Gravitas, Character, and the Emancipated Mind

Beyond the need to satisfy individual desire, our competence with autonomy is a developmental mandate of our nation.

June 7, 2020
Story by Arnold Siegel
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You’re unique. Still, each one of us tends to struggle with autonomy because this freedom is not permission to do anything we feel like at any time. Yes, we can individually author or design the lives we wish to live. But we’re also subject to—at the effect of—our freedom.

The good choices, decisions and judgments we are expected to make are grounded in rules, laws, principles and virtues that apply to all of us. When, however, we’re under pressure, angry, disappointed or anxious, we know how much effort it takes to discipline the emancipated mind and draw on the gravitas of character in order to play fair and abide by the rules.

In fact, when we don’t think from this emancipated space, we tend to believe that our living systems aren’t built for the self-discipline required by civilization. Anger is really hard to dissipate, isn’t it? Disappointment is hard to metabolize. Our nerves can be frazzled by the demand for principled and virtuous behavior; competition can be unnerving; and self-motivation is often a struggle.

Then there’s sitting down to carve out a plan when we don’t feel like it. In other words, we may realize that more than once we’ve set out to do something and then found ourselves unable to maintain the necessary gravitas of character expected, though it is key to achieving the plan.

Happily, in the classes I teach, students learn a paradigm-shifting philosophy that radically re-describes our autonomy. We learn that autonomy is a natural adaptation to America’s socially situated authorial behavior. Our philosophy frames the permanent ground on which to stand the autonomy to which all of us have been subjected. In short, beyond the need to satisfy individual desire, our competence with autonomy is a developmental mandate of our nation.

Our revolutionary philosophy also comprehensively addresses the unity, identity and selfhood of an autonomous subject and deconstructs the deceived ego’s belief that there’s an easier way to get what it wants. The deceived ego thinks it’s special and not subject to the mandate; as such, it skirts the laws and general principles of behaving well.

No matter where we are in our lives, we can begin plans for being the author of our life, for transforming the ground of our authorial voice, for developing its virtuous character, and for authoring the experiential character of our nature as well as our intellectual horizons. Sublime pleasure accompanies making and achieving these plans. And they need not be grandiose. Equipped with a better understanding of who you are, more focused and less anxious, you’ll find great joy and quiet happiness in these new intellectual horizons.

Arnold Siegel is the founder of Autonomy and Life and the leader of its Retreat Workshops and Advanced Classes. Visit for more information on Arnold Siegel and his works.