Destiny

Destiny

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Destiny or fate refers to a predetermined course of events. It may be conceived as a predetermined future, whether in general or of an individual. It is a concept based on the belief that there is a fixed natural order to the cosmos
Cosmos
In the general sense, a cosmos is an orderly or harmonious system. It originates from the Greek term κόσμος , meaning "order" or "ornament" and is antithetical to the concept of chaos. Today, the word is generally used as a synonym of the word Universe . The word cosmos originates from the same root...

.

Different concepts of destiny and fate


Destiny is seen as the final outcome, independently of the events that precede, which are inevitable and unchangeable per themselves, but as a sequence, could be arranged and rearranged in order to arrive to the final outcome.

There is the often confusing argument that individuals can choose their own destiny by selecting different "paths" throughout their life
Personal life
Personal life is the course of an individual's life, especially when viewed as the sum of personal choices contributing to one's personal identity. It is a common notion in modern existence—although more so in more prosperous parts of the world such as Western Europe and North America...

, even though the different courses of action the individuals take nonetheless lead to a very predetermined destiny.

To escape the contradiction (the incompatibility of philosophical terminology) of this argument and fully support the concept of destiny, most believe it necessary to declare and accept this notion of choice (free will
Free will
"To make my own decisions whether I am successful or not due to uncontrollable forces" -Troy MorrisonA pragmatic definition of free willFree will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long...

) as illusion. Another belief, known as Micaic Destiny, states that free will and destiny can coincide in harmony. This argument states that we all make only one unchangeable choice every moment. Simply because a certain choice will inevitably be made does NOT mean that we do not make our own decisions. This belief assumes that we have no power to accurately and precisely predict the future.

Destiny has been envisaged as fore-ordained by the Divine (for example, the Protestant concept of predestination
Predestination
Predestination, in theology is the doctrine that all events have been willed by God. John Calvin interpreted biblical predestination to mean that God willed eternal damnation for some people and salvation for others...

) or unfolding through the exertions of human will, for example, in the American concept of Manifest Destiny
Manifest Destiny
Manifest Destiny was the 19th century American belief that the United States was destined to expand across the continent. It was used by Democrat-Republicans in the 1840s to justify the war with Mexico; the concept was denounced by Whigs, and fell into disuse after the mid-19th century.Advocates of...

: "By the 1850s it was generally believed in the United States that a superior American race was destined to shape the destiny of much of the world." The explicit racialism had developed from a 17th-century vision of Puritan New World destiny as a "chosen people
Chosen people
Throughout history and even today various groups of people have considered themselves as chosen by a deity for some purpose such as to act as the deity's agent on earth. In monotheistic faiths, like Abrahamic religions, references to God are used in constructs such as "God's Chosen People"...

" whose destiny it was to establish a "New Jerusalem
New Jerusalem
In the book of Ezekiel, the Prophecy of New Jerusalem is Ezekiel's prophetic vision of a city to be established to the south of the Temple Mount that will be inhabited by the twelve tribes of Israel in the...

".

A sense of destiny in its oldest human sense still in a soldier's fatalistic
Fatalism
Fatalism is a philosophical doctrine emphasizing the subjugation of all events or actions to fate.Fatalism generally refers to several of the following ideas:...

 image of the "bullet that has your name on it", or "the moment when your number comes up", or the flowering of a romance between lovers who are "meant to be" together. In Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, the human sense that there must be a hidden purpose in the random choices of the lottery governs the selection of Theseus
Theseus
For other uses, see Theseus Theseus was the mythical founder-king of Athens, son of Aethra, and fathered by Aegeus and Poseidon, both of whom Aethra had slept with in one night. Theseus was a founder-hero, like Perseus, Cadmus, or Heracles, all of whom battled and overcame foes that were...

to be among the youths to be sacrificed to the Minotaur
Minotaur
In Greek mythology, the Minotaur , as the Greeks imagined him, was a creature with the head of a bull on the body of a man or, as described by Roman poet Ovid, "part man and part bull"...

.

Destiny in literature and popular culture


Many Greek legends and tales teach the futility of trying to outmaneuver an inexorable fate that has been correctly predicted. This form of irony is important in Greek tragedy, as it is in Oedipus Rex and in the Duque de Rivas' play that Verdi
Giuseppe Verdi
Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was an Italian Romantic composer, mainly of opera. He was one of the most influential composers of the 19th century...

 transformed into La Forza del Destino
La forza del destino
La forza del destino is an Italian opera by Giuseppe Verdi. The libretto was written by Francesco Maria Piave based on a Spanish drama, Don Álvaro o la fuerza del sino , by Ángel de Saavedra, Duke of Rivas, with a scene adapted from Friedrich Schiller's Wallensteins Lager. It was first performed...

