Fatalism is a philosophical doctrine that stresses the subjugation of all events or actions to destiny.

Fatalism generally refers to any of the following ideas:

  • The view that we are powerless to do anything other than what we actually do.[1] Included in this is that humans have no power to influence the future, or indeed, their own actions.[2] This belief is very similar to predeterminism.
  • An attitude of resignation in the face of some future event or events which are thought to be inevitable. Friedrich Nietzsche named this idea "Turkish fatalism"[3] in his book The Wanderer and His Shadow.[4]
  • That acceptance is appropriate, rather than resistance, against inevitability. This belief is very similar to defeatism.
  • Some take it to mean determinism.

Determinism and predeterminism

While the terms are often used interchangeably, fatalism, determinism, and predeterminism are discrete in stressing 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 or destiny, whereas fatalists stress an acceptance of future events as inevitable. Determinists believe the future is fixed specifically due to causality; fatalists and predeterminists believe that some or all aspects of the future are inescapable, but, for fatalists, not necessarily due to causality.

Fatalism is a looser term than determinism. The presence of historical "indeterminisms" or chances, i.e. events that could not be predicted by sole knowledge of other events, is an idea still compatible with fatalism. Necessity (such as a law of nature) will happen just as inevitably as a chance—both can be imagined as sovereign.

Likewise, determinism is a broader term than predeterminism. Predeterminists, as a specific type of determinists, believe that every single event or effect is caused by an uninterrupted chain of events that goes back to the origin of the universe. Determinists, holding a more generic view, meanwhile, believe that each event is at least caused by recent prior events, if not also by such far-extending and unbroken events as those going back in time to the universe's very origins.

Fatalism, by referring to the personal "fate" or to "predestined events" strongly imply the existence of a someone or something that has set the "predestination." This is usually interpreted to mean a conscious, omniscient being or force who has personally planned—and therefore knows at all times—the exact succession of every event in the past, present, and future, none of which can be altered.

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 was described by Origen and Cicero and it went like this:

  • If it is fated 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.[5][6]

The Idle Argument was anticipated by Aristotle in his De Interpretatione chapter 9. The Stoics considered it to be a sophism and the Stoic Chrysippus 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.[7] It is, however, a false argument because it fails to consider that those fated to recover may be those fated to consult a doctor.

Logical fatalism and the argument from bivalence

Another famous argument for fatalism that goes back to antiquity is one that depends not on causation or physical circumstances but rather is based on presumed logical truths. There are numerous versions of this argument, including those by Aristotle[8] and Richard Taylor.[2] These have been objected to and elaborated on[1] 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: 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 regarding the future is indeterminate—is a controversial view since the principle is an accepted part of classical logic.


Semantic equivocation

The basic logical structure of logical fatalism is criticized as false. The structure of its argument is "Either a certain event happens or it doesn't happen. If it happens, there is nothing to be done to prevent it. If it doesn't happen, there is nothing to be done to enable it." The problem in the argument arises with the semantics of "if". The argument fails because it uses "if" to imply that the event will happen with absolute certainty, when there is only certainty that the event either happens or doesn't, when both options are considered. Neither option by itself is certain, even though both options together are certain. The use of the word "if" in this way frames the sentence as "if the event is certain to happen, then there is nothing to be done to prevent it", but there is no certainty that the event will happen. Thus this type of fatalism relies on circular reasoning.[9]

Another criticism comes from the novelist David Foster Wallace, who in a 1985 paper "Richard Taylor'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.[10] 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."[10] Willem deVries and Jay Garfield, both of whom were advisers on Wallace’s thesis, expressed regret that Wallace never published his argument.[10] In 2010, the thesis was, however, published posthumously as Time, Fate, and Language: An Essay on Free Will.

