Fatalism

Fatalism

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Fatalism'
Start a new discussion about 'Fatalism'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Fatalism is a philosophical doctrine emphasizing the subjugation of all events or actions to fate
Destiny
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...

.

Fatalism generally refers to several of the following ideas:
  1. Though the word “fatalism” is commonly used to refer to an attitude of resignation in the face of some future event or events which are thought to be inevitable, philosophers usually use the word to refer to the view that we are powerless to do anything other than what we actually do. Included in this is that man has no power to influence the future, or indeed, his own actions. This belief is very similar to predeterminism
    Predeterminism
    Predeterminism is the idea that every event is caused, not simply by the immediately prior events, but by a causal chain of events that goes back well before recent events...

    .
  2. That actions are free, but nevertheless work toward an inevitable end. This belief is very similar to compatibilist 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...

    .
  3. That acceptance is appropriate, rather than resistance against inevitability. This belief is very similar to defeatism
    Defeatism
    Defeatism is acceptance of defeat without struggle. In everyday use, defeatism has negative connotation and is often linked to treason and pessimism, or even a hopeless situation such as a Catch-22...

    .

Determinism, fatalism and predestination


While the terms are often used interchangeably, fatalism, determinism
Determinism
Determinism is the general philosophical thesis that states that for everything that happens there are conditions such that, given them, nothing else could happen. There are many versions of this thesis. Each of them rests upon various alleged connections, and interdependencies of things and...

, and 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...

 are discrete in emphasizing different aspects of the futility of human will or the foreordination of destiny. However, all these doctrines share common ground.

Determinists generally agree that human actions affect the future but that human action is itself determined by a causal chain of prior events. Their view does not accentuate a "submission" to fate, whereas fatalists may stress an acceptance of future events as inevitable. Determinists believe the future is fixed specifically due to causality
Causality
Causality is the relationship between an event and a second event , where the second event is understood as a consequence of the first....

; fatalists and predestinarians believe that some or all aspects of the future are inescapable, but not necessarily due to causality.

Fatalism is a broader term than determinism. The presence of history indeterminisms/chances, i.e. events that could not be predicted by sole knowledge of other events, does not exclude fatalism. Necessity (such as a law of nature) will happen just as inevitably as a chance—both can be imagined as sovereign.

The Idle Argument


One famous ancient argument regarding fatalism was the so-called Idle Argument. It argues that if something is fated, then it would be pointless or futile to make any effort to bring it about. The Idle Argument has come down to us by way of Origen
Origen
Origen , or Origen Adamantius, 184/5–253/4, was an early Christian Alexandrian scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church. As early as the fourth century, his orthodoxy was suspect, in part because he believed in the pre-existence of souls...

 and Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

 and it went like this:
  • If it is fate
    Destiny
    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...

    d for you to recover from this illness, then you will recover whether you call a doctor or not.
  • Likewise, if you are fated not to recover, you will not do so whether you call a doctor or not.
  • But either it is fated that you will recover from this illness, or it is fated that you will not recover.
  • Therefore it is futile to consult a doctor.


The Idle Argument was anticipated by Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 in his De Interpretatione chapter 9. The Stoics considered it to be a sophism and the Stoic Chrysippus
Chrysippus
Chrysippus of Soli was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He was a native of Soli, Cilicia, but moved to Athens as a young man, where he became a pupil of Cleanthes in the Stoic school. When Cleanthes died, around 230 BC, Chrysippus became the third head of the school...

 attempted to refute it by pointing out that consulting the doctor would be as much fated as recovering. He seems to have introduced the idea that in cases like that at issue two events can be co-fated, so that one cannot occur without the other.

The logic argument


The logical argument for fatalism is one that depends not on causation or physical circumstances but rather argues based on logical necessity. There are numerous versions of this argument, including those by Aristotle and Richard Taylor. These have been objected to and elaborated on but do not enjoy mainstream support.

The key idea of logical fatalism is that there is a body of true propositions (statements) about what is going to happen, and these are true regardless of when they are made. So, for example, if it is true today that tomorrow there will be a sea battle, then there cannot fail to be a sea battle tomorrow, since otherwise it would not be true today that such a battle will take place tomorrow.

The argument relies heavily on the principle of bivalence
Principle of bivalence
In logic, the semantic principle of bivalence states that every declarative sentence expressing a proposition has exactly one truth value, either true or false...

: the idea that any proposition is either true or false. As a result of this principle, if it is not false that there will be a sea battle, then it is true; there is no in-between. However, rejecting the principle of bivalence—perhaps by saying that the truth of a proposition about the future is indeterminate—is a controversial view, since the principle is an accepted part of classical logic
Classical logic
Classical logic identifies a class of formal logics that have been most intensively studied and most widely used. The class is sometimes called standard logic as well...

