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lorien
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Destiny vs. Free Will ---Possible Spoilers---

Destiny vs. Free Will

This is a question that has been puzzling me. It is also in pursuit of the answer to impmn question "Why was Gandalf's sacrifice not for the good of all Middle-earth?"

My question is were all these events that take place in the four Ring books planned by the gods (or Valors or whatever they are called) and predestined, all a matter of sheer luck, or were they actually planned and controlled by Gandalf. We will probably encounter more references as we go along but I wanted to be alert to the subject. What really caught my attention was the ambiguous statements Gandalf makes in The Quest of Erebor (Appendix A of the Annotated Hobbit). If you don't have this, here is a good summary for you

http://tolkiengeek.blogspot.com/2007/03/quest-for-erebor.html

This tale is told by Gandalf to the remaining Fellowship after the events of the LOTR. It is one of Tolkiens many "add-on" stories he uses to more full explain things. This one is to tie all the events that were started and took place during The Hobbit and their impact on what happened in LOTR. The question he opens up here is whether destiny or choices governed what happens, Gandalf points out that he had a master plan to prevent Sauron from regaining power and this was all part of his master plan. In The Hobbit he felt it was important to prevent Sauron from taking control of the dragon, Smaug, who would be a terrible weapon. Smaug had to be destroyed but it was not possible or reasonable to launch a frontal assault on him. Only stealth and a small group could carry out the task. But then he leaves it very ambiguous saying that chance and circumstances were what actually made the difference. I'm not sure which and I'm not sure if Gandalf, or for that matter Tolkien, knows which made the difference.

-------------

This is Gimli, who is a dwarf and the son of Gloin one of the original 13 dwarfs in The Hobbit, talking (page 389 AH):

"Did not the recovery of the kingship under the Mountain, and the fall of Smaug begin there? Not to mention the end of Barad-dur, though both were strangely woven together. Strangely, very strangely," he said and paused.

Then looking hard at Gandalf he went on: "But who wove the web? I do not think I have ever considered that before. Did you plan all this then, Gandalf? If not, why did you lead Thorin Oakenshield to such and unlikely door? To find the Ring, and bring it far away into the West for hiding, and then choose the Ringbearer -- and to restore the Mountain Kingdom as a mere deed by the way: was that not your design?"

Gandalf did not answer at once. He stood up, and looked out of the window, west, seawards; and the sun was then setting, and a glow was in his face. He stood so a long while silent.

But at las he turned to Gimli and said: "I do not know the answer. For I have changed since those days, and I am no longer trammelled by the burden of Middle-earth as I was then. In those days I should have answered you with words like those I used to Frodo, only lasst year in the spring. Only last year! But such measures are meaningless. In that far distant time I said to a small and frightened hobbit: Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker, and you therefore were meant to bear it. And I might have added: and I was meant to guide you both to those points.

"To do that, I used in my waking mind only such means as were allowed to me, doing what lay to my hand according to such reason as I had. But what I knew in my heart, or knew before I stepped on these grey shores: that is another matter."
---------------------

He then goes on to relate how he had planned the events in his tale about the Quest of Erebor that you can pick up from the summary.

My answer to impmn question "Why was Gandalf's sacrifice not for the good of all Middle-earth?" would be yes, it was critical to the good of Middle-earth no matter what the reason. Frodo never would have succeeded if he had not continued on his own. Everything had to happen the way it did.

My question is was this a plan of the gods, Gandalf, or luck? And maybe even a bigger question would be were all the players and events just part of a game being played by the gods?
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BarbaraN
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Re: Destiny vs. Free Will ---Definite Spoilers---

[ Edited ]
THESE COMMENTS ARE DEFINITE SPOILERS - DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE LOTR
=========================================================================




************************************SPOILERS*************************************

In my rereading of The Two Towers I am coming across some tantalizing hints that "destiny" might have a stronger hand in things.

---------

pg 485 single volume LOTR
"It was not in vain that the young hobbits [Merry and Pippin] came with us...They were brought [note the word "brought" since they were physically brought by orcs] to Fangorn, and their coming was like the falling of small stones that starts and avalanche in the mountains." [This is a before the fact comment that Merry and Pippin are going to be responsible or some significant happening.]

pg 489
[To Aregon] 'Do not regret your choice in the valley of the Emyn Muil, nor call it a vain pursuit. You chose amid doubts the path that seemed right: the choice was just, and has been rewarded.[*] For so we have met in time, who otherwise might have met too late....You must go to Edoras and seek out Theoden in his hall. For you are need. The light of Anduril must now be uncovered in the battle for which it has so long waited."

pg 484-485
[* I'm kind of piecing this together because it is all hinting and scattered] "The Ring now has passed beyond my help, or the help of any of the Company that set out from Rivendell. Very nearly it was revealed to the Enemy, but it escaped. I had some part in that: for I sat in a high place, and I strove with the Dark Tower; and the Shadow passed. Then I was weary, very weary; and I walked long in dark thought.'

