain in perpetual motion. Steiner used triangles as an example, pointing out that one could conceive of a triangle which has perpetually changing dimensions, changing from an equilateral triangle to an isosceles triangle and back again. In such a way one could maintain a concept inclusive of all possible combinations of the triangle and would provide a more accurate and useful concept of the meaning of triangle. Regardless the viability of "essence" in this sense (it remains but an illustration of thought-into-motion), the example should make apparent not only the usefulness of regarding ideas and concepts in this manner, but also express the limits of ink excretions and the making of sounds to truly describe anything. Interestingly enough with the advent of dynamic media via the internet, the idea of thought-into-motion at last has the opportunity to find itself expressed far more effectively. Whereas previously one might find a drawing of a triangle cast forever into one unchanging shape, instead on a web page one could place for the world to see an animated triangle in constant motion, expressing the definition of triangle in a manner far more profound and effective than three lines of dried ink! [back]
5. A criticism applicable not only to some advocates of individual freedom (libertarian and individualist anarchist), but also advocates of a 'collective freedom' such as the class freedom of syndicalist anarchism or communism. Those who subscribe to the Marxist school of thought in particular often focus solely on 'historical materialism' — the determination of one's life by material and economic circumstances and relations. (G.K. Chesterton once wryly contradicted in Orthodoxy, "If better conditions will make the poor more fit to govern themselves, why should not better conditions already make the rich more fit to govern them?") While, from the point of view of subsistence and the need for sufficient time, energy and resources to act as one wishes this remains a fundamental concern, it does not circumscribe the entirety of human experience. One not only requires the raw material circumstances to act and live freely, but must also have the mind to do so. Adrian Peacock, author of Two Hundred Pharaohs, Five Billion Slaves, once cynically noted "today’s Marxists become tomorrow’s managers," referring to this focus on material circumstances at the expense of the mental and emotional circumstances of change. [back]
6. Not disorder, but a dynamic system with sensitive dependence on initial conditions, and in this case a non-deterministic dependence. [back]
7. This is analogous to the Promethean, and to some extent, Nietzschean idea that a person of integrated strength tends towards respectful behavior. Both observations must seem similarly counterintuitive to the confirmed moralist. [back]
8. c.f. R. A. Wilson — Wilson described just this kind of uncompromising and radical ‘open-mindedness’ in his idea of the ‘multi model agnostic’. He coined this term when people started to ask him what particular ‘theory’ or — as he saw it — dogma he subscribed to. Wilson views every such construct as a ‘model’ and emphasizes the pragmatic efficaciousness of applying multiple models wherever they apply most usefully, and not allowing any one ‘model’ to wear a crown. [back]
9. This reminds us of one of the primary tasks of philosophy, properly understood: holding up each of our beliefs to examination; to identify the biases and assumptions rooted into our beliefs; to perceive the telltale reflections of our own 'projections' when we (unconsciously) interpret the sensory perceptions that feed back to us like radar waves. The Oracle at Delphi, famously referred to in the context of ancient Greek philosophy, supposedly proffered ‘know thyself’ as the singularly most important wisdom. One can only 'withdraw' oneself from perception — and hopefully obtain a clearer perspective or the world, external and internal, if one truly ‘knows thyself’ — an awareness rooted in understanding one's self-expression. [back]
10. And its projected consequences, the superficially "self-evident" will, ego, and spirit which he covers in more detail. [back]
11. Nietzsche points out the "strange family resemblance" between the philosophies of Indo-European languages such as Indian, Greek, and German in BGE 20: "Where there is affinity of languages, it cannot fail, owing to the common philosophy of grammar — I mean, owing to the unconscious domination and guidance by similar grammatical functions — that everything is prepared at the outset for a similar development and sequence of philosophical systems; just as the way seems barred against certain other possibilities of world-interpretation." There he was talking in particular of what follows from the over-developed concept of the subject, but this principle would include the possibility for 'metaphysical' blame and the derivation of guilt following from an undiluted notion if "I did" — clearly something of a historical potential in Indian and Greek societies as well as the Christian Indo-European ones; cf. The Apology of Socrates and The Mahabharata. [back]
12. Examining the emphasis here on using — and thinking of — language as a tool, as something mutable itself, rather than the supposedly objective entity many of us find ourselves led to believe, can assist us in avoiding the confusion between ‘signifier’ (language/symbol/metaphor) and that actually ‘signified’ (experience/perception/state of affairs). One can think of this confusion as the distinguishing error in modern 'Western' philosophy, an error describing several notable errors, including the confusion over cause and effect which greatly interested Nietzsche. Indeed, some may regard the angst and cognitive dissonance resulting from this as the distinguishing (or at least most prominent) factor in 'Western' society and practices. (NB however that this does not imply that the same potential problem is necessarily absent [or solved] elsewhere or in alternate traditions.) [back]
14. Henceforth this discussion only highlights those aspects of culture and tradition one might find commonly intersecting with the practice of self-expression. We recognize that the concepts of culture and tradition and their relative use (for, by the very expansive coverage of their meaning it becomes difficult to secure a precise definition of either to the satisfaction of most or all) cover a great deal of ground and we do not aim to simplify either, but rather draw the reader's attention to the relation between self-expression and cultural, or 'traditional' circumstances. [back]
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