“I will attempt to recast the concepts by which subjectivity has been understood in the terms of a philosophical tradition which is rarely used by feminists but which may dynamize such concepts and make them ontological conditions rather than moral ideals” (59).

“rethink concepts like freedom, autonomy, and subjectivity in ontological, even metaphysical, terms rather than, as has been more common over the last century, through the discourses of political philosophy and the debates between liberalism, historical materialism, and postmodernism regarding the sovereignty and rights of subjects and social groups. In doing so, I hope to provide new resources, new concepts, and new questions in reconsidering subjectivity beyond the constraints of the paradigm of recognition that have marked feminist thought for more than half a century. In elaborating the centrality of matter to any understanding of subjectivity or consciousness as free or autonomous, one needs to look outside the traditions of thought that have considered subjectivity as the realm of agency and freedom only through the attainment of reason, rights, and recognition - social, cultural, and identificatory forces outside the subject enacting its social constitution” (60).

“The distinction between freedom-from and freedom-to is to a large extent correlated with a conception of freedom that is bound up with, on the one hand, a shared existence with the other and the other's power over the subject, and, on the other, a freedom directed only to one's actions and their conditions and consequences” (61).

“Is feminist theory best served through its traditional focus on Women’s attainment of a freedom from patriarchal, racist, colonialist, heteronormative constraint? Or by exploring what the female - or feminist- subject is and is capable of making and doing? It is this broad and overarching question - one of the imponderable dilemmas facing contemporary politics well beyond feminism-that is at stake in exploring the subject's freedom through its immersion in materiality” (61).

“But rather than turning to Nietzsche and Foucault to articulate this network of connections… for they are the most obvious and explicit proponents of a positive conception of freedom, freedom as the ability to act and in acting to make oneself even as one is made by external forces … (62).

“Bergson argues that in traditional debates regarding free will and determinism, both sides share a number of problematic commitments. Both presume the separation or discontinuity of the subject from the range of available options or alternatives; the subject's stable, ongoing self-identity; a fundamental continuity between present causes and future effects…; and an atomistic separation or logical division between cause and effect. In other words, as in all oppositional or dichotomized divisions, both sides of the free will-determinism debate are problematic, and share assumptions that enable them to regard the other as their opposite. As with all oppositional structures, we need to find something that articulates what both views, in spite of their contradictions, share in common, and what exceeds their terms and functions outside their constraints” (63).

“Both libertarians and determinists share the belief that the subject is the same subject, the same entity, before and after the alternatives have been posed and one chosen. Even after choosing a particular course, the subject could review that course and either make the same choice again in precisely the same way (the determinist position) or make a different choice, even in the same circumstances (the libertarian position). For both, the choice of one of the options does not annihilate the existence of the others but leaves them intact, capable of being chosen (or not) again” (63-4).

free acts are those that spring from the subject alone (and not from any psychical state of the subject or any manipulated behavior around the subject); they not only originate in or through a subject, they express all of that subject- in other words, they are integral to who or what the subject is.”

“there is no question that the subject would or would not make the same choice again. Such a situation is impossible. The precise circumstances cannot be repeated, at the very least because the subject is not the same.”

“Psychical states… are always qualitative, and thus incapable of measurement without the imposition of an external grid. (This characteristic alone makes psychical determinism an incoherent position -if causes cannot be measured and precisely calculated, even if determinism is in principle correct, ironically it remains unable to attain its most explicit goal, prediction” (65).
“the possible is at best the retrospective projection of a real that wishes to conceive itself as eternally possible but which becomes actual only through an unpredictable labor and effort of differentiation, an epigenesis that exceeds its preconditions. It is only after a work of art, concept, formula, or act exists, is real, has had an actuality, that we can say that it must have been possible, that it was one of the available options. Its possibility can only be gleaned from its actuality, for the possible never prefigures the real, it simply accompanies it as its post facto shadow” (66).

“there are no paths to any possible action (that is why an action remains possible but not real) until the action is acted, and then the path only exists in reconstruction, 'not in actuality” (67).

“everyday life is accommodated through automatism, by a kind of reflex or habit, that free acts have their energetic and aesthetic-moral force and their recoil impact on their author or agent” (68).

Consciousness is the projection onto materiality of the possibility of a choice, a decision whose outcome is not given in advance; that is to say, it is a mode of simplifying or skeletalizing matter so that it affords us, materials on and with which to act. It is linked to the capacity for choice, for freedom. It is not tied to the emergence of reason, to the capacity for reflection, or to some inherent quality of the human. Life in its evolutionary forms expresses various degrees of freedom, correlated with the extent and range of consciousness, which is itself correlated with the various possibilities of action” (68-9).

“But the question of freedom for women, or for any oppressed social group, is never simply a question of expanding the range of available options so much as it is about transforming the quality and activity, the character, of the subjects who choose and make themselves through how and what they do. Freedom is not linked to choice but rather to autonomy, and autonomy in turn is linked to the ability to make (or refuse to make) activity (including language, that is, systems of representation and value) one's own, to integrate the activities one undertakes into one's history, one's becoming” (71).

“That is, the challenge facing feminism today is no longer only to give women a more equal place within existing social networks and relations but to enable women to partake in the creation of a future unlike the present” (73).