Philosophy in The Flash (SEASON 1) Post 4
Fate & Destiny
“I don’t think that lightening struck you, Barry. I think it chose you”.
In the final minutes of the Flash Pilot Episode, we see ‘The Arrow’ throw this philosophical line at Barry Allen. But what does it really mean? When Oliver says this, he is suggesting that Barry has become the Flash as a result fate and destiny; because that lightening bolt could have struck anyone in the world but it chose the one with a tragic superhero-building backstory. But couldn’t that just be the result chance and coincidence?
Let’s examine the role fate and destiny plays in our lives.
The philosophical concept of fate and destiny is continually explored in The Flash, particularly when Barry travels into the past in an attempt to change his mother’s fate and when he realises the irony of his own destiny; that he’d been searching his whole life for the impossible, only to become the impossible himself. The idea is also notable in the relationship between the Reverse Flash and the Flash, as well as the karma that essentially strikes the Flash’s enemy- he came to the past to kill the Flash, now to return to his time, he ironically needs to create his own enemy.
In my philosophy, fate has it’s own agenda and while we can control our destiny to a degree through our free will and actions, there must be some sort of natural blueprint that it follows.
First of all, philosophers note that fate and destiny are different but similar: fate is thought of as something that is ‘decreed’ while our destiny is ‘caused’ by our previous and future actions or personalities.
This relates to the philosophical concept of fatalism, an idea often credited to the early Greek poet, Homer who saw fate as ‘an impersonal power that influences even the lives of the Gods and which not even they can countermand’. To cite Wikipedia, ‘it is based on the belief that there is a fixed natural order to the universe’. Fatalism simply states that all events and actions are subjugated to fate; meaning that we are powerless to do anything other than what we are destined to do and that no one has the power to influence their own futures (similar to the philosophy of pre-determinism). Additionally, fatalism also refers to the idea of future events to be thought of as causally inevitable. The idea is that acceptance of this inevitability is appropriate and should not be challenged (similar to defeatism).
Fate is thought of as something that is ‘decreed’ while our destiny is ‘caused’ by our previous and future actions or personalities.
In direct opposition to this take on fate, the Epicureans believed that our actions are voluntary and are not-predetermined as our destiny, as long as we are rational and free-thinking. Furthermore, relevant to the concept of time travel in the Flash, determinism also states that everything that happens is determined by things that have already happened. For example, I am a great soccer-player today because I played soccer for the past 11 years. A better example: Barry Allen is self-doubting, brave and is destined to become a hero; the Flash or not, because he suffered a childhood tragedy and gained the necessary motivation to become a hero. If the Flash were to change what things had already happened in his past -such as his mother’s death- by time-travelling, he would be directly changing his future also. The DC publications/shows Legends of Tomorrow and Flashpoint are both great examples of this inter-relationship between time, consequence and destiny.
Just you watch out when we get to Season 2!
Watch video from 1.17 mins for the Reverse Flash’s commentary on fate, cosmic irony and destiny.
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