Study Guide

Foundation Fate & Free Will

By Isaac Asimov

Fate & Free Will

What do you think: does fate determine our lives or does our free will allow us to make our own choices? It's a question so old it practically swam in the primordial ooze of questions, and the characters of Foundation have to deal with this one a lot. Psychohistory can predict the future for large numbers of people, thanks to human behavior being predictable. But it's not good at determining the future of an individual. So, it seems like you might have free will as an individual, but not as a member of society. But do the decisions you make really matter? If the course of humanity's future has already been mapped out, then what purpose do you, as an individual, even have? This could get interesting.

Questions About Fate & Free Will

  1. What do you think? Is Seldon creating his plan or is he subject to it as much as anyone else? 
  2. Do Hardin and Mallow help move Seldon's plan along or are they moved by the plan? A little of both? What do you think?
  3. Is Seldon's plan a matter of predicting the future, or is it more about restricting the free will of others? Bring in evidence to support your choice.

Chew on This

Fate doesn't actually factor into Seldon's Plan, because the Plan focuses on statistics alone. So, he is less a prophet and more a card-counter. A really, really good card-counter.

In Seldon's plan, people are subjected to history, rather than being the ones who enact history.