What is the significance of fatalism? Fatalism is a belief that events are determined by fate. Fatalism is a belief that we have to accept the outcome of events, and that we cannot do anything that will change the outcome, because events are determined by something over which we have no control.
Fatalism may apply to all events, or may take a more restricted form. It may be consistent with determinism, the belief that every event, including everything we do, is caused by something other than itself. On the other hand, it may be consistent with indeterminism, the belief that not every event has a cause, and that some events cannot be explained by universal laws or principles.
Fatalism may conflict with determinism if it asserts that we cannot effectively change our actions, or cause a change in the outcome of events. On the other hand, fatalism may conflict with indeterminism if it asserts that we do not have the freedom to choose our own actions.
Determinism may allow that, even if our actions are caused by forces which we cannot control, our actions can still be effective in changing the outcome of events. On the other hand, indeterminism may allow that, even if there are events which we cannot control, we have the freedom to choose how to respond, without being compelled to respond in a certain way by forces beyond our control.
Fatalism may take the view that, if all our actions are caused by forces beyond our control, then we are not responsible for our actions. If we are placed in situations beyond our control, then we may not be free to choose how to respond. This may be in conflict with the theory of free will, that we are free to choose our actions, and that our actions are not predetermined by a force independent of our own will.
Fatalism is in conflict with the theory of free will if it asserts that we are not free to choose our own actions. If we are free to choose our own actions at any given moment, then the future is not determined simply by fate. If we are free to choose our actions, then we could have done something other than that which we did, and the present events could be different from what they are at this moment. This would mean that the present is not determined simply by fate.
On the other hand, fatalism may take the opposing view that, if events can never be predicted with complete certainty, then we are free to choose our own actions, because nothing predetermines that events will happen the way they do happen.
Fatalism may consist of two components: 1) the belief that events are beyond our control, and 2) the belief that we cannot change the outcome of events. Each of these components of fatalism may or may not be justified by reality.
Fatalism is negative if it is a pervasive attitude. It may be associated with pessimism, hopelessness, and despair. But, to the extent that acceptance of events beyond our control is in accord with reality, and is not accompanied by the feeling that we can do nothing to change events, the acceptance of reality may be positive. Acceptance of reality may be a form of insight, and may resolve inner conflict.
Fatalism thus consists of both acceptance and denial. Fatalism may have a positive aspect, insofar as it is an acceptance of reality. But fatalism is negative, insofar as it is a denial that we can do anything to change reality.
Fatalism is not only a belief that events are determined by fate, but is an acceptance of or submission to fate. This may be based on a perception that some events are inevitable and cannot be changed. If certain events are inevitable, they cannot be avoided or escaped. The acceptance of these events as determined by fate involves a recognition that they cannot be avoided or escaped.
It is possible to be fatalistic, and yet not to be totally fatalistic. Individuals who are fatalistic can still believe that some of their actions may change the outcome of certain events.
On the other hand, fatalism may be a belief that we can do nothing to change our destiny, because our future is inevitably determined by fate.
Fatalism may be consistent with a belief that events are caused by a determining principle or force in the universe, such as God. Fatalism may be included in some religious beliefs.
Fatalism may or may not be based on belief in God. Fatalism may be consistent with predeterminism, a belief that all events have a predetermined outcome. Fatalism may also be a form of realism, an attempt to view events are they are, without rational explanation or idealized interpretation.
Fatalism is different from a belief in predestination. It is possible to be fatalistic, and yet not to believe that all events are predestined. It is possible to believe in predestination, and yet to reject fatalism.
Fatalism may be consistent with a belief that everything is determined by God. Every event, good or bad, may be seen as part of God’s plan. We must accept what happens to us, because it is the will of God. Nothing happens without God as the first cause of the events that led other events to happen.Whatever happens to us is what God willed to happen. We can accept whatever happens to us, if we have faith in God.
On the other hand, fatalism may not be based on belief in God. Fatalism may be based on a belief that, because events are determined by forces beyond our control, and because we have no power to change our fate, therefore life has no meaning. If life has no meaning, this may lead to the belief that there is no God.
