In the book Total Recall, Author and Biographer, Arnold Schwarzenegger, talks about the changes he has achieved in his life as stemming from the knowledge that he was able to depend on himself. In light of the media controversy surrounding Mr. Schwarzenegger today, I found myself questioning how self-dependency influences change, and righteousness was my finding.
George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s view of righteousness is founded in his concept of the free will, where only the free will can realize itself in the complicated social context of property rights and relations, contracts, moral commitments, family life, the economy, the legal system, and the polity. Hegel advocated that a person is not truly free unless he is a participant in all of these different aspects of the life of the state. Therefore Hegel's righteousness was about the power of human determinism to assert itself within the cognitive and cultural behaviours of human societies.
So how did young Arnold assert himself within the human society he was born into? He exercised his righteous muscle with a determination to free his will over his environment and in so doing, Arnold built-in his desire for change and to change.
Utilising Hegel’s point of view, righteous thinking could be about the cultural and accepted norms of the person seeking to do right: But what about the rights of the person as opposed to the rights of society? What justifies the righteous thinking of an individual?
Richard Sharvy, author of Who's To Say What's Right Or Wrong? argues that people who have PhD’s in philosophy have the right to say what is right and he puts it this way:
“You (the individual) have a right to the free exercise of life; you have a right not to be actively deprived of your life without substantial justification; you may use force to continue the free exercise of your life. But you just have no such thing as a right to life.”
So, utilising Sharvy's point of view, if an individual doesn't have a right to life, but does have a right to the free exercise of their life, you could safely determine that, despite the cultural norms of your environment, you ultimately have the ‘right’ to change your life as you deem fit, in as much as others have the ‘right’ to change your life as they deem fit. But, what if you argue that this righteousness is wrong because this does not appear right to you, and you give your reasons for this view as matter of fact?
The legal system is full of people who deal in "matters of fact" because what is right for one person is not always right for another and until the advocated right is agreed upon and legitimized, it remains an uncommon law. Therefore, when depending upon yourself to do what appears right, is something outside of yourself making the decision about the righteousness to change or is it something inside of yourself or both?
My money is on both, for without an agreement from the outside world, the inside verdict gains no actionable validity. Yet, there is a bit of bull dozing that has to go on for an ambitious sense of righteousness to be accepted by others, and in Schwarzenegger's world that bull dozing was his ability to win physically showy competitions.
So is change about exercising the free will of righteous thinking through the acceptance of others, or through the acceptance of the self? Again, I think it needs both to shine.
The answer, in accordance to Sharvy (who was a righteous thinker himself), lies in the personal philosophy of the individual. Whereas in the eyes of Hegel, it rested with the agreements of the influential free wills of society. In both views, change required an agreement from the will of the self as well as from the will of other individuals. Without agreement change got stuck, as an ideal, unable to move forward because of its lack of muscle.
In Total Recall, Schwarzenegger implied free will as being secure in the knowledge of self-dependence.
Hegel would probably argue that the dependence of Schwarzenegger, was not that of a free will, but that of a will “conditioned” by the cultural influences of the societies he moved in. Sharvy might question dependent thinking with who, or more to the point what, has the right to piety.
Schwarzenegger has historically demonstrated his ability to secure favourable responses to change in accordance to his ambitions. In this way, he truly is a fine showman and a determined individual who has an enormous thirst for free will and agreements favouring his point of view. The right changes in his life story clearly support the complexity of change as needing agreements containing issues of piety.
Plato, in his Euthyphro, defined piety as prosecuting those who actually do wrong, which implies that the free will of the individual is also influenced by the free will of other individuals when enacting their righteousness to change.
What this means is that when considering any context of change, no matter how big or small, the rights of change become internally or politically vexing ones. Particularly when issues of human dependency are at stake.
Arnold recalls, that as a teenager he discovered a knowing that could depend on himself.
The power of his awareness struck me as the beginning of his journey into self-dependency, though the realisation that he had the power to accept or change, not only his physical shape, but his language, his culture and the influences of others upon his life. In this way, the greatest influence upon his life has been himself. Change was his spiritual journey and interestingly enough, it is also yours and mine because human change is about exercising the free will of personal righteousness. Whether or not the world will agree with Arnold's determinations about right and wrong, when it comes to making changes, is another matter, for even Arnold acknowledges that he did not change alone. He had role models and mentors and friends and lovers who helped him, which leads me to my determination about change as being dependent upon the free will of those exercising the changes, and that means all individuals involved in the sphere of influencing the desired change.
Quite simply, while the ideal of change may be your own, the execution of change is a shared experience, and it is in the sharing of ambition that, dependence upon the self shifts into a dependence on others through the dependencies of others. In this inter-dependent way, a change decision requires freedom from self-righteousness because without a shifting of the change ideal, from all for one into one for all, the ideal might be politically construed as not so much righteous but wrong. © Chris Tyne, 2012