See also


  1. ^ a b Hugh Rice (11 October 2010). "Fatalism". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]. Retrieved 2 December 2010.
  2. ^ a b Richard Taylor (January 1962). "Fatalism". The Philosophical Review. Duke University Press. 71 (1): 56–66. JSTOR 2183681.
  3. ^ Stambaugh, Joan (1994). Other Nietzsche, The. SUNY Press. p. 81. ISBN 9781438420929.
  4. ^ Friedrich Nietzsche, The Wanderer and His Shadow, 1880, Türkenfatalismus
  5. ^ Origen Contra Celsum II 20
  6. ^ Cicero De Fato 28-9
  7. ^ Susanne Bobzien, Determinism and Freedom in Stoic Philosophy, Oxford 1998, chapter 5
  8. ^ Aristotle, De Interpretatione, 9
  9. ^ Dummett, Michael (1996), The Seas of Language, Clarendon Press Oxford, pp. 352–358
  10. ^ a b c Ryerson, James (12 December 2008). "Consider the Philosopher". The New York Times.

External links

1970 Kent State Golden Flashes football team

The 1970 Kent State Golden Flashes football team was an American football team that represented Kent State University in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) during the 1970 college football season. In their third and final season under head coach Dave Puddington, the Golden Flashes compiled a 3–7 record (1–4 against MAC opponents), finished in fifth place in the MAC, and were outscored by all opponents by a combined total of 222 to 161.The team's statistical leaders included fullback Don Nottingham with 798 rushing yards and 48 points scored, quarterback Steve Broderick with 757 passing yards, and Jeff Murrey with 165 receiving yards. Center Fred Blosser was selected as a first-team All-MAC player. Other notable players on the team included Nick Saban, Gary Pinkel, John Matsko, and linebacker Jim Corrigall (later head coach at Kent State).

The Kent State shootings of May 4, 1970, focused attention on the 1970 Kent State football team, as one of the first activities of the new academic year in the fall of 1970. Before the season began, coach Puddington noted that his players believed they could "set the tone" and become "a unifying force on the campus." Nick Saban, a freshman on the 1970 team, later recalled seeing the aftermath of the shootings: "It's a horrible thing. There's not a May 4 that goes by that I don't think about it. Really think about it."On November 12, 1970, Puddington announced that he would resign as the school's football coach at the end of the quarter. He had compiled a 9-21 record in three seasons at Kent State. Puddington cited factors contributing to his decision, including "prevailing contagious negativism on campus" since the May 4 shootings as well as "fatalism around us and the current tendency to politicize every facet of life."

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. It is a controversial concept: its supporters argue that it has intuitive validity while others contest it creates a contradiction in terms by positing such a thing as a "contingent necessity." It is especially important in contemporary discussions of logical and theological fatalism.

Argument from free will

The argument from free will, also called the paradox of free will or theological fatalism, contends that omniscience and free will are incompatible and that any conception of God that incorporates both properties is therefore inherently contradictory. These arguments are deeply concerned with the implications of predestination.


A coincidence is a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances that have no apparent causal connection with one another.

The perception of remarkable coincidences may lead to supernatural, occult, or paranormal claims. Or it may lead to belief in fatalism, which is a doctrine that events will happen in the exact manner of a predetermined plan.

From a statistical perspective, coincidences are inevitable and often less remarkable than they may appear intuitively. An example is the birthday problem, which shows that the probability of two persons having the same birthday already exceeds 50% in a group of only 23 persons.

De fato

Cicero's De fato (Latin, "Concerning Fate") is a partially lost philosophical treatise written in 44 BC. Only two-thirds of the work exists; the beginning and ending are missing. It takes the form of a dialogue, although it reads more like an exposition, whose interlocutors are Cicero and his friend Aulus Hirtius.

In the work, Cicero analyzes the concept of Fate, and suggests that free will is a condition of Fate. Cicero, however, does not consciously deal with the distinction between fatalism and determinism.It appears that De Fato is an appendix to the treatise on theology formed by the three books of De Natura Deorum and the two books of De Divinatione. These three books provide important information regarding Stoic cosmology and theology.


Destiny, sometimes referred to as fate (from Latin fatum – destiny), is a predetermined course of events. It may be conceived as a predetermined future, whether in general or of an individual.