Fate may be defined in a number of ways. Fate may be seen as an inexplicable, arbitrary, and impersonal force that determines the outcome of certain events. Fate may be seen as related to destiny, a mysterious and unalterable force that moves events toward a predetermined outcome.
Fatalism may be understandable in some situations. Fatalism can be a way of preparing ourselves for all the bad things that happen in our lives. Fatalism does not always have to be negative. It can be a way to acknowledge that there are good and bad things in life, and that sometimes bad things happen without a reason.
Bad things can happen to good people (e.g. a loved one can get cancer, or an innocent person can be the victim of a crime). Good things can happen to bad people (e.g. dictators gain political power, a criminal can go unpunished for his crime).
Sometimes, things happen that cannot be explained (e.g. senseless acts of violence). There may be no way to explain why good or bad things happen at a particular time, in a particular place, to a particular person. Sometimes, the good or bad things that happen to a person, at a particular time or place, may just as easily have happened to another person, at another time or place.
Sometimes, there may be no other way to accept something bad that has happened, without being somewhat fatalistic about it (e.g. when one’s house has been damaged by a flood, or one’s belongings have been stolen by a thief, or one’s car has been damaged by another vehicle that ran a red light).
Fatalism can enable us to accept that we are unimportant, and that we occupy only a small part of the universe. What happens to us as individuals may not affect many other individuals, and the final course of history may not be changed by whatever good or bad things happen to us as individuals. Fatalism may enable us to accept our own finiteness and powerlessness. It may also help us to overcome our self-centeredness, so that we can look at how events affect others, and not just at how these events affect ourselves.
When we are fatalistic about the future, and accept the possibility that bad things may happen to us, we may feel that much better when good things happen to us. Fatalism can be a coping mechanism. It may be a way to avoid disappointment. Fatalism does not have to mean that we should not try to change things that can be changed. Nor does it necessarily mean that we should not do things that should be done. But it can enable us to accept things that cannot be changed.
On the other hand, fatalism can have many negative implications. Fatalism in ethics may be a rejection of personal responsibility. Fatalism may take the view that our actions are predetermined by causes for which we are not responsible. Ethical choices may be seen as caused by external forces over which we have no control. Thus, we are not responsible for our personal choices, because there is no freedom of the will. We are not free to make our own decisions, because we are subject to forces which we cannot control. This may be used as an excuse for passivity, inaction, and failure to try to change those events over which we do have some control.
Fatalism can also be a way of trying to avoid or escape blame and guilt for unethical conduct. It can be a way of trying to avoid duty, obligation, or commitment. It can be a means of excusing oneself for failure to exercise self-control, self-restraint, or self-discipline.
Fatalism may be used as a rationale for not caring about what happens, or about how other people are affected by what happens, based on a feeling that our efforts will be futile, anyway. This is translated as a feeling that ‘Whatever I do will not make any difference, because it is my fate not to be able to control what happens. Nothing that I can do can change the world. Things will happen the way they happen, anyway.’
Fatalism may deny that our personal choices have meaning, based on the belief that we cannot ultimately change the outcome of events, because the universe is seen as governed by chance, randomness, and uncertainty.
The argument that ‘events are determined by fate’ can be used to justify acceptance of injustice and evil.
Fatalism can be used to justify acceptance of, or complicity with, many forms of social injustice. Fatalism can be used to justify failure to prevent personal injury; failure to prevent death; failure to prevent injustice; failure to prevent discrimination, failure to prevent damage to property, failure to prevent damage to the environment.
Fatalism can be used to justify failure to oppose crime, injustice, violence, war, genocide, tyranny, oppression, and other moral or social problems.
Thus, the basic flaw in fatalism is that it can become a form of nihilism. It can become a belief that nothing has meaning, nothing can be known, nothing that we do makes any difference. It can become a belief that nothing is worth fighting for, that nothing is worth living for. It can become a rejection of any personal commitment.