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  1. #101
    Quote Originally Posted by Curandhras View Post
    There's nothing evil about thinking you know best. Have you never had that feeling? Been in some sort of group situation where the "leader" clearly has no idea, and it's hurting the group? Thinking it's all going wrong, deciding you are well placed to sort it out, and then trying to take control so that you can do just that is nothing evil. If anything it's a trait that a lot of employers love in prospective employees. It's a part of ever day life. The fact that it is "God" Sauron opposes blinds a lot of people to the fact that disagreeing with someone's leadership is not an evil motive in the slightest.

    And that is where he is very different to Melkor. Sauron's motive is not an evil one, whereas Melkor's certainly was. They do both end up on the same "path" but the "place they're trying to get to" is completely different.


    As an aside, Sauron was a part of, and heard, Eru's music. He'd most likely be aware that Men are truly free people and have had no fate laid out for them. It was with Men he was mostly interested, whether wanting to ally with, or control certain bands of them. He might have been perfectly happy with the way Eru's plan had worked out, for those races that did have a plan, but Men didn't have a plan assigned to them, so dissatisfaction with wasted potential amongst Men is not necessarily dissatisfaction with Eru's judgement, rather Man's own shortcomings.

    Thinking you know better than another person, or someone of an equal stature sure. Thinking you know better than the creator and God, the almighty, well that is the worse of the sinful type of pride there is. Thinking you know better than God and trying to force his hand is evil, especially in the eyes of Tolkien. While not an allegory, Tolkien was heavily influenced by his Catholic faith, and his understanding of evil comes straight from it.

  2. #102
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garcris View Post
    Thinking you know better than another person, or someone of an equal stature sure. Thinking you know better than the creator and God, the almighty, well that is the worse of the sinful type of pride there is. Thinking you know better than God and trying to force his hand is evil, especially in the eyes of Tolkien. While not an allegory, Tolkien was heavily influenced by his Catholic faith, and his understanding of evil comes straight from it.
    I both agree and disagree.
    While Tolkien would consider it evil to go against the ideas of a divine creator, Sauron technically never did that because Arda was and is not the way Illuvatar intended. It was marred, made imperfect due to Melkor's discord. It is not Illuvatar's intended creation and destined to be destroyed and remade during Dagor Dagorath.
    So Sauron wanting to improve on it does not, technically, go against Illuvatar's envisioned world.
    But as ever, it is not bacl and white, not right or wrong.
    There are three ways to look at it, depending on how Illuvatar feels about the current Arda;

    1. Illuvatar wants this imperfect Arda to remain unchanged as it is until Dagor Dagorath and he makes an Arda V2. In this case, Sauron is indeed doing wrong by wanting to change it.
    = Sauron's intention is Evil in Eru's eyes

    2. Illuvatar doesn't really care if the current imperfect Arda is changed or not. Arda V2 is what it's all about. In this case, Sauron wanting to improve is of no matter.
    = Sauron's intention doesn't matter and Eru is indifferent about it

    3. Illuvatar is not happy with Arda V1 and does not mind if others try to improve it. Arda V2 is still far more important than V1, but any "repairs" to V1 are welcome.
    = Sauron's intention is Good in Eru's eyes

    (Please note that in the three examples above, I mean Eru judging Sauron ONLY on his decision to improve Arda and whether or not that goes against Eru's plan, NOT the evil deeds which he commited while trying to do so. I think it's fair to say that most of his evil deeds would be bad in Eru's eyes regardless of his intent anyway)

    But since we do not know Illuvatar's thoughts on this particular matter, it's difficult to judge whether or not in his eyes Sauron was going against his plan in wanting to change Arda V1. What we can say with near certainty however is that most of Sauron's means to achieve this are evil to Illuvatar regardless of his going against him or not.
    Last edited by BirdofHermes; Aug 24 2012 at 10:51 AM.

  3. #103
    Quote Originally Posted by BirdofHermes View Post
    I both agree and disagree.
    While Tolkien would consider it evil to go against the ideas of a divine creator, Sauron technically never did that because Arda was and is not the way Illuvatar intended. It was marred, made imperfect due to Melkor's discord. It is not Illuvatar's intended creation and destined to be destroyed and remade during Dagor Dagorath.
    So Sauron wanting to improve on it does not, technically, go against Illuvatar's envisioned world.
    But as ever, it is not bacl and white, not right or wrong.
    There are three ways to look at it, depending on how Illuvatar feels about the current Arda;

    1. Illuvatar wants this imperfect Arda to remain unchanged as it is until Dagor Dagorath and he makes an Arda V2. In this case, Sauron is indeed doing wrong by wanting to change it.
    = Sauron's intention is Evil in Eru's eyes

    2. Illuvatar doesn't really care if the current imperfect Arda is changed or not. Arda V2 is what it's all about. In this case, Sauron wanting to improve is of no matter.
    = Sauron's intention doesn't matter and Eru is indifferent about it

    3. Illuvatar is not happy with Arda V1 and does not mind if others try to improve it. Arda V2 is still far more important than V1, but any "repairs" to V1 are welcome.
    = Sauron's intention is Good in Eru's eyes

    (Please note that in the three examples above, I mean Eru judging Sauron ONLY on his decision to improve Arda and whether or not that goes against Eru's plan, NOT the evil deeds which he commited while trying to do so. I think it's fair to say that most of his evil deeds would be bad in Eru's eyes regardless of his intent anyway)

    But since we do not know Illuvatar's thoughts on this particular matter, it's difficult to judge whether or not in his eyes Sauron was going against his plan in wanting to change Arda V1. What we can say with near certainty however is that most of Sauron's means to achieve this are evil to Illuvatar regardless of his going against him or not.

    I see your reasoning, however I do think that Option 1 is not limited to Eru not wanting Arda to change. I think there is the sub-option of Eru wanting to change Arda the way Eru wants it to change prior to Arda 2.0. And to do this Eru responds to the rebellious acts by Sauron and others by guiding , prompting, and giving strength to beings for good, such as Gandalf and his mission, Frodo and the journey to Mordor, Merry and the Witch-king, and Aragorn and his ventures, as small portions of the plan that we can not wholly figure out or understand. I must state thought since there are imperfect creatures carrying out the plan, the plan is carried out imperfectly. As for how can we tell whether an act is guided by Eru, well that is when I think we need an understanding of Tolkien's worldview and view of God to determine how an act within his story is good or evil. After all Middle Earth is a reflection of the world as Tolkien saw it. I do think that based off of Tolkien's worldview and views on God that this is the most likely for Middle Earth.

    I do want to point out the difference (in my mind) between an act willed and guided by Eru, such as Frodo making the arduous trip to Mordor to destroy the ring, versus an event such as how the ring was actually destroyed. The ring was destroyed in an act of lust for power and wrath, also resulting in the death of Gollum, which I do not believe is willed by Eru. However, in my view, the ring was doomed to that fate because the reason and purpose of the ring (lust for power over others) was counter to what Eru wills. It is not Eru punishing Sauron and the ring per say. Rather, I think, Eru created the world and knows how the world functions and what will lead to happiness and peace and what will lead to despair and destruction. Lust for power and wrath will lead to destruction, it is just the way it is. Eru guiding Frodo simply made the destruction of the ring occur sooner for reasons known only to Eru. But say Frodo did fail, I believe at some point Sauron's lust for power over others would still lead to his own undoing; however, more persons would be forced to suffer the consequences of Sauron's longer reign.

    I appreciate your well thought replies it is interesting to know how other people view this.

  4. #104
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garcris View Post
    I see your reasoning, however I do think that Option 1 is not limited to Eru not wanting Arda to change. I think there is the sub-option of Eru wanting to change Arda the way Eru wants it to change prior to Arda 2.0. And to do this Eru responds to the rebellious acts by Sauron and others by guiding , prompting, and giving strength to beings for good, such as Gandalf and his mission, Frodo and the journey to Mordor, Merry and the Witch-king, and Aragorn and his ventures, as small portions of the plan that we can not wholly figure out or understand. I must state thought since there are imperfect creatures carrying out the plan, the plan is carried out imperfectly. As for how can we tell whether an act is guided by Eru, well that is when I think we need an understanding of Tolkien's worldview and view of God to determine how an act within his story is good or evil. After all Middle Earth is a reflection of the world as Tolkien saw it. I do think that based off of Tolkien's worldview and views on God that this is the most likely for Middle Earth.

    I do want to point out the difference (in my mind) between an act willed and guided by Eru, such as Frodo making the arduous trip to Mordor to destroy the ring, versus an event such as how the ring was actually destroyed. The ring was destroyed in an act of lust for power and wrath, also resulting in the death of Gollum, which I do not believe is willed by Eru. However, in my view, the ring was doomed to that fate because the reason and purpose of the ring (lust for power over others) was counter to what Eru wills. It is not Eru punishing Sauron and the ring per say. Rather, I think, Eru created the world and knows how the world functions and what will lead to happiness and peace and what will lead to despair and destruction. Lust for power and wrath will lead to destruction, it is just the way it is. Eru guiding Frodo simply made the destruction of the ring occur sooner for reasons known only to Eru. But say Frodo did fail, I believe at some point Sauron's lust for power over others would still lead to his own undoing; however, more persons would be forced to suffer the consequences of Sauron's longer reign.