Eternalism (philosophy of time)

Eternalism is a philosophical approach to the ontological nature of time, which takes the view that all existence in time is equally real, as opposed to presentism or the growing block universe theory of time, in which at least the future is not the same as any other time. Some forms of eternalism give time a similar ontology to that of space, as a dimension, with different times being as real as different places, and future events are "already there" in the same sense other places are already there, and that there is no objective flow of time. It is sometimes referred to as the "block time" or "block universe" theory due to its description of space-time as an unchanging four-dimensional "block", as opposed to the view of the world as a three-dimensional space modulated by the passage of time.

Free will

Free will is the ability to choose between different possible courses of action unimpeded.Free will is closely linked to the concepts of responsibility, praise, guilt, sin, and other judgements which apply only to actions that are freely chosen. It is also connected with the concepts of advice, persuasion, deliberation, and prohibition. Traditionally, only actions that are freely willed are seen as deserving credit or blame. There are numerous different concerns about threats to the possibility of free will, varying by how exactly it is conceived, which is a matter of some debate.

Some conceive free will to be the capacity to make choices in which the outcome has not been determined by past events. Determinism suggests that only one course of events is possible, which is inconsistent with the existence of free will thus conceived. Ancient Greek philosophy identified this issue, which remains a major focus of philosophical debate. The view that conceives free will as incompatible with determinism is called incompatibilism and encompasses both metaphysical libertarianism (the claim that determinism is false and thus free will is at least possible) and hard determinism (the claim that determinism is true and thus free will is not possible). Incompatibilism also encompasses hard incompatibilism, which holds not only determinism but also its negation to be incompatible with free will and thus free will to be impossible whatever the case may be regarding determinism.

In contrast, compatibilists hold that free will is compatible with determinism. Some compatibilists even hold that determinism is necessary for free will, arguing that choice involves preference for one course of action over another, requiring a sense of how choices will turn out. Compatibilists thus consider the debate between libertarians and hard determinists over free will vs determinism a false dilemma. Different compatibilists offer very different definitions of what "free will" even means and consequently find different types of constraints to be relevant to the issue. Classical compatibilists considered free will nothing more than freedom of action, considering one free of will simply if, had one counterfactually wanted to do otherwise, one could have done otherwise without physical impediment. Contemporary compatibilists instead identify free will as a psychological capacity, such as to direct one's behavior in a way responsive to reason, and there are still further different conceptions of free will, each with their own concerns, sharing only the common feature of not finding the possibility of determinism a threat to the possibility of free will.


For the cereal grain, see freekeh

Frik (Armenian: Ֆրիկ) was an Armenian poet of the 13th century and 14th century. He lived in the time of Mongolian occupation of Armenian land.

His verses are written in the spirit of religious Fatalism; at the same time, he criticized clergy for hypocrisy.

Frik lived during the year 1230 through 1310. It is not known whether his name was really Frik or not. Many believe his name was a “pseudonym” or “an abbreviated form” of his original name. The Armenian scholar, Zhamkochian, identified Frik's possible birthplace and concluded that he was born in Western Armenia. Zhamkochian saw that his Armenian writing was very similar to the language of Cilician Armenia which is how he found out his birthplace. It is said that more than 50 of Frik's poetry survived during the years. Some of the poems include “From Protest”, “An Excerpt”, and “Song”.

Galactic Pot-Healer

Galactic Pot-Healer is a science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in 1969. The novel deals with a number of philosophical and political issues such as repressive societies, fatalism, and the search for meaning in life.

Dick also wrote a children's book set in the same universe, Nick and the Glimmung, in 1966. It was published posthumously in 1988.

Hindu rate of growth

The Hindu rate of growth is a term referring to the low annual growth rate of the planned economy of India before the liberalisations of 1991, which stagnated around 3.5% from 1950s to 1980s, while per capita income growth averaged 1.3%.The term contrasts with South Korea's Miracle on the Han River and the Taiwan Miracle. While these Asian Tigers had similar income level as India in the 1950s, exponential economic growth since then has transformed them into developed countries today.

