Determinism Not Destiny

2009.08.12

vader1

Let me show you the nature of your prison, of your mortal husk.  That crude matter you call ‘body’ and the series of animal impulses and reckless decisions you call ‘life.’  One is tempted, often, when trying to assign some meaning to life, to explain these impulses and decisions, to fall back on a general notion of fate, some kind of cosmic will from beyond one’s self, both inaccessible and inexplicable.  It is often deemed suitably explained by its very unexplainableness.  This state of belief is unacceptable, immoral and, well, insane.

Take me: my entire physical existence seemed governed, or at least conducted by the belief of the people surrounding me in fate, in destiny, in the prophecy of the Chosen One.*  Not even I, whose every formal mentor willed it to be true, accepted that I walked a predetermined path of destiny decided by a universal, etherial Force with a will and motives of its own.

The Force doesn’t have motives any more than light has a will of its own.

I traveled with this doubt, treasuring it like a keepsake, an heirloom.  It was the product of something Fatriar Didax said to me shortly before the Jedi got their meathooks into me.  Didax didn’t believe in destiny.  He talked instead of “living in the moment, informed by necessity.”

Though I didn’t fully understand it at the time, the peculiar choice of word, “necessity,” sparked a curiosity in me that would glimmer at the back of my mind perpetually until I came to understand what Didax meant.  He used the word in the same way philosopher William Godwin of your Solar System did.  He was giving voice to the concept your modern day philosophers call “determinism.”  Godwin struck a particularly apt metaphor, which especially resonates with someone of my experience, when he wrote:

Consider, that man is but a machine!  He is just what his nature and circumstances have made him:  he obeys the necessities which he cannot resist.  If he is corrupt, it is because he has been corrupted.  If he is unamiable, it is because he has been ‘mocked. and spitefully entreated, and spit upon.’  Give him a different education, place him under other circumstances, treat him with as much gentleness and generosity, as he has experienced of harshness, and he would be an altogether different creature.

You see, our predispositions and circumstances inform our “choices.”  Even more than that.  At any moment, all of history, (both our personal history and history history,) determines for us, in a way we can little control, what we are compelled to do next.   The path we walk, the choices we make are as inexorable as any destiny prescribed by a higher will, or imposed on us by a consensus of equal or lesser wills (like Jedi monks with a hope complex.)

To choose to leave the path necessity blazes, requires a substantial dispositional break.  A type of break which seems only possible at the proverbial ‘rock bottom,’ or ‘when there is nothing left to lose,’ but then, these conditions themselves are only predispositions and circumstances that follow from whatever preceded them.

The best we can hope for as moral creatures under such a system, is to understand this, and to cultivate the ability to recognize and cope with our reasons.

* “Fully defeated by just anyone, the dark side cannot be, but only by the Chosen One. And who might be this Jedi? Know I do not, but not yet born is he or she. This much, sense I can. A vessel of pure Force the Chosen One will be, more powerful than any Jedi in history.” [Yoda]
Advertisements

One Response to “Determinism Not Destiny”

  1. […] one wonders what trick of necessity would result in Homes’ predispositions, in reflecting on the book title, I’m led to […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: