Concept of Fate among the Turks

Johann Friedrich Weitenkampf

Two years younger than Immanuel Kant, Johann Friedrich Weitenkampf was born in 1726 in Königsberg. Weitenkampf was the son of the pastor of Alt-Rossgarten, but he was orphaned at eight and subsequently educated at the Königsberg orphanage. In 1743, he matriculated at the Alma Albertina in Königsberg and then attended the Lutheran institution of higher education, the University of Königsberg, studying philosophy and metaphysics under the eighteenth-century German Pietist philosopher Martin Knutzen (d.1751), an eclectic thinker who tried to strike a balance between the rationalism of the German Enlightenment philosopher Christian Wolff (d. 1754) and Pietism. In 1747, Weitenkampf studied at the University of Leipzig, and in 1748, at Halle. In 1750, he attended the University at Helmstedt, where he received his Master’s in philosophy. He then began to lecture in philosophy at Helmstedt. In 1754, he became the pastor of the Magnuskirche in Brunswick. He died of a catarrhal fever at the age of thirty-two in 1758, leaving a pregnant wife and his son, born after his death, behind. Despite his early death, Weitenkampf’s influence lived on; one of Martin Knutzen’s students, Immanuel Kant referenced and engaged with Weitenkampf’s essays on the question of whether the universe is infinite, and this became part of Kant’s thesis for the first antinomy in his Critique of Pure Reason. Furthermore, Weitenkampf’s influence went beyond the Atlantic Ocean and his book on fate, Verniinftigte Trostgründe bey den traurigen Schicksalen der Menschen, was published in Lancaster, Philadelphia in 1825 by Johann Bär. In the early nineteenth century, Lancaster, along with other towns such as Allentown, Reading, and Lebanon, was very prominent in German printing, which served the Protestant immigrant diaspora in the United States.1

Variant Names: Johannes Fridericus Weitenkampf, Ioan. Fridericus Weitenkampff, and J. F. Weitenkampf

Summary and Analysis

Weitenkampf sets out to explain and refute the Turkish concept of fate, dividing his dissertation into two sections: the first outlining the Turkish-Muslim view of fate; and the second seeking to prove the invalidity of the Muslim concept of fate with philosophical argumentation. He begins with some brief notes on the historical origin of the Turks, turning then to the backstory of the Qur’an, which he claims can be divided into six sections or topics, the last of which concerns its teachings on fate. According to Weitenkampf, in mainstream Islamic thought, fate is predetermined and immutable. Weitenkampf categorizes most Turks as Jabrites who believe that God is the source of all evil and that men do not have free will. Therefore, men are compelled to do evil or good through God’s omnipotence. He offers examples of how this belief is manifested in the actions and values of the Turks. According to Weitenkampf, since Turks believe in predestination, they do not flee plague-ridden cities or shun contact with those infected. They do not fear death. If they suffer, they believe fate decreed it. In battle, this makes them brave to the point of foolhardy. Weitenkampf also paraphrases an exhortation from the Qur’an in which Muslims are told not to avoid danger, as God has already determined their fate. He believes that the alleged lack of logic, physics, metaphysics, and mathematics in Turkish philosophy accounts for their belief in fate.

After detailing how revered the Qur’an is in Turkish society, Weitenkampf turns to a brief account of the schismatic differences between Sunni Turks and Shi'ite Persians. In his account, the Persians esteem ‘All more than they do Muhammad, for which reason the Turks claim that they are corrupters of the religion. Although Weitenkampf classifies the seventeenth-century Ottoman Turks based on the ideas of early Islamic theological schools known as Qadarite and Jabrite, he still shows greater awareness of nuances in Muslim societies than early Reformation scholars. Therefore, he maintains that the Muslim Turks have theological differences, such as that of the Qadarites who reject the Jabrites’ doctrine of predetermination. The Qadarites believe that humans have free will. Weitenkampf asserts that Turks predominately believe that fate is divinely ordered and immutable, but this view cannot be reconciled with rational principles.

In Weitenkampf’s second section, his purpose is to disprove the Turkish view of fate through philosophical analysis. With a series of detailed logical arguments, he arrives at several conclusions, the most important of which is that all events in the world are mutable and contingent, therefore, not subject to a predetermined destiny. Weitenkampf states that the Turk’s concept of fate can be described as ‘gross’ or ‘subtle.’ The former implies that a predetermined event must happen and not even God has the power to decree otherwise. Subtle fate, on the other hand, means that regardless of the outcome that natural forces would lead to, God can intervene to ensure that what he has decreed comes to pass (i.e., a miracle). Weitenkampf remarks that many Christians believe in a fate that accords with the subtle Turkish belief. He is dismissive of gross fate, as it is wholly incompatible with Lutheran teaching, using philosophical argumentation to refute it.

