Other Names: Belief in fate
Belief in manifest destiny
Nature: Belief that the conditions and development of human life are necessarily controlled and determined by some inscrutable power to which all are subject. This may be either personified or represented as impersonal. Belief in fate is only transcended when people come to regard themselves as free or as called by some higher will to exert their freedom of choice by leading a responsible life. Fatalism predisposes people to passive acceptance of any unfortunate conditions or suffering to which they are subject, thus effectively disempowering them. In particular cases fate may be interpreted as the destiny which some higher will sets before a moral personality as an ideal to be realized. Empowered in this way, such destiny may be further understood to be beyond criticism by fellow human beings or other social groups, and may be pursued without any qualms concerning the suffering caused to them. The arbitrary will of some omnipotent power and the blind necessity of nature thus both result in the non-moral subjection of humanity to an inevitable necessity. An absolute determinism blights all spontaneity of action, leaving room at best for fanaticism. Only when man realizes his freedom as that which lays upon him the obligation of self-determination in the sphere of conduct does he cease to resort to occult arts; and only as he knows that all things can be utilized for the highest ends does he finally break with the idea of fate.
Incidence: Historically this conception first prevails wherever people are unable to frame the idea of a rational necessity or of a supreme purposive will. It persists as long as either of these, though within the field of consciousness, is imperfectly realized. The belief emerges again at a subsequent stage of development when people doubt any rational order or rational end to the universe. Astrology, fortune telling, and theology all have fatalistic viewpoints, and the general populace on the whole has vague fatalistic feelings, manifested in such thoughts as 'You won't die until your time comes', 'I was warned not to take that airplane', 'It was fated that we should meet'. When perceived as manifest destiny, fatalism is a major factor justifying the expansion of social groups beyond their existing boundaries as in imperialism and colonialism, as well as in their religious equivalents.
Claim: Fatalism is an escape mechanism people employ in order to lessen their needs to make decisions and thus lead a responsible life. It results in an attitude of 'It's not up to me, it's already been decided', which is exactly the weak, selfish attitude that is already too abundant.
Counter Claim: There is a force, a direction, a fate that is larger than man; if he accepted that force in his life and did not always attempt to intervene and interfere, there would be many fewer problems on individual and societal levels. A number of religions hold the supreme power of the universe to be a rational will by which all things are engendered to appropriate ends. In different ways these religions call upon man to submit to that will as being the only valid means of reconciling individual desires with those of the larger whole.
Problem Type: F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update 23.08.2001 – 00:00 CEST