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Old Friday, July 08, 2011
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Default fate and determinism

Relation between fate and free will in the realm of different spheres of life.
Fatalism in Greek play Oedipus Rex.
Modern perspective blames surrounding, biological factors in contrast to free will of the Greeks.
Balance between determinism and free will.
Ethical determinism and the knowledge about the good.
Aristotle’s censure and Shakespeare’s revolutionary Macbeth.
Saul Smilansky’s view.
Kant’s rejection of blaming one’s actions upon environment and genetics.
Empirically its been proved that humans have free
There is reason and will behind every action which can be proven scientifically.
Historical determinism of Karl Marx
Psychology and depiction of human nature.
B.F.Skinner’s behavioral determinism.
The causal chain and the naturalistic determinism.
Sartre’s rejection of the introspective theories.
There must be an external cause for the action which cannot be any one but GOD.
Calvin and Augustine’s theistic determinism.
Heisenberg’s principle of uncertainty is often invoked by indeterminists.
Islam and the balance between free will and fate.
Denial of responsibility on the pretext of original sin by Adam and Eve.
Literature usually preaches man’s lack of will and freedom.
Absolute freedom or absolute fatalistic attitude can do no good. A moderate approach is the more acceptable one.

For thousands of years, this very question has intrigued and perplexed philosophers, scientists, and everyone who think deliberately about how they choose to live and act. The answer to this age-old riddle is universally relevant to every one’s life be it a layman or a sage. The implications of one’s view on it can affect everything from small choices they make every day to their perspective on issues like criminal justice, salvation, redemption. From the Stoics to Boethius, from Kant to Hume, and Sartre to contemporary philosophers, great minds have debated over this connection of fate in relation to free-will. Determinists propound that all human action are caused entirely by preceding events, and not by the exercise of the will. In philosophy, the theory is based on the metaphysical principle that an uncaused event is impossible with multi-pronged thesis and hypothesis. The belief that man's actions are the result of antecedent causes has been formulated naturalistically and theistically, historically, physically, psychologically as well as philosophically.

In fact, the Greek philosopher Leucippus made the earliest-known statement of the view of determinism, proclaiming, "Nothing happens at random, but everything for a reason and by necessity." For Greeks as in Sophocles' play Oedipus Rex, fate decrees that Oedipus is destined to kill his father and marry his mother. Although his parents leave him to die and Oedipus spends his life trying to escape his fate, in the end he does exactly as the Oracle predicted at his birth. The Greeks believed that, for the most important things in life, a particular fate awaits you.

It seems that the Greeks’ belief in the fate only goes so far. Certain aspects of their lives are fated from the moment of birth. But even with their belief in fate, the laws must be obliged and the transgressors punished. This contrasts with the Modern perspective of the Determinist suggests that everything that we do is only a result of our surroundings, the makeup of our genetics and it is, in a sense, fated. In contrast, the Greeks held individuals responsible for their deeds despite the motive. This can be seen when Oedipus’ accidentally murders his own father and is banished. Never once did Oedipus attempt to say that the death was not his fault.

Ethical determinism propound man’s actions are determined by an apparent good, such as one knows what good is and so they all do that .Socrates believed man would choose what ever would seem good to him or her. Plato was certain that a person who knows what good is cannot chose anything but that good. The possibility that one still chooses evil could be because he is ignorant and doesn’t know what good is.

Good virtue enhances the free will, out of freedom they are approaching determinism. According to Greeks by doing the bad a person is actually enslaving the free will. Descartes, ‘if you know what is good the person would follow that rather then doing the opposite’. They have attributed determinism with the knowledge of good. Aristotle censured Plato and Socrates that a person follows evil with his or her own will. Something that became debatable in the Elizabethan Era, society was highly suspicious of the power of supernatural forces and it was commonly accepted that one’s life was governed by fate and was predetermined. Shakespeare’s Macbeth challenges the Elizabethan ideology of fate by privileging that although Macbeth was a victim of his ‘vaulting ambition’ , he was ultimately responsible for his villainous actions. Shakespeare has foregounded certain events to privilege that a person has free will and a conscience and the consequences of going against one's conscience.

In the Contemporary philosophers people like Saul Smilansky, for example, believe that humans do not have free will but that one must keep it a secret from the masses. If all people knew their behavior was determined, they would stop behaving morally, the believe the question of free will has overwhelming implications for the sense of moral responsibility. If free will makes us accountable for our choices, does the opposite hold true, that determinism absolves us of responsibility?