'He [Frodo] was saved from a great peril, [at this point in the book we don't know anything about what has happened to Frodo since he left the Fellowship] but many lie before him still. He resolved to go alone to Mordor, and he set out..."

-------------

For those of you without the one-volume, this is the Chapter V: The White Rider.

Message Edited by BarbaraN on 02-07-2008 08:08 PM
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Dagor
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Re: Destiny vs. Free Will ---Definite Spoilers---

In the religion and philosophy of Christianity there has always been a contention between free will and destiny. I think Augustine and Thomas Aquinas address this. As Tolkien sort of combined both Christian and pagan Nordic concepts, the Nordic being strong on predestination, I think it is hard to tell sometimes if Tolkien means destiny to have more sway than free will, or the opposite. If Tolkien is using pagan source material to create his own Early English mythology, it would be reasonable for him to use a lot of predestination as these tales are supposed to be Pre-Christian.

Reading the Silmarillion, the idea seems to be that all of the history of the universe is sung out, so in a way, doesn't this mean that everything is predestined? Maybe the characters go through their actions and make what seems to them to be free will decisions, but they are already ordained? Being a Roman Catholic, that religion tries to give an element of free will so that people can be held accountable for making right and wrong decisions. But if Tolkiens Arda universe is fixed by the song of creation, wouldn't that do away with any real free will? Did Tolkien change his philosophies as he got older, did he try to Christianize his Middle-earth stories more and more? I heard some of his late works when he was rewriting the Silmarillion have big changes towards a more close connection, consistency with Christian thought. Anybody know?
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Fanuidhol
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Re: Destiny vs. Free Will ---Definite Spoilers---



Dagor wrote:
In the religion and philosophy of Christianity there has always been a contention between free will and destiny. I think Augustine and Thomas Aquinas address this. As Tolkien sort of combined both Christian and pagan Nordic concepts, the Nordic being strong on predestination, I think it is hard to tell sometimes if Tolkien means destiny to have more sway than free will, or the opposite. If Tolkien is using pagan source material to create his own Early English mythology, it would be reasonable for him to use a lot of predestination as these tales are supposed to be Pre-Christian.

Reading the Silmarillion, the idea seems to be that all of the history of the universe is sung out, so in a way, doesn't this mean that everything is predestined? Maybe the characters go through their actions and make what seems to them to be free will decisions, but they are already ordained? Being a Roman Catholic, that religion tries to give an element of free will so that people can be held accountable for making right and wrong decisions. But if Tolkiens Arda universe is fixed by the song of creation, wouldn't that do away with any real free will? Did Tolkien change his philosophies as he got older, did he try to Christianize his Middle-earth stories more and more? I heard some of his late works when he was rewriting the Silmarillion have big changes towards a more close connection, consistency with Christian thought. Anybody know?

"Iluvatar sat alone in thought...[Men] should have a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the Music of the Ainur, which is as fate to all things else..." toward the end of the chapter "Of the Beginning of Days", The Silmarillion
"A possible distinction between [Elves and Men] may be that Men are given the power to act beyond the Music (that is, to alter external events or circumstances) , while Elves, though bound by the Music, have the freedom to make internal choices...They may have power over their own natures, though not over external happenings."  pgs 52-53 Splintered Light by Verlyn Flieger
 
Yes, Tolkien did work on "a more close connection, consistency with Christian thought".  Some of this work can be found in HoMe Vol X: Morgoth's Ring, in the section called "Myths Transformed".  In skimming this chapter, just now, I don't think Christopher Tolkien included any of it in Silm.  Most if not all of the essays in "Myths Transformed" were written after LotR.
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Fanuidhol
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Re: Doom

Doom is another word that Tolkien likes that also means destiny or fate
Just thought I'd throw that in. :smileywink:
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Dagor
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Re: Destiny vs. Free Will ---Definite Spoilers---

Thanks Fanuidhol, that is an interesting quote. I was not sure how Tolkien would get around the fixed-destiny thing.

