Revealing the Means to Living an Original, Creative and Examined Life

Arnold Siegel
5 min readOct 22, 2019
Image by the artist Manolo Valdés

Living the examined life is not so easy. To be an original, to create a life of your own design, to parse, weigh and scale where and how you can best contribute is not so easy. To write your own marching orders, to look and ponder, to surmise and re-evaluate is not so easy. Whether you’ve always had in mind this intention — and even see it as an obligation or, startled, realized that too much of your life “just happened,” there’s much to think about, plan for and do.

Think about it. When you choose to create a life of your own design, you must accommodate all those commitments already undertaken. There’s the normal pressure of what’s expected of you, of course, the standard exterior clash of wills with those who have claims upon you or those upon whom you make claim. What do you owe those who contribute to your support? And what do you owe those who depend on you? And then there are, of course, the ever-vigilant conventions and rules that apply to you and everyone else, no matter what.

But you must also come to grips with all the conflicting data that surrounds the examined life. How do you honestly know your own mind and the calls upon it? Can it really “stand back” and examine itself?

Part of the problem is that we see things as WE are, not as THEY are.

This recognition is key to success with creating a life of our own design. Why? Because the ability to envision, evaluate, assess, project and correct, etc., is remarkably and extensively determined by our subjectivity. Let me tell you what I mean.

Are our eyes impartial? No. And we don’t sense sound and taste, for example, with impartial ears and tongues. Are our minds impartial? No. We don’t sense phenomena objectively. Sensing is a feature of our subjectivity, not an objective process.

Our grasp of what’s going on is a comprehension based chiefly on the automatic, reflexive grab of biology, education, conditioning, experience, unfriendly or friendly persuasion and the intoxicating mickeys life slips us. We were inserted, fitted, hammered and seduced into the mix of things that exist interior or exterior to us. And this comprehension becomes a significant piece of the mind’s “I” with which we interpret and engage life.

Arnold Siegel

Philosopher, Contemporary American thinker, Founder of Autonomy and Life