What role does fate or chance play in determining one's action or future events? Do people alone determine their own destinies in life?

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Philosophers have debated this question for centuries.  Simply stated, the question is: Do we have free will (that is, the power to choose actions) or is everything predestined (fate).  To the predestinationist, our so-called choices are illusions, nothing more than the acting out of fate’s predetermined path.  Many persons believe our entire being was conceived by a deity, who “hopes” we “choose” to love Him in return. To the existentialist, we must “accept the consequences of our actions”; that is, choose based on what we believe is right action.  The problem is that the “consequences” of our actions are of two kinds: foreseeable and unforeseen.  If we purposely drop a glass, we can foresee and accept some consequences:  the liquid will spill, and glass will (possibly) break, the glass will make a loud noise, etc.  But, as we all know, dropping a glass can be a deliberate choice or simply the acting-out of gravity’s laws, or the result of our or other’s carelessness, etc.  It may also have unforeseen consequences:  it could hit the cat, or the noise could frighten the sleeping dog, which then jumps up and knocks over the table, etc., etc.  That is the philosophical side of your question.  From the physical point of view, it is easy to see that our choices are not the only forces in play on the physical plane, or our destinies would all be pleasant and rewarding.  Many “forces” are “in play” already, by which is meant that past events (caused by choices with foreseen and unforeseen circumstances) are today still figuring into our “choices”: immigration, civil wars, childhood upbringing, etc. all are instrumental in our “destinies.”

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