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1. the philosophical doctrine that all events are predetermined so that man is powerless to alter his destiny
2. the acceptance of and submission to this doctrine
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a world view wherein every event and every human action is regarded as the inevitable realization of what was preordained from the beginning, thus excluding free choice and chance. Three basic types of fatalism may be distinguished: mythological fatalism, or what later became the fatalism of the man in the street, which equates predestination with irrational and unfathomable fate; theological fatalism, in which predestination is regarded as the will of an almighty deity; and rational fatalism, which merged with mechanistic determinism and which views predestination as the inexorable linking of cause and effect within a closed system of causality.

Mythological fatalism, which was a universal feature of early human culture, was subsequently relegated to the marginal categories of thought and was manifested in such “occult” doctrines as astrology; it recurs in periods of decadence or transition such as late Greco-Roman times and the late Renaissance, and an example of its revival in the 20th century can be found in bourgeois society’s fascination with astrology. A new interpretation of this type of fatalism was embodied in the irrational philosophy of life represented by O. Spengler and further elaborated by its advocates, including E. Jünger, G. Benn, and fascist theoreticians.

Theological fatalism holds that men’s destiny is divinely preordained before their birth, some being predestined to “salvation” and others to “perdition.” A consistent formulation of these views can be found in Islam (namely, in the eighth- and ninth-century doctrines of the jabarites), in certain medieval Christian heresies (such as Gottschalk’s in the ninth century), in Calvinism, and in Jansenism. Both the Orthodox and the Catholic Church are opposed to theological fatalism.

Theological fatalism was combined with rational fatalism by G. Pletho. Among the proponents of a strictly rational fatalism were Democritus, Spinoza, Hobbes, and such other mechanistic determinists as Laplace, with his doctrine of the limitless capacity of reason to deduce all future events from full knowledge of the forces of nature at the present moment. A later and philosophically unfounded variant of rational fatalism was that proposed by C. Lombroso, who held that men’s criminal behavior was fate-fully predetermined by their inherited biological makeup—a view that was popular at the turn of the century.

Marxism rejects all forms of fatalism, proposing instead the doctrine of necessity and chance—that is, the dialectics of freedom and necessity in the sociohistorical process.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
These were triumphs of individualism over fatalism. Until we seize control of our destiny, we will remain where we are.
Patients who stated that they did not share their spiritual needs with health professionals were found to have significantly higher scores on the personal control subscale (p<0.01), while those who stated that they did share their spiritual needs were found to have significantly higher scores for the pointlessness of endeavour (p<0.01) and fatalism (p<0.01) subscales.
Cancer fatalism. Respondents were asked to assess their cancer fatalism (CFAT) according to the following three Likert-type scale items: "There is not much you can do to lower your chances of getting cancer," "There are so many different recommendations about preventing cancer, it's hard to know which ones to follow," and "It seems like everything causes cancer." Of these items, we concluded that the first two accurately reflected an association between ISIN and CFAT, when considering the low level of reliability for all three items taken together (Cronbach's a = .60), which had been similarly reported in another study (Lee et al., 2012; M = 2.45, SD = .72, r = .36).
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Warren observes that Montesquieu helped to instruct Romantics on the loss of will that fatalism and submission to despotic power styled as Oriental waste and decorative excess.
Pippin's introduction is an essay-length discussion of the problem of fatalism itself, referencing several philosophers and framing the philosophical dimensions of the issue, with illustrations from several films noir.
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This style of discursive and film-interpretive philosophy continues in Fatalism in American Film Noir: Some Cinematic Philosophy.
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The philosophical content of film noir has been mined by a couple of anthologies and some scattered articles, but none have gone as deeply as Pippin's book, even though it is along only one vein, these films' treatment of fate and fatalism. His brief book has three central chapters, each concerned primarily with a single film noir, which are bookended by an introduction and a conclusion, both important to the argument of the book.
Not only are we now far too reliant on often inadequate and unreliable mechanical means of snow removal, but the EU mandated adoption of the SI system of units has brought a touch of fatalism to how Britons regard low temperatures.