("The Force of Destiny") or Thornton Wilder
Thornton Wilder
Thornton Niven Wilder was an American playwright and novelist. He received three Pulitzer Prizes, one for his novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey and two for his plays Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth, and a National Book Award for his novel The Eighth Day.-Early years:Wilder was born in Madison,...

's The Bridge of San Luis Rey
The Bridge of San Luis Rey
The Bridge of San Luis Rey is American author Thornton Wilder's second novel, first published in 1927 to worldwide acclaim. It tells the story of several interrelated people who die in the collapse of an Inca rope-fiber suspension bridge in Peru, and the events that lead up to their being on the...

, or in Macbeth
Macbeth
The Tragedy of Macbeth is a play by William Shakespeare about a regicide and its aftermath. It is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy and is believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607...

's uncannily-derived knowledge of his own destiny, which in spite of all his actions does not preclude a horrible fate.

This aspect is succinctly told by W. Somerset Maugham
W. Somerset Maugham
William Somerset Maugham , CH was an English playwright, novelist and short story writer. He was among the most popular writers of his era and, reputedly, the highest paid author during the 1930s.-Childhood and education:...

 from an Arab tale:

Death There was a merchant in Baghdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, “Master, just now when I was in the market-place I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture; now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra
Samarra
Sāmarrā is a city in Iraq. It stands on the east bank of the Tigris in the Salah ad-Din Governorate, north of Baghdad and, in 2003, had an estimated population of 348,700....

 and there Death will not find me.” The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, “Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning?” “That was not a threatening gesture,” I said, “it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.


A far older version forms part of the Babylonian Talmud.

Other notable examples include Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Tess of the d'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented, also known as Tess of the d'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman, Tess of the d'Urbervilles or just Tess, is a novel by Thomas Hardy, first published in 1891. It initially appeared in a censored and serialised version, published by the British...

, in which Tess is destined to the miserable death that she is confronted with at the end of the novel; Samuel Beckett's Endgame
Endgame (play)
Endgame, by Samuel Beckett, is a one-act play with four characters, written in a style associated with the Theatre of the Absurd. It was originally written in French ; as was his custom, Beckett himself translated it into English. The play was first performed in a French-language production at the...

; the popular short story "The Monkey's Paw
The Monkey's Paw
"The Monkey's Paw" is a horror short story by author W. W. Jacobs. It was published in England in 1902.The story is based on the famous "setup" in which three wishes are granted. In the story, the paw of a dead monkey is a talisman that grants its possessor three wishes, but the wishes come with an...

" by W.W. Jacobs.

Destiny is a recurring theme in the literature of Hermann Hesse
Hermann Hesse
Hermann Hesse was a German-Swiss poet, novelist, and painter. In 1946, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature...

 (1877–1962), including Siddharta
Siddhartha (novel)
Siddhartha is a novel by Hermann Hesse that deals with the spiritual journey of an Indian man named Siddhartha during the time of the Buddha.The book, Hesse's ninth novel , was written in German, in a simple, powerful, and lyrical style. It was published in the U.S. in 1951 and became influential...

(1922) and his magnum opus, Das Glasperlenspiel, also published as The Glass Bead Game
The Glass Bead Game
The Glass Bead Game is the last full-length novel and magnum opus of the German author Hermann Hesse. Begun in 1931 and published in Switzerland in 1943, after being rejected for publication in Germany, the book was mentioned in Hesse's citation for the 1946 Nobel Prize for Literature."Glass Bead...

(1943). The common theme of these works involves a protagonist who cannot escape a destiny if their fate has been sealed, however hard they try. Destiny is also an important plot point in the hit TV shows Lost
Lost (TV series)
Lost is an American television series that originally aired on ABC from September 22, 2004 to May 23, 2010, consisting of six seasons. Lost is a drama series that follows the survivors of the crash of a commercial passenger jet flying between Sydney and Los Angeles, on a mysterious tropical island...

, Heroes
Heroes (TV series)
Heroes is an American science fiction television drama series created by Tim Kring that appeared on NBC for four seasons from September 25, 2006 through February 8, 2010. The series tells the stories of ordinary people who discover superhuman abilities, and how these abilities take effect in the...

and Supernatural
Supernatural (TV series)
Supernatural is an American supernatural and horror television series created by Eric Kripke, which debuted on September 13, 2005 on The WB, and is now part of The CW's lineup. Starring Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester and Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester, the series follows the brothers as they...

, as well a common theme in the Roswell
Roswell (TV series)
Roswell is an American science fiction television series developed, produced, and co-written by Jason Katims. The series debuted on October 6, 1999 on The WB and moved to UPN for the third season. The last episode aired May 14, 2002...

