Destiny and predeterminism

which category are we in?


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  • #1
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The following quotes are from http://www.etymonline.com .


destiny - c.1325, from O.Fr. destinée (12c.), fem. pp. of destiner, from L. destinatus, pp. of destinare "make firm, establish" (see destination). The sense is of "that which has been firmly established," as by fate.

destination - 1598, "act of appointing," from L. destinationem (nom. destinatio), from destinare "determine, appoint, choose, make firm or fast," from de- "completely, formally" + -stinare, related to stare "to stand." Modern sense (1787) is from place of destination, where one is "destined" to go.

fate - c.1374, from L. fata, neut. pl. of fatum "thing spoken (by the gods), one's destiny," from neut. pp. of fari "to speak," from PIE *bha- "speak." The L. sense evolution is from "sentence of the Gods" (Gk. theosphaton), subsequently "lot, portion" (Gk. moira, personified as a goddess in Homer), later "one of the three goddesses (Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos) who determined the course of a human life."

fatal - c.1374, "decreed by fate," from L. fatalis "ordained by fate," from fatum (see fate); sense of "causing death" is c.1430. Fatality "disaster resulting in death" is from 1840; fatalism appeared 1678 as the philosophical doctrine that all things are determined by fate; fatalist in the general sense of "one who accepts every event as inevitable" is from 1734.

The following quotes are from http://dictionary.com .
destiny –
1. The inevitable or necessary fate to which a particular person or thing is destined; one's lot.
2. A predetermined course of events considered as something beyond human power or control: “Marriage and hanging go by destiny” (Robert Burton).
3. The power or agency thought to predetermine events: Destiny brought them together.

fate –
1 a. The supposed force, principle, or power that predetermines events.
1 b. The inevitable events predestined by this force.
2. A final result or consequence; an outcome.
3. Unfavorable destiny; doom.
4. Fates Greek & Roman Mythology. The three goddesses, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, who control human destiny. Used with the.

Is there such a thing as destiny? Is there such a thing as fate? In this short essay, we will explore these issues.

First of all, to fix our definitions, we will define destiny as the inevitable or necessary fate to which a person or thing is destined. Since this definition is self-referential, as well as a reference to fate, we will add that destiny is a predetermined course of events. Fate is the supposed force, principle, or power that predetermines events as well as a final result or consequence, i.e., an outcome. Using this definition of fate, we see that the definition of destiny becomes this: the inevitable or necessary final result or consequence, i.e., an outcome, to which a person or thing is destined. We suppose further that destiny is the inevitable or necessary final result for a person or thing in accordance with predetermination.

The question then becomes this: are events predetermined? Are all events, some events, or no events predetermined? In the case that all events are predetermined, let this be called strong predetermination. In the case that some events are predetermined, let this be called weak predetermination. When no events are predetermined, let this be called no predetermination.

Either we have strong predetermination, weak predetermination, or no predetermination. In the first case, the answer to the first question will be yes and in all other cases either a qualified or an unqualified no; likewise for the second question above.

A preliminary result is this: if an event is predetermined and involves the choice of a person (or conceivably a thing), then that person (or thing) can not know in advance what the outcome is. To show this, suppose that an event that involves the choice of a person (or thing) is predetermined. To arrive at a contradiction, also suppose that the person (or thing) whose choice that event involves can know in advance what the outcome is. Then the person (or thing) could simply choose to change the outcome going against the predetermined outcome; this contradicts what it means to be predetermined and, therefore, the person (or thing) can not know in advance what the outcome is.

We proceed to assume we have strong predetermination and see what results we can obtain from this assumption. This case can be ruled out immediately by considering a person dropping a ball on the ground. If all events are predetermined, then what the person does with the ball is predetermined. Either the person drops the ball or the person holds on to the ball. Since this event involves the choice of a person, and it is predetermined, that person can not know in advance what the outcome is. This means the person themselves can not (not just “does not”) know whether they will drop the ball or not; this is absurd. This absurdity implies that not all events are predetermined. Thus we have our second result: we do not have strong predetermination.