However, Weitenkampf also sees subtle fate as problematic. He begins by defining a miracle as anything that does not happen from natural

Concept of Fate among the Turks 163 causes, which would include an omnipotent God using His power to ensure that a predestined event happens, regardless of natural forces. The subtle view, therefore, implies a large number of miracles (for instance, preordained deaths would count as miracles, according to Weitenkampf’s argument). With further arguments, he concludes that God does not cause many miracles, and therefore, the subtle view of fate is also incorrect. With this refutation of both the gross and subtle views on fate, he



















Figure6.1 Johann Friedrich Weitenkampf, Disputatio historico-metaphysica de fato Turcico, 1751 (Courtesy of the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna).

ends his treatise with a wish that the Turks will recognize the absurdity of their religion and embrace Christianity. Weitenkampf’s dissertatio is a symptom of the struggle between the weakened Lutheran orthodoxy and the rise of Pietism and rationalism in the wake of the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century. Unlike other Lutheran authors, he analyzes Islamic thought through systematic philosophical argumentation, deeply influenced by his logic and metaphysics teacher Knutzen, who tried to combine Wolffian Enlightenment rationalism with pietistic spirituality.

Historical-Metaphysical Dissertation on Turkish Fate (Helmstedt, 1751)

Section 1

On the History of the Concept of Fate Among the Turks and its Explanation

  • 1 I am determined to speak publicly about the concept of fate among the Turks, and share my unique ideas about this subject. There are some who talk a lot about fate in daily life, and yet, if they were to speak publicly about this matter, they do not reveal their true opinion. In order to avoid this Scylla and Charybdis, I will focus on the history of the concept of fate among the Turks in the first section of my dissertation, using the works of the great writers; then in the second section I will clearly refute a most pernicious opinion on this subject.
  • 2 The Turks are the subject of this dissertation on fate. It is not important to know the etymology of their name. This race lives in almost all parts of the world. [...].
  • 3 The Turks, also called the Saracens or Muhammadans, recognize Muhammad as the originator and teacher of their religion. Muhammad’s name means ‘esteemed’ to the Arabs and Turks. Muhammad was an Arab from Mecca who was born in the year 571. The life of this foulest impostor is so well known that it would be a waste of ink and effort to describe it. As a young man of thirteen or sixteen years he was a driver and fed camels in Medina. At that time, it is said that a black cloud appeared above him, leading his master to consult with augurs. The augurs made this prophecy: “that boy will draw a black cloud over Christendom,” and immediately the chief augur begged Muhammad himself on his knees for his and his family’s health. After this, the master sold Muhammad, whom he feared, to a merchant called Abdimoneples, who employed him in his business because of his intelligence and trustworthiness. When Abdimoneples died, Muhammad married his widow Khadija, seeing this as an opportunity to realize his goal through her immense wealth.

This Muhammad made up a religion and a book, whose name is the Qur’an, and claimed that it came down from heaven. He asserted in his frequent sermons that God sent the angel Gabriel to reveal everything to him. However, it is as clear as day that Muhammad did not compose the whole book; soon after his death his son-in-law, Abu Bakr, assembled his notes and combined them into whole sections. The Turks worship this book, as if it were the most sacred, since it is the foundation of their religion.

