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Destiny, sometimes referred to as fate (from Latin fatum "decree, prediction, destiny, fate"), is a predetermined course of events. [1] [2] It may be conceived as a predetermined future, whether in general or of an individual.



Fate, by Alphonse Mucha Alphonse Mucha - Fate.jpg
Fate, by Alphonse Mucha

Although often used interchangeably, the words "fate" and "destiny" have distinct connotations.


Distinguished from fate and destiny, fortune can refer to chance, or luck, as in fortunate, or to an event or set of events positively or negatively affecting someone or a group, or in an idiom, to tell someone's fortune, or simply the end result of chance and events. In Hellenistic civilization, the chaotic and unforeseeable turns of chance gave increasing prominence to a previously less notable goddess, Tyche (literally "Luck"), who embodied the good fortune of a city and all whose lives depended on its security and prosperity, two good qualities of life that appeared to be out of human reach. The Roman image of Fortuna, with the wheel she blindly turned, was retained by Christian writers including Boethius, revived strongly in the Renaissance, and survives in some forms today. [4]


Philosophy on the concepts of destiny and fate has existed since the Hellenistic period with groups such as the Stoics and the Epicureans.

The Stoics believed that human decisions and actions ultimately went according to a divine plan devised by a god.[ citation needed ] They claimed that although humans theoretically have free will, their souls and the circumstances under which they live are all part of the universal network of fate.

The Epicureans challenged the Stoic beliefs by denying the existence of this divine fate. They believed that a human's actions were voluntary so long as they were rational. [5]

In daily language, "destiny" and "fate" are synonymous, but with regard to 19th-century philosophy, the words gained inherently different meanings.

For Arthur Schopenhauer, destiny was just a manifestation of the Will to Live, which can be at the same time living fate and choice of overrunning fate, by means of the Art, of the Morality and of the Ascesis.

For Friedrich Nietzsche, destiny keeps the form of Amor fati (Love of Fate) through the important element of Nietzsche's philosophy, the "will to power" (der Wille zur Macht), the basis of human behavior, influenced by the Will to Live of Schopenhauer. But this concept may have even other senses, although he, in various places, saw the will to power as a strong element for adaptation or survival in a better way. [6] Nietzsche eventually transformed the idea of matter as centers of force into matter as centers of will to power as humanity's destiny to face with amor fati. The expression Amor fati is used repeatedly by Nietzsche as acceptation-choice of the fate, but in such way it becomes even another thing, precisely a "choice" destiny.

Determinism is a philosophical concept often confused with fate. It can be defined as the notion that all intents/actions are causally determined by the culminations of an agent's existing circumstances; simply put, everything that happens is determined by things that have already happened. [7] Determinism differs from fate in that it is never conceived as being a spiritual, religious, nor astrological notion; fate is typically thought of as being "given" or "decreed" while determinism is "caused." Influential philosophers like Robert Kane, Thomas Nagel, Roderick Chisholm, and A.J. Ayer have written about this notion.


Among the representatives of depth psychology school, the greatest contribution to the study of the notion such as "fate" was made by Carl Gustav Jung, Sigmund Freud and Leopold Szondi.[ citation needed ]


The idea of a god controlled destiny plays a prominent role in various religions.


Metaphorical expressions of a predetermined destiny are commonly used by politicians to describe events not understood. Cataclysmic events are dismissed as 'a shifting of the political tectonic plates'. [11] Otto Von Bismarck said that the best a politician can do is to 'listen for God's footsteps and hang on to His coat tails'. [12]

In War and Peace , Leo Tolstoy wrote of the 'unconscious swarm-life of mankind', while Shakespeare spoke of a 'tide in the affairs of men' in his play Julius Caesar.