To establish that we don’t have no predetermination, let us consider the event that a person correctly solves the equation “x+5=2x.” We see that a person has no choice, when done correctly, but to discover that x=5 (modulo equivalent answers such as 5=x). This outcome was determined before the person solved the equation and, therefore, it was predetermined. This shows that at least one event is predetermined.

Since the choices strong/weak/no predetermination are exclusive, and we’ve ruled out the first and last cases, this means we have weak predetermination. Some events are predetermined and some are not.
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
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It isn't necesarily predetermined that they get the answer x=5. They could have absolutely no algebra skills and write nothing. They could make a huge blunder and divide both sides by 'x' wrongly thinking that will leave 5=2 (which doesn't make very much sense). Were the question to ask them to find 'x' they could do as a friend of mine once did: circle 'x' and then write "he's just not trying any more". Just because there's one correct answer doesn't mean a person has to acheive that answer. Mind you it is true that anyone with the most basic algebra should be able to get that one right.

Weak predeterminism would more likely apply to events that are resistant to small changes. The life of a sun or the end fate of the universe are two examples but even then weak predeterminism only really dictates that certain events will occur since there can always be small discrepancies in how a major event plays out. If predeterminism is to exist then it is more likely that everything be completely pre-destined.
 
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  • #3
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KFunk said:
It isn't necesarily predetermined that they get the answer x=5. They could have absolutely no algebra skills and write nothing. They could make a huge blunder and divide both sides by 'x' wrongly thinking that will leave 5=2 (which doesn't make very much sense). Were the question to ask them to find 'x' they could do as a friend of mine once did: circle 'x' and then write "he's just not trying any more". Just because there's one correct answer doesn't mean a person has to acheive that answer. Mind you it is true that anyone with the most basic algebra should be able to get that one right.

let us consider the event that a person correctly solves the equation “x+5=2x.” We see that a person has no choice, when done correctly, but to discover that x=5 (modulo equivalent answers such as 5=x).


Weak predeterminism would more likely apply to events that are resistant to small changes. The life of a sun or the end fate of the universe are two examples but even then weak predeterminism only really dictates that certain events will occur since there can always be small discrepancies in how a major event plays out. If predeterminism is to exist then it is more likely that everything be completely pre-destined.

the argument in the middle goes against completely predestined:
We proceed to assume we have strong predetermination and see what results we can obtain from this assumption. This case can be ruled out immediately by considering a person dropping a ball on the ground. If all events are predetermined, then what the person does with the ball is predetermined. Either the person drops the ball or the person holds on to the ball. Since this event involves the choice of a person, and it is predetermined, that person can not know in advance what the outcome is. This means the person themselves can not (not just “does not”) know whether they will drop the ball or not; this is absurd. This absurdity implies that not all events are predetermined. Thus we have our second result: we do not have strong predetermination.

this uses the result obtained previously which is this:
A preliminary result is this: if an event is predetermined and involves the choice of a person (or conceivably a thing), then that person (or thing) can not know in advance what the outcome is.
 
  • #4
There's a difference between predeterminism and the following of laws. Drop a ball off a roof, it will fall. It's not predetermined to fall. Once released, the force of gravity, combined with those of air resistance and wind, act upon it and the ball reacts by falling. Gravity is a law of nature.

Mathematics is the code of nature. the equation "x+5=2x" yields the answer x=5 because nature disallows any other answer. If this was predeterminism, then that opens up the possibility that another answer could pop up, depending upon whatever power chooses for the predetermined answer. But this does not happen. x always equals 5 in this equation (mod 5) because that is the only logical answer. I could write down an infinite list of equations such that x=5 solves them all. Does that mean that something predetermined an infinite amount of equations? not only that infinite set, but an infinite set of infinite sets with an infinite amount of answers. this is ridiculous.
 
