Archives for posts with tag: agency

What if there’s no reason, per se?

What if there are only individual reasons for each of the experiences each of us passes through?

Many of those reasons belonging to the ‘experimenters’ themselves and all reasons – even if the individuals who provide the actual causes are not aware of all the consequences, belong to us. To us, humans.

I have no way of determining whether there is any ‘supreme being’ but what I understand of this world has led me to the conclusion that this ‘aspect’ is irrelevant. For us. For those of us who are currently alive.

That supreme being, if it exists, has done nothing more than to provide a set of opportunities.
The world in which our ancestors – some 1500 generations ago, have become conscious human beings. The rest is of our own doing.

Influenced a lot by the specific circumstances in which each culture has been developed – by those having to make do in those specific circumstances, but still ultimately ours.

This ‘conclusion’ is the sole solution I had been able to come up with to the conundrum which opposes the notions of ‘free will’ and karma/fate/you name it.

Driven by hunger, trained by habit and enhanced by hope.

That’s how we, humans – a.k.a. conscious animals – operate.

Hunger must be satisfied.
Animals do it instinctively. They can be trained, some of them, only that training is based solely on memory and reward. Their individual contribution to the end result is small.

Humans do it conscientiously. As in ‘on purpose’. They identify first the available food sources – according to their training, rank them – according to their acquired tastes and to the relative ease with which food can be obtained from each of them, and proceed to feed themselves only after all these steps had been performed. However perfunctorily.
It is easy to notice that here individuals have a lot more lee-way. Their contributions to the process can be substantial.

In all of those three phases. And beyond.

When choosing.

When ‘training’ others how to choose.

And when determining that we’ve had enough. That time is ripe to let others feed themselves.

Why are all these people fleeing? From their own country?
Because the Taliban have arrived?

Why had the 300 000 strong, and well equipped, Afghan Army crumbled when left alone to face the 75 000 strong Taliban insurgency?
Because the Afghan government was corrupt? And because “All the major countries – probably except India – in the region had come to terms with the Taliban government.”?

What made these youngsters – very much similar to those above, to choose the Taliban side of the conflict?
And what made the Taliban ultimately more successful than the ‘democratically elected’ Afghan Government?
The Americans deciding it was time for the Afghan People to stand on their own two feet?

As I said at the beginning of the post, we, humans, have a lot more lee-way than the rest of the animals.
None of us is entirely free but each of us has some agency. Some power to influence the destiny of other people.
When exercising that power we’re all influenced by our previously received conditioning and by the present circumstances.
When pressed by ‘urgent considerations’ very few of us remain aware of the fact that present day decisions set the scene for what’s going to happen tomorrow.
When pressed by what we consider to be ‘urgent’ we forget about ‘primum non nocere’.
When caving in to urgency we forget that we are the ones going to live with the consequences of our present decisions.

The Afghans flee their country because they have lost hope.
The Afghan soldiers have caved in because they have lost hope.
The Afghans who have joined the Taliban have done that because they felt there was no other hope.

Who will have to make do in these circumstances?
When are we going to take responsibility for our own fate?
When are we going to start building our own hopes?

Bearing in mind that we have only one Earth at our disposal?
And that if we play our cards right, the sky is the only limit?

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One of the hardest decisions an agent gets to make is to choose between

and

Otherwise put, are we to allow evolution to proceed?

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‘Don’t mend it if it’s not broken’ makes perfect sense for something which already exists. And works ‘good enough for us’.

But when you get to make something a second time? Or even the one million-th time?

What keeps you from ‘experimenting’?
If the expected marginal benefits are greater than the potential marginal costs, of course!

“A person may choose to have an abortion until a fetus becomes viable, based on the right to privacy contained in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

This was how the United States’ Supreme Court was reading the US Constitution in 1973.

Pro-lifers oppose this view. Their main argument being that life is sacred and needs to be protected. Period. For them, abortion equals infanticide. Plain murder.

What we have here is a clash of absolutes.
The absolute right to life and the absolute right to dispose of your own body.

The United States Supreme Court has solved the conundrum by setting a time frame. “until the fetus becomes viable”.
Pro-lifers propose another solution: “make abortion and attempted abortion felony offenses except in cases where abortion is necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother“. (Alabama’s HB314/2019)

Let’s see where lie the differences between Pro-Choice and Pro-Life.

Pro-Choice say that agency must be reserved for those who 1. are alive and 2. are directly implied in the matter.
Pro-Life extend the definition of ‘alive’ to cover everything they consider to be ‘living matter’ and thus take the final decision from those who are directly implied into the mater. And give it to those who have to decide the seriousness of the “health risk to the unborn child’s mother”.

In both cases the absolute becomes relative.
In the first case, the absolute becomes relative to the person directly involved in the matter.
In the second case, the absolute becomes relative to those powerful enough to insert themselves, and others, into the equation.

And both sides clamor they are acting in the name of individual liberty…

American political doctrine – rather voluntaristic if you ask me, despite it being already more that 200 years old – maintains that ‘separation of powers’ means that the three powers that need to be kept in balance – by carefully coding in the Constitution the role each of them has to perform – are the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary.

This arrangement proved to be resilient enough, otherwise it wouldn’t have survived for so long, despite it depending heavily on each of the teams involved performing their jobs with due diligence.

Watching a documentary about the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II – I just realized she’s been around for so long that the steamship that was christened in her honor, QE II, is already retired from service – I started to think that maybe things are a little different.

Farewell to the Forth

Sometimes after the ‘Recognition’, more precisely when she briefly curtsied in front of her subjects, it dawned on me that maybe those powers that need to balance themselves in order for the society as a whole to operate smoothly are the ever changing reality, tradition and will to change. Represented, of course, by the People, the Church and the Monarch.

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