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by Isaac Asimov
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Foundation Fate & Free Will Quotes Page 1

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Quote #1

[Gaal] said, "about 85%?"

"Not bad," said Seldon, thrusting out a lower lip, "but not good. The actual figure is 92.5%." (I.4.37-38)

When you're thinking about Fate and free will, remember that Seldon's Plan is based on mathematical probability. This isn't a crystal ball type scenario here. Even at 92.5%, that still means there's a 7.5% chance that Seldon will be wrong. We're not saying we'd take those odds or anything—but it's still better than 0%, especially if you're talking about a 30K-year Dark Age.

Quote #2

[Seldon]. The psychohistoric trend of a planet-full of people contains a huge inertia. To be changed, it must be met with something possessing a similar inertia. Either as many people must be concerned, or if the number of people be relatively small, enormous time for change must be allowed. (I.6.50)

Also, not a crystal ball scenario here. There aren't any gods making a mess of things, like in some Greek tragedy. People created the problems; people need to fix them. It'll just take a whole lot of people to fix this gigantic problem.

Quote #3

"Because, my boy, in a plan such as ours, the actions of others are bent to our needs. Have I not said to you already that Chen's temperamental makeup has been subjected to greater scrutiny than that of any other single man in history." (I.8.21)

Seldon has studied his rival Chen to the point that Seldon can plan around his free will, as if it were fate. Is it just us, or does this make Seldon seem a little creepy?

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