(urth) Severian on trial

maru marudubshinki at gmail.com
Tue Mar 22 18:05:16 PST 2005

nastler wrote:

>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.
Of course it can be wondered where they
get the right to do so; revenge hardly seems a good
reason to.

>>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).
I'd read Typhon's downfall as due to his attempted
usurpation- he starts too late, and in a bungled manner,
and attempts to kill the righful New Sun once (or twice, I
am not sure whether he did in the 'past' New Sun's life.)

>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?
And in the tale of the proud Cock, did he not
have an angel say that they were one and all
equally distant from God?

>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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