  • 4 This book, the Qur’an, the principal masterpiece of the Turks’ religion, contains three sections. The whole of Muhammad’s religion is described in six beliefs, according to Marracci’s In Refutation of the Qur’an-, first, belief in God and His Prophet Muhammad; second, belief in angels whom men imagine when they burn with desire for great pleasures; third, belief in the holy books, especially the Qur’an; fourth, belief in the prophets, the first of whom was Adam, and the last and best Muhammad; fifth, belief in the Last Day of Judgment; and last, belief in fate, which is relevant to my topic here. These six beliefs are the main points of the Turkish faith, which according to them should be explained like this: Amentii billahi ve meldiketihi ve kutubihi ve rusulihi ve’l yevmi’l-ahiri ve bi’l-kaderi hayrihi ve ferrihi min Allah (I believe in God, angels, the holy books, prophets, the day of judgment, and that good and evil are from God).
  • 5 The Turkish concept of fate originates from the foundations of Muhammad’s religion above. In order to focus on the main point of this work, I will describe this concept of fate. The Turks believe that everything that happens to man is decreed by the Highest Godhead. They claim that all evils are decreed by God, but not in such a way that God shows benevolence to evil. Instead, He persecutes evil with hatred. They profess that God’s decrees are immutable and they firmly believe that if this or that fate has been decided for man, then it is impossible to avoid it, either through natural causes or through any other means. So, it is pointless if a man struggles to avoid this or that event. Using a variety of sources, I will prove that this is the genuine Turkish understanding of fate.
  • 6 Some Turks explain predestination or fate in a manner similar to that of the Manichean: that God is the originator of all evil, and that He introduced fate into the world. These men clearly believe that men are endowed with no ability or freedom to do anything, but that God is the one who compels us to all evil or good through His omnipotence. Those who believe this are called Jabrites and are the most persistent in this belief.
  • 7 The Turks believe that all good and evil in the world happen according to decree and divine providence. Everything is predestined according to the Turks, past and future. The Turks imagine that there is a certain tablet guarded in heaven, on which all divine decrees and the fates of men have been written since eternity. They name this tablet Latah al-Mahfu:. Whatever is written on this tablet will happen in the world, and it is quite impossible for it not to happen. The faith and good works of all faithful and pious men occur with the foreknowledge, will, predestination, and consent of God. Indeed, they believe that the bad deeds and sins of all unbelievers and impious men happen in the world with the foreknowledge, predestination, decree, and inscription on this tablet, but not with the consent and pleasure of God. The Turks hold this foulest opinion as an article of faith. If anyone asks the reason for these decrees or predestination, he hears that men are not permitted to inquire into the reason for these divine decrees, since these are mysteries known to God alone. Indeed, they say that the most grievous sin against God is to try to understand His immutable decrees and know the unknowable.
  • 8 The Jabrites described in 6 above embrace the true doctrine of the Qur’an. For the Qur’an teaches that the Turks profess that there is one true God on whose will and approval all evil depends. Indeed, they ascribe evil’s origin to God, who wants not only the faith of the faithful and the piety of the pious, but also the faithlessness and impiety of the unbelievers. As Jabrites agree, God introduces fate into the world to determine all actions, [good or evil]. They base it on this: according to the teachings of the Qur’an all good and evil depends on the will of God. Although evil men have the choice between good and evil, they will choose evil actions because it is fated (see 5). Therefore, according to the Turks, fate follows both the individual will and divine decree. If this is not so, then there is no enough reason why God would choose evil and compel us to evil and then punish our odious actions (see 5). Therefore, the Turkish concept of fate is absolute.
  • 9 Experience, the finest teacher of all things, taught me what I described in the above paragraphs. For I have affirmed in 5 that the Turks believe that no event in the world can be avoided through natural causes or any other means, and that some of them profess a belief in absolute fate (see 8). Muslims also prove this with deeds and examples. Everyone who has visited this region testifies unanimously that the Turks do not withdraw from the cities when a plague rages. They live in the houses that are infected with plague, visit them, dine in them, and dress in them. Sick and healthy men sleep on one couch knowingly. They know that Christians preserve their lives by leaving cities infected with plague; they see that death keeps creeping up on them, but still do not leave their cities. People who write about the Turkish area unanimously declare that in one summer between 10,000 and 50,000 men succumbed to the plague or other contagious diseases in Constantinople. The reason is that,

Concept of Fate among the Turks 167 according to doctors, Muslims rarely eat hot food, but prefer raw and uncooked food, and are infected and corrupted by the blood. The Turks do little about this, but say that it happened by fate and could not have been otherwise. They buy or sell clothes of those who died from the plague. They marry the wives of the men killed by the plague within three days, with the result that they seem immediately condemned by fate. They allow themselves to kill freely because they are persuaded that it is already demanded by fate, and that if they died in such a way they could die in no other way. In the historical account of the Embassy of the Count of Virmondt there is a story worth remembering. A certain Satrap of the Turkish region called Kara Mustafa claimed that he had been lifted to the highest degree of honor and the peak of happiness. He thought that there was nothing more in the world that could add to his glory and happiness. Yet one wish had not been fulfilled, namely that he could finish life with a fierce death that would bring the Sultan’s honor and give him eternal glory as a martyr. Because of Kara Mustafa’s supreme loyalty, the Sultan decided to satisfy his desire for glory by ordering him to be hanged by a silk rope. It is obvious from this account that the Turks do not fear death, but if they have to suffer from it they think that it has been decided by fate. If they wage war, they do not avoid the most pernicious dangers of death, but often think of the most desperate and dangerous plans. Many thousands subject themselves to death bravely and hurl themselves headlong into the greatest dangers, so that ditches and rivers might be full of their bodies and their friends might pass over them. If they take the palm first and gain victory, they take it as a most certain sign that their religion is true. For if their religion did not please God, it would hardly have been decreed by Him to grant victory. For this reason, the Turks persecute the Jews among all races with curses and the most hatred, since they have no fixed abode but live dispersed throughout the whole world. So, who does not see that the Turks’ concept of fate affects all their beliefs and actions?

