The Case for Determinism This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

September 1, 2010
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Determinism is the belief that our behavior, choices, and consequently major world events, have already been determined. Like a row of dominoes, it is believed that events from the past will determine events in the future, continuing in an indestructible chain. I agree, believing that our destinies are already set in stone by variables such as our upbringing, values and priorities. These determinants, too, have causes; the upbringing of our parents will very likely affect our own, and our values and priorities often mirror those of our family and peers. We are born into lives that, from the time we first open our eyes, impress upon and shape us into nothing more than casts of our environment. Even when we attempt to think individually, believing that we are functioning on our own will and separately from the influences we're surrounded by, there must have been something or someone who inspired our attempt to think freely. Therefore, our destiny is not only an inescapable and unbreakable chain of events, but contributes to the events of society, and helps to shape our world.


To understand how and why sociological events are inevitable, it's necessary to examine the choices and motivation of individuals. We are motivated to behave in the manner we're rewarded for. My brother, for example, cares about his education very deeply, and strives to go to college and earn a degree in Biochemistry. This is most likely because of our parents' encouragement (and often, insistence) that he get an education. As a child, I remember both of us being rewarded for academic achievements, while being punished for getting poor grades or being lazy. This is undoubtedly why my brother and I strive for an education today. For as long as either of us can remember, school has been the number one priority in our lives, whether or not we always wanted it to be. Thus, now that we are older and capable of making independent choices, they aren't truly independent - they've been pre-determined by the influences in our lives (mainly our parents) who rewarded us for the academic achievement we now strive for.


This may seem like a feeble support of the theory of determinism; after all, just because some individuals are influenced in certain ways, who is to say that these influences are significant enough to shape society? However, consider the origin of this influence. Why have my parents always set such high academic standards for my brothers and I? What influenced them to make sure their children got an education? The primary reason is that my family has always suffered financial struggles, caused ultimately by the fact that neither of my parents received a college education. My parents always wanted better for my brothers and I, and so they relentlessly encouraged us to do our best in school. To delve even further into these influences, we could examine the reasons why they chose not to go to college; it's probably because they weren't in an environment where academic achievement was given much priority. It wasn't deemed by those around them (particularly, their parents) to be an important part of life, and so they didn't believe it to be until it was too late, and made their choices according to these beliefs.


Thus, we are inherently influenced and molded according to our surroundings, and the beliefs of those we associate with. Consequently, as we grow into participatory members of society, we shape our world. We carry with us baggage; a chain of events that lead to our actions, choices and beliefs, and when armed with these assets, the power to influence society. Each of us has a miniscule, yet prominent, role in shaping the next cycle of humanity. Through the influence of the media, literature, art and simply everyday interactions, we carve the culture and mindset of the next generation, and thus their choices. Therefore, we are indeed like that falling set of dominoes; the actions of others have determined our actions, and our actions will determine those of the next generation.


Therefore, I believe determinism to be a very real aspect of life, and based mainly upon our influence of one another. The influences and belief systems that we grow up with have originated from those of our peers and predecessors. Likewise, the next generation will largely mirror our beliefs and choices, continuing to build the chain of events that links one sociological phase to the next. Our actions are directly caused by the actions of those before us, will cause the actions of those who follow us, and are presently the pulse that vitalizes and evolves our ever-changing society.





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