In ancient Greece, many legends and tales teach the futility of trying to outmaneuver an inexorable fate that has been correctly predicted. This portrayal of fate is present in works such as Oedipus Rex (427 BCE), [13] the Iliad, the Odyssey (800 BCE), and Theogony. Many ancient Chinese works have also portrayed the concept of fate, most notably the Liezi, Mengzi, and the Zhuangzi. Similarly, and in Italy, the Spanish Duque de Rivas' play that Verdi transformed into La Forza del Destino ("The Force of Destiny") includes notions of fate. In England, fate has played a notable literary role in Shakespeare's Macbeth (1606), Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891), Samuel Beckett's Endgame (1957), and W.W Jacobs' popular short story "The Monkey's Paw" (1902). In America, Thornton Wilder's book The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927) portrays the conception of fate. In Germany, fate is a recurring theme in the literature of Hermann Hesse (1877–1962), including Siddharta (1922) and his magnum opus, Das Glasperlenspiel, also published as The Glass Bead Game (1943). And by Hollywood through such characters as Neo in The Matrix . The common theme of these works involves a protagonist who cannot escape their destiny, however hard they try. In Neil Gaiman's graphic novel series The Sandman, destiny is one of the Endless, depicted as a blind man carrying a book that contains all the past and all the future. "Destiny is the oldest of the Endless; in the Beginning was the Word, and it was traced by hand on the first page of his book, before ever it was spoken aloud." [14]

Further reading

See also


  1. 1 2 Lisa Raphals (4 October 2003). Philosophy East and West (Volume 53 ed.). University of Hawai'i Press. pp. 537–574.
  2. Compare determinism , the philosophical proposition that every event, including human cognition and behavior, is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences.
  3. Dietrich, B.C. (1962). The Spinning of Fate in Homer. pp. 86–101.
  4. "The Wheel of Fortune" remains an emblem of the chance element in fate(destiny).
  5. 1 2 Karamanolis, George E. (2000). Vol. 1 of Encyclopedia of Greece and the Hellenic Tradition. Chicago, Illinois: Fitzroy Dearborn. pp. 610–611.
  6. Beyond Good & Evil 13, Gay Science 349 & Genealogy of Morality II:12
  7. Nagel, Thomas (1987). "Chapter 6". What Does it all Mean?. New York: Oxford University Press.
  8. "Nabu". Encyclopedia Britannica. Archived from the original on 2 July 2016.
  9. Iain Watson, 'Independent Group:Minor Tremor or Political Earthquake?', BBC online, 20 February 2019
  10. Henry Kissinger, 'Otto Von Bismarck, master Statesman', New York Times, 31 March 2011
  11. Sophocles (1978) [427 BC]. Stephen Berg; Diskin Clay (eds.). Oedipus the King. New York: Oxford UP.
  12. Gaiman, Neil. Season of mists. Jones, Kelley, 1962-, Jones, Malcolm, III,, Dringenberg, Mike,, Wagner, Matt,, Russell, P. Craig,, Pratt, George, 1960- (30th anniversary ed.). Burbank, CA. ISBN   978-1-4012-8581-4. OCLC   1065971941.

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Free will Ability to make choices without constraints

Free will is the capacity for agents to choose between different possible courses of action unimpeded.

Determinism philosophical view that all events are determined completely by previously existing causes

Determinism is the philosophical view that all events are determined completely by previously existing causes. Deterministic theories throughout the history of philosophy have sprung from diverse and sometimes overlapping motives and considerations. The opposite of determinism is some kind of indeterminism or randomness. Determinism is often contrasted with free will, although some philosophers claim that the two are compatible.

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In ancient Greek religion and mythology, the Moirai, often known in English as the Fates, were the incarnations of destiny; their Roman equivalent was the Parcae, and there are other equivalents in cultures that descend from the Proto-Indo-European culture. Their number became fixed at three: Clotho ("spinner"), Lachesis ("allotter") and Atropos.

Predestination in Calvinism

Predestination is a doctrine in Calvinism dealing with the question of the control that God exercises over the world. In the words of the Westminster Confession of Faith, God "freely and unchangeably ordained whatsoever comes to pass." The second use of the word "predestination" applies this to the salvation, and refers to the belief that God appointed the eternal destiny of some to salvation by grace, while leaving the remainder to receive eternal damnation for all their sins, even their original sin. The former is called "unconditional election", and the latter "reprobation". In Calvinism, some people are predestined and effectually called in due time to faith by God.

