The English word ‘accidence’ comes from the Latin verb ‘accēdere’ (or ‘accēdō’),1 meaning basically ‘to fall’, ‘to happen’ or ‘to come’.2 Something that happens by accident simply happens without any further (causal) relation to something else. It does not come from anything; it simply comes as if falling out of the blue sky. Accidental happenings are thus undetermined.
This is obviously different where self-determination is concerned. For self-determined happenings are being actuated by a consciously acting self. Following the etymological lines sketched in a previous contemplation it can be said that a self-determiner fixes his own extend, position or identity.3 He fixes the happenings befalling him.
This fixing is also etymologically present in the word ‘destiny’. For ‘destiny’ can through the Latin ‘dēstinātus’ be traced back to the Latin ‘destināre’ (or ‘destinō’),4 meaning ‘to fix’.5 Now this ‘destinō’ is a compound word consisting of ‘de’ and ‘sto’.6 With ‘de’ denoting a movement away7and ‘sto’ meaning ‘to stand’8 can, with the meaning of ‘fixation’ in mind, a destiny be understood as a movement away from a stand towards a fixed point. In a destiny one is lead away from where one stands, and brought to a fixed point. This is what an individual befalls at a destined happening.
So where in an accidence something befalls upon an individual randomly, where in an accidence an individual is brought to a non-fixed point, to a point that is nor fixed by himself nor by anything besides himself, and where in a self-determination an individual is brought to a fixed point which he fixed himself, there is in a destiny an individual brought to a fixed point that is not fixed by himself.
Now it can be said that what happens accidentally happens below the threshold of (self-)consciousness. Would an individual have put his mind to something then this would not have befallen unto him accidentally. Would a person have been conscious of the muddy path he was walking then he would have chosen to walk it carefully and he would not have slipped accidentally. Consciousness, and with this is meant here self-consciousness, leads one out of the realm of accidents. Self-determination leads one out of the realm of accidents.
Nevertheless it can be the case that the person in the above example has been very conscious of the muddy path and walked it very self-determined but that he slipped anyway. In such a case it will be easily said by him that it must have been destiny (or fate) to slip. And this then is said fairly so. For destiny lies beyond (self-)consciousness. Accidence has no fixed point to move to and can thus move anywhere. Self-determination fixes a point to move to and thus overcomes accidence. However where the self-determined point is contingent (for it could have been laid somewhere else too) there is in destiny a necessary point fixed that cannot be overcome by self-determination. For after all can necessity not be nullified by any contingence but is the latter nullified by the first.
In above paragraph self-determination was related to self-consciousness and in the given example a human figured. This is not accidental, for to be human means to be self-conscious and to be self-conscious means to be human.9 This also implies that being human means to be self-determined and being self-determined means to be human.
Also was in that short paragraph a hierarchic structure of accidence, self-determination and destiny sketched. One rules over the other. Self-determination rules over accidence and destiny rules over both of them. To overcome accidence self-determination must be brought in play, however self-determination is not our ultimate destiny. To be human is not the ultimate destiny of a human. It indeed does not befit a human to lower himself into the realm of accidence of the pre-human state. It does not befit a human to become inhumane. However to be human is not the destiny of a human. Eventually he must evolve beyond his self-determination and enter his destiny of being a trans-human, a buddha,10 a metanthropos11. A human’s destiny lies beyond himself.
This is also the reason why self-determination was considered as being problematic in an earlier contemplation.12 It does have its place in overcoming accidence but it should definitely not become a man’s everlasting resting place.
That self-determination does have its place in humanity but should not be its resting place to eternally reside sets self-determination as a temporal stage in evolution from accidence to destiny. In human life it has its rise but in the more evolved human also its decline. The less evolved human then will still be plagued much by accidence. Those humans standing somewhere midway will experience their noon of self-determination. However the more evolved will be working out their trans-human destiny. It is wise then for the self-determiner to refrain from glorifying himself for what he determined his life to be. Wiser even is it to refrain from looking down at those who are not in their noon of self-determination. For they might very well be in the process of leaving their self-determination behind, entering more and more into their destiny, a phase still lying ahead for the self-determiner.
May thus the self-determiner be determined in such a humility.