Heteronomy refers to the dependence and submission of an individual whose behavior is under the control of a third person or external agent. Consequently, heteronomy is the opposite of autonomy.
The word heteronomy derives from the Greek heteros, which means “other” and, nomos that expresses “law.”
This term is used in the area of ethical philosophy in order to differentiate those people who develop their lives under a set of rules that have been imposed on them and that comply, in many cases, against their will, but in order of being accepted or integrating a social group.
This term is attributed to the philosopher Immanuel Kant, who dedicated himself to researching the will of the people and segmenting them into two branches: reason (autonomy) and inclination (heteronomy).
In this way, Kant sought to understand the behavior of individuals who follow the norms, laws and customs that characterize and govern the various societies to which they belong, which, according to him, are individuals who lose their freedom and independence because their behavior does not It follows its own reason but an external will.
Heteronomy and autonomy
In general, people adopt a submissive posture to be able to follow and comply, as far as possible, with standardized life models. However, breaking those rules to express your will is not as easy as it may seem and, if you do, you would be talking about autonomy.
Therefore, when referring to heteronomy, an action that is carried out is indicated, not by its own will, but through an external influence. This occurs when a person makes a decision that corresponds to an individual, consequently they are decisions intervened by others.
However, autonomy indicates the ability of individuals to make their own decisions or impose a set of rules independently and without the influence of others. Autonomy implies a process of maturation and integral individual development.
Examples of heteronomy
There are different examples of heteronomy, because it is something that we humans experience from an early age.
A very common example is when children are playing and having fun in their independence and free imagination until, from one moment to another, the representative gives an order or scolds him because he must comply with some regulations such as not making noise, or disorder or get dirty.
At that moment the child must fulfill the call of attention and fulfill what has been requested, that is, act from the position of heteronomy and submission.
Another common example is when a group of people are aware of the latest fashion trends and do their best to follow them and live and express themselves according to the proposed styles.
Also, those cases in which people lead a lifestyle that is not precisely the one they like best fit into the examples of heteronomy, but they do so in order to achieve social recognition and follow the imposed models that are considered ethically, politically and religiously correct.