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  1. #151
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curandhras View Post
    I think rather we have different definitions of what constitutes "pure evil".
    Agreed.

    But Sauron, master schemer and planner, quickly changed his mind when confronted with Aragorn. That shows reverence and respect for the affect that person can have on you or your plans. He might not like or value Aragorn or his abilities, but it clearly shows that he understands and accepts them. He acknowledges Aragorn's intellect, prowess and life in a way you seemed to be implying Sauron doesn't do.
    You are giving Sauron too much credit. I am arguing that while he does acknowledge Aragorn's abilities, he overestimates them or at least fails to understand them in key areas. Aragorn did not have the ring, nor was intending to have it or use it. Uncertainty of the position of the ring and who might use it were the main thing holding Sauron back. Since no one was planning on using the ring, and indeed it was in the hands of someone who had the strength to resist it but not the power to really wield it particularly well, he was arguably staying his hand unnecessarily. As such, even though the attack seemed rash to you (and to Sauron), it wasn't particularly rash objectively.

    I consider Sauron to be less than pure evil. I agree with Tolkien in saying that very few beings are. He said of LotR:
    Again, we have different definitions. I do not consider motives mitigating in this case. I consider them rationalizing. In some ways, I consider it a greater evil.

    That's irrelevant though, Sauron was trying to further scientific and technological abilities and advancement, not raise a child.
    Incorrect. He was trying to impose advancement. He was unable to accept or respect or understand the process already in place.

    Once again, I am not Sauron, nor am I Tolkien. I can't define 'well spent' for Sauron, because I don't know what his definition of well spent was. I'd hazard a guess though that he held the Silmarils in high regard. The creation of language, letters, the great achievements of the shipwrights, the mountain halls of the Dwarves. This is the potential Sauron saw, I'd imagine. He also saw people killing shipwrights, burning the ships, warring between Dwarves and Elves over nothing more than a shiny rock in a necklace.
    The Silmarils were created before the Elves were socially ready for them. The races were young and still had a lot to sort out, just as the RL world does today. There is war and strife in the real world, too, but it really isn't the same scale or nature as it has been in the past.

    Once again this is applying an analogy to something we don't fully understand. Did Sauron really second guess the purpose of the free races? Did he not know exactly what they were capable of? I think he probably did, advancement and ability seemed to go backwards rather than forwards over the lifetime of Arda.
    The Silmarils were a glimpse of what the potential but it is dangerous to assume that was the final potential. It also may have hinted at the potential of elves, but did nothing of the sort of men.

    This is the wrong definition of chaos, or rather usage of "chaos" instead of "disorder and wasteful friction". (Also I'd argue against the ignition of petroleum within a cylinder being chaotic. The process is fairly predictable. If you were sad enough you could map the heat waves and resulting movement and expansion of the gasses in there. It's not chaos if you can predict it.) The disorder Sauron was against would be the in the building of the engine, "if the end result is an engine, why are you standing around talking about football rather than building it?", for example.
    You are making my case rather than refuting it. Wars are predictable too, when you know everything there is to know about all the elements of that war. Gasoline does explode in an engine though. The explosion is a violent reaction, and akin to war, but it serves a purpose.

    Interesting example. What if the Eru's purpose in this case was to build an engine that would create the perfect football team? Sauron, not knowing this, would remove the talk of football and would change it into an engine that simply runs, not applying its work to the furtherment of football or anything else.

    While it is unlikely that was Eru's purpose, it is also unlikely that Sauron objected specifically to football talk.

    If Sauron ever had any evidence to suggest that inefficiency was superior to efficiency and that things would not be better if everything was more efficient, which is questionable in its self, it clearly wasn't enough for him to decide that he was wrong.
    He assumed inefficiency. He sought a perfectly running engine, but his definition of perfect did not consider what the engine was actually doing.

    He saw that people opposed him in their droves, yes, but he also saw how easily some would completely forgo any morals or beliefs they had and join with him, in some cases directly, in others in the name of Melkor. He wasn't going to change his mind, he was too far gone for that. Further more, what's to say any of the Maiar/Valar were even capable of changing "world views" they held? Or at least at the behest of Men or Elves. Earendil got them involved, yes, but only to fight Melkor, they loved doing that anyway. Certainly the earthly Maia seem pretty set in their ways. Gandalf imposes his will and plan on pretty much everyone he meets. "Frodo, leave your home and head to Mordor, you'll probably die". "Theoden, I don't care if you don't want to risk the lives of your soldiers helping Gondor, do it anyway". "Denethor, shut up." "Aragorn, I think you'd best lead what's left of the Men of the West's armies right up to the black gate..Do it". He doesn't sway or change his mind either, does he?
    He was not just opposed by 'people.' He was also opposed by his peers, by those who did understand that there was a plan. And please.... advising is NOT imposing.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guantan...detention_camp

    (as an aside, misguided utilitarianism almost perfectly describes Sauron's behaviour)
    I said 'most.' There was a lot of knee-jerk reaction to 911, and not just by the US government but also by the people. Just like the situation of Aule, though, that is a discussion for another time, and another board.

    No, of course not. Are you now saying I tried to absolve Hitler? Completely the opposite. I was using him as an example of someone whose beliefes, motives and actions are evil.
    How are Hitler's motives evil, yet not Saurons? Hitler thought he was doing what was good and right and natural.

    Well, in that he specifically states that Sauron had good motives and was not pure evil, I think "misapplying" is perhaps a bit far. The definition of evil does not come into the fact that Tolkien created a character that did evil things but was not himself pure evil.
    According to your definition, but not to mine.

    But we were discussing the Flame Imperishable which encompasses creation of new energy and matter from nothingness. In that contexts it's clear that 'create' refers to the way 'create' is used in the relevant creation story.
    Again we are going to have to agree to disagree.

    Really? Having a child is equivalent to creating a new race, or a new universe? Please, you're being facetious now. The way the Valar and Eru "create" when discussing the involvement of the Flame is quite clearly something that no free peoples can do. The closes anyone got was Feanor in the crafting of the Silmarils, but even they drew on the already existing Trees. Once again, do you disagree with Tolkien over matters concerning his own created cosmology? I doubt you'd disagree with Abraham or Jacob over the number of Arch Angels or how God made the Earth. If someone comes up with a story, creation or otherwise, and defines clear parameters within it, such as the ability of Eru to create, this ability personified or symbolised by a "Flame Imperishable", you can't really argue against those parameters within the framework of the story.
    A new soul. Melkor could transform or reshape a soul, but not create one himself.

    This is part one of what I have been arguing for, you were arguing for quite some time against this, were you not?
    Incorrect. We have been debating whether good intentions are mitigating.

    His RL view is different to Middle earth, Middle earth is not real, however carefully Tolkien worked to ensure it was not "never-never land fantasy" it still is entirely a fictional construct. In Middle earth he created only one character who was pure evil. He excluded the possibility of any other pure evil characters within his works. Sauron is a character within his works. His RL view includes Satan as falling to become pure evil, or at least from what he has said/written about his own views this is all I can assume. He was a dedicated Catholic though, so that corroborates with this idea.
    Are you saying he had a separate definition of 'pure evil' with respect to Middle Earth than with respect to RL?

    Evil or pure evil? We know Sauron did evil things, became the evil thing as far as the freeps were concerned. I think me, you, Tolkien and most other people would agree that a fair few of Sauron's actions were evil.

