Musings on Fate

Kevin Tong’s Amor Fati

Note: This is just me thinking out loud


“Amor Fati”. Love your fate.

The concept of fate or destiny is simple. Your fate is decided, well even if it is, is it random? We are told to accept it, embrace it, love it. But, does it follow a pattern or is it completely random? And what is it?

Your fate is your life. Let’s take a look at life then, of all living things. Charles Darwin discovered Natural Selection. Quite simply, it refers to the survival of the fittest. The ones who can adapt to their environments better have a greater chance of surviving. These adaptations came in the form of genetic mutations. Moreover, these genetic mutations, which are random, help certain animals get an edge over the other non-mutated beings. Is it fate that caused some to get the necessary mutations? That is was the strongest of the pack because it was the “chosen one”? Or was it completely random?

Moving on to a simpler example, let’s take a look at a coin toss. When one tosses a coin, there are 2 outcomes — heads or tails. The moment you toss a coin it’s fate is “sealed”. But, what if before tossing it, hypothetically, we get all the information about the coin and the environment it is being tossed in and are able to make a prediction that is always correct. What I’m getting to here is the concept of free will. We talk about how we are destined for something. Just like the coin, on which we had all the data, was destined for let’s say heads. It has to land as heads. Right? Then what’s the point of tossing it?

Pierre-Simon Laplace, a French astronomer and mathematician gave his view on this.

We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes.

So, he says that if we were to know everything about everything, we would be able to see the future as we can see the past. In the case of the coin, we can see it will be heads because we know all about it. That probably prompts you to ask — Is that it? Is our fate truly sealed?

All of this would be true, if not for the one big assumption. That the universe is not random, which for good or worse, it is. So, all that we predicted for the coin would stand for the moment we predicted it in, the next instant it would be wrong.

There is peace in knowing that we are here just to reach a final destination, while not being able to affect it, just holding on for the ride. But, the fact that the final destination can change at any moment, and we might even abruptly stop our ride because we can, there is a sense of control and isn’t that what we’re looking for?

“I am the Master of my fate, I am the Captain of my soul”