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Genetics, Environment, and...?

Lynn's picture

 A recurring theme that I have observed in the last few class meetings is the idea of agency. I freely admit to craving agency as much as the next person; I'm uncomfortable with the notion that my life - my very existence - is either predetermined or simply out of my hands. I have been raised to take responsibility for my actions, and cannot fathom that such responsibility might never have been mine in the first place. No, I believe that we have agency.

But how? We have identified two factors that interact in our lives: our bodies (genetics, hormones, etc.) and our environment. As far as we can tell, these two things encompass the entirety of our human existence. Yet we have also argued that, when interpreted a certain way, these things indicate a lack of agency rather than any true control over our world. Leaving aside questions of the definition of "self" - my E-Sem tried, and failed, to define the term concretely - what are we looking for? What else could there be but genetics and environment? Am I not a function of what is innately "me" - my mind, my body - and what has been inflicted on me by my environment? I cannot see what else could exist in a person, yet we seem to be insisting that something does. 

Could we, perhaps, be wondering about the existence of souls? 


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