The farmer’s horse, on which he was dependent for his family’s livelihood, ran away. “Oh,” cried his neighbors, “you are ruined!”
“We’ll see,” said the farmer. “Who knows what fortune is?” A few days later, the family horse returned, bringing with it a wild horse.
“Congratulations,” said the neighbors. “Your fortune is assured!”
“We’ll see,” said the farmer. “Who knows what fortune is?” Not long after, during harvest time, the farmer’s son fell and broke his leg when he was training the wild horse.
“Oh, woe,” said the neighbors. “Your harvest will rot in the fields!”
“We’ll see,” said the farmer. “Who knows what fortune is?” Not long after, the military came to the village to conscript all able-bodied young men. The farmer’s son was left behind because of his broken leg.
“Oh, you are a fortunate family,” said the neighbors. “We may never see our sons again!”
“We’ll see,” said the farmer. “Who knows what fortune is?”
This story, which appears in many forms in Eastern philosophies, illustrates a perspective that transcends short-term accounting principles. Philosophers struggled against mechanistic limitations in understanding the meaning of life. New Age philosophy developed in opposition to many materialist tenets. And sociology and anthropology have had to operate largely without being accepted as “true sciences” by proponents of classical mechanics. Many questions are left unanswered by a strictly mechanistic approach.
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