Friday, February 22, 2013

Diderot's Determinism in Jacques the Fatalist




While Jacques firmly believes that “everything which happens to us on this earth, both good and bad, is written up above,” loosely and rarely does he give his reasons for his belief. And since Diderot —the author— seems to be more concerned with satirizing rather than criticizing Jacques determinism, let’s use Jorge Luis Borges —the Argentinian writer— thoughts to glimpse what Jacques did not clearly articulate:
"A writer, or any man, must believe that whatever happens to him is an instrument; everything has been given for an end.  This is even stronger in the case of the artist.  Everything that happens, including humiliations, embarrassments, misfortunes, all has been given like clay, like material for one's art.  One must accept it.  For this reason I speak in a poem of the ancient food of heroes: humiliation, unhappiness, discord.  Those things are given to us to transform, so that we may make from the miserable circumstances of our lives things that are eternal, or aspire to be so."

Two great writers --Diderot and Borges-- can not only entertain you but also challenge you to ponder the foibles of humanity.


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