(urth) Severian on trial

nastler nastler at yahoo.dk
Mon Mar 21 02:40:34 PST 2005

This email is just polite applause from the gallery.
After weeks of struggling through discussions on
“Ethical Theory”, (interesting but not much of a
spectator sport for the layman), I feel a sense of
pay-off after Civets last post.
“Judging Severian” is a great topic and I’m hoping it
sticks around a bit. Your three ethical judgements
possible on Sev seem about right.
1.	He may be a psycho but he done what had to be done.
2.	He took a liberty, but the end justifies the means.
3.	He is evil and billions died cause of what he did.
But, as you say, we readers perceive that Sev is a
tool (“the tongs by which we are held?”) and judging
him may not be valid. The higher powers (whether
divine or secular hardly matter to the average
Urthling) decide our fate according to their own
values and objectives.
>From a philosophical Urthlings point of view, it could
be argued that maybe Typhon tries to wriggle out of
the grips by doing the “right” thing (evacuation) for
the “wrong” reason (continued divine monarchy) but he
is cast down so Sev can do the “wrong” thing (Global
tsunami) for the “right” reason (avoid ice future).
And is Sev comparable with one of us “true men” from
the “free” world? Well, if “all the world’s a stage”
then we are ALL cogs in that machine, designed to play
our part as directed or (presumably) be replaced if
our improvisations get out of hand. As Civet explained
to me in a post last year, rebellion is neither
possible nor desirable; “the show must go on” I
suppose. Whether the director is divine and
intelligent or secular and emergent, our “bit-part”
position remains the same. Therefore, freewill equals

Does Wolfe not say something like "best just to copy
the higher powers cause they are closer to God", with
a PS that we can also hope they are not so corrupting
an influence as be believes us to be on our own Ælf?
Well, with no philosophical tools to handle this I
don't see how a "monkey see, monkey do" approach leads
to either ethical codes or free will. What do I know?
Scientists studying the brain also seem to find
reasons to doubt the concept of "free will". So I
suppose whatever way we cut it, we are a manipulated

Oh well, thanks to Civet for a great post, and all the
best for the Vernal equinox celebrations to everyone,
(hoping the Philosopher Kings would get on with it and
edict the “few simple rules” for a more ethical world,
so the rest of us can all stop having to worry about

Footnote. This reminds me of when people want to
discuss war (Iraq or generally) with me. I become
paralysed by an inability to predict good outcomes
(e.g. global liberal democracy and human rights)
coming from bad actions (e.g. bombing a family home).
The promised land out of sight as I focus on the
valley of death through which we are led. No doubt I’d
be an “Ice future” Urth philosopher, learning about
thermodynamics from Master Ash as I denounce Abia with
t-shirts and street theatre. Michael Ignatieff's
“Political ethics in an age of terror” has been put on
my read list in an attempt to understand the
realpolitik from my position of cosy civil
libertarianism. I can’t say I’m looking forward to it
too much

“Pelagic-dwelling, Mind-controlling, Alien Gods? No

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