German philosopher Immanuel Kant argued that the moral responsibility stems entirely from the ability to do the right thing, to do the moral duty. Kant's theory implies that if a person can make the choice to do the right thing, he must have free will. To him, ‘If we do not have free will, and our behavior is determined according to what came before; our environment, our genetics, our parents' behavior—what does that mean for our society's ideas of crime and punishment? Should we be held responsible for actions that were inevitable? How do we treat individuals who commit crimes if we believe their backgrounds led them to the crimes?’

The debate continues as we gain increasing access to scientific evidence of brain activity related to moral choices. Professor Nichols's discussion of the relationship between the actions and brain activity of criminals is particularly fascinating, which leads into the examination of whether certain types of criminals, such as psychopaths, are morally responsible for their actions. Empirically its been proved that humans have free will and deliberately or unconsciously they perform an action with their own will.

Deterministic philosophy can be categorized as; Physical determinism, which has its origin in the atomism of Democritus and Lucretius. The theory that human interaction can be reduced to relationships between biological, chemical, or physical entities: this formulation is fundamental to modern sociobiology and neuropsychology. Causal physical determisnim stipulates that there is a cause behind actions which a person doesnt know, but scientific explanations can explain them for sure.

The historical determinism of Karl Marx on the other hand, is transpersonal and primarily economic, in contrast to these two formulations. It suggests the course of history predominantly through economic factor.

Psychological determinism whose philosophical base is the theory that the purpose, needs and desires of individuals are central to an explanation of human behavior. So for every action, be it a practical one, a thought or a dream they try to find a reason or a cause behind them. To most of them humans are free to make choices and hence, responsible for their actions, though the schizophrenics and neurotics are not blamed for their actions.

The behavioral determinism of B.F Skinner is a modification of this view, in that Skinner reduces all internal psychological states to publicly observable behavior. His stimulus response account also uses modern statistical and probabilistic analyses of causation which is a contemporary example of naturalistic determinism. He believes that all human behavior is completely controlled by genetic and environmental factor. These factors do not rule out the fact that human beings make choices: however, they do rule out the possibility that human choices are free. For Skinner, all human choices are determined by cause of his behavior. He is like a knife in the hands of a butcher or a hammer in the grip of a carpenter: he does not originate action but is the instrument through which some other agent performs the action

The naturalistic view sees human being as part of the machinery of the universe. In such a world every event is caused by preceding events, which in turn were caused by still earlier events, ad infinitum. Since man is part of this causal chain, his actions are also determined by antecedent causes.

Logical determinism’s advocated their believes with the analogies that no one can escape the fate even if the person wants to. Diodonis, ‘if a person gets sick he’ll recover either he goes to a doctor or not , on the other hand if he has to perish then nothing can save him’.

Jean Paul Sartre and other contemporary philosopher have argued that determinism is controverted by introspection, which reveals actions to be the result of our own choices and not necessitated by previous events or external factors. Determinists respond that such experiences of freedom are illusions and that introspection is an unreliable and unscientific method for understanding human behavior.

Some of these causes are the environment and man's genetic make up. These are to happen in the absolute determined way of what man does that no one could rightly say that a given human action could have been performed otherwise than it in fact was performed. Thus, according to determinism simple actions like, Bob's sitting on the brown chair rather than the blue sofa is not a free choice but is fully determined by previous factors.

A philosophical argument often given for determinism can be stated as all human
behavior is either completely uncaused, self caused, or caused by something external.
Now human behavior cannot be uncaused, for nothing can happen without a cause, nothing cannot cause something. Human behavior cannot be self caused either, for each act would have to exist prior to itself to cause itself which is impossible. Thus, the only alternative is that all human behavior must be completely caused by something external. Naturalistic determinists maintain that such things as heredity and environment are the extemal causes, whereas, theistic determinists believe that God is the external cause of all human behavior.

Theistic determinism is the view that all events, including man's behavior, are caused (determined) by God. One of the more famous advocates of this view was the Puritan theologian Jonathan Edwards. He maintained that the concept of free will or self determinism contradicted the sovereignty of God. If God is truly in control of all things, then no one could act contrary to his will which is what self determinism must hold. Hence, for god to be sovereign he must cause every event, be it human or otherwise. Calvinist’s Calvin promoted the doctrine of predestination, which he defined as ‘the eternal decree of God, by which He determined with Himself whatever He wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation.’ Medieval theologians like St. Augustine, one of Christianity's most important thinkers, upheld that God knows absolutely everything, including every action a person takes, every decision he or she makes. Nonetheless, Augustine maintained, the person’s choices are still free, God doesn't force a person into His decisions.