  • 10 In the Qur’an, Muhammad clearly orders his followers not to avoid death because God has already counted our days [on Earth]; whatever happens to men flows from an eternal and immutable decree. The Turks believe that every event that happens to them is already written on their brow. They call this predestination and God decrees nasib and takdir, which can be explained as fate or chance or fortune. This nasib or fate is recorded in a certain heavenly book: this book contains all of man’s events and misfortunes that cannot be avoided by any reason, any means, any foresight, or any cause. So, if death is decreed, it is avoided in vain, and only fools fear it. A determined time for life has been decided for all individuals, which cannot be shortened or lengthened in any way. If we reach the end ofour allotted time, death is inevitable and man cannot avert his fate by any means.
  • 11 Johann Andreas Bose in Turkish Empire thinks that this opinion on the Turks is exemplified by their actions in war: they do everything vigorously and do not care about the direst emergencies. It is no wonder the liberal arts do not flourish in their region as the Turks believe such absurd principles. The pinnacle of their studies consists of the fact that they are skilled in Arabic, that they compose verses, that they recite verses of the Qur’an, that they write concisely and beautifully, and that they practice music. But philosophers, whom they call Talibul-'ilm (seeker of knowledge), are rare birds in Turkish lands. Logic, Physics, Metaphysics, Mathematics are forms of knowledge which they practice too little. Neither the flower of their religion nor the state of their empire persuades me otherwise. For if they were imbued with the principles of philosophy, I do not know how they could embrace such an absurd religion. If the Turks recognized this, their whole empire would be ruined.
  • 12 The Turks profess that their belief in fate was founded in the sacred scripture. They cite [Romans 9] where it says: “How can anyone say to the potter, why did you make me thus? I hardened Pharaoh’s heart: I loved Jacob, but Esau I hated.” But anyone of sound mind must question how they derive this belief from that source of sacred oracles. As Turks hold the Old Testament in the highest esteem and their religion is glued together from the principles of Christianity and Judaism, they respect the Old Testament as a holy book. But the Turks pretend that the Qur’an, after falling from the sky, explained God’s will more closely and distinctly. Therefore, they worship this book among others with the greatest respect to the extent that they do not even touch it without ritual ablution. They take care that all books and papers are not crushed underfoot or stained, since a verse of the Qur’an or the name of God might be written on them. For fear of capital punishment, no one dares sell the Qur’an or any other sacred writings to a Christian or a man of any other faith, to ensure they are not thrown down and trodden on by feet or touched by unclean hands. Often the Turks attach certain verses of the Qur’an to their necks and arms, which act as charms against virulent plagues or other diseases, to keep them safe from any danger to the body or mind. When there is a storm, they place these verses on ships’ masts when it is tossed on the sea or tie them to the standards, if they want to join hand in battle. It is considered a great sin among them to turn one’s back on this holiest book. They pay attention to the smallest details of its punctuation, and revere those who have memorized this book, since they conserve the Holy Law in the bookshelf of their heart. From this it is obvious that the Turks worship this book greatly and follow its teachings with the highest respect. Since the Qur’an

Concept of Fate among the Turks 169 supplies them with this kind of pernicious opinion, it is no wonder that the Turks believe this doctrine of fate so strictly and firmly.

