I’ve wanted to talk about the topic of determinism and astrology. In the Divine Comedy these subjects are brought up quite frequently. Determinism and free will are not new subjects. Human beings have been talking about this for thousands of years.
Astrology is determinism disguised in cosmic language. Many who Dante meets in Inferno talk about following “your own star”. As though when you are born, what zodiacal constellation is prominent in the sky has an effect on your outcome in life and personality. As though we are bound to an external force or our personality and cannot choose.
We are responsible for our actions. Of course we may have predilections to want to choose to do certain things knowing they are good for us or harmful to us or others. In case you are wondering, I am a Pisces. I have many “traits” of the sign. But this doesn’t determine how I am going to live my life and what I am going to choose. Walker Percy has a wonderful insight with psychology and astrology. He gives the example of someone reading all the horoscopes and agreeing that each says something about him, all have a piece of his personality. The conclusion is that astrology knows nothing of the human being, except generalizations.
These descriptions do not determine or flesh out one person. Psychology are well educated estimations of human personality and traits, studied through behavior and actions, beginning with a hypothesis and proving that the theory is true. There is merit to psychology. But again, this does not determine. The reality is that we do good things and we do bad things. Why we do it is interesting. But psychology is not the cure all.
To add to this, I am also an INFP, but I am not defined by this definition. I have certain tendencies which are great and others that are very harmful. If I am going to live a “healthy” life, I have to work on my deficiencies, so I am not always harming myself or others. I have a predilection toward laziness, but this doesn’t determine that I will always be lazy. But if I am not interested in something, I won’t enjoy it, but I don’t always want to be a jerk and not do things that I don’t enjoy, though someone else might enjoy it.
We have a will and an intellect. Psychology helps us understand why we may will one thing rather than the other. But in the end, we know better. We have a choice and we can act on it. Consequences are a reality. We can continue on or we can turn back. (Sorry, a slight tangent).
Human beings are complex. Simple in some areas. But mostly complex. Studies in personality and why we do what we do is extensive and gives us great insight into part of who someone is. But human beings are also full of surprises.
We all have a will. That is free. We can choose blindly. Or we can choose with guidance and direction. Or from external compulsion. The reality is that our choices affect so many things. Great good. Great evil. Great harm. Help. On and on.
The miracle in all of this chaotic human choice is God’s grace. He is interweaved through the mess we make. All things brought to a just conclusion. Not by humans judgment, but God’s, in the end.