Academic journal article et Cetera

Luck: The Brilliant Randomness of Everyday Life

Academic journal article et Cetera

Luck: The Brilliant Randomness of Everyday Life

Article excerpt

Nicholas Rescher. Luck: The Brilliant Randomness of Everyday Life. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1995.

Nicholas Rescher, a professor of philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, former editor of American Philosophical Quarterly, and past president of the American Philosophical Association, knows something about philosophy. In this book he applies his knowledge to an analysis of that elusive abstraction we call "luck."

Rescher looks at luck from various perspectives, including the difference between luck, fortune, and fate; how language shapes the way we think about luck; the history behind the concept of luck in the Western tradition; and the impossibility of shaping or directing luck. He offers interesting examples, from antiquity to the present, to illustrate luck's pivotal role in determining history. It was a matter of bad luck for King Philip II of Spain that a storm scattered the invincible Armada in the English Channel. It was a matter of good luck for those who couldn't buy passage aboard the sold-out Titanic.

Rescher contends that luck is a great equalizer. "Exempt from reason, it helps make the playing field of life more level. It creates a situation in which everyone has a chance. Even those who are handsome, rich, naturally well-endowed, and well-equipped with the world's goods may suffer the ravages of hard luck. …

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