    I appreciate your well thought replies it is interesting to know how other people view this.
    I certainly enjoyed reading that and you made some excellent points.

    I personally can't say I know a great deal about Tolkien's catholic views since I don't know what the church was like during his youth.
    I was raised catholic myself, and discovered quite quickly that there is no such thing as a "generic catholic world view" since those views change with every new pope. Evolution for example was not fully accepted by the Catholic Church up until 1996 can you believe it! And that's only one of thousands more, let us not forget poor Galileo.
    So I don't know how strict his views converged with the bible, but I am glad you provided info on it, and I am equally glad to see he at least didn't take it all too literally and even managed to add a mass of old Norse and Ancient Greek religions into his stories. He truly was an amazing man who had such an extraordinary fondness for mythologies of all sort.

  5. #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by BirdofHermes View Post
    ... and I am equally glad to see he at least didn't take it all too literally and even managed to add a mass of old Norse and Ancient Greek religions into his stories. He truly was an amazing man who had such an extraordinary fondness for mythologies of all sort.
    As for all sorts, it is hard to say whether it was coincidence or an actual following up on the developments of Physics, but the music Tolkien described could be interpreted as leaning on this:

    The Universe is a Symphony of Vibrating Strings (not sure whether this is a direct quote of Michio Kaku)

    And that we ourselves too -in a simply put manner- are made of the notes of this 'cosmic music'.

    It is of course impossible to tell for sure, but Tolkien's way of describing the creation of Ea to me always appeared like he tried to explain his own beliefs to himself, while incorporating new findings and theories of science. In my view he surely has come up with a beautiful, poetic interpretation of a possible 'God' and the 'music' which seems to create the universe we experience, the latter at least according to some parts of Theoretical Physics, but whether he really did this on purpose or by chance, I have no idea...

  6. #106
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garcris View Post
    Thinking you know better than another person, or someone of an equal stature sure. Thinking you know better than the creator and God, the almighty, well that is the worse of the sinful type of pride there is. Thinking you know better than God and trying to force his hand is evil, especially in the eyes of Tolkien. While not an allegory, Tolkien was heavily influenced by his Catholic faith, and his understanding of evil comes straight from it.
    The distinction between "god" and "any other being" is certainly a very human one to make, even more so a Catholic one. There is the belief in Catholicism that God's ways can be understood by anyone sufficiently enlightened though, so for someone to understand and then form an opinion doesn't seem ridiculous. Although I agree in our (or more correctly Christian) moral terms disagreeing with God shows huge self importance and pride, which are sins if you're into that sort of thing.

    However Sauron isn't human. He's a divine being himself. I doubt he sees Eru as any more infallible than the Valar or even Maia like himself. If someone makes an error in judgement, that is an error in judgement, regardless of that beings position within divinity. Certainly that level of self belief and pride would be sinful in a Christian moral outlook, but Christianity doesn't even exist in Middle-Earth. I'm not sure sinful (in the Christian sense) can be directly equated to evil. Tolkien's concept of evil, shaped as it was by his Catholicism (and also his deep understanding of other faiths combined with his life experiences) have lead him to describe Sauron as a fallen reformer. He was good to begin with and still, in his twisted, corrupted way was striving towards his original intentions which were, in his mind, just and good. He was on a crusade which in his mind was righteous, as always, the people on the other end of the crusade didn't agree.

    Once again I'm not trying to argue that Sauron was actually a "good guy" as some people seem to be (miss)understanding. Rather I'm arguing that he was not totally evil and was acting, in his mind, for the betterment of "Middle Earth as a ship" if we use that good ol Spaceship Earth analogy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Garcris View Post
    I see your reasoning, however I do think that Option 1 is not limited to Eru not wanting Arda to change. I think there is the sub-option of Eru wanting to change Arda the way Eru wants it to change prior to Arda 2.0. And to do this Eru responds to the rebellious acts by Sauron and others by guiding , prompting, and giving strength to beings for good, such as Gandalf and his mission, Frodo and the journey to Mordor, Merry and the Witch-king, and Aragorn and his ventures, as small portions of the plan that we can not wholly figure out or understand. I must state thought since there are imperfect creatures carrying out the plan, the plan is carried out imperfectly. As for how can we tell whether an act is guided by Eru, well that is when I think we need an understanding of Tolkien's worldview and view of God to determine how an act within his story is good or evil. After all Middle Earth is a reflection of the world as Tolkien saw it. I do think that based off of Tolkien's worldview and views on God that this is the most likely for Middle Earth.
    I realise this wasn't directed at me so forgive me for jumping in. I do generally agree with your idea of "fate" in Arda. This more broad "guiding hand" approach rather than direct intervention and determinism from Eru, particularly in terms of the "fated" races like Elves vs the "free" like Man. While I agree that Tolkien definitely poured a great deal of himself into his legendarium and obviously it was shaped in part by his own world view, he did state that Eru wasn't God. He said he'd never be so presumptuous as to write about the Catholic God, rather Eru was a completely separate being. While there clearly are comparisons, I think Tolkien's work suffers when the paradoxes and problems of modern day Christianity are applied to it. Many of them are very specific to the way Christians (and non-Christians) interpret the writings and are rather roughly applied by some people to Tolkien's cosmology. I'm not accusing you of this here by the way, just making a general point.

    With regards to the perfection or imperfection of Eru's plan, however, does the perfection of the intermediate beings matter? If the plan comes of 100% as Eru intended, is it not perfect? Imagine machine is designed by someone and sent off to be built by another company. When the machine returns it works 100% as intended, producing exactly what the designer intended every time. (I realise perfection is pretty much impossible in real life but ignore that er... oversight). If that machine works in that way I'd say it's perfect. However if the builders used old, reclaimed parts which are all in some way tarnished or damaged, then the parts are far from perfect. If Eru is the designer and the machine is his plan, the cogs can be Frodo, Gandalf etc. If those cogs are imperfect it's almost irrelevant to the overall "machine".

    Quote Originally Posted by Garcris View Post
    I do want to point out the difference (in my mind) between an act willed and guided by Eru, such as Frodo making the arduous trip to Mordor to destroy the ring, versus an event such as how the ring was actually destroyed. The ring was destroyed in an act of lust for power and wrath, also resulting in the death of Gollum, which I do not believe is willed by Eru. However, in my view, the ring was doomed to that fate because the reason and purpose of the ring (lust for power over others) was counter to what Eru wills. It is not Eru punishing Sauron and the ring per say. Rather, I think, Eru created the world and knows how the world functions and what will lead to happiness and peace and what will lead to despair and destruction. Lust for power and wrath will lead to destruction, it is just the way it is. Eru guiding Frodo simply made the destruction of the ring occur sooner for reasons known only to Eru. But say Frodo did fail, I believe at some point Sauron's lust for power over others would still lead to his own undoing; however, more persons would be forced to suffer the consequences of Sauron's longer reign.

    I appreciate your well thought replies it is interesting to know how other people view this.
    I do agree that had Frodo failed Sauron would have probably ended up beaten some other way. I think you're right in saying he was fated to fail. Ever since Melkor was cast out it was on the cards for Sauron really, he did very well to hang on as long as he did through various sneaky means. I guess had Sauron finally conquered ME and got it all up and running in his own design, he'd probably have got a bit cocky and tried to attack Valinor, or something similarly stupid, and ended up beaten that way.

    During that time though he'd have left a mark on ME that was probably irreversible. If Sauron had won all of ME would probably have been tainted in some way and may have never been properly wholesome and habitable ever again. Maybe Eru decided that this time enough was enough. He'd already "let" Isildur get away without destroying the Ring, which had made a lot of people mad and was generally considered a bad idea. With the events going on as they did during the war of the Ring (and it's build up) Eru might have saw a clean way to finish it, with Gollum's fall. Tolkien has said at some point that Bilbo's finding of the Ring was down to Eru. As far as I know he also said at a later date (whether he always thought this and only voiced it later, or decided later on I don't know) that Eru was directly responsible for Gollum's fall. Eru had seen what happens when he lets the Valar "fix" things. Maybe he thought that if he left Arda to it's own devices and Sauron won, the Valar would have helped out by sinking the other half of the continent? A subtle nudge to Gollum is much more favourable than another Valar inspired cataclysm. Once again though I do agree that Gollum's presence (among other things, Merry's knife etc) were more "passively" influenced by Eru. More part of the general plan. Gandalf does say that he feels Gollum will have a part to play in it all (in the same way he alludes to Eru's part in Bilbo finding the ring). Presumably he was around for the music and still knows of it in a hazy, distant memory sort of way. Maybe those events came to him in some sort of flashback from the beginning. He'd heard vaguely of the Ring and Gollum in Eru's original tune, so when the time came he was reminded of it somehow?