  • #5
All things are determined by the laws of physics. There is no free will. The current state of the universe dictates what the states to follow will be. There is no room for possibility with the equal-and-opposite, cause-and-effect laws by which all interactions take place...which is why ideas like heaven and hell and revenge and judgment are illogical.
 
  • #6
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Dissisent Dan:
I think we can all set aside the old traditional myths without too much difficulty. What I wonder is, how do you explain being an aware, cognitive personality for only .00000000000000000000000000001 percent of the whole of physical existence?? ( I may have missed a few zeros).

Logically, this doesn't make sense. when we look at the world, everything cycles and renews itself. Why not beings?

love&peace,
olde drunk
 
  • #7
Firstly, you can't say, "Logically, this doesn't make sense," and be correct. You are making an inductive argument, not a deductive one. Therefore, you cannot make a claim as to whether or not it is logical. You can make a statement as to whether or not it is likely.

Secondly, I don't see what cycling and renewing has to do with a small percent of "existence" (matter and energy are what I presume you are referring to) being aware, cognitive personalities. Consciousness is a very complex (there is a staggering number of synapses in even the simplest brains) and fragile (guess which comes out in one piece when an animal and a boulder collide?) phenomenon.
 
  • #8
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You left out one critical alternative, that of relative predetermination. Demonstrably, whether one views something as predestined or not depends upon the context. Even the meaning of these words depends upon the context in which they are used.
 
  • #9
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Why are you all so complicating?

we're in a system, sort of like dissident dan said, and we are limited by our environment's and our own possibilities.

that's all.
 
  • #10
What I wonder is, how do you explain being an aware, cognitive personality for only .00000000000000000000000000001 percent of the whole of physical existence?? ( I may have missed a few zeros).

Why is this in need of explaining except for in the spiritual (non-physical) sense? I have seen you post something similiar to this before olde drunk and while I feel it is an interesting point I don't see any support for it. Maybe you should be incredibly grateful that you exist at all. Maybe we are all just really "lucky" to be concious beings in a universe such as our own. I for one feel privileged that all prior events have led to my conciousness at this moment.
 
  • #11
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Ad Infinitum NAU said:
There's a difference between predeterminism and the following of laws. Drop a ball off a roof, it will fall. It's not predetermined to fall. Once released, the force of gravity, combined with those of air resistance and wind, act upon it and the ball reacts by falling. Gravity is a law of nature.

I never said the ball was predetermined to fall. You may want to re-read what I wrote.

Mathematics is the code of nature. the equation "x+5=2x" yields the answer x=5 because nature disallows any other answer. If this was predeterminism, then that opens up the possibility that another answer could pop up, depending upon whatever power chooses for the predetermined answer. But this does not happen. x always equals 5 in this equation (mod 5) because that is the only logical answer. I could write down an infinite list of equations such that x=5 solves them all. Does that mean that something predetermined an infinite amount of equations? not only that infinite set, but an infinite set of infinite sets with an infinite amount of answers. this is ridiculous.

Predetermined to me means determined before the event. x=5 was determined before the event of myself solving x+5=2x today.
 
  • #12
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Dissident Dan said:
All things are determined by the laws of physics. There is no free will. The current state of the universe dictates what the states to follow will be. There is no room for possibility with the equal-and-opposite, cause-and-effect laws by which all interactions take place...which is why ideas like heaven and hell and revenge and judgment are illogical.

What law of physics states that when I solve x+5=2x, I get x=5? This is an aside because I already know that not everything is determined by the laws of physics; consider this a rhetorical question.

Not everything is predetermined. Re-read my argument on why everything can't be predetermined. If it is predetermined that I will drop a ball, then I can not know that I am about to drop a ball. Not just do not know but can not know. If I can know that I "will" drop a ball, then I can simply choose to not drop the ball thus it wasn't predetermined that I dropped the ball.

Besides that, what evidence do you have for your claims?
 
