Freedom Through Deliberation?

All sincere deliberation cumulatively contributes to opening our minds.

Kant did not discuss Aristotle directly, but he clearly wanted to assert a stronger notion of freedom than emerges just from Aristotle’s distinction of willing from unwilling actions. This relative kind of voluntariness was not enough to ground the kind of freedom Kant was after. For Kant, as long as we are under the sway of our own internal impulses, we are not free, so a lack of external compulsion is not sufficient. But that is not the end of the matter.

“Will” for Kant turned out to be a rational, positively developed alternative to impulse, grounded in a concept (i.e., thoughtful interpretation) of law. Aristotle’s version of thoughtful interpretation in this context is deliberation. It makes sense that active deliberation would positively, incrementally contribute to deautomatizing our tendency to act or respond impulsively. So, I think the closest analogue for what Kant would call true freedom in Aristotle is action on the basis of deliberation. Everything Aristotle says about what is in effect acquired emotional intelligence is also relevant to these Kantian considerations. (See also Beauty, Deautomatization.)