Philosophy of Luck
written by: Cory Q
I have been thinking about luck. What is it? Luck is roughly defined as "chance", "success through chance", "a persons apparent tendency to be fortunate or misfortunate" or my personal favorite (from the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary) "The action or effect of casual or uncontrollable events".
Think about that for a minute. I think that last definition leads to more philosophical thought than most people care to do.
Let me set it up this way:
1) All actions are subject to cause and effect.
2) Not all the causes or effects of actions can be known by a single individual.
3) Because a single individual cannot know all causes and all effects there are times when causes and effects seem to be random.
4) These random times can be fortuitous or detrimental and are called luck.
What I am proposing as a corollary of this argument is that the belief in luck is then an automatic belief in a strict cause and effect chain.
It has been brought to my attention that luck is not to be confused with fate. Indeed this is true. Fate is the entire string of cause and effect taken on the whole over a lifetime with some sort of defined beginning and end. Luck, on the other hand, depending on perception, can be understood more in terms such as how "the rational mind reacts to the unordered world- an attempt to find meaning where there is none" (H.S. Alan, Compendium Obscura, chapter 18, page 117). Or, "luck" is nothing more than a convenient label for not being able to see the tiny fluttering movements of cause and effect.
Now that luck has been defined, the real sticky part comes in. How does luck interact with free will? This part of the argument will also take some definition.
Let me put it this way:
1) Believing in luck is an admission of strict cause and effect.
2) At some point cause and effect will limit choice in any particular situation.
3)Once choice has been limited in any particular situation, "free will" is compromised.
4) When free will is compromised, a person is put in an "I could not do otherwise" situation.
5) An "I couldn ot do otherwise" situation is the breakdown of "free will".
At this point, I believe I have constructed a fairly sound argument so I will leave it up to you, gentle reader, to figure out if luck and free will can coexist.
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