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What Is Fatalism?

Fatalism is the belief that man has no control over his destiny and that what is going to happen to him has been preordained, and that it is futile to struggle against destiny.

This was the view of Epicurus and the Stoics, who maintained that this destiny was beyond the power even of God to alter. Later it came to have a theological basis in the belief that life is controlled by laws promulgated by a supernatural being, and also by natural laws, and is apparent in the doctrines of Spinoza. It is dominant in Eastern thought, especially among the Mohammedans, who regard fate (Kismet) as an absolute power to which they submit with perfect resignation.

Some fatalists think that their future has been determined by an abstract force of destiny or fate. Others believe that what is going to happen to them has been decided by the gods. All fatalists, however, agree that man is powerless to change the course of his life. Historically, fatalism has been more common in the Orient than in the West and has been most often applied to explain such major events as war, famine, and death.

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