    Pure evil is different though, it is an absolute state. Black is black, white is white. Anything in between that is neither. You could have 0,0,1 RGB. That would be nearly pure black. It isn't black though. People could argue all day about how close to black it was, and how they couldn't see any difference looking at it. That doesn't overcome the factual statement that is is not black though.

    As a complete divergence, here is Tolkien talking about his world, and how the universe is a work of art, with all Ainur being part of the "creative staff". As we've said before, anyone is free to have their own opinoin on how to better a work of art:
    Pure evil. I am only disagreeing with his (and your) definitions in that regard, not trying to better Tolkien's work.

  2. #152
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    Quote Originally Posted by BirdofHermes View Post
    I beg your pardon? Nothing ofc. I never even hinted at any such subject.
    But you were replying to me, and I had, so I might have misunderstood.

    Well yes, I agree. There are some governments who do seem to listen to people and act on it. However, China, Russia, US and a bunch of Middle-Eastern and Central-African governments do a great deal of immoral deeds to their own and other countries, perhaps enough so to be called evil.
    The US government listens much more than it is given credit for doing. The people themselves are very divided as to the best direction for the country, though (other than the great many who have just become either too jaded to speak or too disenfranchised to feel they have a voice). There are some states that are going out of their way to disenfranchise lately... and that is arguably quite evil... but generally the problem is as much or more with the people as with the government.

    China and Russia have their own internal problems. Russia rushed into democracy rather than easing in, and as a result has a lot of sorting out to do. Both China and Russia have a huge populations to manage (more China than Russia in that). I agree though that they still have a long way to go (and really do need a proper democracy at some point).

    I don't think "many" think running a country is easy. But yes, I agree that demands of people conflict.
    Very much, and there has been a vicious cycle of assuming that more can be had for less without any sacrifices. A great number of people are convinced of that, opposition parties promise that, governing parties try to accomplish that only to realize the limitations, and everyone gets more and more jaded as more and more wishful thinking is promised and not delivered on. But we are getting really off topic here....

    Like with your first quote, you are suddenly brining up issues which have nothing to do with what I wrote. I completely agree with this. I was simply correcting you on the matter of Tolkien mentioning disorder in Arda. Maybe you have me confused with a different debater?
    Fair enough...

    I guess we have a different definition of disorder.
    verb

    [with object] (usually as adjective disordered) disrupt the systematic functioning or neat arrangement of

    To me the situation during a war fits that bill. In the big picture that is; I understand an army itself can be quite well-ordened, but the functioning of all societies involved would indeed be disrupted.
    But it depends on what the 'systematic functioning' is. A certain degree of war and strife are natural to social progress. They are to be avoided, but part of the process is learning how to avoid them better, resulting in a much stronger society at the end of the day. If you remove them outright by sheer force of will, you take away that learning process and end up with a weaker society.

    Where are you getting this information? I've never read it before, neither that the Free Peoples order includes change and progress nor that Sauron's order would fall stagnant.
    Seeing as how The Free Peoples were not progressing much and that pure order is virtually unobtainable even for Sauron, I would daresay you are fabricating these "facts".
    Conclusions. 'Not progressing much' assumes a set short term schedule. If you look at it in terms of RL human history, wars happened all the time as soon as populations grew large enough to start having conflicting borders. Wars got temporarily larger due to technology outstripping the social tools to handle the change (WWI and WWII) but have settled down to a much much smaller scale since.

    There has been growth, and global social development all along the way. There is still a long way to go, but there is progress. It is just hard to see it sometimes in the face of the latest war. Consider, we have gone from the casualty levels of WWII to the point where individual battlefield deaths are news.

    If you use the Bible as an example, you go from 'Thou shalt not kill but killing your enemies are ok (Old testiment) to 'the commandments are really important, avoid killing whenever you can, ideally don't do it at all even if that means you just die (new testiment).

    There was no need to impose order to achieve that kind of development. It was part of the process (or in terms of the Bible, part of 'the plan')

    I agree with that Sauron was too impatient to let it all settle down and that he acted rashly and detached, but I disagree that he didn't acknowledge the order that was already there. He must have, since he used it constantly himself. He crafted in the way of everyone else like he was taught by Aule. He used armies with complex systems of ranks and messengers, like others. He devised a well-ordered language with was extremely similar to both Valarin and Quenya. In everything he did, he used an order which was already present, so he must have acknowledged it. And again, Tolkien never said he didn't see the order present, he just saw too much chaos. He didn't say Sauron saw ONLY chaos.
    I guess the main difference is that to me, the chaos was part of the plan, even if Tolkien himself didn't see it that way.

    Irrelevant to my quote. I was correcting you in saying Eru did not acknowledge any flaws in Arda. He did, hence Dagor Dagorath. But I didn't not say it was completely flawed and beyond any chance of salvation. Simply saying there were flaws and Eru knew them.
    My point was that you are assuming that the restarting equated to an acknowledgement of flaws, whereas I see it as recycling equipment that had served its purpose and was no longer needed.

    It is possible, but in truth I can't think of anyone besides Eru who was able to create matter. Not even Melkor could. No one else could create life certainly, I agree. But I think it went a step further than that, to not being able to create new matter entirely and it being solely something Eru could do.
    But when he passed the flame to the earth, does that mean the earth could create matter? It makes more sense in the interpretation that the earth could create or sustain life on its own.

  3. #153
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Agreed.



    You are giving Sauron too much credit. I am arguing that while he does acknowledge Aragorn's abilities, he overestimates them or at least fails to understand them in key areas. Aragorn did not have the ring, nor was intending to have it or use it. Uncertainty of the position of the ring and who might use it were the main thing holding Sauron back. Since no one was planning on using the ring, and indeed it was in the hands of someone who had the strength to resist it but not the power to really wield it particularly well, he was arguably staying his hand unnecessarily. As such, even though the attack seemed rash to you (and to Sauron), it wasn't particularly rash objectively.
    So he changed his mind for Aragorn, then, respecting his potential to harm Sauron and his plans. It doesn't matter if the attack was objectively rash or not, it is Sauron who was in command and it was not the way he wanted to do things, he made concession for Aragorn.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Again, we have different definitions. I do not consider motives mitigating in this case. I consider them rationalizing. In some ways, I consider it a greater evil.
    Fair enough


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Incorrect. He was trying to impose advancement. He was unable to accept or respect or understand the process already in place.
    Incorrect. Or rather, unjustified. Where do you get the idea that he was unable to understand the process?


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    The Silmarils were created before the Elves were socially ready for them. The races were young and still had a lot to sort out, just as the RL world does today. There is war and strife in the real world, too, but it really isn't the same scale or nature as it has been in the past.
    Before they were socially ready? When would any race ever be socially ready for the creation of anything as awe inspiring as the Silmarils? If someone creates something that even the gods envy, that's pretty impressive in any era.

    The Elves as the young race they were then had a lot less to sort out than they ever did later on, presumably when you're imagining that they'd be more "socially ready".


