Introduction and Scope
Since antiquity, humans have wondered and worried about the future. A persistent concern in this regard has been fatalism, the idea that the future, in its entirely, is unavoidably fixed or settled. Fatalism says that there are no future contingents, no events whose future occurrence or nonoccurrence is still to be decided. Understandably, many have found fatalism threatening because it means that ultimately there is nothing left for us to decide—our fates having been already sealed by cosmic forces beyond our control.
Fatalistic worries arise from both philosophical and theological sources. In philosophy, they can arise from various theories concerning truth, logic, causation, and the nature of time. In theology, they have arisen chiefly from concerns about divine foreknowledge and predestination.
This research guide covers the major philosophical and theological sources of fatalism from antiquity to the present. It is intended for use by college students and researchers. I have chosen sources primarily on the basis of historical influence and scholarly importance. Where comparable alternative sources exist, I have chosen the more accessible of the two. Since many of the writings listed here are fairly demanding, those new to the topic are encouraged to begin with readings in the General Overview sections and to look for ones glossed as "accessible."
This guide is divided into three main sections: (1) suggested search terms (subjects and keywords) and databases to use for finding further resources, (2) philosophical sources of fatalism from antiquity to the present, and (3) theological sources from the early Middle Ages to the present.
Hyperlinks are given for online resources. For print materials, Library of Congress call numbers have been provided in brackets after the reference. For print materials available through Indiana University, I have included library location information as well. References are given in APA format, except that I have deliberately not abbreviated the first names of some ancient authors who might otherwise be hard to recognize.