Chance in Philosophy
Boethius’ “The Consolation of Philosophy” demonstrates many thoughts and ideas that Boethius had while he was imprisoned at Ravenna. Boethius wrote of his “conversations” with lady Philosophy, who came to help cure him during his sentence. Throughout the book, she explained (or reminded) Boethius of many things such as the nature of power and the nature of fame. Many things that she explains in the beginning of the book can be summed together with the thought that God governs everything. God, though not the afterlife, is a very important theme in “The Consolation of Philosophy”. One part of this theme that I have looked at is whether God orders the world totally, or there is chance in our lives. Boethius explained, “Whenever something is done for some purpose, and for certain reasons something other than what was intended happens, it is called chance.” (p. __) So is it that there is no chance in life, or do we truly have free will? I believe that there is a concept of chance in our lives, and even though God may know what is going to happen to us, that does not necessarily mean that he made the choice for us.
“For example, if someone began to dig the ground in order to cultivate a field and found a cache of buried gold… Neither the man who buried the gold, nor the man who was tilling the field intended the discovery of the money, but, as I said, it happens as a result of the coincidence that the one began to dig where the other had buried.” (p. __) I believe that this explains that even though one may not be looking for something to happen to him, events that had taken place before would cause this event to eventually occur. So, because someone at some time buried the treasure, does that mean one was meant to find it? Yes, I believe that someone was meant to find it, and it is that person’s chance that led him or her to do so. However, in “The Consolation of Philosophy”, the idea is that there is no chance in Gods point of view; that God has a supreme knowledge of everything, and things do not seem to be chance to him because he may foresee their occurrence. It is implied that God created the world and the order that it stands in, and that he knows everything that will ever happen to us. So, how is it, then, that we have free will if God already knows what will happen to us? Does he choose our destiny, or do we shape it ourselves?
I believe that while God may know our destinies, we do shape them ourselves. It is possible for God to know our destinies because he “knows” the future. However, the future in God’s perspective is not really the future per se, it is just a depiction of sequence of things rather than a moment of occurrence. In the book, Philosophy explains that “It is not necessary, they say, that what is foreseen must happen, but it is necessary that what is destined to happen must be foreseen.” (p. __) This may help explain the idea that even though God knows something, it does not mean that he chose it. I believe that we do have free will in our lives. We can demonstrate this at any time by doing what ever we want. God sees our future as we will choose it to be, not as he chooses it to be. So with this, I believe in chance only in the mind of humans. Things may seem to happen to us by chance because we are not expecting them. If I were to win the lottery I would say that I won it by chance. Even though I may know that it was not chance in God’s eyes, it would still be chance in my mind, because I would have no way of knowing that the numbers that I would arbitrarily pick would lead to a winning ticket. Chance may therefore be no more than an adjective used to describe something that one would not expect. Chance may not be true in God’s eyes, but it is true in the minds of humans.
Chance is a word that humans may use to describe something happening to them unexpectedly. It would be none other than this chance that one would mention if he or she won the lottery or found a pot of gold. Boethius did not believe in chance because there is no chance in God’s point of view. While I do agree that there is no chance in God’s eyes, I still believe in chance in the eyes of humans. Humans are certainly not gods, and therefore should not be held to the thought that there is really no chance, because there is chance when the process of time is put in to consideration. Chance is a prevalent factor in the lives of humans, in my point of view.