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    The Silmarils were a glimpse of what the potential but it is dangerous to assume that was the final potential. It also may have hinted at the potential of elves, but did nothing of the sort of men.
    Once again, the creation of the Silmarils was something that even the Valar could not best, or even match. They were pretty much the definition of the pinnacle of craftsmanship.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    You are making my case rather than refuting it. Wars are predictable too, when you know everything there is to know about all the elements of that war. Gasoline does explode in an engine though. The explosion is a violent reaction, and akin to war, but it serves a purpose.
    Well, not really. What do wars being predictable have to do with Sauron opposing waste and disorder rather than chaos?


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Interesting example. What if the Eru's purpose in this case was to build an engine that would create the perfect football team? Sauron, not knowing this, would remove the talk of football and would change it into an engine that simply runs, not applying its work to the furtherment of football or anything else.
    Well in that case Eru was being an idiot. If you want to create the perfect football team your best bet is to found a football club then give it loads of money, not set about building an internal combustion engine.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    While it is unlikely that was Eru's purpose, it is also unlikely that Sauron objected specifically to football talk.
    It is equally as unlikely that I was being literal when I said that.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    He assumed inefficiency. He sought a perfectly running engine, but his definition of perfect did not consider what the engine was actually doing.
    How do you know?


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    He was not just opposed by 'people.' He was also opposed by his peers, by those who did understand that there was a plan. And please.... advising is NOT imposing.
    You're being naive if you're saying that Gandalf never used his power to influence those around him, even passively. Do you really think anyone else could have swayed characters the way Gandalf does? Anyone other than Saruman or Sauron, of course.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    I said 'most.' There was a lot of knee-jerk reaction to 911, and not just by the US government but also by the people. Just like the situation of Aule, though, that is a discussion for another time, and another board.
    Just so I'm clear then, in your mind do motives play a part in whether torture should be considered evil or not?


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    How are Hitler's motives evil, yet not Saurons? Hitler thought he was doing what was good and right and natural.
    Because Hitler's motives were to wipe out any human life that did not fit his view of "perfect", perhaps to improve the world, in his mind, but still, the motives were evil.

    Sauron's motives are to eradicate disorder and wasteful friction, to make the world better.

    Clearly one set is evil, the other is not.

    Both thought they were right, but one of them though he was right in committing genocide, the other though he was right in removing wasted energy.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    According to your definition, but not to mine.
    And also Tolkien's definition, it's his framework we're arguing within...


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Again we are going to have to agree to disagree.
    So here you are disagreeing over the nature of the Flame Imperishable. You are disagreeing with the author on the nature of something the author created. You're disagreeing with a creator over an aspect of his creation. Did you not say that this is wrong, and Sauron was evil for doing so?

    Honestly, you can not debate the nature of the Flame, it isn't real. It is exactly what Tolkien said it was, by definition.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    A new soul. Melkor could transform or reshape a soul, but not create one himself.
    I'd imagine the job of creating the spirit falls to Eru. You'd have to imagine that, since we're told that only Eru can create life.

    You're arguing with Tolkien again here.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Incorrect. We have been debating whether good intentions are mitigating.
    Well, certainly I have, I'm not sure you have the whole time. You were saying his intentions weren't good a bit ago.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Are you saying he had a separate definition of 'pure evil' with respect to Middle Earth than with respect to RL?
    No, I'm saying Tolkien had the ability to impose rules and limitations on his own created world that he could not in RL. The limitation of only Melkor being pure evil.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Pure evil. I am only disagreeing with his (and your) definitions in that regard, not trying to better Tolkien's work.
    pure/pyo͝or/

    Adjective:
    1. Not mixed or adulterated with any other substance or material.
    2. Without any extraneous and unnecessary elements.

    e·vil/ˈēvəl/

    Adjective:
    Profoundly immoral and malevolent.
    Noun:
    Profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity, esp. when regarded as a supernatural force.


    That is my definition of pure evil. Entirely evil, with no facet that is not evil.
    Last edited by Curandhras; Aug 30 2012 at 12:33 PM.

  4. #154
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    But you were replying to me, and I had, so I might have misunderstood.
    Fair enough.



    The US government listens much more than it is given credit for doing. The people themselves are very divided as to the best direction for the country, though (other than the great many who have just become either too jaded to speak or too disenfranchised to feel they have a voice). There are some states that are going out of their way to disenfranchise lately... and that is arguably quite evil... but generally the problem is as much or more with the people as with the government.

    China and Russia have their own internal problems. Russia rushed into democracy rather than easing in, and as a result has a lot of sorting out to do. Both China and Russia have a huge populations to manage (more China than Russia in that). I agree though that they still have a long way to go (and really do need a proper democracy at some point).
    I disagree with the US government part I'm afraid. They are doing such immoral and downright evil things, and have been doing them for a long time. I'm not just saying that because their history is against them in terms of lying to the public. Even recent deeds cannot be just justified, just think of
    - the National Defense Authorization Act: this act of December 2011 gives the government permission to imprison any Citizen without him or/her having a trial or any form of due process and without having to notify anyone about it. They dissapear. It's allowed in the name of "defending us against terrorrism", but really they can lock up anyone they don't like, a reporter, a protestor, a political rival, you name it. It's Guantanamo Bay V2.
    - CISPA: SOPA 2.0, and unfortunately it was passed.
    - any of the "spy" tools like phone taps and house cameras, again in the name of defense against terrorism.

    The US government are giving you so called "security and peace" at the price of freedom or privacy, hence my analogy with the evil Sauron does. He too would have given a stable form of security, but without freedom.




    But it depends on what the 'systematic functioning' is. A certain degree of war and strife are natural to social progress. They are to be avoided, but part of the process is learning how to avoid them better, resulting in a much stronger society at the end of the day. If you remove them outright by sheer force of will, you take away that learning process and end up with a weaker society.
    I agree to a degree, but in this case a "weaker society" would not mean anything because it would be the ONLY society. There are not outside threats that could make it seem weak or strong at all. It'd just be a society in complete isolation until DD.



    Conclusions. 'Not progressing much' assumes a set short term schedule. If you look at it in terms of RL human history, wars happened all the time as soon as populations grew large enough to start having conflicting borders. Wars got temporarily larger due to technology outstripping the social tools to handle the change (WWI and WWII) but have settled down to a much much smaller scale since.
    There has been growth, and global social development all along the way. There is still a long way to go, but there is progress. It is just hard to see it sometimes in the face of the latest war. Consider, we have gone from the casualty levels of WWII to the point where individual battlefield deaths are news.[/quote]
    Oh I agree, and to our world it certainly is true that war brings progress in technology. But unfortunately that is not the case in Tolkien's Arda, perhaps due to the peaceful nature of its author. Even after all those thousands of years, of warring, no real progress was made. It seems that Tolkien was just reluctant to make the inhabitants of Arda as we are; cruel at heart and with a limitless imagination to cause suffering. They didn't go beyond the sword and arrow. Even Orcs, which are arguably the most evil inhabitants of Middle-earth, went no further than poison and torture in wars.



    I guess the main difference is that to me, the chaos was part of the plan, even if Tolkien himself didn't see it that way.

    My point was that you are assuming that the restarting equated to an acknowledgement of flaws, whereas I see it as recycling equipment that had served its purpose and was no longer needed.
    Well...I find that difficult to respond to. On one hand I do think it's good that you have their own thoughts and ideas about this or anything for that matter, originality is a good thing. But going against the author on a subject of his works just seems so odd. Not sure what to say so I'll just go with "Fairy nuff".




