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SouthernMo

The Nature of Agency

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Basis for my question: Humans are 100% the product of an individual’s genetics + environment.  Neither of which an individual has control over.

So if we are “programmed” by things we can’t control (our genetics and environment), then what is the basis of our ability to choose?  Do humans truly make our own choices, or are we “coded” to make choices based on the genetics and environment that form us?

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I disagree with your premise. An individual does have control of his environment, as least to some extent. Diet is part of environment. Who one associates with is part of environment and can be changed. Where one lives is changeable. Also, I believe we are souls with a spiritual portion that may have eons of experience and growth. You are probably correct when it comes to genetics but science is playing around with that part now too.

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5 minutes ago, strappinglad said:

I disagree with your premise. An individual does have control of his environment, as least to some extent. Diet is part of environment. Who one associates with is part of environment and can be changed. Where one lives is changeable. Also, I believe we are souls with a spiritual portion that may have eons of experience and growth. You are probably correct when it comes to genetics but science is playing around with that part now too.

Yes - you can control your environment. But why would one “choose” to change one’s environment?  That programming had to have come from somewhere. Someone taught you to change your environment because you “wanted” a different environment.  Where did they “want” come from?

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10 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

I think spirit has a place and then of course accident (although maybe you include that in environment).

Spirit has no basis in any science (as far as I am aware). But maybe that’s it - our spirit is the only true agent we have, and our faith in a spirit is important because it bolsters our sense of agency.

And yes - accidents I include in one’s environment.

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There is no way to prove it is either genetics or environment that contributes to our personality/programming or whatever you want to call the "being" we are, even if one can't prove there is a spirit or some other inherent, but nongenetic contribution to our nature.  So I am not really seeing how this conversation even gets off the ground without saying "assuming this premise is true..." and that more or less destroys the need for a discussion about agency, imo, as it boils down to "if our nature is determined by genetics/biology and environment solely, there is no real agency; but if there is another internal component there may be agency, but we can't prove either".

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23 minutes ago, Calm said:

There is no way to prove it is either genetics or environment that contributes to our personality/programming or whatever you want to call the "being" we are, even if one can't prove there is a spirit or some other inherent, but nongenetic contribution to our nature.  So I am not really seeing how this conversation even gets off the ground without saying "assuming this premise is true..." and that more or less destroys the need for a discussion about agency, imo, as it boils down to "if our nature is determined by genetics/biology and environment solely, there is no real agency; but if there is another internal component there may be agency, but we can't prove either".

Agreed about the importance of my premise - hence why I stated it explicitly at the opening statement.

But, I’m curious - if you don’t believe that genetics and environment don’t form our personality, then what do you think does?

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1 hour ago, SouthernMo said:

Basis for my question: Humans are 100% the product of an individual’s genetics + environment.  Neither of which an individual has control over.

So if we are “programmed” by things we can’t control (our genetics and environment), then what is the basis of our ability to choose?  Do humans truly make our own choices, or are we “coded” to make choices based on the genetics and environment that form us?

Based upon that premise, why wouldn't the outcomes of identical twin brothers or sisters raised together be exactly the same?

Glenn

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14 minutes ago, SouthernMo said:

Agreed about the importance of my premise - hence why I stated it explicitly at the opening statement.

But, I’m curious - if you don’t believe that genetics and environment don’t form our personality, then what do you think does?

I do believe that genetics and environment contribute a great deal to our personality, but I also believe they are layered onto/integrated with an eternal being (call it mind/intelligence/whatever linked with spirit whatever that is) rather than being the origin of the creature we are.  I also believe that much of that eternal being is dormant, allowing for mortality to have an impact in us as otherwise the eternities old being that we are would probably respond to birth, life, death as a day long adventure that one might have a few souvenirs from (like a body) but otherwise life goes on like it did previously to the experience.  Once we die and go through whatever process is required to complete mortal experience, I believe our eternal nature will fully wake up and then digest our own mortal experiences and probably the rest of humanity (possible through the oneness with Christ) in part to figure out what is most important to it and therefore what path it wants to take for its next set of eternities.

Edited by Calm
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11 minutes ago, Glenn101 said:

Based upon that premise, why wouldn't the outcomes of identical twin brothers or sisters raised together be exactly the same?

Glenn

Two responses:

Being raised the same does not mean the same environment. There are similarities, but they are not the same.

Second: what you’re hitting on - the BIG difference in choices made from seemingly small differences in environment - is yet unexplained by science, or even philosophically unless an x-factor (spirit/soul) is introduced.

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8 hours ago, SouthernMo said:

Basis for my question: Humans are 100% the product of an individual’s genetics + environment.  Neither of which an individual has control over.

So if we are “programmed” by things we can’t control (our genetics and environment), then what is the basis of our ability to choose?  Do humans truly make our own choices, or are we “coded” to make choices based on the genetics and environment that form us?

