Fatalism is the philosophical idea that the individual is powerless in the universe. The idea is that man has no ability to influence either the future or even one’s own actions, and that one should be resigned to one’s fate. While human beings are still free in their actions, resistance against the inevitable will only lead to psychological stress, and that acceptance is the appropriate response.
Well-known fatalists are:
- David Foster Wallace
- Thomas Hardy
- Joseph Heller
- William of Ockham
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Fatalism and The Idle Argument
Fatalism is an ancient philosophy. Both Origen and Cicero supported a famous argument for fatalism known as the Idle Argument. The Idle Argument runs as follows: If one is fated to recover from an illness, you will recover whether you call the doctor or not. Further, if you are fate to not recover, you will not whether you call the doctor. It is, however, fated that you will either recover or not. Therefore, it is futile to call the doctor in any case.
In theological terms, John Calvin adopted fatalism in his doctrine of predestination. Calvin maintained that God, from the beginning of the Universe, already determined every event in one’s life. Whether one was saved had nothing to do with one’s actions.
Fatalism and Predestination
Both classic fatalism and predestination have at their heart the idea that there is some force or God that is controlling the events of the universe. Therefore all events are set and nothing can be altered from happening.