TV series. Destiny is a recurring theme in the video-game franchise Kingdom Hearts, with Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep having its story based around the concept of Destiny, and the tagline for the game stating "Destiny is never left to chance."

In the TV series Charmed
Charmed
Charmed is an American television series that originally aired from October 7, 1998, until May 21, 2006, on the now defunct The WB Television Network. The series was created in 1998 by writer Constance M...

, about the lives of three sister witches known as the Charmed Ones who take a fourth witch under their tutelage, destiny is inescapable and is protected by the many Angels of Destiny. Destiny is seen as part of the "Grand Design", which is the intended nature of the universe, just as death is, in order to make people live, and Pandora's Box is, to tempt.

Destiny plays a large role in the overall story arc of the re-imagined television series Battlestar Galactica
Battlestar Galactica
Battlestar Galactica is an American science fiction franchise created by Glen A. Larson. The franchise began with the Battlestar Galactica TV series in 1978, and was followed by a brief sequel TV series in 1980, a line of book adaptations, original novels, comic books, a board game, and video games...

, in which events and characters are guided along by supernatural elements with a planned outcome, often with a cyclical theme of events transpiring again and again in different variations. The most notable example of this is in the Virtual Six character who appears to Gaius Baltar through out the series, claiming to be a messenger from God and directing Gauis' actions and influencing his decisions.

Divination of destiny


Some believe that one's destiny may be ascertained by divination
Divination
Divination is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic standardized process or ritual...

 or proclaimed as the prophecy
Prophecy
Prophecy is a process in which one or more messages that have been communicated to a prophet are then communicated to others. Such messages typically involve divine inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of conditioned events to come as well as testimonies or repeated revelations that the...

 of a prophet
Prophet
In religion, a prophet, from the Greek word προφήτης profitis meaning "foreteller", is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and serves as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people...

 or of a sibyl
Sibyl
The word Sibyl comes from the Greek word σίβυλλα sibylla, meaning prophetess. The earliest oracular seeresses known as the sibyls of antiquity, "who admittedly are known only through legend" prophesied at certain holy sites, under the divine influence of a deity, originally— at Delphi and...

. In the belief systems of many cultures, one's destiny can only be learned about through a shaman, babalawo
Babalawo
Babalawo is a Yorùbá chieftaincy title that denotes a Priest of Ifá. Ifa is a divination system that represents the teachings of the Orisha Orunmila, the Spirit of Wisdom, who in turn serves as the oracular representative of God...

, saint
Saint
A saint is a holy person. In various religions, saints are people who are believed to have exceptional holiness.In Christian usage, "saint" refers to any believer who is "in Christ", and in whom Christ dwells, whether in heaven or in earth...

 or seer.

In the Shang dynasty
Shang Dynasty
The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper" in the Yellow River valley...

, oracle bones and shells
Oracle bone
Oracle bones are pieces of bone normally from ox scapula or turtle plastron which were used for divination chiefly during the late Shang Dynasty. The bones were first inscribed with divination in oracle bone script by using a bronze pin, and then heated until crack lines appeared in which the...

 were consulted on questions of ritual and religion, leading to the earliest form.

Destiny versus fate


Although the words are used interchangeably in many cases, fate and destiny can be distinguished. It depends on how narrow or broad the definitions are. Broadly speaking, fate is an individual's destiny. More accurately, traditional usage defines fate as a power or agency that predetermines and orders the course of events (Greek definition). Fate defines events as ordered or "inevitable" and unavoidable. Destiny is used with regard to the finality of events as they have worked themselves out; and that same sense of Destination, projected into the future to become the flow of events as they will work themselves out. In other words, fate relates to events of the Future and present of an individual and in cases in literature unalterable, whereas destiny relates to the probable future. Note . This can be seen in our common language usage, e.g. "His calling, his Fate is to be a doctor." Will he definitely be a doctor? Well, it may or not be his destiny or his Ultimate fate if term used interchangeable.

Classical and European mythology features three goddesses dispensing fate, the "Fates" known as Moirae
Moirae
The Moirae, Moerae or Moirai , in Greek mythology, were the white-robed incarnations of destiny . Their number became fixed at three...

in Greek mythology, as Parcae
Parcae
thumb|#00px|Early 16th-century [[millefleur tapestry]] depicting the Three Fates under their Greek namesIn Roman mythology, the Parcae were the personifications of destiny, often called The Fates in English. Their Greek equivalent were the Moirae. They controlled the metaphorical thread of life of...

in Roman mythology, and as Norns
Norns
The Norns in Norse mythology are female beings who rule the destiny of gods and men, a kind of dísir comparable to the Fates in classical mythology....

in Norse mythology; they determine the events of the world through the mystic spinning of threads
Weaving (mythology)
The theme of weaving in mythology is ancient, and its lost mythic lore probably accompanied the early spread of this art. In traditional societies today, westward of Central Asia and the Iranian plateau, weaving is a mystery within woman's sphere...

 that represent individual human Fates.

