(urth) The poor Aelf

Roy C. Lackey rclackey at stic.net
Thu Sep 27 12:47:23 PDT 2007

Rostrum quoted and wrote:
>On 9/25/07, Roy C. Lackey <rclackey at stic.net> wrote:
>> They are nevertheless expected, by the religious principles stated in
>> to worship the beings of the next-higher level, humans. If they do not
>> 'rightly', when they die they will cease to exist and turn back into the
>> natural trash from whence they came. If they do 'right' and worship
>> they get to kiss human ass, and when they die they cease to exist and
>> back into trash. Let's see; if I were an Aelf, which path should I take
>> the same end, oblivion? What incentive would I have to choose one path
>> the other, even assuming that I had the moral wherewithal to choose? Who
>> would have the balls to upbraid me for not electing to brown-nose my way
>> oblivion?
>You seem to take the point of view that the purpose of worship is to
>flatter your way into a happy afterlife.  I think the Neo-Platonic
>view is that the Aelf should worship humans because they'll be better
>off that way right now.  That by refusing to worship and devote
>themselves to that which is higher and better, they just make
>themselves miserable and unfulfilled.  It is an intrinsic rather than
>an extrinsic reward.

That might, in theory (Neo-Platonic or other system), be valid for humans --
I won't debate it because it is not germane to my argument. I argued that it
was not true for the Aelf in TWK. The essence of my argument was in the
paragraph immediately before the one you quoted. I won't cite dictionary
definitions of "soul", "moral" or "worship", because I know you know them.
My argument runs like this:

Because the soul is the immortal arbiter (in religious theory) of behavior,
any being that does not have a soul lacks the fundamental criterion for
distinguishing the difference between 'right' and 'wrong' conduct, as such
conduct is defined by any given moral system. In TWK, right conduct is
defined, in part, as the worship by beings at a given level of the class of
beings in the next higher level. It is a textual given that the Aelf have no
souls, therefore they cannot be held accountable (morally) for their
conduct, whether such conduct be worship or anything else. As I said, they
are amoral.

>Wolfe's critique of this worldview seems to be that beings at any
>level would be happier (in the Aristotelian sense) if they were to aim
>higher still.  If humans were to set their aspirations, their ideals,
>their worship higher than the Valfather, they might achieve something
>greater than the knightly virtues.

That might be true for humans, but where are such aspirations provided for
in the text? Very few common people will even attain Skai, yet they are
expected to worship the beings of Skai. If they can't reach the fifth level,
what hope have they for achieving higher? I see no evidence of a campaign to
circumvent the established rules of the game and appeal directly to the Top.


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