Inevitability: Determinism, Fatalism, and Destiny

Inevitability: Determinism, Fatalism, and Destiny

Inevitability: Determinism, Fatalism, and Destiny

Inevitability: Determinism, Fatalism, and Destiny

Synopsis

"Doob's central thesis is that some beliefs function mainly to help the believer cope with life's uncertainties. The coping mechanism that is the focus of Doob's book is a belief that certain things in life are inevitable. . . . Doob methodically explores the origin and nature of inevitablility beliefs, and like his pervious titles in social psychology, this is a theoretical analysis. . . . The book is well written and carefully organized but demanding to read; Doob attributes this to the inherent difficulty of the subject--he is probably right." Choice

Excerpt

Human beings pursue and would control the inevitable. The statement, though it may sound platitudinous, is both profound and challenging. It indicates quickly and concisely that we seek to know what is going to happen to ourselves, to others, and to our society as well as to understand what has already happened in the past. Also, if possible, we facilitate or avoid what must or might occur. The very words of concern here--inevitability, determinism, fatalism, and destiny as well as a host of others such as fortune, doom, providence, prediction, understanding-- appear frequently in the vocabulary of English speakers. Their equivalents are evident in other languages.

On a simple level it can be said, perhaps anthropomorphically, that from the human standpoint animals likewise pursue the inevitable. They engage in very specific activities to find food and to shun or conquer their enemies, and they do this inevitably because of their constitutions as well as previous and ongoing experiences. Like us, unless they are caged, they are often faced with uncertainty (or at least so we guess) and they therefore (we may believe if we wish) select the actions likely to bring satisfaction. Whether they deliberately judge the alternatives and then make a decision, whether in fact concepts such as judge and decision are applicable to them are mysteries and subject to hypotheses by human beings, though of course we can ascribe judgments and decisions to them only on the basis of their external behavior.

We are concerned here, however, with one of the most distinctive human attributes, the ability not only to think, imagine, recollect, anticipate, decide, and judge, but also to make note of these processes and, however incompletely, to communicate them in words and sentences to ourselves and to other persons. In fact, we have at our disposal so many words from which potential sentences can be constructed that we must . . .

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