  • #13
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wuliheron said:
You left out one critical alternative, that of relative predetermination. Demonstrably, whether one views something as predestined or not depends upon the context. Even the meaning of these words depends upon the context in which they are used.

Interesting idea. Please explain.
 
  • #14
phoenixthoth said:
What law of physics states that when I solve x+5=2x, I get x=5? This is an aside because I already know that not everything is determined by the laws of physics; consider this a rhetorical question.

It is determined by the laws of physics. The laws of physics dictate the synaptic interactions in your brain that led to the typing of "x=5".

If I can know that I "will" drop a ball, then I can simply choose to not drop the ball thus it wasn't predetermined that I dropped the ball.

That is an argument against knowing the future, not against the future being predetermined.
 
  • #15
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Dissident Dan said:
It is determined by the laws of physics. The laws of physics dictate the synaptic interactions in your brain that led to the typing of "x=5".

I'm not talking about the typing of "x=5" I'm talking about the solution to x+5=2x. What law of physics dictates that the solution is x=5?



That is an argument against knowing the future, not against the future being predetermined.
No it actually is against the future being predetermined. Re-read it and the original post and maybe you'll figure out what I'm trying to say.
 
  • #16
phoenixthoth said:
I'm not talking about the typing of "x=5" I'm talking about the solution to x+5=2x. What law of physics dictates that the solution is x=5?

Well, the laws of math, of which I consider the laws of a physics a manifestation, dictate that. "x=5" is a truth, but it's not some "thing" that exists.

No it actually is against the future being predetermined. Re-read it and the original post and maybe you'll figure out what I'm trying to say.

I know the argument well. If you do not drop the ball, then it was predetermined that you would make that decision.
 
  • #17
1,605
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I know the argument well. If you do not drop the ball, then it was predetermined that you would make that decision.

How do you know that?

If it's predetermined then I can't know what the outcome is. If I knew the outcome, I could go against the outcome. Do you agree?
 
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  • #18
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Predetermination ? Are we predetremined ?

On a plane, the triangle that defines that plane equals the triangle inequality theorem.

If our minds use two parts. Like Q & A. Then we use the triangle inequality theorem. ? < ? & A

That theorem says we are determined to have a answer. So for your dropping rock question, a answer already exited.

Edit.Oops. :uhh: :shy:
 
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  • #19
phoenixthoth said:
Predetermined to me means determined before the event. x=5 was determined before the event of myself solving x+5=2x today.


It was not determined at all, it just is. Nothing chose it to be 5, except you when you wrote the equation down. You plan for x to be 5 once you write down "x+5=2x". without context (the equation), x is just some arbitrary constant, letter, number, or whatever. But once you write out the equation "x+5=2x", you have chosen (in the now) x to have the assigned value 5. but i could equally write down an equation at the same time "x+3=2x" and have an answer x=3 at the same exact time you have x=5. thus, x is infinite. x is not predetermined by some "force". it is just planned, when writing down some sequence of signs and numbers.
 
  • #20
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What do you mean by "determined?"

dictionary.com defines "determine" as follows:
1. To decide or settle (a dispute, for example) conclusively and authoritatively.
2. To end or decide, as by judicial action.
3. To establish or ascertain definitely, as after consideration, investigation, or calculation. See Synonyms at discover.
4. To cause (someone) to come to a conclusion or resolution.
5. To be the cause of; regulate: Demand determines production.
6. To give direction to: The management committee determines departmental policy.
7. To limit in scope or extent.
8. Mathematics. To fix or define the position, form, or configuration of.
9. Logic. To explain or limit by adding differences.
10. Law. To put an end to; terminate
Definitons 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, and 9 all point to the following being a true statement:
"I determined that x=5."

That x=5 is a solution to x+5=2x has been done before; hence the prefix "pre" in predetermined.

It was predetermined that x=5.

I agree that it just is, as well. It was predetermined and it just is. It just is predetermined.
 
