Fate and Free Will: A Theosophical Speculation
- Published: Sunday, 03 June 2012 06:00
John Algeo – USA
An article on “Neurons v Free Will” in the Economist magazine (402, no. 8772 [Feb. 18-24, 2012]: 6-7) considers how the opposition of fate and free will has been treated over many centuries right up to present-day scientific studies of the working of the brain. The ancient Greeks talked about “Ananke, the primeval force of necessity, and her children, the Fates, who steered human lives.” Medieval Christian theologians worried about the inconsistency of human freedom with the omniscience of God, whose knowledge of what is and is to be allows no room for optional changes by limited human beings. The scientific revolution of the seventeenth century held that the natural law of cause-and-effect could brook no exceptions and thus excluded the possibility of unpredictable changes exercised by human free will. Even the Theosophical view of karma (not mentioned in the article) may seem to create a conflict with the individual’s free will: if each of our actions has a karmic cause in the past and a future karmic consequence, where is free will in that chain of karmic necessity?