The limit of Free Agency

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SamBee
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The limit of Free Agency

Post by SamBee » 15 Nov 2018, 15:11

Where do you think this lies?
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

Roy
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Re: The limit of Free Agency

Post by Roy » 15 Nov 2018, 16:13

This is perhaps one of my favorite topics post FC. This to me is a twist on the "nature vs. nurture" with a side of self determination thrown in. Start with the foundational building blocks of your genetic code and your biology and/or spirit that would make you different from other babies. Then add in your circumstances, your environment, and all the inputs of your formative years that becomes hardwired over time into your worldview and how you respond to events and people around you.

Agency (in my understanding of LDS doctrine) is theoretically one's ability to overcome the limitations of nature and nurture to make choices that align with our true divine selves regardless of our mortal circumstances. I am not sure that it really exists as described here.

As an anology, suppose the combination of nature and nurture presents me with an option of Fruit Loops or Raisin Bran for cereal. I can use my agency to choose one or the other but I am not overcoming my circumstances as much as I am making choices within my circumstances.

I posit that all paths that are available to me are within my combined nature and nurture. I also posit that not all paths are available to all individuals and certainly not available to the same degree.

Where I think that the concept of agency has the most merit is in pushing against our more base insticts and appetites, the dominant current of our lives, and/or the path of least resistance in order to make different and hopefully better life choices.

An interesting question, a young Mormon man grows up in a predominant LDS area. He is approaching missionary age, most of his friends are going on missions, his parents and extended family expect for him to go, and girls he might date or be interested in dating expect him to go. Is it really agency to go on a mission. In this scenario the mission path is the path of least resistance and the dominant current of our lives. Is going with the flow a valid use of agency?

Fascinating topic!
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Minyan Man
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Re: The limit of Free Agency

Post by Minyan Man » 15 Nov 2018, 21:59

SamBee wrote:
15 Nov 2018, 15:11
Where do you think this lies?
SamBee can you give us more information?
This is a far reaching topic. I'm not sure where I would begin.
Where do you think it lies?

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dande48
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Re: The limit of Free Agency

Post by dande48 » 15 Nov 2018, 22:23

SamBee wrote:
15 Nov 2018, 15:11
Where do you think this lies?
It is limited to any area you can control, and limited out of any area you can't. I think that's the whole of it.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

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SamBee
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Re: The limit of Free Agency

Post by SamBee » 16 Nov 2018, 04:07

Minyan Man wrote:
15 Nov 2018, 21:59
SamBee wrote:
15 Nov 2018, 15:11
Where do you think this lies?
SamBee can you give us more information?
This is a far reaching topic. I'm not sure where I would begin.
Where do you think it lies?
Ah, you're doing what my English teacher used to - turning the question round!

There are certain limits which are obvious - unless I develop Indian guru type powers, you won't see me flying through the air, walking around for hours underwater or burning through metal with my eyes.

I think what I'm getting at is something must less dramatic. Some people clearly have less agency than I do - I can do a number of things a paraplegic can't. But there are people out there who can do things I can't - physically, mentally etc as well.

Then you have the whole conundrum of automatic reflex. Holding your hand above a candle is not easy - we used to do this at school. But at some point we all pull our hand away. How much of what we do is automatic? How much of it is genuinely free choice?
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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SamBee
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Re: The limit of Free Agency

Post by SamBee » 16 Nov 2018, 04:12

dande48 wrote:
15 Nov 2018, 22:23
SamBee wrote:
15 Nov 2018, 15:11
Where do you think this lies?
It is limited to any area you can control, and limited out of any area you can't. I think that's the whole of it.
This, pretty much, but there seems to be a huge gray area. Many people suffer from phobias, anxiety, tics etc. You can also see folk from the same genetic line enacting the same scenarios. In one case I unwittingly mirrored something my father did at college (long story).

Some people have better looks than others (although there is leeway for personal opinion here), some have accents which have low prestige and are hard to get rid of... Height too seems a determinant of future life.

In LDS theology, we have a whole bundle of karma based on pre-existence.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

AmyJ
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Re: The limit of Free Agency

Post by AmyJ » 16 Nov 2018, 06:15

Good thread.

1 Observation: That the illusion/perception of agency is just as important as the actual limits on our agency. This is part of what makes the teenage years more perilous - teens have an illusion or perception that they can do more than they actually can (in general) (or vice versa).

When I was a teenager, my perception was that I couldn't get a part-time job because I wouldn't be qualified. This was a challenge for me for the first job I had as well. About 6 months into my job, it dawned on me that if anything, I always had been overqualified for the positions I did not apply for and that my perception of the situation limited my options considerably.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: The limit of Free Agency

Post by Curt Sunshine » 16 Nov 2018, 11:20

I have no idea.

I try to live like I have full agency, while understanding that I don't. I also try to live with the idea that, in the end, it doesn't matter, since the Atonement /grace covers the gap, however large it is.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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dande48
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Re: The limit of Free Agency

Post by dande48 » 16 Nov 2018, 11:30

AmyJ wrote:
16 Nov 2018, 06:15
...the illusion/perception of agency is just as important as the actual limits on our agency.
Curt Sunshine wrote:
16 Nov 2018, 11:20
I try to live like I have full agency, while understanding that I don't.
Personally, I believe free agency is 100% an illusion. I don't believe it really exists. At the same time, I think it is vitally important to pretend it exists, especially within ourselves. We should take responsibility for our actions, and should hold other people accountable for their actions (though to a much lesser extent). It's necessary to act as if free agency exists, in order for society to function, even though it isn't real.

But I also think we should approach even our own past actions with the utmost charity. It's why we're told not to judge. When people do bad things, it's not because they are bad people. It's often because they were hungry, tired, stressed, or afraid.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

Curt Sunshine
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Re: The limit of Free Agency

Post by Curt Sunshine » 16 Nov 2018, 11:36

I beleive passionately in the kind of charity that sees nearly all people, if not all people, as doing the best they can in any given situation.

I believe the purpose of life is eternal progression, in whatever way means the most to each person. Agency and grace can be competing concepts, but they don't have to be. I try to hold onto both simultaneously.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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