    But when he passed the flame to the earth, does that mean the earth could create matter? It makes more sense in the interpretation that the earth could create or sustain life on its own.
    Here I must correct you.
    He passed the Flame into the Void, where the world was then created and the flame was at its heart.
    He did not create the world before sending the Flame, he only showed the Ainur a vision of it.

    "And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be; and those of you that will may go down into it. And suddenly the Ainur saw afar off a light, as it were a cloud with a living heart of flame; and they knew that this was no vision only, but that Ilúvatar had made a new thing: Eä, the World that Is."

  5. #155
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curandhras View Post
    So he changed his mind for Aragorn, then, respecting his potential to harm Sauron and his plans. It doesn't matter if the attack was objectively rash or not, it is Sauron who was in command and it was not the way he wanted to do things, he made concession for Aragorn.
    And I was not disputing that it happened, merely making an objective observation.

    Incorrect. Or rather, unjustified. Where do you get the idea that he was unable to understand the process?
    From the RL history and the process of development of the human race, and the parallels with that of Middle Earth. Middle Earth is a region, but it does have a close enough parallel for comparison.

    Before they were socially ready? When would any race ever be socially ready for the creation of anything as awe inspiring as the Silmarils? If someone creates something that even the gods envy, that's pretty impressive in any era.

    The Elves as the young race they were then had a lot less to sort out than they ever did later on, presumably when you're imagining that they'd be more "socially ready".
    Why would any race split the atom and decide first to destroy two cities, then develop it into electrical generation later, never using the technology offensively again (despite continuing weapons development)?

    Creating a 'great thing' does not mean being socially ready to accept that thing into a society without strife. It normally takes time to adjust to anything new.

    Once again, the creation of the Silmarils was something that even the Valar could not best, or even match. They were pretty much the definition of the pinnacle of craftsmanship.
    No, that is only the definition of a really really impressive work. That does not mean it was the best or most meaningful they could ever produce.

    Well, not really. What do wars being predictable have to do with Sauron opposing waste and disorder rather than chaos?
    If wars are predictable, how can they be chaos? They are as ordered as the gasoline explosion.

    Well in that case Eru was being an idiot. If you want to create the perfect football team your best bet is to found a football club then give it loads of money, not set about building an internal combustion engine.
    Really? So the club would walk to games? You need to think beyond the immediate.

    It is equally as unlikely that I was being literal when I said that.
    I didn't say that you were. I was saying that I consider the more literal view to apply to Sauron's mindset, based on his methods and end goal of 'perfect order.'

    How do you know?
    How do you know otherwise? I am stating my opinions as you are yours. Tolkien can only speak for himself indirectly.

    You're being naive if you're saying that Gandalf never used his power to influence those around him, even passively. Do you really think anyone else could have swayed characters the way Gandalf does? Anyone other than Saruman or Sauron, of course.
    The only times he gave any hint that he might have been were in Theoden's hall and when he rose up as explanation for why he wouldn't bear the ring (Galadriel did similar). Swaying by making persuasive arguments is not the same as using ones power to influence, in this context. He was considered the wisest of the Maiar, yet you seem to be undermining that by suggesting that anyone accepting his wisdom only did so because me made them do so.

    Just so I'm clear then, in your mind do motives play a part in whether torture should be considered evil or not?
    Not in and of themselves, no.

    Because Hitler's motives were to wipe out any human life that did not fit his view of "perfect", perhaps to improve the world, in his mind, but still, the motives were evil.

    Sauron's motives are to eradicate disorder and wasteful friction, to make the world better.

    Clearly one set is evil, the other is not.
    Hitler saw human life not fitting his view of 'perfect' as 'wasteful friction' causing 'disorder.' I fail to see the difference with Sauron.

    Both thought they were right, but one of them though he was right in committing genocide, the other though he was right in removing wasted energy.
    Both thought they were removing wasted energy.

    And also Tolkien's definition, it's his framework we're arguing within...
    If Tokien said Sauron was a 'purely good' but had committed all the same actions, would you still agree?

    So here you are disagreeing over the nature of the Flame Imperishable. You are disagreeing with the author on the nature of something the author created. You're disagreeing with a creator over an aspect of his creation. Did you not say that this is wrong, and Sauron was evil for doing so?
    No. I said Sauron was wrong for disagreeing and trying to change the world based on his disagreements. As I am not trying to re-write Tolkien's works nor his writings, I do not equate the two. Tolkien (and you) are very entitled to your opinions and may actually be right. I just happen to disagree.

    Honestly, you can not debate the nature of the Flame, it isn't real. It is exactly what Tolkien said it was, by definition.
    There has been quite a bit said about the flame, and as I am in the middle of a move I am not currently able to check anything. So I'll concede that you might be right. However it seems to me comments as to 'what Tolkien said' have shifted around somewhat between posters here.

    I'd imagine the job of creating the spirit falls to Eru. You'd have to imagine that, since we're told that only Eru can create life.
    Then Eru isn't hands off. He personally determines all procreation. There is no evidence of that, and there is evidence to the contrary (not the least of which was Aule creating the Dwarves).

    You're arguing with Tolkien again here.
    No, I am debating with you. You may quote Tolkien but you are not Tolkien. And as I have said, I do disagree with Tolkien on some matters (such as the definition of 'pure evil').

    Well, certainly I have, I'm not sure you have the whole time. You were saying his intentions weren't good a bit ago.
    If I did, I misspoke. I have been quite consistently saying that good intentions do not mitigate nor make one 'good' in and of themselves. That is not the same thing.

    No, I'm saying Tolkien had the ability to impose rules and limitations on his own created world that he could not in RL. The limitation of only Melkor being pure evil.
    ...

    He could, but that doesn't mean he gets to define 'pure evil.' He can call a rose anything he wants within his world, but if he describes a rose, it would still smell as sweet.


    pure/pyo͝or/

    e·vil/ˈēvəl/

    That is my definition of pure evil. Entirely evil, with no facet that is not evil.
    "There's a sign on the door, but she wants to be sure,
    Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.
    In a tree by a brook, there's a songbird who sings
    Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven"

    - Stairway to Heaven, Page and Plant

    Again, I do not consider intentions to be mitigating. Hence they do not contradict the definition of 'pure.'

    As I am in the middle of a move, this shall be my last word on this manner for a while. I won't have internet at the new location for a few days....

  6. #156
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    Quote Originally Posted by BirdofHermes View Post
    Fair enough.

    I disagree with the US government part I'm afraid. They are doing such immoral and downright evil things, and have been doing them for a long time. I'm not just saying that because their history is against them in terms of lying to the public. Even recent deeds cannot be just justified, just think of
    - the National Defense Authorization Act: this act of December 2011 gives the government permission to imprison any Citizen without him or/her having a trial or any form of due process and without having to notify anyone about it. They dissapear. It's allowed in the name of "defending us against terrorrism", but really they can lock up anyone they don't like, a reporter, a protestor, a political rival, you name it. It's Guantanamo Bay V2.
    - CISPA: SOPA 2.0, and unfortunately it was passed.
    - any of the "spy" tools like phone taps and house cameras, again in the name of defense against terrorism.

    The US government are giving you so called "security and peace" at the price of freedom or privacy, hence my analogy with the evil Sauron does. He too would have given a stable form of security, but without freedom.
    You are still discounting that many of the people agreed with such acts (especially closer to 911). And the courts have limited said laws and brought them into question.

