Determinism the general name for all those theories according to which man, in his religious and moral action, is absolutely determined by external or internal motives not belonging to him, and which either deny his freedom or explain it as a mere semblance. In opposition to determinism, the word indeterminism has been used of a will which is absolutely undetermined from abroad, but wholly determines itself. Such an absolute indeterminism can only be predicated of the absolute being. Absolute determinism, on the other hand, can only be attributed to objects whose activity is altogether dependent upon external impulses, as is the case with the objects of nature. Applying the term to man, every branch of the Christian Church holds to some kind of determinism, inasmuch as he is dependent upon the absolute being, and that his actions are influenced by impulses not his own. But it is common to understand by determinism those views of man's dependence upon external influences which destroy his moral responsibility. In this sense various kinds of determinism are distinguished. It is fatalistic or predeterministic if it places an irresistible fatality above even the divine being or economy, as was done by the Greeks in the doctrine of fate, and is still done by the Mohammedans. It is pantheistic if it deduces necessity from the unalterable connection of things, making the individual acts of man, as it were, a sport of the world-soul with itself, as was the case in the cosmic theories of the Indians, in the ethics of the Stoics, in the system of Spinoza, and in certain modern systems. The astrological determinism is a transition from the first to the second kind. Determinism is materialistic if the want of human freedom is explained by the life of the human soul being determined by an evil or hostile materia, as was done by the Parsees, the Gnostics, and the Manichaeans. Different from these ancient materialists are the modern representatives of a materialistic determinism, like La Mettrie, who reduce all human actions to an absolute compulsion by sensuous motives. A subdivision of this determinism is the phrenological determinism which in modern times has found some champions. A subtle form of determinism is found in some rationalistic writers, who explain the self-determination of man as a coercion by inner representations (Priestly) or by adequate reasons (Leibnitz). Other writers on this subject have divided determinism into mechanical, rational, and metaphysical determinism. — Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 3, 331. SEE WILL; SEE PREDESTINATION.

Definition of determine

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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