Many claim that the economy of India accelerated and grew at a rate of around 6–9% since economic liberalisation began in the 1990s.The word "Hindu" in the term was used by some early economists like Vikas Mishra (economist) to imply that the Hindu outlook of fatalism and contentedness was responsible for the slow growth. Later economists reject this connection and instead attribute the rate to the Government of India's protectionist and interventionist policies (see Licence Raj), rather than to a specific religion or to the attitude of the adherents of a particular religion. Accordingly, some writers instead use the term "Nehruvian socialism".

Lazy argument

The Lazy Argument or Idle Argument (Ancient Greek: ἀργὸς λόγος) is either an argument for fatalism or an attempt at undermining the philosophical doctrine of fatalism. Its basic form is that of a complex constructive dilemma.


Mohism or Moism (Chinese: 墨家; pinyin: Mòjiā; literally: 'School of Mo') was an ancient Chinese philosophy of logic, rational thought and science developed by the academic scholars who studied under the ancient Chinese philosopher Mozi (c. 470 BC – c. 391 BC) and embodied in an eponymous book: the Mozi. It evolved at about the same time as Confucianism, Taoism and Legalism, and was one of the four main philosophic schools from around 770–221 BC (during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods). During that time, Mohism was seen as a major rival to Confucianism. Although its influence endured, Mohism all but disappeared as an independent school of thought.


Muselmann (pl. Muselmänner, the German version of Musulman, meaning Muslim) was a slang term used among captives of World War II Nazi concentration camps to refer to those suffering from a combination of starvation (known also as "hunger disease") and exhaustion and who were resigned to their impending death. The Muselmann prisoners exhibited severe emaciation and physical weakness, an apathetic listlessness regarding their own fate, and unresponsiveness to their surroundings owing to the barbaric treatment by the Nazis and prisoner functionaries.

Some scholars argue that the term possibly comes from the Muselmann's inability to stand for any time due to the loss of leg muscle, thus spending much of the time in a prone position, recalling the position of the Musulman (Muslim) during prayers. It has also been suggested by Giorgio Agamben, albeit without a shred of evidence, that the term hails from the Islamic fatalism which characterizes Sunnite orthodoxy, i.e. the idea that there are no such things as causality but that God performs every occurrence in the world, meaning that everything including men simply undergoes the workings of God and does not act on its own. Muselmann would then be the darkest interpretation of this fatalism. However, as Jeremy Adler has argued, the necessary implication of Angemben's view, namely that God willed each and every death in the camps, is preposterous

Newcomb's paradox

In philosophy and mathematics, Newcomb's paradox, also referred to as Newcomb's problem, is a thought experiment involving a game between two players, one of whom purports to be able to predict the future.

Newcomb's paradox was created by William Newcomb of the University of California's Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. However, it was first analyzed and was published in a philosophy paper spread to the philosophical community by Robert Nozick in 1969, and appeared in the March 1973 issue of Scientific American, in Martin Gardner's "Mathematical Games." Today it is a much debated problem in the philosophical branch of decision theory.


Omniscience () is the capacity to know everything. In monotheistic religions, such as Sikhism and the Abrahamic religions, this is an attribute of God. In Jainism, omniscience is an attribute that any individual can eventually attain. In Buddhism, there are differing beliefs about omniscience among different schools.

Riders to the Sea

Riders to the Sea is a play written by Irish Literary Renaissance playwright John Millington Synge. It was first performed on 25 February 1904 at the Molesworth Hall, Dublin, by the Irish National Theater Society. A one-act tragedy, the play is set in the Aran Islands, Inishmaan, and like all of Synge's plays it is noted for capturing the poetic dialogue of rural Ireland. The plot is based not on the traditional conflict of human wills but on the hopeless struggle of a people against the impersonal but relentless cruelty of the sea.

Theological determinism

Theological determinism is a form of predeterminism which states that all events that happen are pre-ordained, or/and predestined to happen, by a God/gods, or that they are destined to occur given its omniscience. Theological determinism exists in a number of religions, including Jainism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is also supported by proponents of Classical pantheism such as the Stoics and Baruch Spinoza.

General terms and concepts
Time travel in fiction
Temporal paradoxes
Parallel timelines
Philosophy of space and time
Spacetimes in general relativity that
can contain closed timelike curves
in time
of time

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