How can we define fate?
A dialogue between Socrates the stick and Baruch the heron. Socrates knows he does not know anything and this leads him to ask many questions. He then carefully examines the responses. Baruch spends a lot of time still and this allows him to understand that everyone is unique and particular but yet in relation with others and the universe.
Socrates: dear Baruch, I was just thinking of you after talking with Gottfried and now I find you as if fate had heard me.
Baruch: I don’t know if fate heard you or if it is just of the foreseeable meeting of two independent trajectories but do you know that it made me meet someone in the south? It was what you had almost predicted before I left.
Socrates: it was what I hoped for you and I am very happy to have been right.
Baruch: would you have gifts of clairvoyance?
Socrates : no, just a demon guiding me, and, like you, hunches. They are based on observation, experience, the regularity of large numbers so the fact that you’d meet someone was not very difficult to predict.
Baruch: true, all of our lives are fairly predictable in general terms and since all things happen in cause-and-effect relationships, if we knew all the relationships at work in the world at any given time, we would also know the future. But it’s probably better that we think it’s chance.
Socrates: which is another word to talk about the limits of our knowledge that are necessary if we want to keep the surprise of the unknown.
Baruch: yes, on the one hand, we would like to know everything, on the other hand, we shouldn’t.
Socrates: this is why our intuitions remain uncertainties. They can guide us but do not offer any guarantees. I thought you would meet someone but I couldn’t know it would be this winter.
Baruch: as for me, the questions you asked about persistence and patience were making me think you had something on your mind but I couldn’t have said exactly what it was.
Socrates: it was Baguette, of course, and those questions have disappeared.
Baruch: replaced by happiness, like me, and new worries, so you are going to take new decisions.
Socrates: see, predicting the future is not very difficult, you just need to have empathy.
Baruch: yet, as for me, your questions will only be answered when things will be done or said. Zéno of Citium advised to accept the moment as it comes because the rest will happen according to what was planned and will be for the best but it is not always easy to believe.
Socrates: I do recognize you in this idea but does this mean that we have to rely completely on fate?
Baruch: no, it is impossible because in any case, we always have to make choices and even if they are written, they are not written clearly enough so we would know what to do. This is what makes us think we are free even though we may not really be. This is also what makes decisions always difficult.
Socrates: for my part, it seems that what troubles me is what shows me the way. I think about it, I ask questions and it allows me to find a solution.
Baruch: this could be one of the ways fate speaks to us because the events that have no meaning for us, we do not see them or we quickly forget them.
Socrates: as if we notice only what shows us the way.
Baruch: right, the meaning of these events can elude us for a long time or take different forms as we think about it but in any case, it is a process that guides.
Socrates: it even happens that sometimes, our decision brings the opposite of what was intended but that this opposite later turns out to be exactly what was needed, as if the mistake of the moment was the necessary key to difficult but beneficial changes.
Baruch: it proves that fate takes many forms and remains as unknowable as it is inevitable …
What is fate?
For Baruch, it is determinism at work in the world: everything necessarily happens according to a cause and effect relationship but it is nevertheless impossible to know all the influences of the moment so that the future remains impenetrable. And it is just as well.
For Socrates, it is what our intuitions, based on experience and observation, allow us to guess but they always remains imprecise so they are a guide more than an insurance. The disturbing events that make us think are undoubtedly signs that fate sends us when decisions are necessary.
Can seers really predict the future?
Can fate be enlightened by Science ?
Want to think a little more? See, for example, Stoicism, a detailed breakdown of stoicism philosophy which will allow you to “live in accordance to nature”.
Want to contribute to these dialogues? Write your comments and questions below.
Want to know more about the tastes of Socrates and Baruch? Their favorite books are in the domain library.