Wyrd Anglo-Saxon concept of personal fate or destiny

Wyrd is a concept in Anglo-Saxon culture roughly corresponding to fate or personal destiny. The word is ancestral to Modern English weird, which retains its original meaning only dialectically.

Luck Concept that defines the experience of notably positive, negative, or improbable events

Luck is the phenomenon and belief that defines the experience of notably positive, negative, or improbable events. The naturalistic interpretation is that positive and negative events may happen all the time, both due to random and non-random natural and artificial processes, and that even improbable events can happen by random chance. In this view, the epithet "lucky" or "unlucky" is a descriptive label that refers to an event's positivity, negativity, or improbability.

The argument from free will, also called the paradox of free will or theological fatalism, contends that omniscience and free will are incompatible and that any conception of God that incorporates both properties is therefore inconceivable. See the various controversies over claims of God's omniscience, in particular the critical notion of foreknowledge. These arguments are deeply concerned with the implications of predestination.

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In ancient Greek religion, Ananke is the personification of inevitability, compulsion and necessity. She is customarily depicted as holding a spindle. One of the Greek primordial deities, the births of Ananke and her brother and consort, Chronos were thought to mark the division between the eon of Chaos and the beginning of the cosmos. Ananke is considered the most powerful dictator of fate and circumstance; mortals as well as gods respected her power and paid her homage. Sometimes considered the mother of the Fates, she is thought to be the only being to influence their decisions. According to Schowalter and Friesen, she and the Fates "are all sufficiently tied to early Greek mythology to make their Greek origins likely."

Predeterminism is the philosophy that all events of history, past, present and future, have been already decided or are already known, including human actions.

Fate most commonly refers to destiny, a predetermined course of events.

Theological determinism is a form of predeterminism which states that all events that happen are pre-ordained, and/or predestined to happen, by one or more divine beings, or that they are destined to occur given the divine beings' omniscience. Theological determinism exists in a number of religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is also supported by proponents of Classical pantheism such as the Stoics and Baruch Spinoza.

Amor fati is a Latin phrase that may be translated as "love of fate" or "love of one's fate". It is used to describe an attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one's life, including suffering and loss, as good or, at the very least, necessary.

The Fates are a common motif in European polytheism, most frequently represented as a trio of goddesses. The Fates shape the destiny of each human, often expressed in textile metaphors such as spinning fibers into yarn, or weaving threads on a loom.

The 19th-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is known as a critic of Judeo-Christian morality and religions in general. One of the arguments he raised against the truthfulness of these doctrines is that they are based upon the concept of free will, which, in his opinion, does not exist.

Stoic physics

Stoic physics refers to the natural philosophy of the Stoic philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome which they used to explain the natural processes at work in the universe. To the Stoics, the cosmos is a single pantheistic god, one which is rational and creative, and which is the basis of everything which exists. The world is one, and must arise from one principle. Nothing incorporeal exists.

Free will in antiquity is a philosophical and theological concept. Free will in antiquity was not discussed in the same terms as used in the modern free will debates, but historians of the problem have speculated who exactly was first to take positions as determinist, libertarian, and compatibilist in antiquity. There is wide agreement that these views were essentially fully formed over 2000 years ago. Candidates for the first thinkers to form these views, as well as the idea of a non-physical "agent-causal" libertarianism, include Democritus (460–370), Aristotle (384–322), Epicurus (341–270), Chrysippus (280–207), and Carneades (214–129).

Heimarmene or Himarmene is a goddess and being of fate/destiny in Greek mythology. She belongs to a family of similar beings of destiny and fate, which have given us various modern concepts.

Pepromene is a goddess and being of fate/destiny in Greek mythology. The ancient perception of her being gives the name as belonging within other Greek ideas for destiny and fate.