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#161: "Do you believe in destiny or free will?"

Oxherd Boy do you believe in destiny or free will the oxherd boy asked maybe it's both the ox replied maybe what has past was destined and free will is how you engage with destiny now inspiring art chinese painting chinese philosophy japanese art

I've been learning a little more about Einstein's perspective on determinism and am excited to check out his essays when I have access to a library in the US. One of his more well-known quotes shows his disbelief in human freedom "in the philosophical sense," saying:

Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect, as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.

And he continues in another essay:

Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity. Schopenhauer’s saying, that “a man can do as he will, but not will as he will,” has been an inspiration to me since my youth, and a continual consolation and unfailing well-spring of patience in the face of the hardships of life, my own and others'. This feeling mercifully mitigates the sense of responsibility which so easily becomes paralyzing, and it prevents us from taking ourselves and other people too seriously; it conduces to a view of life in which humor, above all, has its due place.

That there are universal laws that underscore all existence, that we are all subject to without exception, faith in some higher order that I don't understand can feel comforting in times of uncertainty and difficulty. The lifting of responsibility over what was never under my control is a life-giving perspective that allows for lightness, curiosity, and the all important spice of life: humor, as Einstein said. But does this end up giving me a free pass to do whatever I like regardless of its moral implications, because it was predestined?

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