    Again, I never said the US government does not do evil, nor that it is purely good. I just said it is less evil than it is often accused of being.

    I agree to a degree, but in this case a "weaker society" would not mean anything because it would be the ONLY society. There are not outside threats that could make it seem weak or strong at all. It'd just be a society in complete isolation until DD.
    That means nothing. In the heat death of the universe, there would be no one left to witness the death. That does not make it less dead.

    You seem to be assuming that DD would happen and be successful even with such stagnation. How is that a given? Keep in mind that if your counter is that since it is a prophecy we know it will happen, that Sauron did fail, so it could simply be that the plan was stronger that Sauron.

    Oh I agree, and to our world it certainly is true that war brings progress in technology. But unfortunately that is not the case in Tolkien's Arda, perhaps due to the peaceful nature of its author. Even after all those thousands of years, of warring, no real progress was made. It seems that Tolkien was just reluctant to make the inhabitants of Arda as we are; cruel at heart and with a limitless imagination to cause suffering. They didn't go beyond the sword and arrow. Even Orcs, which are arguably the most evil inhabitants of Middle-earth, went no further than poison and torture in wars.
    Thankfully, war isn't the only engine of progress. And keeping in mind that there was magic (especially in the earlier ages) and relatively low populations, there were fewer catalysts for technological growth. The peoples of middle earth had a starter pack . This bought them time to get settled in, at the cost of temporarily slowing progress.

    Well...I find that difficult to respond to. On one hand I do think it's good that you have their own thoughts and ideas about this or anything for that matter, originality is a good thing. But going against the author on a subject of his works just seems so odd. Not sure what to say so I'll just go with "Fairy nuff".
    Tolkien had just seen WWI and WWII, which were very wide scale wars enabled by new technologies (particularly WWII). He didn't see the post war progress in the world or the diminshment of the scale of war.

    Here I must correct you.
    He passed the Flame into the Void, where the world was then created and the flame was at its heart.
    He did not create the world before sending the Flame, he only showed the Ainur a vision of it.

    "And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be; and those of you that will may go down into it. And suddenly the Ainur saw afar off a light, as it were a cloud with a living heart of flame; and they knew that this was no vision only, but that Ilúvatar had made a new thing: Eä, the World that Is."
    Fair enough. My copy of the Silmarilion is packed so I couldn't check on my own. And now I need to pack this computer...

  7. #157
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    And I was not disputing that it happened, merely making an objective observation.
    Well you originally made that observation as an attempt to disprove Saruon's respecting of Aragon..?


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    From the RL history and the process of development of the human race, and the parallels with that of Middle Earth. Middle Earth is a region, but it does have a close enough parallel for comparison.
    So real life tells you that a ficticious angelic being did not understand the fictitious universe that he witnessed being created?


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Why would any race split the atom and decide first to destroy two cities, then develop it into electrical generation later, never using the technology offensively again (despite continuing weapons development)?

    Creating a 'great thing' does not mean being socially ready to accept that thing into a society without strife. It normally takes time to adjust to anything new.
    Where is your link between atomic science and the Silmarils? In what way was society not ready for the Silmarils? In what way would they be? Other than having one as a star? And how is any of this related to Sauron?



    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    No, that is only the definition of a really really impressive work. That does not mean it was the best or most meaningful they could ever produce.
    This would be true of course, unless they were created in a fictional world in which they were the pinnacle of craftsmanship. Which, by the way, they were and pretty much everyone within that world knew it. You're arguing against a great many things which are inherently facts of Tolkien's universe.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    If wars are predictable, how can they be chaos? They are as ordered as the gasoline explosion.
    Wars aren't literally chaos. And it isn't literal chaos that Sauron was opposed to. I doubt he sat in his dark towers awake at night deliberating over Chaos Theory and it's various implications. He was opposed to disorder and wasteful friction in the day to day running and behaviour of the various races. If you go into an office and see that the management is terrible and the staff are inefficient, you wouldn't try and apply chaos theory would you? It's not literally chaotic. You might say it was chaos, if you used the word in a none literal meaning (if you did that, though, you wouldn't expect people to think you were being literal...). You would go about this by trying to bring everyone under one management structure that was clear, concise and effective.



    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Really? So the club would walk to games? You need to think beyond the immediate.
    Oh come off it. If you're at the stage where you're considering how to build the perfect football team you'd certainly hope you were in a society where buses were readily available.

    You need to think beyond the blindingly literal.



    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    I didn't say that you were. I was saying that I consider the more literal view to apply to Sauron's mindset, based on his methods and end goal of 'perfect order.'
    Engine construction literally applies to Sauron's mind set? Or the ordering of the workers? Or being opposed to football banter?



    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    How do you know otherwise? I am stating my opinions as you are yours. Tolkien can only speak for himself indirectly.
    But we're talking about Sauron, not Tolkien. And as far as I've read in the books and letters there is never anything to suggest that Sauron didn't know what he was working towards or what his subjects would be doing. In fact quite the opposite is implied. He is highly intelligent, highly logical and an excellent planner, a lover of science and reason. I think he'd probably get his ideas pretty well laid out before he set off.



    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    The only times he gave any hint that he might have been were in Theoden's hall and when he rose up as explanation for why he wouldn't bear the ring (Galadriel did similar). Swaying by making persuasive arguments is not the same as using ones power to influence, in this context. He was considered the wisest of the Maiar, yet you seem to be undermining that by suggesting that anyone accepting his wisdom only did so because me made them do so.
    So you believe that other characters, such as Sam or Faramir, could convince Frodo that he should leave the Shire and go to Mordor? Note although he doesn't tell Frodo directly that he will be going to Mordor only Rivendell, he knows that Frodo will end up taking the ring all the way. Is that not evil, to hide that information from someone?

    One of his greatest powers was his ability to subtly influence people. He was the puppet master of the "free peoples" army. He pretty much planned the entire war, even going so far back as installing a Dwarven king (and so army) in Erebor so that when the war came the Easterlings would not have free reign over the northern territories. He bent countless people to his will, be it through wisdom and force of will alone, or more than likely using a fair bit of his innate power too. There are many people who are wise, few who are wise enough to plan an entire war and fewer still who could convince almost every important player within that war (on his side) to do what he said.



    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Not in and of themselves, no.
    What do these words mean?



    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Hitler saw human life not fitting his view of 'perfect' as 'wasteful friction' causing 'disorder.' I fail to see the difference with Sauron.
    No, Hitler really didn't like a race so whipped up fervour and propaganda (that he himself ended up believing) so that he could justify wiping them all out.

    Sauron wanted to remove disorder.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Both thought they were removing wasted energy.
    No, Hitler thought he was claiming the territory Germany deserved and killing all the Jews because he thought they were wrong.

    Sauron thought he was removing wasted energy.



    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    If Tokien said Sauron was a 'purely good' but had committed all the same actions, would you still agree?
    That is a ridiculous scenario. Tolkien was an intelligent man. If he wrote a character like Sauron he would not claim that that character was purely good, since that is clearly not true.

    If he did claim that, I would disagree. If he did claim that, however, he wouldn't be the sort of man who could construct such a detailed and compelling legendarium though, so I'd probably never had heard of him.



