When there's inanimate objects such as two billiard balls, we determine that ball C is the cause of Ball D's movement if C collides with D and shoves it. In addition, because ball C is an inanimate object, we consider that it cannot have moved without a cause, so there must have been some preceding cause (cause B) that shoved C before C could move D. However, if cause B is also an considered to be an inanimate object (like a pool cue), then B requires yet another cause (cause A), and so on.
Now, if we consider that cause B is a conscious being, would there still be a need of a cause A? After all, a conscious being is not an inanimate object; in fact, a conscious being is able to move itself at will.
My question is whether the actions of conscious beings are considered to be caused by something as well, and whether they are causes in and of themselves? (i.e, if a conscious being performs an action, is the being its own cause?)
I pondered on this and wondered whether nutrition can be considered the cause of a sentient being's actions, because they wouldn't be able to perform actions without nutrition. However, this didn't seem right, and so I've come to ask how sentient beings are perceived in terms of causality.
The way I see it, conscious beings only require a cause for their existence, whereas, after they exist, they become the originators of causal chains (i.e., they no longer require a cause, so the only time a conscious being is an effect is when they come into existence). However, I can also see the validity of the some form of naturalistic determinism, the idea that human actions are the result of thoughts that are caused by sensory information from the external world.
I've pondered on this question for the last year or so, and I've never been able to come to a conclusion.