Trying to grasp the nuances of free-will vs determinism: an e-conversation

One of my favorite ‘activities’ is philosophizing or pondering over the imponderables–the favorite topic being ‘is our life governed by free-will (we are the shapers of our circumstances) or determinism (we are just living out a pre-determined destiny like actors playing a particular role in the movie called our life)’…I was idly thinking about this since yday for no particular reason when I chanced upon this quote posted by a friend on his FB status message : ‘the people that get on in this world are the people that get up & look for the circumstances they want; and if they can’t find them ,.. they make them.’ I decided this was my opportunity to clarify some of my notions on karma-fate-destiny-luck-freewill-determinism through some discussion…n I’m posting the conversation that followed

Me: That takes us to the debate of free will vs destiny…which has been on my mind lately

X: ‘destiny’ a tag we attach along the way or on the conclusion of certain events which one believes has been ordained by the higher order .

Me: Ah so do you believe we can shape all our circumstances?? I think at least some events in our life we have no control over…for instance death of near n dear which can change our circumstances forever…these fall in the realm of destiny

Y: Very relevant  Its because of this destiny determined life attitude that we have a laid back way of living. Wait for Kismat or blame Kismat. We dont attept to create condusive circumstances. Death and life are the two things out of our hands rest can either be managed or PERCIEVED differently.

X: The only destiny we’re all aware of is our own mortality . The ‘when we get there’ is left to circumstances over which we have little control .And again the loss of a dear one or even ones own life can change the equations of life around us & our near ones .
The destiny we desire is based on our wants and perceptions of a good life. We HAVE to apply ourselves to the attainment of such . Destiny like religion is merely a layer of insulation in ones mind .

Me: You may be right n that’s what all of us like to think n that’s also a part of positive thinking charade but what we think as free will or shaping our circumstances might be an illusion…we may philosophize n articulate but truth is truth even if we believe something else…I believe in a combination of free will n destiny…i developed a very crude analogy for’s like if you are given ‘Baingan’ you can either make baingan ka bharta or baingan ki sabzi  you can’t make aloo ki sabzi out of it (determinism or lack of free-will)…but you can make the bharta tasty or ruin its taste (element of free will here)…sounds funny but it’s serious stuff man!!!

Y: Well.there are two ways of living.
One to succumb and take whatever is in our destiny,whine and mope or make the most of it, the best bharta (yummm,throw n sme rice ‘n papad too plz)
The “positive thinking charade” as you put it is a way to feel proactive and to survive. To feel we have a “say” in our lives.
Of course our “puppet” strings are yanked about by that master player, but the world would stop functioning if we didnt believe that we can “make circumstances”.
Its the best way to live 🙂

Me: next to doing nothing I love philosophizing the most hehe…I’m glad you warmed up to my baigan ka bharta analogy ‘cos when i told my hubby about it this morning he said it was the worst analogy he has ever heard in life :D….I am in agreement with you…I also try to live my life ‘As if I am in control’ give an example from my life when my 1st marriage failed within few days I refused to be miserable…caught hold of life by its reins with chutzpah n panache..maintained a positive attitude n in due course met my now hubby n am a very smug n proud on one level i can say I shaped my circumstances but what if all of this was pre-determined aka destiny?? I like to wonder!!!

Y: More power to you, girl…you REACTED to what was DOLED out to you,in doing so you SHAPED your circumstances.Your personal density was more…
Also people who “behave” like they are in control accord such dignity to the human form. Then their responses are dignified too.

Me: X thanks for posting this quote which triggered the entire conversation…I was planning to do a blog post on free will vs determination this very morning n ‘synchro-destiny’ made you put up this quote hehe…my thoughts have shaped up a lil bit more after the discussion though i continue to maintain that nothing can be said conclusively on this topic.


October 24, 2009. Tags: , , , , , . Hmm..., Meaning of Life, My Values, Rambling, Reflections/Musings, Wisdom.

One Comment

  1. Harsh replied:

    Interesting….I too think on this issue quite often but end up with the conclusion that the reality is somewhere in between.I like the ‘baingan ka bhartha’ anology,simply b’coz its very apt and explains your thoughts very clearly.This reminds me of the comments by a friend on fb – if life hands you lemons,what do you do ?… Its up to you,whether you make a lemonade out of them,sell them off,ask for tequila or keep cursing your destiny/fate/God.

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