One word derivative of "fate" is "fatality", another "fatalism
Fatalism
Fatalism is a philosophical doctrine emphasizing the subjugation of all events or actions to fate.Fatalism generally refers to several of the following ideas:...

". Fate implies no choice, and ends fatally, with a death. Fate is an outcome determined by an outside agency acting upon a person or entity; but with destiny the entity is participating in achieving an outcome that is directly related to itself. Participation
Participation (decision making)
Participation in social science refers to different mechanisms for the public to express opinions - and ideally exert influence - regarding political, economic, management or other social decisions. Participatory decision making can take place along any realm of human social activity, including...

 happens willfully.

Used with reference to the past, "destiny" and "fate" are both more interchangeable, both imply "one's lot" or fortunes, and include the sum of events leading up to a currently achieved outcome (e.g. "it was her destiny to be leader" and "it was her fate to be leader").

Destiny and "fortune"


In Hellenistic civilization
Hellenistic civilization
Hellenistic civilization represents the zenith of Greek influence in the ancient world from 323 BCE to about 146 BCE...

, the chaotic and unforeseeable turns of chance
Chance
- Philosophy, logic and theology :* Chance * Contingency * Indeterminism* Luck* Probability* Randomness- Places :* Chancé, a commune in Brittany, France* Chance, Kentucky, U.S.* Chance, Maryland, U.S.* Chance, Virginia, U.S....

 gave increasing prominence to a previously less notable goddess, Tyche
Tyche
In ancient Greek city cults, Tyche was the presiding tutelary deity that governed the fortune and prosperity of a city, its destiny....

, who embodied the good fortune of a city and all whose lives depended on its security and prosperity, two good qualities of life that appeared to be out of human reach. The Roman image of Fortuna
Fortuna
Fortuna can mean:*Fortuna, the Roman goddess of luck -Geographical:*19 Fortuna, asteroid*Fortuna, California, town located on the north coast of California*Fortuna, United States Virgin Islands...

, with the wheel she blindly turned, was retained by Christian writers, revived strongly in the Renaissance and survives in some forms today.

Destiny and philosophy


In daily language destiny and fate are synonymous, but with regards to 20th century philosophy the words gained inherently different meanings.

For Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher known for his pessimism and philosophical clarity. At age 25, he published his doctoral dissertation, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which examined the four separate manifestations of reason in the phenomenal...

 destiny was just a manifestation of the Will to Live. Will to Live is for him the main aspect of the living. The animal cannot be aware of the Will, but men can at least see life through its perspective, though it is the primary and basic desire. But this fact is a pure irrationality and then, for Schopenhauer, human desire is equally futile, illogical, directionless, and, by extension, so is all human action. Therefore, the Will to Live can be at the same time living fate and choice of overrunning the fate same, by means of the Art
Art
Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect....

, of the Morality
Morality
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

 and of the Ascesis.

For Nietzsche destiny keeps the form of Amor fati
Amor fati
Amor fati is a Latin phrase loosely translating to "love of fate" or "love of one's fate". It is used to describe an attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one's life, including suffering and loss, as good...

(Love of Fate) through the important element of Nietzsche's philosophy, the "will to power" (der Wille zur Macht), the basis of human behavior, influenced by the Will to Live of Schopenhauer. But this concept may have even other senses, although he, in various places, saw the Will to power as a strong element for adaptation or survival in a better way. In its later forms Nietzsche's concept of the will to power applies to all living things, suggesting that adaptation and the struggle to survive is a secondary drive in the evolution of animals, less important than the desire to expand one’s power. Nietzsche eventually took this concept further still, and transformed the idea of matter as centers of force into matter as centers of will to power as mankind’s destiny to face with amor fati.

The expression Amor fati is used repeatedly by Nietzsche as acceptation-choice of the fate, but in such way it becomes even another thing, precisely a “choice” destiny. We find that in § 276 of The Gay Science
The Gay Science
The Gay Science is a book written by Friedrich Nietzsche, first published in 1882 and followed by a second edition, which was published after the completion of Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Beyond Good and Evil, in 1887. This substantial expansion includes a fifth book and an appendix of songs...

, where he wrote:

I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.


Quote from "Why I Am So Clever" in Ecce Homo, section 10:

My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it—all idealism is mendaciousness in the face of what is necessary—but love it.

See also