"Iluvatar sat alone in thought...[Men] should have a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the Music of the Ainur, which is as fate to all things else..." toward the end of the chapter "Of the Beginning of Days", The Silmarillion

This is sort of scary though, reminds me of all those 1950 Sci Fi tales where someone goes back in time, steps on a five million year ago butterfly, and changes history so Adolph Hitler wins World War II. With all of us flawed mortals running around Middle-earth with "free-will", would the original planned universe be able to survive us? LOL!

Volume X, gottcha, trip to the library soon.
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lorien
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Re: Destiny vs. Free Will ---Possible Spoilers---

I found this thread lurking at the bottom of the pile. Maybe this is a better place to collect our thoughts on whether there is an outside source controlling events in LOTR or if individuals can actually make choices. I gather these two issues may interact with each other in different ways.

I did find some of the comments already in this thread informative and think now that maybe I will read the first part of the Silm and maybe a bit of the Splintered Light.

One way or another, I think I'm going to get the Silm read but in pieces. :smileywink: Myabe it is less painful that way!
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lorien
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Re: Destiny vs. Free Will ---Possible Spoilers---

Now you guys have me reading Silm! This subject is certainly ambiguous. Seems things are planned out but there is a bit of wiggle room, per the posts above:

Silm: Ainulindale, pp17
And many other things Iluvatar spoke to the Ainur at that time, and because of their memory of his words and the knowledge that each has of the music that he himself made, the Ainur know much of what was, and is, and is to come, and a few things are unseen by them.
--------------------------------------------

So the Ainur (Valor) do know what is going to happen but their knowledge is not complete. There are "blank" spaces so to speak. So they could have sent their Maiar to Middle-earth to do a bit of nudging.

But they were cut off before they had knowledge into the Fourth Age, the time of Men and after the Elves had left Middle-earth--if I understand the "ere" correctly. Does anyone know specifically what 'ere' means? Is it more of a "before" or "at the time of".
----------------------------------------

pp 20
...for the history was incomplete and the circles of time not full-wrought when the vision was taken away. And some have said that the vision ceased ere the fulfillment of the Dominion of Men and the fading of the Firstborn; wherefore, though the Music is over all, the Valar have not seen as with sight the Later Ages or the ending of the World.
-----------------------

We are now on our own. No more nudges from the Gods.
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Nadine
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Re: Destiny vs. Free Will

I see there are some more goodies that I have missed. Right at the beginning in the Ainulindale we get the the question of Destiny vs. Free Will. Eru gave the Free Will to Men but not to Elves. But my impression was that both seem to make pretty free choices. But then I noticed from some of the earlier discussions here, that there was some question as to whether there was a "divinity that shapes our ends" and there definitely seems to be a hint in the Ainulindale that ERU already knew the outcome of the third melody -- or am I mistaken in my interpretation?
 

Fanuidhol wrote:


Dagor wrote:
In the religion and philosophy of Christianity there has always been a contention between free will and destiny. I think Augustine and Thomas Aquinas address this. As Tolkien sort of combined both Christian and pagan Nordic concepts, the Nordic being strong on predestination, I think it is hard to tell sometimes if Tolkien means destiny to have more sway than free will, or the opposite. If Tolkien is using pagan source material to create his own Early English mythology, it would be reasonable for him to use a lot of predestination as these tales are supposed to be Pre-Christian.

Reading the Silmarillion, the idea seems to be that all of the history of the universe is sung out, so in a way, doesn't this mean that everything is predestined? Maybe the characters go through their actions and make what seems to them to be free will decisions, but they are already ordained? Being a Roman Catholic, that religion tries to give an element of free will so that people can be held accountable for making right and wrong decisions. But if Tolkiens Arda universe is fixed by the song of creation, wouldn't that do away with any real free will? Did Tolkien change his philosophies as he got older, did he try to Christianize his Middle-earth stories more and more? I heard some of his late works when he was rewriting the Silmarillion have big changes towards a more close connection, consistency with Christian thought. Anybody know?

"Iluvatar sat alone in thought...[Men] should have a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the Music of the Ainur, which is as fate to all things else..." toward the end of the chapter "Of the Beginning of Days", The Silmarillion
"A possible distinction between [Elves and Men] may be that Men are given the power to act beyond the Music (that is, to alter external events or circumstances) , while Elves, though bound by the Music, have the freedom to make internal choices...They may have power over their own natures, though not over external happenings."  pgs 52-53 Splintered Light by Verlyn Flieger
 
Yes, Tolkien did work on "a more close connection, consistency with Christian thought".  Some of this work can be found in HoMe Vol X: Morgoth's Ring, in the section called "Myths Transformed".  In skimming this chapter, just now, I don't think Christopher Tolkien included any of it in Silm.  Most if not all of the essays in "Myths Transformed" were written after LotR.
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