From D&C 93, a few principles:

Man is fundamentally spirit and is most fully developed when inseparably connected with element (verse 33). Spirit is fundamentally intelligence (the light of truth), which is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, and this defines existence (verses 29-30). The reception of light, or that which God places with him, is the agency of man (verse 31) and culminates in a fulness of glory (verse 36).

So it would seem that agency is a spiritual principle and an inherent property of human intelligence. God gives us agency by placing more light in our sphere for us to receive and incorporate, thus propelling our eternal progress as we create opportunities for more light to be given and received under progressively more complex conditions.

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1 hour ago, CV75 said:

From D&C 93, a few principles:

Man is fundamentally spirit and is most fully developed when inseparably connected with element (verse 33). Spirit is fundamentally intelligence (the light of truth), which is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, and this defines existence (verses 29-30). The reception of light, or that which God places with him, is the agency of man (verse 31) and culminates in a fulness of glory (verse 36).

So it would seem that agency is a spiritual principle and an inherent property of human intelligence. God gives us agency by placing more light in our sphere for us to receive and incorporate, thus propelling our eternal progress as we create opportunities for more light to be given and received under progressively more complex conditions.

Thanks for sharing.

Do our genetics and environment shape our ability to choose? Or, is our spirit “independent” enough that environment does not affect it?

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3 minutes ago, SouthernMo said:

Thanks for sharing.

Do our genetics and environment shape our ability to choose? Or, is our spirit “independent” enough that environment does not affect it?

I think genetics and environment (all natural laws for that matter) contribute to our options to choose and to enact those choices in mortality. Similarly, our developmental level. I think our ability to choose in mortality continues as part of our spirit, but its expression can be expanded and contracted by innumerable factors, some which we have control over and some we do not.

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9 hours ago, SouthernMo said:

Basis for my question: Humans are 100% the product of an individual’s genetics + environment.  Neither of which an individual has control over.

So if we are “programmed” by things we can’t control (our genetics and environment), then what is the basis of our ability to choose?  Do humans truly make our own choices, or are we “coded” to make choices based on the genetics and environment that form us?

Did you choose to make this post?  Or was it destined by your genetics and environment? 

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I have had much occasion to ponder agency in that in my lifetime I have felt very bound and without choice.  On the other hand, by long slow climb out of the abyss (where I had no or little choice) was done by applying greater and greater agency (and grace).  So I find it a bit of a paradox.  Anyway, here are some thoughts that represent how far I've gotten on this matter.

One.  Agency isn't about having a set of options.  There is only one choice in agency--that is whether to be an agent of God (life and liberty) or an agent of death/bloodshed and captivity.  This agency, this one choice, can be applied in any situation even of limited options.  However, I grant that many people don't know that they have even this choice, due to their environment.

Two.  I do think that OPTIONS and choices are best understood in an eternal perspective.  I am convinced that we designed our own earth life before coming here and, in fact, continue to do so in real time.  And will learn from it, in the manner Calm mentioned, good bad or ugly, we will get the lessons from it.

Three.  So as far as that goes, all of our choice making and our experience will be turned to our good in the eternities.  Thus, making choices is not all about 'getting it right' and 'getting a star of approval for being good boys and girls'.

Four.  I absolutely know for myself by experience, that there are many choices that a person does not have, due to genetics and environment.  And first of all, they have to even know they have a choice, and most people wander the earth not even knowing that.  I have come to understand that we have to prepare to be able to make some kinds of choices.  But of course that preparation is also effected by a journey of choices.  There is no moment in time and eternity devoid of choice and agency.  I remember watching Feature Films for Families Rigoletto and a mother remarked compassionately about a poor man that was angry, that poverty changed people and caused them to not be who they really are.  So that is a factor.  On the other hand, we all know people or stories who have overcome traumatic pasts and circumstances and have risen above them.  It's a paradox.

Five.  This earth life is a practicum in agency.  It's supposed to be limiting and hazardous.

Six.  The judgment is not something that happens later.  The judgment is now and at all times.  The only judgment is being who you are (I refer you to the Dragon Scroll in Kung Fu Panda).  BUT we are in time, not eternity, right now, so all the judgment isn't revealed yet.  And in eternity, the judgment will be restoration, not loss.

9 hours ago, Glenn101 said:

Based upon that premise, why wouldn't the outcomes of identical twin brothers or sisters raised together be exactly the same?

Glenn

Quite often they are, fascinatingly.

