November 07, 2008

Lucky you

This guy had some bad luck.

El Cabrero has been musing lately about the role of luck in human affairs. By luck, I mean things that affect us for good or ill that we can't anticipate or control. We go though our lives vacillating between automatic pilot and conscious planning, but even when we try to leave nothing to chance,the universe gets a vote of its own.

My sense is that while the universe is not out to get anybody personally, it probably won't stay up nights worrying about us.

Even on those rare occasions when things work out according to plan, I'd say we were pretty lucky. Think of all the things that could have happened that didn't.

I know that some people believe there is no luck or chance, but I choose not to blame God for everything that happens and could never work my mind into a strict naturalistic determinism. Even if the universe really was a closed, deterministic system, we don't experience it that way and certainly don't have a God's eye view.

Whilst perusing many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore on the subject of luck, I came across this little quote by the American philosopher John Dewey:

No one knows what a year or even a day my bring forth, The healthy become ill; the rich poor; the mighty are cast down' fame changes to obloquy. Men live at the mercy of forces they cannot control. Belief in fortune and luck, good and evil, is one of the most widespread and persistent of human beliefs. Chance has been deified by many peoples. Fate has been set up as an overlord to whom even the Gods must bow. Belief in a Goddess of Luck is in ill repute among pious folk but their belief in providence is a tribute to the fact no individual controls his own destiny.

So good luck out there today.

SPEAKING OF CHANGING LUCK, big business lobbyists are anticipating some, according to this item from McClatchy papers.

SIGN OF THE TIMES. Retail sales took a nosedive in October.

LOOKING BACK (AND AHEAD). This New Yorker item ponders the presidency.

THE NEXT BIG CRUNCH is likely to be ecological.


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