  • 13 Schisms have arisen among all nations including the Turks. The Persians and Turks are divided into two sects. The Turks consider Muhammad as the last and greatest Prophet, the Persians, ‘All. The latter believe that God ordered the angel Gabriel to give the Qur’an to ‘All; however, Gabriel gave it to Muhammad out of negligence. Olearius and Hottinger unanimously agree that ‘All was indeed a disciple of Muhammad, but with much greater inspiration. For this reason, they consider ‘All a much better interpreter [of God’s words] than Muhammad. The Turks say the Qur’an was corrupted by the Persians and call them those rejected by God and the slanderers of the Holiest Prophet. The Orthodox, or those who embrace the true teaching of the Qur’an, are called Muslims. The word ‘Muslim’ means ‘the peaceful saved ones.’ Heretics are called Checidaei after the prince of the Saracens Yazid, who not only slandered and greatly insulted their prophet Muhammad, but even killed his grandchildren and the sons of ‘All. The number of heretic sects is commonly given as seventy-two, but there seem to be even more.
  • 14 Among these sects, we must refer to those whom the Turks usually call Kaderiyye [Qadarites]. This sect is opposed to the Cebri-yye [Jabrites] and thinks their belief in fate that I spoke about in previous paragraphs is absurd. This sect, also known as Qadarites, denies predestination and believes that all good and evil that men do depends on their will and their freedom. They draw their name from the word Kader, which means possible, since the Qadarites say that all actions, good or evil, are in the power of man, and if they chose, they can do good works. They believe no malignancy and injustice originates from God. They often retreat from places infected with plague if they have a chance, and they avoid any obvious dangers, if it is in their power, but there are some who do not do this.
  • 15 This belief in predestination, which the Jabrites mostly agree with, is known as Turkish fate. The vast majority of Muslims believe in this concept of fate. The proof is that the Turks agree that all events in the world are predetermined (5-6); and that this predetermination depends on no cause and cannot be avoided through any natural or ordinary means (5). The fact the Turks are completely convinced of this opinion has been proved over and over with their examples and deeds in 9.
  • 16 From the above thirteen points, this definitive definition can be provided, namely, that the Turkish concept of fate is that the necessity of events depends on no natural causes or ordinary means. Therefore, let’s ask ourselves what we should think about this fate, since we have already reviewed its history. The following section will clearly demonstrate that the Turks’ concept of fate cannot be reconciled with any rational principle.

Section 2

Demonstration of the [Logical] Impossibility of the Turks’

Concept of Fate

17 It is impossible for the same thing to be and not be at the same time.

Note: This proposition is called the principle of contradiction, and this is so obvious that everyone agrees, it is the first absolute principle.

  • 18 A positive notion is something that can be conceived of. That which is not a positive notion cannot be conceived of. A contradiction is the simultaneous affirmation and denial of the same thing. A reason is something through which something else is known, and that by which individual things are known to be true is called a sufficient reason.
  • 19 There is nothing true without a sufficient reason.

Note: This proposition is called the principle of sufficient reason, and Archimedes is usually credited with its invention. But Leibniz, the Leader and Phoenix of Philosophers, revived this long-forgotten proposition and used it in his writings without proof. Leaving him aside, I provide no proof since one can find this proposition in abundance in books on metaphysics. These two principles, namely, of contradiction and sufficient reason, are the first foundations of all truth. Whatever legitimate consequences are deduced from these cannot be doubted.