    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    No. I said Sauron was wrong for disagreeing and trying to change the world based on his disagreements. As I am not trying to re-write Tolkien's works nor his writings, I do not equate the two. Tolkien (and you) are very entitled to your opinions and may actually be right. I just happen to disagree.
    Tolkien does not have "opinions" about the Flame Imperishable! He invented it. He can not be wrong about something that only exists in a way he describes. Every aspect of the Flame Imperishable, Sauron, Sam Gamgee and all of Ea exists exactly how he decided and described. You can't go and argue that Sam's last name was actually Bracegirdle and Tolkien's opinion on Sam's surname was wrong.



    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    There has been quite a bit said about the flame, and as I am in the middle of a move I am not currently able to check anything. So I'll concede that you might be right. However it seems to me comments as to 'what Tolkien said' have shifted around somewhat between posters here.
    It is sometimes referred to as the "Secret Fire", though it's not clear, at least to me, whether they do actually represent the same thing, or whether it is only the Secret Fire after it's been moved into the heart of the world, or whatever.

    Perhaps this is where the confusion arises.

    'This appears to mean the Creative activity of Eru (in some sense distinct from or within Him) by which things could [be] given real and independent (though derivative and created) existence.'
    That's what Tolkien said about it in one of his letters.



    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Then Eru isn't hands off. He personally determines all procreation. There is no evidence of that, and there is evidence to the contrary (not the least of which was Aule creating the Dwarves).
    Aule's faux pas is the exception that proves the rule that only Eru can make life. Aule nearly destroyed his Dwarves fearing Eru's wrath but Eru said he'd let him off just the one time and they could stay asleep until later. There is evidence that this is the rule, it says so in the Silmarilion.

    So in saying that, I accept that I don't fully understand the way souls are assigned to new bodies. I don't even know if Tolkien had thought about this. All we know for sure is there's a higher plane (where Eru and the Ainur are) filled with all sorts of spirits, and no one other than Eru is allowed to create life. So we need to work within those two rules to come to any conclusion. If we break either of those rules then our answer doesn't work for Middle earth.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    No, I am debating with you. You may quote Tolkien but you are not Tolkien. And as I have said, I do disagree with Tolkien on some matters (such as the definition of 'pure evil').
    You were saying that any two people who have a kid in Middle earth are creating life in that they are creating a new soul. This goes against what Tolkien says about (and in) his work, in that only Eru can do this. So in that sense anything I say on the matter is irrelevant, because it is Tolkien you are going against.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    If I did, I misspoke. I have been quite consistently saying that good intentions do not mitigate nor make one 'good' in and of themselves. That is not the same thing.
    You misspoke pretty consistently and regularly if this is indeed the case but fair enough, it isn't always easy to understand what others mean or make your point clearly in text format. Forums suffer from that.




    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    ...

    He could, but that doesn't mean he gets to define 'pure evil.' He can call a rose anything he wants within his world, but if he describes a rose, it would still smell as sweet.
    Shakespear won't help us here, I don't think. He does not get to define pure evil. He does get to define whether or not any of his characters are pure evil though (since he invents every single part of their being). For example, he could decide that Melkor is pure evil once he's in the world, and that Sauron is not.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    <snip>
    - Stairway to Heaven, Page and Plant

    Again, I do not consider intentions to be mitigating. Hence they do not contradict the definition of 'pure.'
    First Shakespear and now Led Zeppelin? I'm sure Jimmy Page will be happy that you're crediting him for the lyrics too, let alone bringing them to the same table as Shakespear and Tolkien. I'm also sure John Paul Jones will be relieved to see that he is still perennially being denied credit for his part in LZ's songwriting...


    "Sometimes words have two meanings", but we know this. You can see, in fact, that the definitions of pure and evil have quite a few, evil can even be used as a verb or a noun!

    Pure evil, as a phrase, must take the noun form of evil, though. If not it needs a noun after it, like pure, evil, cheese. This would mean that the cheese is both pure and evil. However cheese that is pure evil might not be pure cheese, but it is evil cheese and the evil it is is pure.

    (note, I'm not comparing Sauron to cheese)

    By the definition of pure and of evil, if something is "pure[a] evil[n]" every single aspect of that thing is entirely, absolutely evil. If just one, single, minute part of them isn't, then they are not pure evil. So, for example, if one of them had not just "not evil" but actually outright good intentions, they wouldn't be "pure evil".

  8. #158
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    You are still discounting that many of the people agreed with such acts (especially closer to 911). And the courts have limited said laws and brought them into question.
    They have? Can you perhaps provide a source on that?



    Again, I never said the US government does not do evil, nor that it is purely good. I just said it is less evil than it is often accused of being.
    Well, as evil as governments come anyway, not pure evil ofc.



    That means nothing. In the heat death of the universe, there would be no one left to witness the death. That does not make it less dead.
    I fail to see your point I'm afraid. As I said before, this stagnant heat death of the universe hypothesis on Sauron's rule comes from your own imagining of a pure order concept. Even Sauron could not have an order in that extreme form.



    You seem to be assuming that DD would happen and be successful even with such stagnation. How is that a given? Keep in mind that if your counter is that since it is a prophecy we know it will happen, that Sauron did fail, so it could simply be that the plan was stronger that Sauron.
    Naturally I assume the plan is stronger than Sauron. It's Eru's. Sauron might be a big deal for mortals, but he is less than an ant compared to Eru. All his planning and scheming on Arda are all for naught in the end even if he got his Ring back, because the world is destined for demolition by Eru. It might take another 20,000 years before it happens, maybe 100,000, but it will happen.




    Tolkien had just seen WWI and WWII, which were very wide scale wars enabled by new technologies (particularly WWII). He didn't see the post war progress in the world or the diminshment of the scale of war.
    Sure he did. He was around up until '73, he underwent the fifties and sixties and saw the post war progress. He also witnessed part of the Cold War and how insignificant it was compared to WWI and WWII.




    Fair enough. My copy of the Silmarilion is packed so I couldn't check on my own. And now I need to pack this computer...
    If you're moving house, have a safe trip with the more fragile belongings. And if you're going on holiday, enjoy.



    Again, I do not consider intentions to be mitigating. Hence they do not contradict the definition of 'pure.'
    Here I must again disagree with you, but only on a philosophical level, not a factual.
    I do think intentions are mitigating. Say a man decides to murder 11 people "just because". You can stop him, but only by killing him. An evil act surely, but the intention of saving others would be generally be considered a good intention. Does the decision to kill him make you pure evil?

    "Pure evil" defines that something is absolutely evil without anything else (good or neutral) in it. Sauron, though obviously evil for the most part, clearly still has hints of good in him. Tolkien wrote this many times.
    To call Sauron evil is fine; he is mostly evil.
    But to call him pure evil is something else entirely since he is not devoid of non-evil.
    It would be like calling a person "pure water" because they are mostly made up of water.
    Last edited by BirdofHermes; Aug 31 2012 at 09:10 AM.

  9. #159
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    My grandmother at some point in her life, due to a religion she decided to follow, would point at an aeroplane and declare it was not real. She would say it was an illusion created by an evil entity, aiming to deceive us, and she never went near a plane and even less boarded one, while she held on to that belief. She also refused to believe that man had ever walked on the moon, as neither aeroplanes nor men walking on the moon did fit with her belief system. The implications of any of that being real were uncombinable with her beliefs, same as at the time Galileo's findings and their implications were more than uncomfortable for the then catholic church.