    That's a huge chunk of speculation on my part anyway. It's nice to read well thought out posts. Even if I don't absolutely agree with everything you say, all your points are good ones.

  7. #107
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    Degrees.

    Sauron did not just want control. He wanted absolute control.

    The rings literally twisted and reshaped. Dwarves became greedy and fell. Men became stretched into wraiths under Sauron's direct will.

    Elves were spared only because Sauron hadn't worked their rings personally, and because they were able to take them off in time.

    A hobbit named Smeagol was twisted into Gollum simply by wearing/keeping the One.

    That is well beyond the goals of a Napoleon or Stalin or even Hitler, well beyond taking and holding land, or doing so in the name of any specific race.

    It also seems unlikely that he was looking for a reset. If Eru reset things, why would he have reason to expect history not to repeat? Even if Melkor wasn't there, Elves were built with free will. Dwarves were built with free will. Men were built with a lot of free will. They'd just muck it up with or without any outside interference.

    I also consider it a fallacy that you have to believe you are doing evil to be evil, that evil has anything to do with personal motivations. It is an easy way to excuse one's own bad behavior. Too easy a way. There is a reason that negligence causing harm is considered a crime, and that ignorance of the law is not considered an excuse.

  8. #108
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    I see this as a case of "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar". Sauron was an evil bad guy that wanted Middle Earth under his proverbial heel.
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming "WOW, what a ride!"
    [I][FONT=comic sans ms][COLOR=#ffff00]Continuing the never ending battle to keep Lobelia Sackville-Baggins in check[/COLOR][/FONT][/I]

  9. #109
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Degrees.

    Sauron did not just want control. He wanted absolute control.
    I am not sure where the line between control and absolute control lies.

    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    The rings literally twisted and reshaped. Dwarves became greedy and fell. Men became stretched into wraiths under Sauron's direct will.

    Elves were spared only because Sauron hadn't worked their rings personally, and because they were able to take them off in time.

    A hobbit named Smeagol was twisted into Gollum simply by wearing/keeping the One.
    To me personally it looks more like the rings 'magnify' traits already found within a being. Traits, as I interprete it, introduced into creation via Melkor's discords, which are shared by all the races to some degree (although one could argue they were in fact introduced by Eru himself, considering he created Melkor). These traits then can end overwhelming a creature, and 'twist it'.

    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    That is well beyond the goals of a Napoleon or Stalin or even Hitler, well beyond taking and holding land, or doing so in the name of any specific race.
    I personally would find myself unable to name Sauron quite in the same breath with Stalin and Hitler. Stalin and Hitler both partook in systematic 'ethnic cleansing'. Napoleon has been accused of such as well (as part of crushing a slave revolte). Sauron waged a brutal war, but if we take this alone, then there are rather recent events on this planet where so called '1st world nations' took up arms and delivered the first strike (and innocent women and children died as a result of this).
    I truly fail to see personally where Sauron could have gone 'well beyond' some of those named, just because the rings 'twisted' some of those who wore them. Not to mention I never felt the Nazgul were particularly 'unhappy', nor was Gollum in my view, aside from that Gollum wanted 'his precious' back.

    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    It also seems unlikely that he was looking for a reset. If Eru reset things, why would he have reason to expect history not to repeat? Even if Melkor wasn't there, Elves were built with free will. Dwarves were built with free will. Men were built with a lot of free will. They'd just muck it up with or without any outside interference.
    Unlikely or impossible?
    Plus I don't quite agree history would have to repeat itself, due to the fact that I see it that Melkor introduced those discords of greed, powerlust, envy, selfishness. With those discords gone, who knows what Arda may would look like, or its 'races'. Free will does not necessarily mean 'free will to commit evil'. Free will can also mean to walk to Hobbiton instead of Bywater, to wear a blue top instead of a red one, and none of these choices need to be led by motives of greed or envy (which might be hard to envision for us, as our earth set-up isn't free of those type of 'Melkor' traits either).
    It also does appear that Eru was planning a reroll. There is the prophecy of the final battle and a consequent reroll, and I personally can not quite see why Eru would wish to reroll (as described in the prophecy) unless he'd expect things to be 'different' afterwards, but who can tell what Eru's ideas are...

    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    I also consider it a fallacy that you have to believe you are doing evil to be evil, that evil has anything to do with personal motivations. It is an easy way to excuse one's own bad behavior. Too easy a way. There is a reason that negligence causing harm is considered a crime, and that ignorance of the law is not considered an excuse.
    With this I agree in parts, but evil does seem to come down to the judgement of those on the receiving end of actions. Let us imagine a culture where giving a smile is considered evil, and you'd stroll in there and smile at someone, then clearly in the eyes of those of that culture you'd have committed an evil act, right, and might even be viewed as 'evil' overall?
    We tend to judge as 'evil' what we do not like done to ourselves, but while I hate pain, a masochist loves it...
    And next of course -if we do talk law- comes into play the understanding of 'right' and 'wrong'. If a 5 year old steals a chewing gum in a supermarket, then most of our courts would judge this on the basis that the 5 year old did not understand its actions as 'wrong'. Sauron could have failed to see his actions as 'wrong', for reasons which have already been mentioned in this thread.

    Please do not get me wrong, I am fully with you that I too believe one should not just excuse one's own bad behaviour, nor give those who commit crimes an easy ride, but I also feel this has further implications than just pointing the finger at another and shouting "evil!"

    And in regards to that last paragraph, what I wonder is, whether those who so vividly wish to call Sauron evil, will find this has also implications for their own existence.
    What I mean with this is:
    If we deny Sauron the right to enslave, kill and rule beings that he -as a devine entity- could very possibly view as inferior creatures, then how can we justify enslaving, killing and ruling what we commonly refer to as 'animals' in our own world? If we believe he was doing wrong, then must this not ultimately lead to us reviewing our own postition on how we treat creatures we consider 'inferior'? The argument that we can think can not be used, as Sauron was able to do things beyond the abilities of the 'races' of Middle Earth too. René Descartes view was that animals were only 'biological machines' with no true feelings, and therefore the pain responses they displayed were automated and not truly 'felt' by a soul they were lacking in his opinion. Sauron could theoretically have had his own theory on those he enslaved, killed and ruled, as well. I think it was Curandhras who suggested something like Sauron could have been looking at it as to where is the big deal, they enter some form of afterlife and it doesn't really matter what I do to them 'here'. (This obviously differs from Descartes, but it isn't about Sauron sharing Descartes view, but that he could have had his very own theory in regards to 'inferior' beings).
    If we only take the step of condemning Sauron and calling him evil, then would we not be hypocritical if we'd not take the next step of calling what humanity does in regards to its fellow inhabitants of this planet, evil too? And if we do not wish to be caught a hypocrite, does that not also mean we have to try our outmost best as individuals, to distance ourselves from actions which will include or lead to the enslavement, killing and ruling of other 'inferior' beings?
    For if we don't - how can we judge Sauron..?

  10. #110
    My view, at one altitude, OP, setting aside 'good' and 'evil', is Tolkien presents his presumed virtue ethics as the ethical ideal and uses consequential ethics to a degree as its foil.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Starina View Post
    I am not sure where the line between control and absolute control lies.
    At the line between dictator and puppet-master. At the difference between giving orders to otherwise free thinking individuals and controlling them outright, removing free will.

    To me personally it looks more like the rings 'magnify' traits already found within a being. Traits, as I interprete it, introduced into creation via Melkor's discords, which are shared by all the races to some degree (although one could argue they were in fact introduced by Eru himself, considering he created Melkor). These traits then can end overwhelming a creature, and 'twist it'.
    That implies that the negative qualities were always overpowering. If that was really all it was, why would Gandalf or any other Maiar be so reluctant to wield them? They are already used to controlling great power without giving in to their darker sides. Gandalf had great innate power already without giving in to the temptation to misuse it.

    So why would he be that much more at risk unless his traits were not magnified uniformly?

    I personally would find myself unable to name Sauron quite in the same breath with Stalin and Hitler. Stalin and Hitler both partook in systematic 'ethnic cleansing'. Napoleon has been accused of such as well (as part of crushing a slave revolte). Sauron waged a brutal war, but if we take this alone, then there are rather recent events on this planet where so called '1st world nations' took up arms and delivered the first strike (and innocent women and children died as a result of this).
    I truly fail to see personally where Sauron could have gone 'well beyond' some of those named, just because the rings 'twisted' some of those who wore them. Not to mention I never felt the Nazgul were particularly 'unhappy', nor was Gollum in my view, aside from that Gollum wanted 'his precious' back.
    There was no indication that the Nazgul had any significant remaining free will. Gollum was pretty much outright broken. He didn't just want the ring back... he wanted it back to the point of self destructiveness. Even his final moments were a directive to keep the ring from destruction.