  • 20 A necessary consequence is a thing which has its own sufficient reason due to another thing. It is mutable if it can change. It is immutable if it cannot change.
  • 21 The world [or universe] is a chain of all mutable things and mutually necessary consequences.
  • 22 This world exists; this is established by our experience of it. All things in the world are mutable (21). Therefore, the world itself is mutable (20). All consequences have a cause and effect (21) whether it has its own sufficient reason in another or not (20).
  • 23 If A is posited and B is denied, A and B are called opposites. That which involves contradiction is impossible. That which does not involve contradiction is possible. Whatever involves a contradiction when compared against itself is an absolute, and whatever contradicts with something else is a hypothetical impossibility. That which is possible is a contingent. The opposite of an impossible absolute is called a necessary absolute. The opposite of an impossible hypothetical is a necessary hypothetical.
  • 24 Whatever is mutable is necessarily contingent. For whatever is mutable can be other than it is (20). Therefore, its opposite is possible. This possible opposite is called a contingent (23). Therefore, whatever is mutable is also contingent.
  • 25 This world is not an absolute necessity, but contingent. For its opposite is either possible or impossible. It is not impossible since it is a mutable entity and can change (20, 22). So, its opposite is possible (24). The possible opposite of this is called contingent and its opposite absolute impossibility is an absolute necessity (23). Therefore, this world is not an absolute necessity, but a contingent.
  • 26 A sufficient reason is an act of change. A cause is an entity that contains the sufficient reason of another existence [or existence of another thing] in itself. And an effect is an entity which has a sufficient reason for something that happened prior. A single act along with its effect is called an event.
  • 27 If we posit a cause, we can also posit an effect. For a cause is an entity that contains a sufficient reason for another existence [or existence of another thing] in itself (26). Therefore, there is either something whose cause contains a reason in itself, or nothing (18). If the cause for something is nothing, then it is not a positive notion, and cannot be conceived of (18). Therefore, the sufficient reason for the existence of something is contained in a cause. But this is called an effect (26). Therefore, if we posit a cause, we also posit an effect.
  • 28 Since a sufficient reason has been posited, a cause has also been posited, and if we take away the cause, we remove the sufficient reason. For a cause contains a sufficient reason of another existence in itself (26). Let us posit that if there is nothing that contains this cause in itself, then there is necessarily no sufficient reason. But this is impossible (19). Therefore, since a cause has been posited, a sufficient reason has been posited. But if we take away the cause we remove the sufficient reason. For a cause contains a sufficient reason for an effect to occur. If this cause is removed, it is necessary to remove the effect as well. Therefore, if the cause is taken away the sufficient reason is removed.
  • 29 All events in the world are effects and causes. For all events in the world have a sufficient reason for their existence. If they were not to have one, they would be without a sufficient reason, which is impossible (19). Therefore, they have a sufficient reason for existence, either in themselves or in something else. They do not have this sufficient reason in themselves since then they would exist before they existed, which is absurd. Therefore, all entities in the world have a sufficient reason for existence in something else. An entity which has a sufficient reason for existence in something else is called an effect (26) and what contains the sufficient reason for its existence in itself is its cause (26). Therefore, all events in the world are effects and have their own causes. Note: The truth of this theory is elucidated by experience. For if we closely examine the course of our lives, we will learn that all human affairs are concatenated, so that one always becomes the cause of another, and will produce an effect.
  • 30 All events in this world are contingent. For all things in the world are mutable (21-22) and whatever is mutable is contingent (24). Therefore, all events in the world are contingent.
  • 31 Nothing in the world becomes an absolute necessity, but its opposite is always possible (30), and whatever effect happens in the world has its own causes prior to it (29). Since everything in the world is a necessary consequence (22), a nexus of causes is given in a continuous chain.
  • 32 An accident refers to an event in the world whose sufficient reason is unexplained. An accident is pure or absolutely random when its sufficient reason is not given at all.
  • 33 A pure accident is not possible in this or any other world. For if a pure accident were possible then it would be something without a sufficient reason (32). But nothing is without a sufficient reason (19). Therefore, a pure accident is not possible in this or any other world.
  • 34 When a thing’s existence must be affirmed and not denied, it is said to be a determined truth.
  • 35 Whatever happens in the world has its own determined truth. For whatever happens exists while it is happening; therefore, its existence must be affirmed and not denied. If this were not the case, it would follow that the same thing could be and not be, which is against [logic or reason] (17). A thing whose existence must be affirmed and not denied has a determined truth (34). Therefore, whatever happens in the world has its own determined truth.
  • 36 God is given, whether He is an entity beyond the world [or universe] or not, because He takes all potential realities into account, and because He created this world. Note: I have established this truth without proof since this obvious thing is supported by almost all metaphysicians. Nor do the Turks deny it, with whom we are disputing. For they believe, following the first principle of the Qur’an (4), that there is one true God. But to avoid all digressions, I will save my paper.
  • 37 We can define “the most convenient means” as when something contains the sufficient reason for all these things and this cause leads to the best affect [end]. An end means something that an intelligent entity acts to obtain. The height of wisdom is knowing how to apply the most convenient means to one’s ends.
  • 38 If God is the wisest entity, He possesses the highest wisdom. God possesses all potential realities (36). Therefore, He possesses the highest wisdom.
  • 39 Omnipotence is the ability to bestow existence to all possible things. Therefore, if God possesses all potential realities, He is omnipotent (36).
  • 40 The necessity of consequence is the absolute impossibility of being otherwise. Fate is the necessity of events in the world. Stoic fate is commonly called the necessity of the consequence of events in the world, which indeed depends on God’s decree without necessity or an objective reason.
  • 41 Turkish fate, described in 16, can be defined as a gross or subtle fate. It is called gross when it is the absolute necessity of events, not depending on natural causes. It is called subtle when it is the hypothetical necessity of events, under the condition of divine omnipotence, not depending on natural causes and ordinary means. Note: To understand this matter clearly, I will elaborate further. Some Turks are convinced of the absolute impossibility of being otherwise. They say that it is an absolute impossibility that this or that event should not happen in the world. Indeed, not only has God decreed it, but He is not able to decree otherwise [God cannot intervene]. These people believe in gross fate, and consequently are pessimists. But other Turks explain fate like this, that it is indeed not an absolute impossibility for something to happen, but that the opposite can happen through divine omnipotence. However, if this does not happen it is because God, who wrote this fate, impedes all natural causes so that their effect does not happen, and what He decrees happens [This is called subtle fate]. Therefore, all events should happen since God has decided on them, and He always acts through His omnipotence so that they happen with certainty. This is especially considered true concerning death. Of course, a determined end to life is fixed for each and every man by God, beyond which it is impossible to go, but if that end has already been passed, God impedes all means by which man can live longer. If the determined end to a man’s life has not been passed, God impedes all natural causes of death through His immense strength. Many Christians often follow the Turkish concept of fate in their own daily lives, for if they have employed no effort in avoiding some fate, they decide that they deserved it, and that it could not be changed.
  • 42 The gross Turkish fate is the Stoic fate. For this fate is the necessity of the consequence of events in the world (40-41) and it is a necessity, which depends on God’s decree (5) and indeed is an absolute necessity without an objective cause (8). This kind of necessity of events is called Stoic (40). Therefore, the gross Turkish fate is the Stoic fate. Note: Everyone who writes about Turks states that innumerable Turks believe in the Stoic fate. The Stoics and Turks say that God Himself is subject to fate. For some Turks imagine God as the author of evil (6) and they affirm that evil is decreed by God by necessity; although He has no wish for these things, He must still decree these evils. This is the genuine opinion of the Jabrite Turks. See the first section of this dissertation.
  • 43 The gross Turkish fate is impossible. For Turkish fate allows the necessity of the consequence of events in the world (40-41). But this is the absolute impossibility of earthly events being otherwise (40). Therefore, it is an absolute impossibility according to this fate for events in the world to be otherwise. If they cannot be otherwise, they are immutable (20) and their opposite is impossible, whether or not they are absolute necessities (23). But events in the world are mutable (22) and contingent (30) and do not become something else by absolute necessity (31). But since this involves a contradiction, and because it is impossible to have a contradiction (23), it follows that the gross Turkish fate is impossible [because it cannot be immutable and mutable at the same time].
  • 44 The gross Turkish fate admits pure accident in the world for the gross Turkish fate has no sufficient reason. Let’s suppose it has a sufficient reason: then this reason is either in the world, or is in an entity outside the world, whether or not it is in God. It is not in the world since Turkish fate depends on no natural causes (16, 41), and if we remove the cause, it is necessary to remove the sufficient reason (28). Therefore, it is not in the world nor is it in God. For in their judgment, God must decree all events by absolute necessity without reason (8). It is an absolute impossibility for events to be otherwise (40-41). Therefore, God is not the reason why events are as they are (18); and the sufficient reason is not in God, nor is it in the world. But if the sufficient reason of the gross Turkish fate is neither in the world nor in God, then gross Turkish fate necessarily has no sufficient reason. Whatever does not have a sufficient reason is called a pure accident (32). Therefore, gross Turkish fate allows pure accident in the world.

