Viernes, 24 Junio 2011 14:30

B. Fatalism & Determinism

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Another matter of vital importance is that of fatalism and determinism. The notion of man as a rational animal has led to the determinism of believing that we are obliged to act in certain ways due to circumstances that we do not control. They may be internal, such as animal inheritance, genetic programming, inherent aggression, or innate selfishness; or external, such as the impersonal forces of our natural or sociocultural surroundings. Similarly, fatalism consists in believing not only that everything that happens to us in life is predetermined by fate or – in its theological version – by God, but also that human behavior is controlled by our inherent nature.

Fatalism and determinism share the same harmful effects, as they present destiny as something unavoidable to which we must submit. This turns us into passive subjects and helpless victims of forces that do not necessarily benefit humanity.

Those who hold deterministic or fatalistic mental models tend to blame destiny or the environment for harmful behaviors, instead of seeing individuals as responsible for their actions. In this way, these models can lead ultimately to abdicating all accountability. When people see themselves as victims of their circumstances, lacking control over their own lives and actions, they tend to blame others for their problems, be it the government, the economy, an unfavorable environment, or a lack of parental love. They will have little reason to exercise their willpower and take responsibility for their own actions and the consequences arising from them.

However, a moderate determinism can have a positive effect if it calls attention to the influence of the environment in forming our self-concept, provided it does not preclude the need and potential for personal transformation and does not leave the responsibility for social change in the hands of others outside our immediate environment.

Likewise, a moderate fatalism could have positive effects, such as trusting that God will confirm efforts that help promote His divine plan, or having the certainty that everything that happens to us in life – whether we like it or not – ultimately contributes to our growth and maturation. With such an outlook, we can choose to learn from our life experiences instead of merely bearing it like a heavy load.

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