Chance Rules pp 183-197 | Cite as

Chance, Chaos and Chromosomes

  • Brian Everitt

The Overthrow of Determinism

Now that we have spent so many pages discussing the operation of chance in a variety of situations, the time has come to confront the difficult question, conveniently ignored up to now. Just what is chance? Cicero was ahead of his time when he characterized chance events as events which occurred or will occur in ways that are uncertain—events that may happen, may not happen, or may happen in some other way. Deborah Bennett in her excellent little book, Randomness, points out that the more widespread belief at the time was that what we call chance is merely ignorance of the determining cause of the event. According to Leucippus (circa 450 b.c.), the first atomist; ‘Nothing happens at random; everything happens out of reason and by necessity’.

Leucippus thus associated the operation of chance with some hidden cause and the Stoics took a similar stance some 200 years later. The following is attributed to Chrysippus (circa 280–207 b.c.); ‘For there is no such...


Vacuum Fluctuation Greek Mythology Grand Design Parallel Universe True Randomness 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.King’s College, School of MedicineLondonUK

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