From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes"
Subject: RE: (urth) TBOTSS and colonialism Date: Thu, 30 May 2002 12:04:43 -0700 Matthew quoted Adam quoted me... > >> Antelopes almost certainly have a radically different opinion of > >> lions than you do. For an antelope (at least one with inclinations > >> toward ethical philosophizing), to be killed by a lion is a great > >> evil indeed, and lions are evildoers. > > > > For a human to be killed by smallpox is a great evil. But we don't > > regard smallpox viruses as evildoers, because they are incapable of > > moral thought. Philosphical antelopes would presumably reach the > > same conclusion about lions (assuming they remained lions). Well, fair enough ... I had considered that ungulate philosophers might well consider felids capable of moral choice also, but assuming the contrary, I agree with you (Adam): to be killed by a lion would be an evil, but the lion would not be an evildoer thereby. > I'm glad someone has begun to make this distinction because I've felt > throughout this discussion that matter's have been confused by the > loose use of the word 'evil'. > > To my mind an act can only be categorised as evil if there it > is comitted in the understanding that doing so transgresses some > moral or ethical imperative. Matthew, you are (of course) free to think this way, it runs against both common English usage of the word "evil," and the tradition of Western moral philosophy. As a simple example of the former, consider the fairly common usage, "That chemical mixture gives off an evil smell." Nobody who uses the word this way is imputing any morality to the odor or the chemical mixture; they are simply stating that they find it extremely unpleasant, even painful, to be exposed olfactorily to the chemical mixture. The same is true of being killed by smallpox, or a lion. It is an "evil fate," it is bad, but it is not in and of itself a moral wrong. But wait, there's more ... > What those constraints are will be defined by culture and belief. ... correct. And it is important to remember that in an appropriate interpretive context for Lupine texts, the "culture and belief" in question are Western and Christian, sc., Catholic (and fairly conservative American Catholic at that). > For example a death by smallpox is tragic in a humanist view, > but not evil. It's just one of those chances that might happen. > It takes some additional input - such as the belief in a deity > and a directed purpose to such an eventuality - to make such a > death an evil. See above: such belief is inherent to the Lupine. H'mmm. I should clarify ... I am not saying that one must be a Christian, let alone a fairly conservative American Catholic, to appropriately interpret a text Lupine; I am, however, saying that one must be able to, as it were, simulate that headset to do so, much as one needs to be able to simulate the headset of a lapsed Irish Catholic in order to appropriately interpret _The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man_. Wolfe is more "dangerous" for the interpreter than, say, C.S. Lewis (except perhaps for Lewis's final novel, _Till We Have Faces_, which is much subtler than any of his other fiction), in that it is entirely possible for someone not engaged in a Christian headset to read large amounts of Lupine text without ever realizing that Wolfe's is, in fact, Christian, and that this deeply imbues (almost?) all his texts. > So we (humanist or deist alike) consider murder wrong. To > kill with intent is evil. To cause death inadvertantly is not, > however tragic. Okay, this is where we differ deeply. I don't know about "deists," but from the Christian poing of view, causing death inadvertantly, not to mention being stricken by smallpox, et by a lion, or killed by a falling tree, is not only "an evil" in the sense above, but is also related, directly and causally, to the Fall. It is, in other words, the result of evil (that is, "sinful") moral choices made by human beings. > In considering the inhumi we should ask if they have an > inherant moral framework against which their actions can be > judged or if their consciousness, being as it is human derived, > places them in the moral framework of the humans on Blue and > Green. We must (more completely) inquire of the text regarding the way(s) in which they relate to the overall Fall -- are they ensouled, but un-Fallen beings, who are harmful to humans only because of the human Fall? Sentient, Fallen beings? Devils? Animals? Etc. The answer to this question is (the beginning of) an answer to the question regarding the moral framework, if any, by which an inhumo's acts should be judged. -- Note that this is not a disagreement with your question but a reframing of it in terms appropriate to the Lupine context. > If one opts for the former it is difficult, if not impossible, to > didscern from the text what shuch a framework would be. However > to be comprehensible to us it should certainly include that using > prey (lion and antelope like) is a life necessity and not an evil. It would not be sinful; it remains an evil, a result of the Fall. > I personally opt for the second choice. Pragmatically because this > allows the author to pose questions of evil in a single framework > without the complications of evaluating the alien. Moreover the > mechanism by which inhumi attain consciousness seems to suggest that > it is only within a human framework that they act. Yes. An important point of the Judaeo-Christian framework is that "the blood is the life." This has all sorts of ramifications for the Mosaic laws and Talmudic regulations of ritual purity; it is tremendously important in understanding the nature of sacrifice in the Vironese faith; and it is, very much, what makes the inhumi what they are. Thus, an appropriate approach to the reframed question is to work from the belief that the inhumi are, essentially, animals with no capacity for moral choice beyond that which they gain from their feeding upon humans. This in fact does not quite remove from us the burden of "evaluating the alien" -- we have to evaluate the extent to which they actually attain the capacity for moral choice. Another critically significant point of the Christian episteme is that sin is a kind of bondage; that as long as we remain sinners, we are not in fact free. The inhumi, in gaining their capacity for moral choice from sinful humans, would appear to gain also the taint of original sin, and the tendency to actual sin (in Catholic terms, "concupiscence") that results from it. An inhumo trying to make a moral choice about whether to attack a human is less free than a human making most of the moral choices which face us, in that not only concupiscence but actual physical need drives them to the "sinful" choice; additionally, they seem, as has been discussed recently, to be "damned if they don't," in that if they refrain from attacking humans, it appears that they will condemn their own children to insentience -- as the Narr puts it, to the intelligence of a crocodile. I very much like your summary: > The inhumi cannot both renounce evil and survive as they > currently are. Humans might do so, and in doing so > co-incidentally rehabilitate the inumi but they won't or can't > except perhaps for the rare "saint". The conflict is within > human nature: those who cannot enact their own redemption > against those who could but won't. The conflict is also very much in the purview of Christianity -- nobody can save himself; they must be saved by the willing sacrifice of others. It is possible that the "answer" to the secret of the inhumi, which the Narr hints at, is for saintly humans to voluntarily give their blood to them. The next inhumi generation will then include saintly inhumi who will not attack humans but only accept voluntarily-given blood. If enough humans were to be saintly enough, there would appear a beneficent cycle, in which ultimately the humans and the inhumi could live in peace. But, of course, it will never happen in the Fallen world... --Blattid --