Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Philosophical Challenge from China$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Brian Bruya

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262028431

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262028431.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM MIT PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mitpress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The MIT Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MITSO for personal use.date: 22 September 2021

Action without Agency and Natural Human Action

Action without Agency and Natural Human Action

Resolving a Double Paradox

Chapter:
(p.339) 13 Action without Agency and Natural Human Action
Source:
The Philosophical Challenge from China
Author(s):

Brian Bruya

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262028431.003.0013

In the philosophy of action, it is generally understood that action presupposes an agent performing or guiding the action. Action is also generally understood as distinct from the kind of motion that happens in nature. Together these common perspectives on action rule out both action without agency and natural action. And yet, there are times when action can seem qualitatively both natural and lacking a sense of agency. Recently, David Velleman, referring to work by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Zhuangzi, has considered the possibility of agency without agency. In this chapter, I build on Velleman’s work and posit the notion of self-organization (which in the natural sciences serves as the basis for many familiar kinds of motion in nature) to also serve as the basis for human behavior. If action is a variety of behavior, conceiving of human behavior as fundamentally an instance of self-organization unifies human action with nature from the beginning and allows us to conceptualize the possibility of human action without presupposing the necessity of agency. I go on to entertain three types of human behavior in which the sense of agency is significantly absent and which progressively qualify as action.

Keywords:   self-organization, action, David Velleman, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Zhuangzi, natural action, agency, action without agency, flow, plural self

MIT Press Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.