The fabric of agency: Navigating human potentialities through introspection
GB : SAGE Publications
Biology and evolution, conflict, neuroscience, introspection, security, quantum theory
Building on new trends in neuroscience and philosophy of mind, this article provides a roadmap for incorporating consciousness into social research. Drawing upon Alexander Wendt’s Quantum Mind and Social Science, it is argued that one of the greatest obstacles encountered by social research when approaching social reality is that it provides neither an epistemological nor an ontological place for consciousness. The present article intends to address that problem by introducing a sophisticated method of guided introspection that has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of agency. This method, whose epistemological situation is isomorphic to that of quantum physics, enables researchers to gain insight into the structures of decisionmaking processes. Such an endeavor is extremely relevant for security studies: the consideration of consciousness could lead to a radical new understanding of the dynamics of conflict, cooperation, strategic defense, political polarization, radicalization, violent extremism, and terrorism, as well as of the processes of social transformation required to cope with climate change. Moreover, bringing consciousness into social research could foster ongoing biological, evolutionary, and neuroscientific approaches to international relations. Thus, through the introduction of the ‘phenomenal consciousness’ of actors, it is shown how we can dive into the fountainhead of human agency and map mental processes.