    It feels like you somehow think the rings were just pretty rings, and not designed for control at all. What exactly does 'one ring to rule them all' mean to you? Why did the one make the Elves afraid to use the three, unless the one had a control/corruption effect that could flow through the lesser rings?

    Unlikely or impossible?
    Plus I don't quite agree history would have to repeat itself, due to the fact that I see it that Melkor introduced those discords of greed, powerlust, envy, selfishness. With those discords gone, who knows what Arda may would look like, or its 'races'. Free will does not necessarily mean 'free will to commit evil'. Free will can also mean to walk to Hobbiton instead of Bywater, to wear a blue top instead of a red one, and none of these choices need to be led by motives of greed or envy (which might be hard to envision for us, as our earth set-up isn't free of those type of 'Melkor' traits either).
    It also does appear that Eru was planning a reroll. There is the prophecy of the final battle and a consequent reroll, and I personally can not quite see why Eru would wish to reroll (as described in the prophecy) unless he'd expect things to be 'different' afterwards, but who can tell what Eru's ideas are...
    If only the right choices are available to you, do you have any choice at all? It is the same dilemma as with Adam and Eve. There had to be the ability to succumb to temptation to be able to choose to eat the apple.

    With this I agree in parts, but evil does seem to come down to the judgement of those on the receiving end of actions. Let us imagine a culture where giving a smile is considered evil, and you'd stroll in there and smile at someone, then clearly in the eyes of those of that culture you'd have committed an evil act, right, and might even be viewed as 'evil' overall?
    We tend to judge as 'evil' what we do not like done to ourselves, but while I hate pain, a masochist loves it...
    And next of course -if we do talk law- comes into play the understanding of 'right' and 'wrong'. If a 5 year old steals a chewing gum in a supermarket, then most of our courts would judge this on the basis that the 5 year old did not understand its actions as 'wrong'. Sauron could have failed to see his actions as 'wrong', for reasons which have already been mentioned in this thread.
    No. You are right in terms of what will be judged 'evil' at any given time, but evil itself is the purely selfish choice, whereas 'good' takes everyone and everything into account (without forsaking self - oneself is still part of 'everyone and everything'). We do not have the omniscience or wisdom to be certain of whether any given action provides the greatest benefit to the whole, we can only do our best and hope we are on the right path. But not knowing does not mean there is no 'best path' any more than not knowing meant the world was once flat.

    Please do not get me wrong, I am fully with you that I too believe one should not just excuse one's own bad behaviour, nor give those who commit crimes an easy ride, but I also feel this has further implications than just pointing the finger at another and shouting "evil!"
    I agree, we do need to be very careful in our own definitions both of good and of evil, and to avoid falling into the trap of assuming that since we are 'good people,' that our choices and actions are de facto 'good.'

    And in regards to that last paragraph, what I wonder is, whether those who so vividly wish to call Sauron evil, will find this has also implications for their own existence.
    What I mean with this is:
    If we deny Sauron the right to enslave, kill and rule beings that he -as a devine entity- could very possibly view as inferior creatures, then how can we justify enslaving, killing and ruling what we commonly refer to as 'animals' in our own world? If we believe he was doing wrong, then must this not ultimately lead to us reviewing our own postition on how we treat creatures we consider 'inferior'? The argument that we can think can not be used, as Sauron was able to do things beyond the abilities of the 'races' of Middle Earth too. René Descartes view was that animals were only 'biological machines' with no true feelings, and therefore the pain responses they displayed were automated and not truly 'felt' by a soul they were lacking in his opinion. Sauron could theoretically have had his own theory on those he enslaved, killed and ruled, as well. I think it was Curandhras who suggested something like Sauron could have been looking at it as to where is the big deal, they enter some form of afterlife and it doesn't really matter what I do to them 'here'. (This obviously differs from Descartes, but it isn't about Sauron sharing Descartes view, but that he could have had his very own theory in regards to 'inferior' beings).
    If we only take the step of condemning Sauron and calling him evil, then would we not be hypocritical if we'd not take the next step of calling what humanity does in regards to its fellow inhabitants of this planet, evil too? And if we do not wish to be caught a hypocrite, does that not also mean we have to try our outmost best as individuals, to distance ourselves from actions which will include or lead to the enslavement, killing and ruling of other 'inferior' beings?
    For if we don't - how can we judge Sauron..?
    Again, he is not merely 'ruling' them in any conventional fashion. He warps and rearranges, and uses his magic and power to replace free will with his own will. And as a society, we do condemn the enslavement, killing and ruling of others on any premise of them being 'inferior.' The closest we come to is acting as ward to those demonstrably not old enough or otherwise capable of fully looking after themselves, and even then we are *very* careful to preserve their rights.

    And no one in RL has any demonstrable ability to control or manipulate others magically, or twist them in the manner that Orcs were created, or Smeagol became Gollum, or men became wraiths.

    You seem to keep downplaying that aspect...

  12. #112
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    At the line between dictator and puppet-master. At the difference between giving orders to otherwise free thinking individuals and controlling them outright, removing free will.
    I think Gollum did not become 'a puppet' or else why did he end tortured to reveal what he knew about the ring? And it also does not look to me that those of the human race who joined him in his war efforts did so as 'robots'/'zombies'.

    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    That implies that the negative qualities were always overpowering. If that was really all it was, why would Gandalf or any other Maiar be so reluctant to wield them? They are already used to controlling great power without giving in to their darker sides. Gandalf had great innate power already without giving in to the temptation to misuse it.

    So why would he be that much more at risk unless his traits were not magnified uniformly?

    There was no indication that the Nazgul had any significant remaining free will. Gollum was pretty much outright broken. He didn't just want the ring back... he wanted it back to the point of self destructiveness. Even his final moments were a directive to keep the ring from destruction.

    It feels like you somehow think the rings were just pretty rings, and not designed for control at all. What exactly does 'one ring to rule them all' mean to you? Why did the one make the Elves afraid to use the three, unless the one had a control/corruption effect that could flow through the lesser rings?
    Why can some individuals smoke on an only social basis, while others turn into chain smokers? Why can some drink a glass of wine a night, while others turn into alcoholics? Why do some use violence, while others try to solve conflict via peaceful means?
    Smeagol killed his friend over the ring, but did we ever see Bilbo kill anyone due to the ring? Maybe Smeagol did carry certain traits already in stronger measure, ergo magnified they also turned out that much stronger compared to those of Bilbo and Frodo? (remember Smeagol didn't kill his friend after years and years of wearing the ring, put pretty much at the start)
    And why did Saruman change sides? He did not, as far as I am aware, touch any of the rings, nor does he look like a puppet to me either. Saruman was the chosen 'champion' of the Valar, only afterwards replaced by Gandalf, who had proven more steadfast to the Valar's cause.
    If Sauron was that much able to turn everyone into puppets, why then did he need a war at all? Just smuggle yourself into the halls of the leaders of the world and simply turn them to your will?
    Oh wait, he did - he made those rings and tried it that way, but while he managed to win the humans for his cause, it didn't prove quite that easy with the dwarves and elfes. We could argue all sorts of reasons for this, but to me personally it looks like the humans simply carried stronger measures of Melkor's traits. The ring(s) no doubt helped those traits to become an overwhelming influence within individuals, but I still fail to see 'puppeteering' with absolutely no free will left.
    'One ring to rule them all', not 'one ring to puppeteer them all'. Mairon would probably have looked at the most prevelant weaknesses in the races of Middle Earth, and decided greed and power were just those. He forged those rings according to this, with 'magic' to help strengthen those traits even further. It has already been suggested in this thread about how the rings worked, and Galadriel was mentioned as an example. She does not seem to believe the one ring would turn her into a 'puppet', but she fears it as she believes it could turn her into a tyrant in her own right. Tolkien describes Galadriel as "the mightiest and fairest of all the Elves that remained in Middle-earth". She knows how powerful she is, in my view, and fears the ring could strengthen lusts within her to use that power, for even if she would wish to use it for 'good', she appears to realize the dilemma of when good intentions can nonetheless turn into dictatorship.

    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    If only the right choices are available to you, do you have any choice at all? It is the same dilemma as with Adam and Eve. There had to be the ability to succumb to temptation to be able to choose to eat the apple.
    This is an interesting dilemma, for if we take this further - should we then not abandon all laws in our world and just see what happens? In allowing free will on all aspects, must we not also allow the sadist to capture and torture whoever, when the whim grabs them? As such 'complete free will' is an illusion, as the moment choices are available, we also will end governing them. Would we, because we can not kill our neighbour when we feel like it, as laws will threaten us with severe punishment.. now turn around and say therefore we are 'puppets'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    No. You are right in terms of what will be judged 'evil' at any given time, but evil itself is the purely selfish choice, whereas 'good' takes everyone and everything into account (without forsaking self - oneself is still part of 'everyone and everything'). We do not have the omniscience or wisdom to be certain of whether any given action provides the greatest benefit to the whole, we can only do our best and hope we are on the right path. But not knowing does not mean there is no 'best path' any more than not knowing meant the world was once flat.

