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The "fate" solution; It's usage by various classes
Topic Started: Nov 5 2006, 04:42:42 PM (671 Views)
manju
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Just other day I was watching a program on an Indian TV channel about situation of mine workers in a state. The working conditions were abysmal. The deaths due to various reasons was a common phenomenon.

The TV journalist went on talking to various victims who lost husbands/sons etc.. due to hazardous working conditions. However, nobody blamed government or the management responsible for such a situation. Most of them had a resigned "it's fate" responses. This fate in Indian situation is strongly associated with Karma principle. A rather pathetic philosophical exposition of this mindset is exemplified by a miner's response for deaths caused by poisonous gases.

"If we steal something from somebody he will react. Similarly, if we steal something from earth then earth will react".

A self reproach or acceptance of guilt for some wrong doing that does not exist. For one thing he was just a labourer doing the "stealing" for others. But his world view does not extend beyond him.

In my opinion, the action-fruit(fate) philosophy or Karma philosophy is harmless and probably helpful in accepting defeats or losses only for upper echelons of the society who in fact are active participants in any endeavour. But for the poor, who is a passive participant, it represents a loss of rightful anger, and ensure his continued existence at the bottom of the society. Some Hindu philosophers called this situation Klaivya or mental inertia and warned against this. However, their audience was always upper classes. This warning never diffused into lower classes like Karma which sort of became part and parcel of every segment.

I would like to know how the term "fate" is used in other societies. Does it represent acceptance of defeat or loss when one is aware of the persons/institutions responsible for it? The worse, does that show inability to connect the loss to the obvious perpetrators as in the case with that Indian?

Thanks for any inputs.

Reference:
The continent of Circe by Nirad C Choudhary
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black man
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According to the etymology dictionary , fate is spoken by gods. Thus, the concept of really inevitable fate only exists only in religions with a strongly hierarchised pantheon. In pre-religious (purely magical) societies people probably turned to different spirits: when one did not work for them, they chose another.

Generally, I think that etymology helps explaining the background of this issue. However, I only found an etymology dictionary for English language so far.
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Maju
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For Ancient Greeks fate or destiny was something above the gods: only three mythical criatures the Moirae (Fates or Parcae in Latin, equivalent to Germanic Norns) had that power. Greeks mostly believed that fighting against destiny, though human, was vane. They also believed that certain gods, specially Apollo (equated to Vishnu by Macedonian Greeks) and Gaia (Mother Earth, the grandmother of all gods, including the Moirae) had the power of revealing that destiny).

In Basque mythology there's no reference to destiny. The belief seems rather that, through magical spells, one can at least hope to influence nature, sending the storms elsewhere, or could propiciate the genii through offerings of food. Still the ultimate power seems to reside in Mari and her court of sorginak (witches) that punish unethical behaviour, particularly falsehood ("negation and affirmation").

By contrast, some interpretations of Indo-European mythology (Hartsuaga, 1987), suggest that IE gods are winners' gods and dislike losers. That IE mythology is essentially an apology of success: you win, the gods are with you.

In modern western culture the concept of destiny seems vanished. Even in such disciplines as astrology, the discourse is often that of free will can play with destiny, ride on the waves of destiny or however one prefers to see it.

This may be partly of Jewish origin (or may be hybrid with genuine European beliefs). At least Christian doctrine (with exception of Calvinism/Puritanism that believes in strict predestination, including salvation or damnation - no choice: just "grace") tends to emphasize free will as a most valuable divine gift - though they also tend to repress it on manichean grounds: "you can choose but you must choose this (good, God's will...)".

The Calvinist doctrine (subject of some polemic) seems to approach better the original IE beliefs (as per the above description): predestination: God/gods make winners and losers.

This makes no sense for Basque mentality that seems based more in positive reciprocation.
Chaos never died,
the Empire was never founded.
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manju
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Quote:
 
Generally, I think that etymology helps explaining the background of this issue. However, I only found an etymology dictionary for English language so far.


This is where Hinduism differs from rest of the doctrines. In Hinduism your actions in previous birth decide your fate in the next life. Your destiny is decided by your actions. That is why I said this idea could be soothing for active people(as long as they are the elites) but not for passive people like that miner. You can understand the the kind of mindset associated with this philosophy in that self-reproach logic of that miner. Looks like other societies do not have this idea.
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black man
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Quote:
 
This is where Hinduism differs from rest of the doctrines. In Hinduism your actions in previous birth decide your fate in the next life. Your destiny is decided by your actions. That is why I said this idea could be soothing for active people(as long as they are the elites) but not for passive people like that miner. You can understand the the kind of mindset associated with this philosophy in that self-reproachment logic of that miner. Looks like other societies do not have this idea.


