Is there a mysterious force that pulls a person to what will necessarily happen to her/him? Underneath this query is a consideration of the notion that something irreversible has long been planned in and for our individual lives. Call it destiny or fate–a trajectory that leads us to the future like a powerful hand that controls every step we make along life’s highway.
To an unyielding believer, its dynamics can never be revealed and known within the ambit of the physico-materialistic paradigm of existence yet its mechanics are working perfectly well at clockwork precision. Simply put, we can never derail, so to speak, the course of our individual destiny. A supernatural power had already drawn its blueprint for each of us even long before we first arrived and saw the literal light on planet Earth.
An unbending adherent will always bask under the warmth of its ineffable mystery highlighting the good fortune in stored for her/him while accepting with sober resignation any misfortune that befalls her/his circumstances. Having destiny as the driving energy that musters the direction of one’s journey in life is like trusting the potential effect of a tranquilizing pill that helps her/him to accept the fact that the notion of change is nothing but an illusion. Our destiny is programmed and hence final and irrevocable.
However, the story doesn’t end here. We are just beginning because reality has shown us a different scenario. In defiance of supernatural destiny’s persistence, we have actually smashed the crystal enclosure that has long imprisoned the human mind within the confines of an illusion inherited from the primitive past of our ancient ancestors. In the process, we have proven once and for all that there is no overarching destiny that has mysteriously predetermined the course of our individual lives. The most basic issue is, there is no supernatural power that oversees the development of events in our individual circumstances.
Destiny–if we still want to call it as such–in its most believable positioning is never supernatural and does not pack a mystery. I do not see any problem at all to continue using the same old term as we retain the aspect of irrevocability or necessity that fundamentally constitutes its signification. However, what is definitely important at this point is to consider its redefinition to suit what is empirically meaningful and thus what is realistically understandable in pragmatic terms. In this connection, I venture to claim that the essence of destiny is perfectly captured in the formulation of a sound–not just valid but sound–deductive logical configuration whose conclusion is always absolutely necessary. In this sense, a deductive logical argument shares with destiny the common factor of an incontrovertibly necessary, i.e., an irrevocable, conclusion.
As a hypothetical case in point, let’s have A as a person who has been in a state of distressing poverty. Supernatural-destiny believers will readily say that he is in such a pathetic situation because long before his birth, certain mysterious forces had already pre-determined the kind of life he would live on Earth. However, people around him in the neighborhood have long known his lifestyle and such is the most realistic reason why he has been wallowing in miserable impoverishment. Establishing a sound argument from this reality, we can come up with the following syllogistic formulation on the basis of what all his neighbors practically know about him in relation to an established observation universally accepted to be true:
All lazy, irresponsible, deceitful and careless people end up in abject poverty.
A is a lazy, irresponsible, deceitful and careless person.
Therefore, A ends up in abject poverty.
[Note: This argument may only be demolished if a single valid counterpoint is raised to falsify either the major or the minor premise.]
In this regard, supernatural destiny is definitely not the reason why A is wallowing in humiliating impoverishment. If we want to call it destiny being necessary, it is destiny of his own making and there is not a single consideration in his circumstance that points us to a mysterious hand that led him to such a miserable condition.
Using classical symbolic logic, we get to the same sound argument:
For any A such that if A then B. And A. Therefore, B.
For any person such that if that person is lazy, irresponsible, deceitful and careless (A), then such a person will end up in abject poverty (B). And there is such a person who is lazy, irresponsible and careless(A). Therefore, that person will end up in abject poverty (B).
This argument is technically known as modus ponens which literally means “mode that affirms by affirming”, i.e., if A implies B where A is asserted to be true, then B must likewise be true.
Let’s have another example: X being a successful medical practitioner now is her destiny and we are taking destiny here not to mean supernatural but rather logical. She achieved her professional degree with flying colors, so to speak, because she was a conscientious student while at the university. She studied a lot and had always been a consistent honor student. There is, therefore, nothing mysterious in this kind of destiny.
Putting this scenario in a classical symbolic logical formulation will go like this:
For any X such that if X then Y. And if Y then Z. Therefore if X then Z.
For any person such that if that person is a conscientious university student who studies a lot and is always a consistent honor student (X), then such a person will graduate and achieve her professional degree with flying colors (Y). And if such a person graduates and achieves her professional degree with flying colors (Y), then she will be a successful practitioner of her profession (Z). Therefore, if a person is a conscientious university student who studies a lot and is always a consistent honor student (X), then she will finally be a successful practitioner of her profession (Z).
This argument is technically known in classical symbolic logic as hypothetical syllogism where the conclusion is necessarily true unless the premises are rendered inaccurate on the basis of a counterpoint contesting either the first or the second statement.
Then at this point, let us focus on the possibility of two contrasting destinies based on normal–not paranormal–and natural–not supernatural–factors that deny the incipience of any mysterious constituent using the classical symbolic logical formulation called constructive dilemma which goes like this:
Either we study consistently, earnestly and tenaciously (CET) or we study inconsistently, lousily and hesitantly (ILH). If CET we will surely graduate (G+). If ILH, it is certain that we will not graduate (G-). Therefore, it is either G+ or G-.
In the final analysis, there are two possible destinies here: The destiny to graduate and the destiny not to graduate. Whatever the case may be, these are destinies that absolutely depend on the persons concerned, nothing magical, nothing mysterious, nothing unexplainable.
To the question, “What makes our destiny?”, the most concrete response is our decision as free moral agents. We decide on matters of our concern and whatever the aftermath is, it is never a supernatural destiny but a logical one.
(c) Ruel F. Pepa, 15 October 2019