Note: I have affirmed in this section that the sufficient reason of the gross Turkish fate does not lie with God. Perhaps someone would interject that the sufficient reason for this fate is entirely in God, in His decree, of course. He would say that events happen in the world since God has decreed them. But he does not explain why God decrees these things. For if I ask why God decrees something according to the Turks’ own reasoning, there is no sufficient or objective reason: for God persecutes evil with hatred according to the Turks’ reasoning, and yet they believe that He decrees evil by necessity (5). Hence, according to the Turks, there is no sufficient reason for this fate in God, and it is not up to Him why this or that event happens in the world.

45 Therefore, gross Turkish fate is not possible in this or another world (33) since no pure accident can exist in any world. Behold a new proof, by which the impossibility of this fate has been demonstrated.

  • 46 Now that the impossibility of gross Turkish fate has been demonstrated, let’s look at what we should think about the subtle Turkish fate. To reach this goal, we must first know its sequence.
  • 47 Whatever has a sufficient reason for its existence in things pertaining to the world is called entirely natural. Whatever does not have one is called supernatural. Supernatural events in the world that have a reason for their existence in an entity outside the world are called miracles.
  • 48 God is that entity outside the world (36). Therefore, God is the cause of miracles, whether or not He contains a sufficient reason in Himself for why miracles exist (26).
  • 49 Every event that does not depend on natural causes is a miracle. For every event that does not depend on natural causes does not have a sufficient reason for existence in things pertaining to the world, and is therefore supernatural (47). If it is supernatural, it either has no sufficient reason, but happens through pure accident [gross fate] or has a sufficient reason for its existence in an entity outside the world [subtle fate]. The first is impossible since nothing is without a sufficient reason (19), and pure accidents are impossible [thus disproving gross fate] (33). Therefore, it has a sufficient reason in an entity outside the world [God]. A supernatural event that has a sufficient reason for its existence in an entity outside the world is a miracle (47). Therefore, every event that does not depend on natural causes is a miracle.
  • 50 The subtle Turkish fate supposes that there are events that do not depend on natural causes and means [of this world] ordained by God, but have a sufficient reason for their existence in divine omnipotence (39). Therefore, the subtle Turkish fate supposes miracles (49).
  • 51 The subtle Turkish fate supposes that there are a huge number of miracles in the world. For this fate is the necessity of events not depending on natural causes (39), [but on God’s decrees]. This belief particularly pertains to people’s deaths (39). Therefore, the death of all men, according to their reasoning, is a miracle. Now I ask you to consider how many men in the world die in one year, one hour, even in this one moment. I ask you to consider further how many thousands have already lived and died from the beginning of the world, but their number is so great that we cannot comprehend it. Therefore, who will deny that the subtle Turkish fate supposes that there are a huge number of miracles in the world?
  • 52 If God produces supernaturally what can happen naturally, He is using superfluous means. But since God possesses the highest wisdom (38), and always chooses the most convenient means (37), it is necessary that God uses no superfluous means.
  • 53 The world is the chain of all mutual necessary consequences (21). Therefore, everything in the world is a necessary consequence (22).

