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The Force of Fate

The Force of Fate

(p.49) 4 The Force of Fate
Human Predicaments
John Kekes
University of Chicago Press

Fate is what unavoidably befalls a person. We are all subject to some conditions we cannot control. The problem is to live so as to increase the control we have. The optimistic assumption is that the more autonomous we become, the less subject we are to fate. The pessimistic assumption is that nothing we can do can exempt us from fate. These assumptions are discussed with reference to the case of Yahara, a Japanese officer during WWII. It allows us to understand the possibilities and limits of both fate and autonomy. Increasing autonomy depends on correcting our mistaken evaluations of the possibilities of life. The key is to find reasonable ways of correcting social evaluations by personal ones, and vice versa. This is an inescapable problem in our evaluative framework in which both personal and social evaluations are in a state flux.

Keywords:   fate, autonomy, tragic view, optimism, pessimism, Stoics, romanticism, Plato, Yahara case, mistakes

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