    The research and findings in regards to nature and nurture may lead to implications some find uncomfortable, but can we therefore argue those impacts away? There is clear evidence in medicine how important the influence of 'nature' as well as experiences is to who we are, and subsequently our decisions. I for example saw an interview with a family where the loving family father had suffered an accident, which in turn had left parts of his brain damaged. This damage did not impact on any of his practical functions as in walking, talking, eye sight, but it did howerever impact on his ability to 'feel'. After his accident, he still recognised his wife and child as beings he had known, but he had lost the ability to feel 'love'. He just didn't care for them anymore, and it caused great suffering to his wife. She spoke of how he was like a 'different being', but she still hoped that somehow a miracle would make him change back. He on the other hand spoke with a shrug, saying how she kept telling him how loving he once had been, but that he could not relate to what she was telling him. He had elswise all his memories of their life together, but that 'feeling' part had grown alien to him.
    And cases of full amnesia will change an individual too. The ability to feel are generally not impaired at all in such cases, but how they once felt in regards to certain things or beings, is gone. If their memories do not return, such individuals tend to start out anew in their likes and dislikes, views/beliefs, and the new influences from the point of the amnesia are what impacts and shapes them. They can turn out completely 'different/new' individuals.

    But if this is aso, does that not automatically have to lead to pondering on what basis we do make choices? If influences of nature and nurture are that important that changes in nature (brain functions) or loss of nurture (past influences) can lead to turning an individual we knew, into an individual we don't as such know anymore, what does this tell us about the basis of decision making?

    What governs our social interactions are the laws we put into place to protect us from individuals who without such laws would not decide to consider the well being of another. This ranges from small theft and fraud to murder. Whether we can trace their reasons for what they are doing or not, this does not change that we will protect our societies from collapsing into a state where everyone is free to do whatever they wish, no matter the consequences to others. Whether we can find ways of understanding the why's of their behaviour, and consequently (as some would interprete it) thus could 'excuse' them, is of no relevance other than maybe that some will find it easier to 'punish' someone if they can declare them 'evil' and/or 'able of choice'. It simply makes us feel better, I'd say, but we do not punish them for being 'evil', we punish as a way of prevention, either to scare an individual into abstaining from certain activities, if we can manage to put enough fear of the consequences into them.. or we punish afterwards in hopes this will scare them enough to not re-commit, as well as that we use their punishment again as a method in hopes to scare others. Revenge is not part of any civilized legal system, no matter how much some long for it do be aso.
    But to investigate the impacts of nature and nurture is actually becoming part of our civilized systems, as it has been recognised that if we understand them enough, we have much better chances to rehabilitate offenders. We try to replace the impact of past influences via impacting them with influences which will change their behaviour patterns and in essence to more 'favourable' choices. This is the whole idea of rehabilitation, but it also means that we recognize choices are influenced and not just 'random' or depending on someone being 'good' or 'evil'. It is however not an easy process, as it can be very difficult to in a short time 'reprogram' what could have taken a far longer time to cause the behaviour patterns in the first place, plus 'nature' can not necessarily be 'corrected' in such ways and needs either surgery or medication, and we are still lacking a lot of knowledge and understanding when it comes to what exactly we are dealing with and how to deal with it. But aiming to understand it all is currently a big thing in medicine and psychology.

    If we declare 'free will' as an absolute 'free', then that would imply that any individual at any given time could make any choice in its same probability. But that would also mean none of us had gone - o.O! - had we in the middle of the battle for Gondor suddenly read a passage describing Sauron heading into the Shire to plant daisies in Bilbo's garden. Tolkien of course 'could' have written this, but I wonder whether the Lord of the Rings would ever had been published at all (as long as that passage would have remained). As a writer I know how important it is to get a character 'round'. A character has to make sense to a reader, and events have to make sense in their causality, else readers will go o.O! and call me at best a bad writer, at worst though probably loony.

    The road to evil is often described as the easier one, indeed, but I'd challange that and say this is due to the fact humans are a product of this planet's evolution. They are opportunistic and will instinctively place their own interests over the interests of others. They will by nature aid the interest of their species over the interests of another species, due to base instincts of survival, same as they will do so with their very own individual interests. In cases of panic, due for example a fire in a cinema, most humans will try to get to the exit as fast they, 'the individual' can. Ship records prove that the Titanic was actually a rather rare case due to the captain and his crew enforcing the rule of 'women and children' first, while many other ship disasters prove that men survived in far higher number - due to the fact they had more strength to secure themselves places in life boats. But even the Titanic carries bitter black marks, as preferance was given to the 'rich, upper class', of which the captain would have counted himself as one, but at least he did go down with his ship, also not a given in many ship disasters.
    To 'overcome' the base instinct of survival takes a lot, and many will not be able to do that. In the town of Regensburg many years ago a little child was floating down an ice cold winter river, watched by hundreds of on-lookers. Of course they were touched and cried and all sorts, but it was one Turkish young man who stripped himself of his clothes and jumped into those deadly waters. He saved that child, overcoming his own instincts to stay safe at shore - hundreds of others did not.
    We do like to think of ourselves as 'thinking' creatures, and we are, but that does not mean many base instincts are no longer at play. These base instincts can create 'evil' (as in trampling a child to death while trying to save the self, or to just simply do nothing because a risk seems too high), but these base instincts combined with the ability to think and thus find solutions, also got humanity to where it finds itself currently - the top of the food chain. So these base instincts, while they can become responsible for 'evil' actions, did prove rather 'good' in terms of evolution. Humanity, as I see it, is currently engaged in a struggle to 'outgrow' certain instincts, and I feel progress is being made, but not by all individuals making up humanity at the same pace. Some it appears, find it much harder, but not because they are 'evil', but because the conditions within themselves are not favourable to make this an easy process.
    If you due to whatever influences, may it be nature or nurture, find it hard to bring harm to another, then this will not be your natural choice. So the 'road to evil' is not the 'easier' route for them if we say evil includes harming others, in fact it could even be an impossible choice, to the point where they'd refuse to do so even if their own life depends on it. For others though, the route of 'evil' is the easier route, as maybe (as an example) due to them not being able to overcome selfish interests as they never truly were taught the tools to do so, they find themselves far less equipped to say no to entirely selfish interests. For us to turn around and say we are 'good' because we all alone choose to be good, and nothing ever influenced us to act good, to me is illogical. It may makes us feel all great about ourselves, but I'd say it is not about us feeling great, but looking at it as scientific as we possibly can manage. I think it is important to consider that thinking of one's self as 'good' or 'better' than someone else can tickle the 'ego' quite nicely, and the ego is a powerful thing and likes to be tickled.

    Melkor's 'evil', I'd say, is a case of 'nature'. Would he be an individual of this world, I'd not bother looking for nurture impacts much, but it is the make-up of his very core being which is leading him to act in 'evil' ways. I'd not see it as a choice of his, as I myself can not imagine him joining Sauron to lovingly plant daisies in Bilbo's back garden, and I don't think at any point of his existence, right from the start, he would have gone to do such a thing. To get him to choose actions which would show consideration for anyone but himself, to me would need an intervention from Eru, recreating or changing his core set-up.

