Post-structuralism and Destiny

We’re talking about that every human being is a survival machine of genes, memes and maybe other units. From this perspective, is there a destiny for every person?

Like Shakespear, his genes, memes and the environment he was born into might be the crucial elements to his success. Are there other elements which lead to his achievement? Are all his personal efforts afterwards pre-destined by the gene, meme and the birth environment? The education and impact he received from the world around him can also be important, but are they also pre-destined before his birth?

There might also be some dynamic things going on which can be taken as coincidences. So are people’s lives just combinations of pre-destined elements and conincidences?


  1. Tyler Pace

    Wow. Destiny. That’s big concept to comment on, but I’ll give it a shot. 🙂

    What is destiny but the exposure to preferred discourses? We haven’t talked about this in interaction culture, but an argument of poststructuralism (especially in the Foucault version) is a strong link between knowledge and power. People born into better socioeconomic status are granted quick and favored access to the current dominant discourses and can exercise power through that knowledge/access.

    As for the other stuff, I’ll have to refer to my classic stand by response.


  2. jeffreybardzell

    I think it is important to understand that all of us share almost the exact same genetic makeup as Shakespeare. Genetic variation is slight and evolution is super slow. I don’t think anyone would seriously make the argument that genetics determine an individual’s chances of success in the sense that we normally think about it (cultural, financial, social, etc.).

    Genetic “success” generally means “survives long enough to reproduce a lot.” In our modern world, our chances of survival and reproductive success seem contingent on more immediate and pressing things than our genetics. We don’t acquire food and security these days because our forearms are 10% stronger or our teeth are a little pointier. And, as Tyler said, though with or without the apparatus of a poststructuralist critique, most people would agree that socioeconomic and/or cultural success is more closely correlated to one’s socioeconomic class (including contacts, quality of schooling, and other opportunities) than anything in our genetic makeup.

    So, the short answer is probably “no–genes do not give us our destinies.”

  3. mingxian

    what I am thinking about is not as same as Jeff said. Sorry:P

    First, read the freakonomics book, there is something interesting discussion about how different people will be since they are still in their mom’s body.

    Second, there are lots of disease are related with the family genes.

    Third, I have heard that people found happy genes in human body, which means there are some people are happier than others because of their genes.

    Fourth, there are a bunch of other genes dominating you now!

    There are some talents are given when we were born. (天份)

    all in all, these are implicit factors.

    However, we can always make our choice and utilize the explicit resources. I think the important thing is that to best use what we have including ability, and do what we are good at, set a proper goal, then do it step by step.


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