.

Another criticism of logical fatalism is that it assumes a timeless set of all propositions which exist without being proposed by anyone in particular. Constructivists (a school of thought in logic and maths) argue that this is not the case, and that propositions only exist when they are constructed, or expressed.

Criticisms


In addition to the criticism levelled at the arguments put forward for fatalism, another criticism of fatalism in general is its assumption that truths do not conflict with each other. Twentieth century developments in theoretical and experimental quantum physics, specifically the concept of complementarity, seem to show that there exist pairs of statements, only one of which can be true at any given time. For example, Heisenberg's Principle of Uncertainty theorises that if it is true that a subatomic particle will be measured to have a well-defined position, then it is not true that the particle will be measured to have a well-defined momentum
Momentum
In classical mechanics, linear momentum or translational momentum is the product of the mass and velocity of an object...

 and vice versa. In other words, a maximum of one of the two statements 'has a well-defined position' and 'has a well-defined momentum' can be true of a given subatomic particle at a given time.

Another noteworthy criticism comes from the novelist David Foster Wallace
David Foster Wallace
David Foster Wallace was an American author of novels, essays, and short stories, and a professor at Pomona College in Claremont, California...

, who in a 1985 paper "Richard Taylor
Richard Taylor
Richard Taylor may refer to:*Richard Taylor , father of U.S. president Zachary Taylor*Richard Taylor , British general*Richard Taylor , son of U.S...

's Fatalism and the Semantics of Physical Modality" suggests that Taylor reached his conclusion of fatalism only because his argument involved two different and inconsistent notions of impossibility. Wallace did not reject fatalism per se, as he wrote in his closing passage, "if Taylor and the fatalists want to force upon us a metaphysical conclusion, they must do metaphysics, not semantics. And this seems entirely appropriate." Willem deVries and Jay Garfield, both of whom were advisers on Wallace’s thesis, expressed regret that Wallace never published his argument. In 2010, the thesis was, however, published posthumously as Time, Fate, and Language: An Essay on Free Will.

If the quantum physical rules apply universally, then the above-described complementarity constitutes experimental disproof of fatalism. It would therefore be of merely historical interest. If, on the other hand, the quantum physical formalisms apply only in restricted domains, then fatalism could be retained by restricting it to those domains in which the quantum formalism is inapplicable. One pure fatalist argument, is that the seeming random movement of quantum physics is not random at all. Instead, each movement is predetermined in a seemingly random pattern, but is actually a predetermined pattern. This belief is the pure fatalist counter to the quantum physics argument.

See also

  • Problem of future contingents
  • Theological fatalism
  • Determinism
    Determinism
    Determinism is the general philosophical thesis that states that for everything that happens there are conditions such that, given them, nothing else could happen. There are many versions of this thesis. Each of them rests upon various alleged connections, and interdependencies of things and...

  • Theological determinism
    Theological determinism
    Theological determinism is a form of determinism which states that all events that happen are pre-ordained, or predestined to happen, by a monotheistic God. Theological determinism exists in a number of religions, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam....

  • Accidental Necessity
    Accidental necessity
    In philosophy and logic, accidental necessity, often stated in its Latin form, necessitas per accidens, refers to the necessity attributed to the past by certain views of time...

  • 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...

  • Calvinism
    Calvinism
    Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

  • 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...

  • Defeatism
    Defeatism
    Defeatism is acceptance of defeat without struggle. In everyday use, defeatism has negative connotation and is often linked to treason and pessimism, or even a hopeless situation such as a Catch-22...

  • Libertarianism (metaphysics)
    Libertarianism (metaphysics)
    Libertarianism is one of the main philosophical positions related to the problems of free will and determinism, which are part of the larger domain of metaphysics. In particular, libertarianism, which is an incompatibilist position, argues that free will is logically incompatible with a...

  • Shikata ga nai
    Shikata ga nai
    , , is a Japanese language phrase meaning "it can't be helped" or "nothing can be done about it". , is an alternative.-Cultural associations:The phrase has been used by many western writers to describe the ability of the Japanese people to maintain dignity in the face of an unavoidable tragedy or...

     (Japanese expression)
  • Jansenism
    Jansenism
    Jansenism was a Christian theological movement, primarily in France, that emphasized original sin, human depravity, the necessity of divine grace, and predestination. The movement originated from the posthumously published work of the Dutch theologian Cornelius Otto Jansen, who died in 1638...


External links