This is one of the worst threads I've ever seen. You guys are repeating yourselves over and over again...
I want to drag your attention to one thing, namely you are approaching the question from different points-of-view in relation to time (past, present, future), which imho is the reason for this seemingly endless ongoing discussion.
I only want to pick out Tilt's and Alex' posts to point out what I mean, because as I see it they represent the two different views from where most of the paticipants are approaching the issue. Both of you are right within their own appropriate point of view in relation to time, but wrong within the other if the other point of view will
Alex' understanding on choice seems to be this:
Alex wrote:(...)Where is there any possibility for any other choice to occur, other than the choice that was conditioned to occur? In other words, the choice that occurs is the only possible choice that could ever occur given those specific internal/external conditions.
If there are causes for X to occur, X occurs, never Y.
If there are causes for Y to occur, Y occurs, never X.
The phrase: "When this is, that is... With the arising of this, that arises... With ignorance as conditions, formations..." and so on, is often quoted by Alex to support his view. For him everything is completely conditioned and therefore choice according to his understanding can only be fully conditioned, too. There is always only one possible outcome, due to its causes. Choice is conditioned and deterministic.
Tilt seems to agree, that choice has it's causes, is conditioned but disagrees to the notion of determinism
, that there is always only one possible outcome and there is no functional choice, that there aren't viable options but only one option.:
Alex wrote:(...)I agree with it. But since it IS conditioned, conditions dictate what choiceful action will or will not occur.
You say that all the time, but if you are correct, it is not a choice. Choice, to be functional, must have viable options, not an option solely dictated by what have has gone before.
For him, choice, to be functional, must have viable options, not an option solely dictated by what have has gone before.
Both Alex and Tilt don't bring in any kind of agent or self in this process and they agree that the process is anatta (so it seems to me).
Now here comes the crucial point!
The present moment always includes the past, the present and the future.
When one only attends to the past in the present moment (leaving out present and future), one can see that everything is fully conditioned, that everything happend because of conditions and that the causes for x to occur always led to the occurance of x, never to y.
One can come to the view that there is no choice, in the way Tilt defines it, that there are no viable options, but only one option. That is true, BUT only in within this point of view, when one only attends to the past in the present moment. When all possible options are fully determined, we call it the past.
There is no option left, everything happend according to their necessary causes. One can easily come to the conclusion that there is no choice, in the way Tilt defines it, but only fully conditioned choice with only one possible option in the way Alex defines it.
But in the present (leaving out the past and the future), in the here and now not everything is already fully determined, not every cause has happened. An action isn't carried out or will
be carried out, an action carries
out! Which means that there is some kind of "space", where things aren't fully determined yet, this is called present. One can easily come to the conclusion that there is choice, in the way Tilt defines it, but not only fully conditioned choice with only one possible option in the way Alex defines it.
We can say, that:
The past is fully determined. -> no viable options, everything determined
The present is under-determined. -> some viable options, some things already determined
The future is undetermined. -> infinite viable options, nothing determined
Imho this is a very important point which has to be acknowledged! Otherwise there will
be a lot of confusion.
So, as I see it both of you are right and wrong, it depends on the general conditions.
The middle way is the way to go, we shouldn't go for the extremes.
Regarding the question of the thread: "Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?"
We should be able to agree that the Buddha taught that there is choice, but that we have to be careful what we mean by "choice" and that our understanding of a certain meaning depends on the point of view from where we approach the whole matter.
Excuse me Alex and Tilt if I presented your views wrongly.
If my post didn't contribute to clarify the matter, so that we can end this discussion, it's a matter of course that everyone is free
to go spinning round.
best wishes, acinteyyo