I think, therefore I am. I am and therefore I think. Thinking is my identity, my existential need of everyday, every minute. Often times, I have been chastised by many, for thinking too much, for analyzing too much, but if I didn’t, I really wouldn’t exist. It wouldn’t be me. My thinking today has taken me back a few years, to a time when I was doing my masters. The time when I was introduced to the greats like, Descartes, Plato, Aristotle and many others. There were many topics that tickled my brain and of course got me thinking more! Few of them that I want to discuss here are ‘Determinism’, ‘Predeterminism’, ‘Fatalism’ and Freewill. Here is my attempt to put it in as simple terms as possible.
Determinism: In simple words, determinism means that what you are going to do tomorrow has already been decided by the choices you made yesterday. There is no way you can change what is bound to happen. The paths you choose and the choices you make in life have already been decided. Even if I was given ten choices, it has been decided that I will choose to write about philosophy today. Nothing else.
Predeterminism: This term has sometimes been exchanged with determinism. It is almost similar but has a slight difference. Predeterminism has a theological connection to it. Simply said, what you are going to do tomorrow has been decided before you were born by God. Your karmas, your deeds, your past lives, decide your future path. No miracles and no chance events can happen. That I am in the business of education, was decided by my past deeds of my past lives. So if I have done something wrong in this life, could I just blame it on the past and not take responsibility because heck it was already decided I would do wrong? I have no say in it!
Fatalism: It’s a special form of determinism wherein, every event in the future is fated to happen. There are no causal laws or higher powers that are involved. The saying ‘Que sera sera’ fits it perfectly. The bigger events are fated to happen. There may be some choices we can make about how we get to the big event but no matter what the event that was supposed to happen, will happen, at that exact moment. So if someone predicts I will have an accident tomorrow, I can stay home, lock my self indoors and not drive anywhere, yet, the accident is bound to happen. So why not drive everyday without a care because if it has to happen it will happen. Right?
Free will: The most debated issue in philosophy is free will. What it states is that we as humans have a free will to decide what we want to do. It basically negates any kind of determinism or fatalism. Free will has many factors that it is free of, factors that otherwise bind us to do the right thing. Factors or constraints such as, logical, religious, fear of punishment, fear of society, or ethics. Our strong sense of freedom, forces us to believe in free will. But do we really have the freedom to do what we want to do?
The philosophy that binds us depends I guess on the life we have had and the experiences we have faced. Each experience in life pushes us towards a certain philosophy. If you dig deeper, you should be able to see the philosophy you subscribe to. It is hard to find the right answers in philosophy. Nothing is right or wrong. Everything is possible and impossible. We can only think about it and draw our own conclusions. Atleast I agree with Descartes when he says, Cogito ergo sum. I think therefore I am.