D. Dwivedi : « The Distinct Positions of Chance in Metaphysics and the Sciences »

Divya Dwivedi , « The Distinct Positions of Chance in Metaphysics and the Sciences » in Réseau ALEA / ALEA Network [online], 2021 <hasard.hypotheses.org/4100>

Philosophical enquiries indicate in their histories that the position assigned to chance with respect to either a regional enquiry or a general enquiry is determined, although without the evidence of any invariant, by the concern which can be indicated through the term “ontology”. It will be found that for most theologies, it is chance, more than a necessitarian thought of nature, that is essential to establish the domain distinction between the mortal and the immortal, but at the same time “chance” gives the paradoxes which the theologies seek to resolve through the deployment of Theo-techniques, including theodicy. An important instance of this is the projection of either “chance” or of “necessity” onto the “All.” Such a projection of “chance” is still what Heidegger would call onto-theology, and its examples can be found across periods, but they acutely manifest from the 19th century onwards. The positions on “chance” which began to emerge from the 19th century display a particular tendency which simultaneously reveal a certain turn in the very praxis of philosophy, namely, to obtain its principle from the findings of the sciences which converted certain philosophical moments into ‘phantasy.’ Whereas in fact, philosophy as philosophy is that thought which alone is responsible for, or causes, the reciprocal seizure and the suffering of its principles.

How are situations of action to be delimited and defined? In any situation is everything totally determined and if so by what laws; or, is there a transcendent force that remains unaccountable and for which we tend towards the idiom of chance, luck, fortune, destiny? Free will, the possibility of choice and action, conflicts with absolute determinism, but it also conflicts with positing either chance or destiny as the essential character of what exists and of what seems to us to be our deliberated action. First, there is no way of knowing whether very thing one knows to be free will might in fact be a chance or destiny; second, supposing one knew one’s destiny it still cannot be avoided. These questions have been raised since the earliest works of Plato through to Hannah Arendt. With Leibniz having demonstrated the subsumption of all propositions, necessary and contingent, under the principle of sufficient reason, the relations among things comprising the totality of the world is something we can never know so that we have to act as beings having free will.

Then, free will implies those ranges of everyday life, as far as goals of life are concerned, where we can either infer or construct possible courses of action. The totality of the world is unknown to me, therefore the constructability here is not connected to this totality which is denied by the world. Hence, chance in action refers, at the level of propositions, to the relation between subject and predicate of propositions describing a situation in which we discover a constructability which is concerned only with my particular theoretically limited aims. More importantly, as Kant already discussed, on the one hand to act presupposes an open-endedness of a situation, which it then closes by fully determining. Thus, the exercise of free will, which is temporal, in fact, eliminates chance. Further, as Arendt showed, action is concerned with making sense of things and signification happens only in a political community. This points us away from the conventional connotations of chance and destiny, and rather towards indestinacy as that which demands of us to construct a destiny rather than postulate on chance.

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