The Illusion of Agency as a Mark of Ultimacy

Hugh Nicholson 1
  • 1 Loyola University Chicago,, Chicago, United States of America


This essay proposes that action unaccompanied by the usual feeling of conscious agency constitutes a “mark of ultimacy.” Characteristically religious statements of “agentless action” find support in social psychological and cognitive scientific research that calls into question the intuitive belief that conscious thought causes action. An awareness of the limits of our powers of will lies at the the core of those limit experiences that provide the context for the meaningfulness of religious language.

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Open Theology is an international Open Access, peer-reviewed academic journal that welcomes contributions written in English addressing religion in its various forms and aspects: historical, theological, sociological, psychological, and other.