    I agree, we do need to be very careful in our own definitions both of good and of evil, and to avoid falling into the trap of assuming that since we are 'good people,' that our choices and actions are de facto 'good.'
    This has actually become part of the debate in this thread regarding Mairon/Sauron. Was his original motivation a purely selfish one, or did he actuall have 'everyone and everything' in mind?
    But to look out for 'everything and everyone' contains huge dilemmas all in itself. We will do everything we can to stop the sadist to protect potential victims, but in the process we will end up harming the sadist too, as due to the make-up of some sadists: if they can not live their lust to administer pain, they can start feeling huge pains/preassures themselves too. And if someone steals, we may end locking them up for it, subjecting them to suffering by cutting their freedom, but in our moral system the right of property weighs stronger.
    Sauron seems to feel a need to govern/rule as he appearantly due to his own understanding of 'right' and 'wrong' feels the races of Middle Earth have it all wrong. We can accuse him of pride for this, and we can call his methods to bring everyone in line 'evil', but the need to govern societies seems almost unavoidable, and the races of Middle Earth had kings and laws, they just did not want for Sauron as the main leader and his laws.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Again, he is not merely 'ruling' them in any conventional fashion. He warps and rearranges, and uses his magic and power to replace free will with his own will. And as a society, we do condemn the enslavement, killing and ruling of others on any premise of them being 'inferior.' The closest we come to is acting as ward to those demonstrably not old enough or otherwise capable of fully looking after themselves, and even then we are *very* careful to preserve their rights.
    So we enslave cows and pigs because they are not old enough, and we kill them, carefully preserving their rights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    And no one in RL has any demonstrable ability to control or manipulate others magically, or twist them in the manner that Orcs were created, or Smeagol became Gollum, or men became wraiths.

    You seem to keep downplaying that aspect...
    I wonder whether those who suffered (suffer) under the yoke of slavery did (do) care that they were (are) not ruled by 'magic' but just a whip.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Starina View Post
    I think Gollum did not become 'a puppet' or else why did he end tortured to reveal what he knew about the ring? And it also does not look to me that those of the human race who joined him in his war efforts did so as 'robots'/'zombies'.
    The ring was with Gollum and then later with Bilbo and finally with Frodo. Sauron didn't have it to wield. That was a core element of LOTR, that they had a chance because Sauron didn't have the ring. If he just wanted to rule conventionally, why the ring? It was pretty clear by the end of LOTR that he had sufficient conventional troops to win on the ground.

    Why can some individuals smoke on an only social basis, while others turn into chain smokers? Why can some drink a glass of wine a night, while others turn into alcoholics? Why do some use violence, while others try to solve conflict via peaceful means?
    Some because they have 'addictive personalities' and some because the substances themselves have addictive properties. Different people have different body chemistries and upbringing. What about that makes Gandalf specifically suddenly at greater risk?

    Smeagol killed his friend over the ring, but did we ever see Bilbo kill anyone due to the ring? Maybe Smeagol did carry certain traits already in stronger measure, ergo magnified they also turned out that much stronger compared to those of Bilbo and Frodo? (remember Smeagol didn't kill his friend after years and years of wearing the ring, put pretty much at the start)
    And why did Saruman change sides? He did not, as far as I am aware, touch any of the rings, nor does he look like a puppet to me either. Saruman was the chosen 'champion' of the Valar, only afterwards replaced by Gandalf, who had proven more steadfast to the Valar's cause.
    That is how it was presented, that Bilbo was 'stronger' in that respect. Even so, he did show desire for the ring when he saw Frodo at Rivendell.... to the point of creeping Frodo out. And then later, Frodo was unable to destroy the ring on his own, even distrusting Sam. And again, Sauron wasn't wielding the ring. Sauron built the ring as his instrument of control.

    If Sauron was that much able to turn everyone into puppets, why then did he need a war at all? Just smuggle yourself into the halls of the leaders of the world and simply turn them to your will?
    Oh wait, he did - he made those rings and tried it that way, but while he managed to win the humans for his cause, it didn't prove quite that easy with the dwarves and elfes. We could argue all sorts of reasons for this, but to me personally it looks like the humans simply carried stronger measures of Melkor's traits. The ring(s) no doubt helped those traits to become an overwhelming influence within individuals, but I still fail to see 'puppeteering' with absolutely no free will left.
    'One ring to rule them all', not 'one ring to puppeteer them all'. Mairon would probably have looked at the most prevelant weaknesses in the races of Middle Earth, and decided greed and power were just those. He forged those rings according to this, with 'magic' to help strengthen those traits even further. It has already been suggested in this thread about how the rings worked, and Galadriel was mentioned as an example. She does not seem to believe the one ring would turn her into a 'puppet', but she fears it as she believes it could turn her into a tyrant in her own right. Tolkien describes Galadriel as "the mightiest and fairest of all the Elves that remained in Middle-earth". She knows how powerful she is, in my view, and fears the ring could strengthen lusts within her to use that power, for even if she would wish to use it for 'good', she appears to realize the dilemma of when good intentions can nonetheless turn into dictatorship.
    He needed the war because with the Elven rings kept from him, the Elves still had the strength to stop him. Nor had Men completely fallen under his control yet.

    You are only looking at the first line describing the rings power.

    The full poem:

    Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
    Seven for the dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
    Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
    One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne,
    In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
    One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
    One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
    In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
    It isn't just a ring to rule them or to find them, but also to bring them and to bind them.
    In the darkness, yet.

    And that poem was inscribed in Sauron's hand, so it isn't 'Elven propaganda' or anything. There are numerous references in LOTR and the Silmarilion to the ring's control and corruption properties, and how they are deliberate design features.

    Why are you so reluctant to take them at face value, especially since many of them are in terms of events rather than simply someone saying so?

    This is an interesting dilemma, for if we take this further - should we then not abandon all laws in our world and just see what happens? In allowing free will on all aspects, must we not also allow the sadist to capture and torture whoever, when the whim grabs them? As such 'complete free will' is an illusion, as the moment choices are available, we also will end governing them. Would we, because we can not kill our neighbour when we feel like it, as laws will threaten us with severe punishment.. now turn around and say therefore we are 'puppets'?
    What has this got to do with anything? When I listed would be RL conquerors, I included Napoleon for a reason. The French at the time were actually offering superior cultural advances, including many advances in legal process that have been adapted and continue in use to this day, long after Napoleon's fall. Governance is not evil in and of itself. And NONE of that takes away free will. You still have the ability to choose to disobey a law, you just suffer consequences for doing so. That is not the same as actually reprogramming people to follow a specific set of laws.

    This has actually become part of the debate in this thread regarding Mairon/Sauron. Was his original motivation a purely selfish one, or did he actuall have 'everyone and everything' in mind?
    But to look out for 'everything and everyone' contains huge dilemmas all in itself. We will do everything we can to stop the sadist to protect potential victims, but in the process we will end up harming the sadist too, as due to the make-up of some sadists: if they can not live their lust to administer pain, they can start feeling huge pains/preassures themselves too. And if someone steals, we may end locking them up for it, subjecting them to suffering by cutting their freedom, but in our moral system the right of property weighs stronger.
    Wait, you are saying that the sadist's victims are merely 'property?' Not sure I understand you here, and that sound like something we need to clear up. The sadist is a member of society too, though, and needs to be helped, if possible. That is not always possible, though.

    Sauron seems to feel a need to govern/rule as he appearantly due to his own understanding of 'right' and 'wrong' feels the races of Middle Earth have it all wrong. We can accuse him of pride for this, and we can call his methods to bring everyone in line 'evil', but the need to govern societies seems almost unavoidable, and the races of Middle Earth had kings and laws, they just did not want for Sauron as the main leader and his laws.
    Again, the evidence is that his 'laws' were not in the common good, at least in terms of respecting the rights and freedoms of anyone other than himself. And the evidence is further that he didn't just want to lead, but to control. Also Sauron being evil doesn't mean all other sets of laws are perfect.

    So we enslave cows and pigs because they are not old enough, and we kill them, carefully preserving their rights?
    Now it is really hard to take you seriously. We treat them as food because they are non-sentient. And even then, we do ascribe a certain level of rights to them, especially to any animals we take on as pets or working animals. Even in LOTR, the relationship with animals was somewhat different. Some animals were depicted as sentient, or at least recognized as such by Gandalf. I am pretty sure Gandalf wouldn't advocate eating eagles, for example. I suspect he and the Rohirrim don't eat horse, either.

    I wonder whether those who suffered (suffer) under the yoke of slavery did (do) care that they were (are) not ruled by 'magic' but just a whip.
    Funny, I didn't think that calling direct magical enslavement 'evil' meant declaring every other thing in existence 'good.' It doesn't. Slavery is usually evil. Taking away free will is a greater evil.