I agree concerning that Hinduism is one of the most extreme religion according to which everything seems to be self-repetitive and even predictable for the believer, no matter how much people struggle to get rid of their alleged fate. Buddhist religion cultivates a mentality very similar to the one you described above. But what I personally find worst are fortune tellers, who can be found in every part of the world. Some people even want to predict others' fate by lines in the palms or according to facial features...
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manju
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Quote:
 
The Calvinist doctrine (subject of some polemic) seems to approach better the original IE beliefs (as per the above description): predestination: God/gods make winners and losers.


I think I might have mixed up few things here. There could be in fact two beliefs in Hinduism. One is god(Brahma) decides the destiny(Vidhi) and the second one is my actions decide the destiny(Karma). I think the first belief is harmless but the second one is self-defeating as I have already described. In my opinion, the kind of logic what the miner has said can only stem out of Karma principle.

Also, Karma comes into picture only after the effect. A Hindu with a belief in god and indoctrinated with Karma is always helpless/unsure before starting any action or during the action.
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Maju
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sorgina
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Yes, Karma is a very Hindu concept (not sure if Buddhism keeps also some notion of it, I think it does). The concept of Karma has been recently incorporated to Western culture, specially New Age currents, including here stuff such as NeoPaganism and Wicca and old disciplines like Astrology. Some people believe in it (as some people believe in "destiny") while mainstream society probably doesn't.

Personally I find the concept interesting philosophically but of course problematic too. In the plane of this life (skipping reincarnation, salvation, etc.) it's clear that actions (and inaction too) have consequences and that some times some actions can backfire. This is part of natural knowledge and by itself it may be useful. It's also obvious that Karma is more clearly visible in the collective plane, specially at planetary level: we are exploiting nature up to its limits and therefore suffering its consquences, we generate residues and somewhere someones suffer its consequences (for instance DDT used in India and Africa affects Artic peoples particularly, or residues generated in Europe kill Africans), Europe exploits Africa and deperate Africans migrate to Europe en masse, etc.

There's no action without consequences, even at the intimate psychological and sociological levels... but the Universe is much more more complex than just individual actions generate cosequences for oneself only.

A simmilar belief to Hindu fatalism is held in the West, helding "losers" (unemployed, uneducated people, workers with low wage jobs) of being exclussively responsible for their fate. This is particularly common in the political/ideological right wing. This belief seems to match well with IE/Calvinist ones but it's also valid for more free-will-oriented doctrines, where you can chose... but must chose right. None among them discuss the impossibility that everybody wins "the rat race": Social-Darwinism is unspokenly assumed as a fact. There are winners (few and often at high price) and losers (the vast majority) and if you are in the latter group it's suppossed to be your fault (either mostly or totally).

So in the Western Capitalist imaginary also each one is suppossed to face the destiny that he/she deserves - at least on average (in some cases it may be excused as "bad luck").
Chaos never died,
the Empire was never founded.
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manju
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Quote:
 
A simmilar belief to Hindu fatalism is held in the West, helding "losers" (unemployed, uneducated people, workers with low wage jobs) of being exclussively responsible for their fate.


Do "losers" (so designated by winners) think it's their fate or get angry about the establishment for their plight in the Western world? From my reading, the latter was the case.
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Maju
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sorgina
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manju
Nov 6 2006, 08:21 PM
Quote:
 
A simmilar belief to Hindu fatalism is held in the West, helding "losers" (unemployed, uneducated people, workers with low wage jobs) of being exclussively responsible for their fate.


Do "losers" (so designated by winners) think it's their fate or get angry about the establishment for their plight in the Western world? From my reading, the latter was the case.

It depends: often they resign, others try to fight back, sometimes they make revolutions. It's as complex as history itself. It's a tug-of-war: resignation vs. rebellion (both most often than not a lose-lose choice).

Still people in Europe (since the French Revolution specially) think of themselves as citizens with rights, what gives them at least an ideological frame for struggle. Before they used to be (in most cases) peasants without rights and indoctrinated in Christian resignation. It's been changing with forths and backs but a progressive overall tendency.
Chaos never died,
the Empire was never founded.
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black man
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Maju
Nov 6 2006, 11:24:57 PM
manju,Nov 6 2006
08:21 PM
Quote:
 
A simmilar belief to Hindu fatalism is held in the West, helding "losers" (unemployed, uneducated people, workers with low wage jobs) of being exclussively responsible for their fate.


Do "losers" (so designated by winners) think it's their fate or get angry about the establishment for their plight in the Western world? From my reading, the latter was the case.

It depends: often they resign, others try to fight back, sometimes they make revolutions. It's as complex as history itself. It's a tug-of-war: resignation vs. rebellion (both most often than not a lose-lose choice).

Still people in Europe (since the French Revolution specially) think of themselves as citizens with rights, what gives them at least an ideological frame for struggle. Before they used to be (in most cases) peasants without rights and indoctrinated in Christian resignation. It's been changing with forths and backs but a progressive overall tendency.
It should be mentioned that Maju's perspective is appreciably unorthodox in this context. The expressions casta and caste are indeed from a Eurocentric religious context. See also http://www.anthropedia.science/topic/10021776/1/ .
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