Therefore, one thing has its own sufficient reason in another thing (20). Therefore, one thing causes another (26). But if the cause is posited, so is the effect (27). All events in the world are effects and their causes (29). Therefore, events in the world occur naturally, and will follow from their existent causes.

  • 54 A miracle does not have a sufficient reason for its existence in worldly matters, but originates in God (47). Therefore, a miracle does not flow from previous causes and ordinary means; therefore, the ordinary nexus of events is impeded by the miracle’s performance. If this is impeded, there should be a sufficient reason for why it is impeded (19). The sufficient reason is so that the nexus of events in the world either turns out better or not. If it does not turn out better, God would not be the wisest since He would prefer what is less good to what is better, and would not choose the most convenient means (37). But God is the wisest (38). Therefore, the nexus of events in the world should turn out better. Therefore, God should then perform the miracle, if the nexus of events in the world can turn out better.
  • 55 God is omnipotent (39), and the world is contingent (25). Therefore, it is possible to perform miracles. Since God also possesses the highest wisdom (38). He always chooses the most convenient means in the nexus of the world; that is, He chooses such a nexus of the world which he should not keep impeding (37). Therefore, the nexus of the world, of what God chooses, cannot keep becoming better (45). Therefore, God is not able to make many miracles in the world, nor does He, and He impedes and should impede the nexus of causes and ordinary means very rarely [by miracles] (54).
  • 56 The subtle Turkish fate is absurd. For this fate supposes a huge number of miracles in the world, which are performed by God every day, every hour, and every moment (51). But this contradicts God’s highest wisdom. He is not able to make many miracles in the world with His wisdom unharmed, nor does He (55). Therefore, the subtle Turkish fate is absurd.
  • 57 Events in the world have their own determined truth (35), and are placed naturally and follow from their existent causes (53). God impedes this nexus of causes and ordinary means in the world very rarely (55), and does not use superfluous means (52). But the Turkish fate, the subtle as well as the gross, is the necessity of events not depending on their own causes and ordinary means [but on miracles] (41-46). Therefore, either Turkish fate is impossible for this reason.
  • 58 Gentle reader, I submit these points for public discussion, written with a hurrying pen through lack of time. May that Divinity who governs everything wisely fill our enemies [Turks] who believe in this fate with His light, so that they enlist with Christ, and at last recognize what a very absurd religion they embrace. Farewell and favor me, that is what I ask you most humbly. To the glory of the only God!


1 Weitenkampf’s biography was compiled from the following sources: Johann Gottlob Wilhelm Dunkel, Historisch-Critische Nachrichten von verstorbenen Gelehrten und deren Schriften (Cöthen/Dessau: Cörnerische Buchhandlung, 1757), 869; Johann Friedrich Weitenkampf, Vernünftigte Trostgründe bey den traurigen Schicksalen der Menschen (Lancaster: Johann Bär, 1825), 3-7; Oswald Seidensticker and Gerhard Friedrich (eds.), The First Century of German Printing in America, 1728-1830 (Philadelphia: Schaefer & Koradi, 1893), 226; Pozzo, “Kant e Weitenkampf,” 283-323; Kuehn, Kant: A Biography, 88-105; and Riccardo Pozzo, “Weitenkampf, Johann Friedrich,” in The Bloomsbury Dictionary of Eighteenth-Century German Philosophers, eds. Heiner F. Klemme and Manfred Kuehn (London: Bloomsbury, 2010), 838.

Part III

Philosophy and

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