  14. #114
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    Quote Originally Posted by hallasan View Post
    My view, at one altitude, OP, setting aside 'good' and 'evil', is Tolkien presents his presumed virtue ethics as the ethical ideal and uses consequential ethics to a degree as its foil.
    So sorry, I did not mean to ignore your post, and yes, I agree with this, albeit I am not always 100% sure about his ethics. Some will just see clear lean-ons in regards to his religious beliefs, some will draw connections between wars he witnessed. He was a humble man, from what I am aware, and would surely not have claimed ultimate wisdom no matter what, that I at least believe.
    It is a story, but it is still interesting to see how much passion can rise from just a story...


    @Torweld

    This debate has branched out into all sorts of related aspects, terms of 'good' and 'evil' being part of it. In its original though, lay the question is it possible Mairon/Sauron did what he did to actually change things for the 'better'. My approach was to suggest maybe he wished to force a reroll. You answered that in essence with a no, which is your right, albeit I do not agree with your arguments, which is my right (if we wish to agree on interacting in what we tend to call 'civilised manners'). In none of my posts, including my answers to you, did I ever turn around and say 'now it is really hard to take you serious'. Not even 'now it is really hard for me to take you serious', and nor would I ever give such a reply. I may not agree with others, but I respect that opinions can differ. That is why I try my hardest to constantely flag my contributions with 'in my opinion', 'for me personally' and so forth, and I try add question marks to thoughts I have put forward for discussion. I am not in it to get the feel good 'I am right, ha!' feeling. Instead I try to widen my horizon by inviting the thoughts of others. I found your thoughts valid and interesting, even if I do not agree with all of them. Appearantly I have not reached this with you, maybe a failing from my side, but I have never claimed to be perfect, and I most definitely will never claim that I am the last word in wisdom either. If anyone in this thread ever came to feel that I did claim the last word, then my dearest apologies to them.

    Elsewise..
    Mairon (to me personally) stands a possible representative of dilemmas I have been pondering for a long time. To some of us, as this thread has shown, he started out with 'good' intentions. I can relate to this character on the basis that I too see many things in the world I live in, which I feel are 'bad'. Others though do not feel that way and will happily partake in activities I condemn (and even I myself will at times partake in them). The questions, which to me arise, are: Does one have the right to change things which others do not wish changed? And if one decides one has a 'good' enough reason to change them, how far can one go in one's methods before even the 'best' outcome (in my case an outcome that would create a world of no hate, no racism, no greed, no abuse, which also includes those so called 'non sentient' beings, no wars etc) - becomes a 'wrong', simply due to the methods one had to use to achieve it? When do the means justify an end? Is there an end which could possibly justify means that could include mind control/reduction of free will, brutal force, killings? Is the suffering of millions a justification to kill millions who cause such suffering?
    I am not 100% sure how to interprete Mairon's wish for order. What type of order and efficiency he was after. Whether he wished/cared for peace in the beginning, but if his vision was that of an Arda with no more suffering, then what would my decision have been, had I had his abilities at my disposal...
    It is this what troubles me so deeply in regards to this character. For if 'blessed' with abilities to change things, which is the greater 'crime' - to use them and create suffering and violations in the process, or to not use them and let other forms of suffering continue? To not act can be an act of wisdom, but it could also be an act of laziness and convinience. To act could be an act of truly having it 'right', but it could also be an act of simply 'wanting to be right'...

    I can unfortunately not say that anything in this thread has helped me solve some of my inner ponderings, but it surely has outlined again how much opinions and interpretations can differ, and how passionate individuals can feel about 'their version'. Who is to say what is truly 'right' when it comes to subjects that depend on interpretation? Can there even be a 'truly right' in such matters? I do not know. I can just ponder and wonder and try to get closer to answers, but maybe there are no answers that will ever be 'true', and I am spending my time in wasteful ways...

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    There is a relation developing between level of power and level of evil.

    Yes, Sauron was able to "magically" bring people under his sway and create wraiths etc. The Ring was intended to control the other wearers but clearly this is directly tied to him wanting to control the races anyway. He wanted to control everything so he could bring it all into line and order, which in his mind was the best way.

    If Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini or anyone else in RL had the same powers and abilities Sauron had don't think they wouldn't have used them. There's nothing intrinsically more evil about Sauron just because he's more powerful. I'd even go so far as to say Hitler turned out more "evil" than Sauron ever did. Not once was it Sauron's agenda to annihilate entire races just because he didn't like them. That is evil.

    Sauron's methods and "powers" are evil, or at least they lean that way. I don't think anyone is trying to argue that enslaving 9 people's minds and bodies and turning them into extensions of their will isn't evil.

    The argument was based around that fact that Sauron's original aims and intentions were, in his mind, to better Middle Earth and it's races. That entailed conquering and controlling and Sauron was very well equipped for corrupting leaders etc. But in his mind he was installing himself as leader because no one else was doing it "right". No one else was working to eradicate all the needless friction and lack of productivity among the races.

    His actions are clearly evil, waging wars, corrupting people, killing in general is all evil. Unlike Morgoth (and others) however his intent was not solely for self gain or born from bitterness or jealousy. He genuinely believed that ME would be better having him as leader, and everyone resisting him was simply too foolish to realise that.

    That doesn't excuse his actions. I've said before in this thread he was in no way a "good guy" and the Free Peoples were completely right to oppose him. In opposing him they did some pretty evil things themselves (but of course we don't mind that, because they're presented as the heroes). The debate was surrounding the motives for what Sauron did and extended to covering whether or not they were evil and whether or not Sauron was pure evil. I think his intentions were good, Tolkien has said he intended for Sauron's intentions to be good. Through Melkor's corruption and his own downfall though Sauron lost his grip on "right and wrong" so to speak. His desire to improve the way everything worked took over. So when he was crippling minds and enslaving leaders etc, in his own mind he was doing this for "the greater good". It was a "greater good" that, clearly, no one else agreed with (rightfully so) but he didn't care for that. The races were fools lead by idiots to him and needed a leader to take over and make everything work.

    Power for himself wasn't even top of his "list". He was quite happy to lead people into worshipping Melkor so long as they'd join his cause. For me this shows that he didn't really care for fame or worship in the way many tyrants do. That was secondary to him, his primary objective was to get everyone "singing from his songbook" if you will. If that meant they thought Melkor was the God still and Sauron only a priest, fair enough.

    So no, I don't think his intentions in any way excuse what he did. I just think he is far from the simple "pure evil" character that people portray him as.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Starina View Post
    So sorry, I did not mean to ignore your post, and yes, I agree with this, albeit I am not always 100% sure about his ethics. Some will just see clear lean-ons in regards to his religious beliefs, some will draw connections between wars he witnessed. He was a humble man, from what I am aware, and would surely not have claimed ultimate wisdom no matter what, that I at least believe.
    It is a story, but it is still interesting to see how much passion can rise from just a story...


    @Torweld

    This debate has branched out into all sorts of related aspects, terms of 'good' and 'evil' being part of it. In its original though, lay the question is it possible Mairon/Sauron did what he did to actually change things for the 'better'. My approach was to suggest maybe he wished to force a reroll. You answered that in essence with a no, which is your right, albeit I do not agree with your arguments, which is my right (if we wish to agree on interacting in what we tend to call 'civilised manners'). In none of my posts, including my answers to you, did I ever turn around and say 'now it is really hard to take you serious'. Not even 'now it is really hard for me to take you serious', and nor would I ever give such a reply. I may not agree with others, but I respect that opinions can differ. That is why I try my hardest to constantely flag my contributions with 'in my opinion', 'for me personally' and so forth, and I try add question marks to thoughts I have put forward for discussion. I am not in it to get the feel good 'I am right, ha!' feeling. Instead I try to widen my horizon by inviting the thoughts of others. I found your thoughts valid and interesting, even if I do not agree with all of them. Appearantly I have not reached this with you, maybe a failing from my side, but I have never claimed to be perfect, and I most definitely will never claim that I am the last word in wisdom either. If anyone in this thread ever came to feel that I did claim the last word, then my dearest apologies to them.
    With due respect, you compared human slavery with farming non-sentient livestock as if they were equal. Was not sure how to take that.

    You seemed to either be declaring humans to be nothing more than animals, or declaring animals to be sentient life.

  17. #117
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curandhras View Post
    So no, I don't think his intentions in any way excuse what he did. I just think he is far from the simple "pure evil" character that people portray him as.
    This I agree with. I do not believe in the cliche of 'pure evil,' i.e. doing evil for the sake of doing evil. Evil people (and beings) usually feel they are doing the right thing. Once you start seeing people as animals or chattel, normal morality goes out the window. You dismiss harming the chair because it is just a chair. You might preserve it if you feel it useful in some way, but not because of any belief it has a right to exist.