  • #21
I see your point, however you may want to use the phrase "planned for" instead of "predetermined", because the word 'determined' seems to be final, fixed, and unwaivering, but x is an infinite amount of values, just happens to be planned one value for that specific equation once you write the equation down, and changes once that equation is done with. It's like a particle in an uncertain state of spin. It's everything and nothing, until you measure (equation) it.
 
  • #22
phoenixthoth said:
If it's predetermined then I can't know what the outcome is. If I knew the outcome, I could go against the outcome. Do you agree?

Either you would not know or you would not act to alter the situation. If you act to alter the situation, then what was predetermined was that you would act to cause a certain state of affairs that is different from what you "knew" was going to happen.

You see, free will is an illusion. All our decisions are determined by the laws of physics. There is no mind-body dualism. It's all the brain. Whatever course of action you take, it will be caused by the equal-opposite interactions that we all know about.

No one can know exactly the state of the universe to every detail. However, we can know more generalized and less all-encompassing information.

Your argument is a good argument against time travel, but not against predeterminism. The future is predetermined, but we can never know exactly what it will hold.
 
  • #23
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It just doesn't make sense to me that I couldn't know whether I'm about to drop a ball or not. Maybe that's my error.

How does the mathematical model of something being deterministic prove that what we are observing is deterministic?

My major problem with science is the assumption that what has been observed up to this point is what we would observe anywhere in the universe at any time. In short, the use of inductive reasoning. What constitutes proof is vastly different for you and me and I have yet to see what to me would constitute a proof of total determinism.
 
  • #24
phoenixthoth said:
It just doesn't make sense to me that I couldn't know whether I'm about to drop a ball or not. Maybe that's my error.

I've recently read(in richard restak's books), and have since read many elsewheres, that your subconscious self actually makes decisions for you before you actually make them. For instance, take your drop-the-ball scenario for example. When holding the ball between your fingers, getting ready to drop it, you may think you are making the decision to drop or hold, but its actually being made by your subconscious self. what i read about experiments measuring brain activity based on someone's conscious choice to do something (like drop a ball) was 'studies now show that there is a flurry of brain activity 350 milliseconds before the subject's conscious choice. the brain seems to decide to initiate (or prepare to initiate) the act before there is any reportable subjective awareness that such a decision has taken place.'

this touches on the base of free will versus determinism.But the situation is lightened if you keep from thinking the brain and the mind are seperate, but are more like a commander and a subordinate. So does this imply we are nothing but slaves to our own brains? not really. the 'studies also show that the subjects can veto their decisions during one-tenth of a second between their awareness of intent and the action itself.' You can see this everyday, for example if at a convenient store you are prepared to buy a slim jim, but at the very last moment in line you stuff it behind something else and grab a bag of chips. This shows your free will to veto the decision that has been made by your brain. will, it appearsis intrinsically related to brain activity.


phoenixthoth said:
My major problem with science is the assumption that what has been observed up to this point is what we would observe anywhere in the universe at any time. In short, the use of inductive reasoning.

I'm not quite clear what you're saying here.
If you're talking about things like dropping a ball on a massive body will result in the ball falling, then:
This is possible because of the laws of nature. Nature is just this way. It is because it is. All because of the conditions at the big bang, or if you're a religious person, creation..
 
  • #25
1,605
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I'm not quite clear what you're saying here.
If you're talking about things like dropping a ball on a massive body will result in the ball falling, then:
This is possible because of the laws of nature. Nature is just this way. It is because it is. All because of the conditions at the big bang, or if you're a religious person, creation..

In that scientists would say that we have no free will (ie we're in strong predetermination) because of some equations they've written on a blackboard after makinf some observations and that those equations happen to be deterministic, the conclusion is that what is being observed is deterministic (or predetermined, if you will). I object to such statements as this:
1. we've dropped a ball near a massive object a few trillion times
2. it always fell according to such and such equation(s)
3. therefore, it will always be this way near all massive objects across the multiverse.

In short, inductive reasoning, which is what the deterministic equations of science are based on, fails to convince me that we have no free will.
 

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