Indeterminism is another view which contends that human behavior is totally uncaused. There is no antecedent or simultaneous causes of man's actions. Some indeterminists extend their view beyond human affairs to the entire universe. In support of the indeterminacy of all events Heisenberg’s principle of uncertainty is often invoked. This principle states that it is impossible to predict where a subatomic particle is and how fast it is moving at any given moment. Thus, it is argued, since subatomic events are inherently unpredictable, how much more so are complex human acts. From this they conclude that human and non-human events are uncaused. Two noted exponents of indeterminism are William James and Charles Peirce.

Then there is self-determinism, according to this view a person's acts are caused by himself Self determinists accept the fact that such factors as heredity and environment often influence one's behavior. However they deny that such factors are the determining causes of one's behavior. Inanimate object do not change without an outside cause, but personal subjects are able to direct their own actions. Self determinists reject the notions that events are uncaused or that they cause themselves. Rather, they believe that human actions can be caused by human beings. Two prominent advocates of this view are Aquinas and C S Lewis.

Islam is a religion of moderation it avoids extremes and encourages the balance of synthesis without compromising its vital principles. Islam creates an equipoise, which is in the form of a vibrant equilibrium between man's tendency towards waywardness and his equally natural inclination to cramp and constrict his creative energies. Thus, Islam comes out with a viable coalescence of the extremist attitudes. There is a delicate distinction between the creation of an act and performance of an act, very significant and cannot be brushed aside as a phenomenon of peripheral significance. The balanced and popular view of Muslim jurists is that man is neither the creator of his deeds nor his actions are divinely predetermined.

There is a verse in which divine will is mentioned with reference to the existence of evil. People who fail to comprehend the essence of the verse presume a predestined element of criminality in human conduct in the verse : "And if Allah had willed' (i.e., if it had been God's plan) they would not have taken the false gods.” The verse, in fact, negates the philosophy of necessity and determinism as a national and logical manner the verse suggests that though Allah has the power to eliminate evil and ensure human immunity to it, He does not interfere with the wrong doer’s freedom of option for evil. This verse does not suggest that God assists the evil. The only thing expressed in it is that though Allah dislikes man's choice of evil, He does not impose His will on him to checkmate his choice. If Allah had imposed His will on human beings, no one would have opted for evil. But it is the divine decision to leave people to their own' choices, without clamping a pre-determined divine compulsion on the independent exercise of their free will. This is the only basis of man's moral and legal responsibility.

It is established beyond any iota of doubt that Islam does not recognize the concept of determined criminally, whether it is genetically acquired or psychologically induced.
The positivistic or biological theory, propounded by the Italian school of criminology, is equally untenable because Islam neither believes at the concept of atavistic reversion of human beings nor in inherited criminality.

The acceptance of original sin; Adam and Eve’s act of eating the forbidden fruit invalidates man's freedom of will and action. This concept also vitiates man's moral responsibility. If he is a born criminal, he is not culpable for his evil acts. He is, therefore, exempted from all accountability. This notion, in fact, makes a mockery of man's creation and stresses the futility of man's struggle for moral perfection. Therefore, any cause of criminality that reduces it to a predetermined state or activity, is alien to the teachings of Islam, On the other hand Islam strongly affirms that human conduct is not pre determined in any sense. Man has freedom of choice and he is morally responsible for his act of commission and omission. Morality and responsibility in fact, are skillfully juxtaposed in the Islamic system of rewards and punishments.

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 the Duque de Rivas' play that Verdi transformed into La Forza del Destino ("The Force of Destiny") or Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey, or in Macbeth's uncannily-derived knowledge of his own destiny, which in spite of all his actions does not preclude a horrible fate.

Other notable examples include Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles, in which Tess is destined to the miserable death that she is confronted with at the end of the novel. Destiny is a recurring theme in the literature of Hermann Hesse including Siddhartha and his magnum opus and The Glass Bead Game.The common theme of these works is a protagonist who cannot escape a destiny if their fate has been sealed, however hard they try.

Human freedom and human limitation are the perennial subjects of philosophical controversy. There are a number of renowned philosophers who believe in unqualified freedom, there are others who believe in unqualified restriction. The former turn freedom into license and absolute lack of discipline, the latter shrink restriction into an unredeemed determinism and a pressure-cooker attitude towards life. Both postures reflect a perverse state of mind and a hopeless miscalculation of the sources and springs of life and their lap-sidedness is quite obvious only the nature of their respective tilt varies. But the bend is there and transforms both the crests and troughs of their imaginative exercise into a humpy assessment of human acts by presenting a middle approach.
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