    This is why I reacted as I did to the implication of farming as being slavery. It crosses those lines. Even then we do afford animals certain rights (particularly working animals).

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    I think one issue lies in the fact that we do not have enough information from Tolkien's mind in regards to Sauron's character. To me not all what I know about this character seems 'round'. It appears he joined Melkor because he believed Melkor was one 'to get things done', but Melkor was the very cause of the chaos. To sort trouble by joining in with it just seems to me so.. illogical o.O As it were Melkor's discords which created the chaos, then would this not also mean chaos would remain part of the equation with Melkor continuing to mess about with it? I would have rather expected Mairon to go his own way, which is part of the reason why I suggested maybe he did have his very own hidden agenda, as in trying to force a reroll, or at least to maybe speed up things towards it.

    As a writer I know that one doesn't always get things all round and logical, and one ends hoping the reader will simply not pick up on it. Tolkien very possibly just created this character to show another aspect of 'evil', ergo the one that starts 'good' and succombs, same as with Saruman (plus he needed a reason for Gandalf's delay, in the case of Saruman), but in the process, at least for me, he created a character which doesn't 100% makes sense to my understandings, which of course could just be because I am burdened with pondering many various philosophical dilemmas anyway.

  19. #119
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    With due respect, you compared human slavery with farming non-sentient livestock as if they were equal. Was not sure how to take that.

    You seemed to either be declaring humans to be nothing more than animals, or declaring animals to be sentient life.
    The point is that in Sauron's case he could regard the races of Middle Earth in similar ways to how much of humanity views animals in this world. Would that then put him in the right?

    And what if I would compare one creature able to feel pain and fear with another creature able to feel pain and fear? I am not a follower of Rene Descartes, sorry, not in that I agree with his view that fear and pain in any creature other than a human one, is just an automated response. You of course on the other hand are free to agree with Descartes, or at least free to disagree with my view.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Starina View Post
    The point is that in Sauron's case he could regard the races of Middle Earth in similar ways to how much of humanity views animals in this world. Would that then put him in the right?

    And what if I would compare one creature able to feel pain and fear with another creature able to feel pain and fear? I am not a follower of Rene Descartes, sorry, not in that I agree with his view that fear and pain in any creature other than a human one, is just an automated response. You of course on the other hand are free to agree with Descartes, or at least free to disagree with my view.
    How he looked on them does not change the fact they are sentient. Any sociopath feels the same, a lack of acknowledgement of other people as 'people.' Subjective belief doesn't put one in the right.

    And as I said, in Middle Earth some animals and even some trees *are* sentient and are afforded more respect accordingly. Even in RL animals are shown a certain degree of respect. There are animal rights laws. They don't have as many rights as humans, but they are offered a certain degree of respect. We do know a lot more about sentience and cognitive ability now than we did in Descartes' time.

    The line between what we consider animal and what we consider sentient may seem a bit arbitrary at times, and may indeed be an arbitrary veil of illusion. However it is an important one.
    Last edited by Torweld; Aug 26 2012 at 11:09 PM.

  21. #121
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    How he looked on them does not change the fact they are sentient. Any sociopath feels the same, a lack of acknowledgement of other people as 'people.' Subjective belief doesn't put one in the right.

    And as I said, in Middle Earth some animals and even some trees *are* sentient and are afforded more respect accordingly. Even in RL animals are shown a certain degree of respect. There are animal rights laws. They don't have as many rights as humans, but they are offered a certain degree of respect. We do know a lot more about sentience and cognitive ability now than we did in Descartes' time.

    The line between what we consider animal and what we consider sentient may seem a bit arbitrary at times, and may indeed be an arbitrary veil of illusion. However it is an important one.
    I obviously will remain of the view that any being able to feel pain and fear deserves to not be subjected to such by sentient beings for reasons of selfish motives from the side of the sentient beings (and that any doubt in regards of the ability to feel pain and fear goes in favour of such creatures).. but I am glad to at least recognize another who will do their outmost best to ensure products bought are free from slavery and will support any efforts made in this world to raise the living conditions of other sentient beings who are suffering : )

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    Quote Originally Posted by Starina View Post
    I think one issue lies in the fact that we do not have enough information from Tolkien's mind in regards to Sauron's character. To me not all what I know about this character seems 'round'. It appears he joined Melkor because he believed Melkor was one 'to get things done', but Melkor was the very cause of the chaos. To sort trouble by joining in with it just seems to me so.. illogical o.O As it were Melkor's discords which created the chaos, then would this not also mean chaos would remain part of the equation with Melkor continuing to mess about with it?
    It wasn't the "good v evil" friction that Sauron/Mairon detested. I don't think "good" and "evil" meant much to him as concepts. As he's described a lover of efficiency and logic, I imagine him more like a robot (not that simplistic, obviously) where everything is viewed at face value and the morality of the situation is irrelevant. To that end in a world where families were arguing amongst themselves over jewels and kingship, people were spending more time arguing over trees' rights rather than building things etc Melkor seemed, to Sauron, to have an idea and get it done. He decided he didn't like the trees' light, they were destroyed. He wanted the Silmarils, he got them, and so on. It was Melkor's ability to carry out his plans with seemingly no restraint or deliberation that Sauron liked. Melkor introduced "evil" into the world but I don't know if he is responsible, however indirectly, for all forms of inefficiency and disorder. If he is, you'd be right to say Sauron was a bit hypocritical in siding with him. I think on the face of it though it's a decision that fits what we know about Sauron's character.

    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    This I agree with. I do not believe in the cliche of 'pure evil,' i.e. doing evil for the sake of doing evil. Evil people (and beings) usually feel they are doing the right thing. Once you start seeing people as animals or chattel, normal morality goes out the window. You dismiss harming the chair because it is just a chair. You might preserve it if you feel it useful in some way, but not because of any belief it has a right to exist.
    Melkor pretty much did evil for the sake of doing evil. He flat out hated creation and wanted to corrupt or destroy anything that wasn't his (so he essentially wanted to destroy everything). He is "pure evil" I think in the sense that he is a fictional character specifically created to be the utmost perfect incarnation of evil in the created world. There are other characters too who are far more self serving and greedy than Sauron. The fact that they do not have as great an impact on the story is simply a matter of their ability. As I've said previously I've never read anything to suggest that Saruman turned to Sauron out of anything other than wanting to be on the winning side. He didn't have any grand plan, he just wanted to make sure he was in a position of power when Sauron won. I know Sauron played a big part in bending Saruman to his will, but as I've said there needs to be a seed of envy or cruelty in there already. Saruman was particularly not fond of Gandalf, he envied his wisdom and potential.

    My point there basically is, while there are characters in LotR/ME that have no, or very few, "good" intentions, Sauron appears to at least have that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    How he looked on them does not change the fact they are sentient. Any sociopath feels the same, a lack of acknowledgement of other people as 'people.' Subjective belief doesn't put one in the right.

    The line between what we consider animal and what we consider sentient may seem a bit arbitrary at times, and may indeed be an arbitrary veil of illusion. However it is an important one.
    It is a completely arbitrary distinction, really. We are animals in the exact same way "animals" are. We're &&&& sapiens of the family Hominidae, which is a mammal in the class of Primates, along with various other chimps, gorillas etc. We are, however, far more intelligent (at least on the face of it) and in some ways a "higher being". We seem more aware, more capable and perhaps more powerful than the "lesser beings" we share the planet with.

    This is exactly the same situation Sauron, as a Maia, finds himself in. He's a "higher being" compared with the earthly races he's surrounded by. So perhaps for him to keep and work those races like we do horses and dogs is only natural? Of course those races are as intelligent as we are, but relatively he is more so than them?

    I think that distinction is irrelevant anyway. It is very possible, in my mind, to carry out evil acts on animals. Causing them pain and distress for no reason is cruel and evil. Farming them, I dunno. Killing things is never "nice" but if humans didn't kill and eat we would have died out a long time ago. There are certain (many) things about nature that aren't "morally correct". These days I suppose you could argue that we could live off vegetation and synthesised foods well enough. But then if we did that, cows and chickens would likely go extinct, so that'd be bad too.

    I don't think the farming/keeping of animals in a day to day way can be labelled as evil, really. It is, in some ways, comparable to what Sauron planned to do. Herd and control all the races because he felt they were useless on their own. In his mind he'd probably say it was exactly the same. Which is why I find it hard to say that his intentions were evil. He was capable of immense cruelty and did a great many evil things, but from a detached "this is for the best" position. He had evil traits certainly, he was very willing to do anything and everything that needed to be done to realise his vision. I still don't think he was "evil" deep down though. He did evil things but I don't think that's enough to class someone as "pure evil".
    Last edited by Curandhras; Aug 27 2012 at 12:11 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Starina View Post
    I obviously will remain of the view that any being able to feel pain and fear deserves to not be subjected to such by sentient beings for reasons of selfish motives from the side of the sentient beings (and that any doubt in regards of the ability to feel pain and fear goes in favour of such creatures).. but I am glad to at least recognize another who will do their outmost best to ensure products bought are free from slavery and will support any efforts made in this world to raise the living conditions of other sentient beings who are suffering : )
    I'll go a little further here and say that I am not keen on hunting for sport either.