9 hours ago, Calm said:

I do believe that genetics and environment contribute a great deal to our personality, but I also believe they are layered onto/integrated with an eternal being (call it mind/intelligence/whatever linked with spirit whatever that is) rather than being the origin of the creature we are.  I also believe that much of that eternal being is dormant, allowing for mortality to have an impact in us as otherwise the eternities old being that we are would probably respond to birth, life, death as a day long adventure that one might have a few souvenirs from (like a body) but otherwise life goes on like it did previously to the experience.  Once we die and go through whatever process is required to complete mortal experience, I believe our eternal nature will fully wake up and then digest our own mortal experiences and probably the rest of humanity (possible through the oneness with Christ) in part to figure out what is most important to it and therefore what path it wants to take for its next set of eternities.

Beautiful.

2 hours ago, CV75 said:

From D&C 93, a few principles:

Man is fundamentally spirit and is most fully developed when inseparably connected with element (verse 33). Spirit is fundamentally intelligence (the light of truth), which is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, and this defines existence (verses 29-30). The reception of light, or that which God places with him, is the agency of man (verse 31) and culminates in a fulness of glory (verse 36).

So it would seem that agency is a spiritual principle and an inherent property of human intelligence. God gives us agency by placing more light in our sphere for us to receive and incorporate, thus propelling our eternal progress as we create opportunities for more light to be given and received under progressively more complex conditions.

Beautiful.

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30 minutes ago, ksfisher said:

Did you choose to make this post?  Or was it destined by your genetics and environment? 

It’s valid question you ask. I tend to think more of the latter (destined).

But, there is a factor in our choices that I think is unexplained - our spirit/soul. But, I want that to be true.

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I have often wondered if genetics plays a part in how easily one becomes converted to the gospel and stays with it. 
Does their genetic make-up some how make it easier to accept what they learn and stick with it it no matter what evidence is presented to them  that would be contrary to what they have learned?
Do others with a different genetic make-up find it harder to accept what they are taught and are more easily prone to abandon it if contrary evidence is presented to them? 

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24 minutes ago, JAHS said:

Do others with a different genetic make-up find it harder to accept what they are taught and are more easily prone to abandon it if contrary evidence is presented to them?

1 Corinthians teaches that faith is a gift. Clearly, there is a propensity for us all to have varying degrees of difficulty believing things.

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3 hours ago, JAHS said:

I have often wondered if genetics plays a part in how easily one becomes converted to the gospel and stays with it. 
Does their genetic make-up some how make it easier to accept what they learn and stick with it it no matter what evidence is presented to them  that would be contrary to what they have learned?
Do others with a different genetic make-up find it harder to accept what they are taught and are more easily prone to abandon it if contrary evidence is presented to them? 

This kind of gets into some interpretations of "the blood of Israel." But I think the variables are much more involved than genetic, though that could be one factor. For example, traditions about who-makes-babies-with who impacts both genetics and beliefs, and location, location, location of individuals and peoples also (and each impacting the other).

A scripture I often refer to is Acts 17:26-31: "[God] hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead."

Israel or not, we are of one blood, living in mortality under varying conditions of timing and location as well as genetics. But we all have a conscience (the light of Christ and the light mentioned in D&C 93 which i mentioned above) wherewith we "haply feel" after the Lord given these circumstances. We are His children and that is everyone's common heritage, with a common promise to be fulfilled when we have the opportunity to repent, which is largely determined by the dispensation we have access to, and which will occur before our appointed day of judgement.

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On 12/30/2018 at 10:55 PM, SouthernMo said:

Basis for my question: Humans are 100% the product of an individual’s genetics + environment.  Neither of which an individual has control over.

So if we are “programmed” by things we can’t control (our genetics and environment), then what is the basis of our ability to choose?  Do humans truly make our own choices, or are we “coded” to make choices based on the genetics and environment that form us?

If we are not coeternal with God (given our eternal spark of existence), then of course all our choices are mechanical (if complex) results of our genetic heritage and our environment.  If the mechanical view is true, we would still have the fictional impression  of making our own choices.   Indeed, even if we have the eternal spark of intelligence, we will still be largely reactive rather that initiative in all our doings.  Only a God could have truly free choice in all respects; for choice requires light and knowledge, and most of us have very little of that anyhow.

Quantum mechanics may modify these conclusions, but not by much.                                                                                         

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A lot of delusions about free will in this thread. ;) 

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On 12/31/2018 at 2:20 AM, SouthernMo said:

Two responses:

Being raised the same does not mean the same environment. There are similarities, but they are not the same.

Second: what you’re hitting on - the BIG difference in choices made from seemingly small differences in environment - is yet unexplained by science, or even philosophically unless an x-factor (spirit/soul) is introduced.

I am talking about the genetic aspect to which you made a reference. Often identical twins do make very similar choices, but then there are others who take decidedly different paths, especially after they leave the home environment.

Glenn

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On 1/1/2019 at 1:01 PM, The Nehor said:

A lot of delusions about free will in this thread. ;) 

Well don't keep it a secret.

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