    As far as hunting for food, though, I refuse to accept the view that carnivores are innately evil. We are omnivores as a species. We have teeth designed for grinding plants as well as others for tearing flesh, and a digestive system designed as a compromise rather than specialized towards processing either plants or animals.

    Sauron was not 'hunting out of necessity' though, nor even really hunting. Not liking the way things are is not the same thing as needing things to be different to survive.

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    All very good points from multiple people. I'm not going to go into too much detail myself, especially since I don't have quotes and statements from Tolkien in front of me.

    Anyway, yes I do belive Sauron in his origin was good. In the true beginning everything was good, even Melkor. However, by "possible" design of Eru, Melkor started to have his pride grow. I mean, I think it would be hard if everyone acknowledged you as the mightiest of Eru's children, sort of like with Feanor. Then as his pride grew, he started to know fear, jealously, revenge, etc. Eventually lust for the Flame Imperishable consumed him. That is until Eru created Arda with it. And as the Silmarillion says when Melkor descended into Arda he was still very mighty, powerful to contest all of the Valar by himself. So seeing his might, many Maiar joined with him, such as the eventual Balrogs, Sauron, Ungoliant, etc.

    I feel Sauron was at this point simply sway to the side where he felt he would gain more power. Under Melkor he would get to exercise his abilities more freely than if he remained with the Valar. Like Morgoth's Ring says, he isn't as sadistic as Morgoth. He's more logical, cunning, and more patient. Yet being with Morgoth would still influence his choices, and practicing necromancy would only further his evil. Eventually when the Valar overthrew Morgoth, Sauron was afraid. While he tried to act nice and calm towards Eonwe, he was scared, and felt he would have to be humiliated by the Valar. So like a child, instead of taking his punishment and learning from it, he went back to what he was doing, and hid himself.

    Come the Second Age, he's brooding evil once agian. While he would never want Arda completly destroyed like Morgoth, he still wanted to rule Elves and Men and Dwarves, so that his "perfect world" could exist. He would still have them live, but under his will, which in a way can turn to worse evil than simply destroying them. And so he become deviant, pretending to be friends to those who would heed them, yet secretly plot their domination. He was so good at this with Men that of course he helped destroy Numenor.

    So overall Sauron is quite evil, and at the point of the War of the Ring there wouldn't have been any chance of redemption from him. As oppose to Gollum who was just mean and malicious as oppose to plain evil. The only time I could see Sauron actually repenting would have been when Eonwe tried to get him to come back to Valinor. But since he didn't, he was too far gone, and like Morgoth, ended up in the Void.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curandhras View Post
    It wasn't the "good v evil" friction that Sauron/Mairon detested. I don't think "good" and "evil" meant much to him as concepts. As he's described a lover of efficiency and logic, I imagine him more like a robot (not that simplistic, obviously) where everything is viewed at face value and the morality of the situation is irrelevant. To that end in a world where families were arguing amongst themselves over jewels and kingship, people were spending more time arguing over trees' rights rather than building things etc Melkor seemed, to Sauron, to have an idea and get it done. He decided he didn't like the trees' light, they were destroyed. He wanted the Silmarils, he got them, and so on. It was Melkor's ability to carry out his plans with seemingly no restraint or deliberation that Sauron liked. Melkor introduced "evil" into the world but I don't know if he is responsible, however indirectly, for all forms of inefficiency and disorder. If he is, you'd be right to say Sauron was a bit hypocritical in siding with him. I think on the face of it though it's a decision that fits what we know about Sauron's character.
    It doesn't matter if good or evil meant anything to him as concepts. By the way, if they didn't, legally he was insane. Not caring about doing the right thing is a definition of evil.

    Melkor pretty much did evil for the sake of doing evil. He flat out hated creation and wanted to corrupt or destroy anything that wasn't his (so he essentially wanted to destroy everything). He is "pure evil" I think in the sense that he is a fictional character specifically created to be the utmost perfect incarnation of evil in the created world. There are other characters too who are far more self serving and greedy than Sauron. The fact that they do not have as great an impact on the story is simply a matter of their ability. As I've said previously I've never read anything to suggest that Saruman turned to Sauron out of anything other than wanting to be on the winning side. He didn't have any grand plan, he just wanted to make sure he was in a position of power when Sauron won. I know Sauron played a big part in bending Saruman to his will, but as I've said there needs to be a seed of envy or cruelty in there already. Saruman was particularly not fond of Gandalf, he envied his wisdom and potential.
    Hating creation and acting on that hate is not the same as doing things for the sake of evil. To be doing things for the sake of evil, he would have to hate creation out of the knowledge that hating creation is 'wrong.' Sauron declared himself the best qualified to govern Middle Earth and went to extreme lengths to do so. That is pretty self serving. Deciding that the fact that you don't see order equates to there not being order and then setting about rearranging society radically (above and beyond simply conquering it conventionally) is self serving. It shows a complete lack of empathy for those he considers 'disordered.'

    My point there basically is, while there are characters in LotR/ME that have no, or very few, "good" intentions, Sauron appears to at least have that.
    To borrow an old saying, "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions." Having good intentions does not make one good. Every dictator I mentioned thought they were doing 'good,' that they were doing the 'right' thing. Napoleon thought that France offered much to the world. Stalin thought that the country had to be brought into order for the common good. Even Hitler really believed 'his' people to be the 'master race,' and worthy not only of more land, but in need of protection from 'inferior' races. Those are all 'good' intentions. Except that the rest of of the world would adopt much of French culture without and despite the war, and despite the fact that many countries have proven that the common good can be served through much less drastic methods, and the Aryan people were not 'superior' in any demonstrable way, and especially not under the kind of threat their leaders believed themselves to be under.

    It is a completely arbitrary distinction, really. We are animals in the exact same way "animals" are. We're &&&& sapiens of the family Hominidae, which is a mammal in the class of Primates, along with various other chimps, gorillas etc. We are, however, far more intelligent (at least on the face of it) and in some ways a "higher being". We seem more aware, more capable and perhaps more powerful than the "lesser beings" we share the planet with.
    The level of awareness matters, though. A human can and does make complex cognitive decisions and can deliberately shape not just their own life, but those of others. An animal has much more limited cognitive ability and for the most part simply exists to survive, doing so by relatively basic rules and with a very limited learning capacity compared to a human. Some species do better than others in that regard, but that and precisely where the line should be is a debate for another board.

    This is exactly the same situation Sauron, as a Maia, finds himself in. He's a "higher being" compared with the earthly races he's surrounded by. So perhaps for him to keep and work those races like we do horses and dogs is only natural? Of course those races are as intelligent as we are, but relatively he is more so than them?
    Not really, no. Based on what we know of Middle Earth, the Maiar are more powerful, but there is no real indication of being significantly more aware. And again, in Middle Earth, the lines are not the same as in RL. Many animals and even some trees *are* aware, and are respected accordingly. Gandalf thanks Shadowfax for his aid, and does the same for the repeated aid from the Eagles. The Rohirrim have great respect for their horses, closer to partnerships. The Elves still on occasion have conversations with the trees, although many have 'gone silent' and fallen into non-sentience since the early days.

    I think that distinction is irrelevant anyway. It is very possible, in my mind, to carry out evil acts on animals. Causing them pain and distress for no reason is cruel and evil.
    And as I have said a few times, the law reflects that. It IS against the law to be cruel to animals.

    Farming them, I dunno. Killing things is never "nice" but if humans didn't kill and eat we would have died out a long time ago. There are certain (many) things about nature that aren't "morally correct". These days I suppose you could argue that we could live off vegetation and synthesised foods well enough. But then if we did that, cows and chickens would likely go extinct, so that'd be bad too.
    Killing non-sentients to eat is considered morally fine. To deem it otherwise would be to declare all natural predators to be 'evil' or 'murderers.' It is my understanding that although farming could be more humane, there are laws requiring the humane slaughter of animals.

    I don't think the farming/keeping of animals in a day to day way can be labelled as evil, really. It is, in some ways, comparable to what Sauron planned to do. Herd and control all the races because he felt they were useless on their own. In his mind he'd probably say it was exactly the same. Which is why I find it hard to say that his intentions were evil. He was capable of immense cruelty and did a great many evil things, but from a detached "this is for the best" position. He had evil traits certainly, he was very willing to do anything and everything that needed to be done to realise his vision. I still don't think he was "evil" deep down though. He did evil things but I don't think that's enough to class someone as "pure evil".
    Again sentience changes the rules. So does necessity. "Farming" sentient beings simply because you don't like how they are in nature is wrong on both levels, regardless of how you feel about animal rights.

 

 
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