    Mairon seems a very similar case to me, albeit also different. I do not think he had a choice as such to for example act like Gandalf, as his ability to consider the feelings of the races of Middle Earth seems to have beeen lacking. His core make-up as well seems to indicate he was 'doomed' to choose actions which did not show consideration for anything but his view on how the races should function within Arda. However, I can not see him to hold that view to just feel 'great about himself'. He looks to me now actually more like Curandhras described him, driven by cold calculations which made 'sense' to him, a form of sense making that did not and could not include feeling for others, thus he never pondered that side and took it into consideration when making his choices.

    Gandalf on the other hand, I can not imagine to even have considered joining with Melkor, as Gandalf was by core nature different to the both above. He too in my view did not have a totally free choice, unless we wish to imagine him mid battle for Gondor to turn around and kill Aragorn. Could he have theoretically? Indeed, but the likelihood of that strikes us so beyond reason, that we can hardly say Gandalf actually had that choice by who he was, nor did Tolkien have a choice to add such a passage, if he wished readers to be able to make sense of his story.


    If there is anybody out there who wishes to believe I am arguing against these characters being 'evil' as in saying "evil is okay, go ahead commit evil acts as much as you like", then rest assured you have not understood me in any shape or form. When it comes to considering the rights of others to not be subjected to suffering, I am actually adding more creatures to that than anyone does who only wishes humans to not be harmed. I am an animal righst activist, just as much as I wish this world rid of unfair trading and whatever else that keeps individuals trapped in poverty and suffering caused by the selfishness of others. I do however not believe in 'demonizing' the 'enemy'. I know from my own world of emotion that demonizing an enmy can make it a lot easier to justify wishing them 'bad' too. Just in simple discussions, I have seen posters try to 'hurt' others by their wordings. It is a very 'natural' reaction, and when we succomb to it, we justify it within ourselves by telling ourselves that the other 'deserved' it, as they were 'wrong', and 'wrong' is not that far away from 'evil', as them not agreeing with us makes us unhappy, and we do not like to be unhappy, so in ergo: Their disagreeing with us is causing us harm, and we are 'hitting back' to have them feel 'hurt' too. In light of this, I actually feel it at times really difficult to even discuss at all, as I know some of what I will put forth will 'hurt' others *sighs* and to confront them with things which they don't like because it breaks into their 'comfort zones' is an eventual choice I make, weighing their hurt against hurt to others which might be coming to harm due to the fore mentioned having a view point and actions consequently arising from those views (oh my, what a sentence >.>).
    But of course, when I say 'choice', I mean it is a conclusion and an action I come to, due to where I find myself currently with my own views, views who have been influenced in a manner to shape them to what they are. I do not have a choice either, if I to make sense to myself and what surrounds me. Just that by who I am, my choices are usually regarded 'morally good'. I count myself 'lucky' that nature and nurture have influenced me in such ways, as are those generally lucky who I encounter. In the case of others though, the 'lucky' part looks a bit different, but still they too are acting according to what shaped them. Should they, if by any chance possible, look closely into their inner mirror and check whether they might be ruled by too much selfishness and what not, and set out to overcome? Certainly I'd wish for them to do that, and some are just a 'nudge' away from it, which hopefully they will receive in form of some experience/influence, setting the ball rolling further down a path we consider 'good', but some are far more than just a nudge away, and all we can hope for (and try to support) is that enough influences will amount to help and enable them to take that look, recognize what we wish them to see, and with this new found understanding will start the journey down on a 'better' path. (If it never gets to that, we can only hope our laws and threat of punishment will keep them at bay).

    In Melkor's and Sauron's case, I do not think there are enough nudges in the whole of Ea for them to even consider looking into some inner mirror, which could lead to them understanding our 'morals'. It would need Eru to change their 'nature', but would I therefore call them 'evil'? No, but I'd call them representatives of an extreme end spectrum of the creation, whose actions I find deeply disturbing and wish would never have come to pass, would it be a 'real world' and not just some story needing them and their actions to make it all 'interesting'.
    Weird actually - we all seem to love this story so much BECAUSE it has this major conflict in it. What hunger drives us to enjoy reading about a terrible war, even if it was just one that only ever happened on paper?
    Think I shall go and ponder that for a bit instead...


    (sorry, I had to wait for free time to forumulate this post, as spending time with my hubby has priority, and the last days I was not able to find that time)

  10. #160
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    @Starina

    You touched several key points I think, like Nature vs Nurture, Core Ideals from Birth, effort of putting off evil, etc. I just wanted to add that I agree with you a lot on those points, actually imagination comes into play when you said "Alternate motive for Sauron", you said its easier for you to comprehend sauron as a Robot for his calculative nature and his logic.

    I think it goes more deeply than that for Sauron or Melkor.

    Mairon and Melkor both used "mischief, trickery, etc" as part of their tactics to plot against free people, that gives an insight of how they actually are:

    The are entities of "angelic" origin according to tolkien, they are different from other maiar and valar in the sense they know how to manipulate, twist things or openly go against the established Order, you can also see than Eru's right hand in Arda is Manwe brother of Melkor but Manwe "couldn't comprehend evil completely" that is why Melkor was so successful in the first age and was able to lure Mairon into his ranks and his lieutenant.

    is an agelic-kind of beign robotic?

    Well seems to me the information goes both ways, angels are supposed to have also "free will" to an extent, so while Sauron is half-robot he is also half sentient of his actions and his goal, an obsessed psycopath with a like for necromancy and undead things...whats the difference between a robot and a zombie for example? Obviously Sauron is complex yet very evil not purely evil but its rational evil, logic and order and just part of his set of skills as an angelic beign.


    Torweld already sumed it up very good analysis, in fact the story is very clear who and why they are the good guys, and why sauron is the bad guy, curand or birdofhermes might give a "blind eye" to it but its part of the ever play of good vs evil, if you support evil makes you evil? ofc it does, does knowing the difference between good vs evil makes you mentally sane, ofc it does too!

    So there you have it, complex or not Sauron is evil, his ways are evil his goal is evil, and he will not be redeemed in the end he is destroyed by the free people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Al. View Post
    @Starina

    Torweld already sumed it up very good analysis, in fact the story is very clear who and why they are the good guys, and why sauron is the bad guy, curand or birdofhermes might give a "blind eye" to it but its part of the ever play of good vs evil, if you support evil makes you evil? ofc it does, does knowing the difference between good vs evil makes you mentally sane, ofc it does too!
    Of course Sauron is the "bad guy". No one has ever denied this...

    Quote Originally Posted by Al. View Post
    So there you have it, complex or not Sauron is evil, his ways are evil his goal is evil, and he will not be redeemed in the end he is destroyed by the free people.
    His goals are evil? Are they?


    EDIT: Starina, that's a very long and very good post, I'll reply to that when I have enough time to give it the reply it deserves!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Al. View Post
    Torweld already sumed it up very good analysis, in fact the story is very clear who and why they are the good guys, and why sauron is the bad guy, curand or birdofhermes might give a "blind eye" to it but its part of the ever play of good vs evil, if you support evil makes you evil? ofc it does, does knowing the difference between good vs evil makes you mentally sane, ofc it does too!
    I'm sorry, but where did I ever turn a blind eye to Sauron being evil? I know he's evil, I'm just saying he isn't pure evil.



    So there you have it, complex or not Sauron is evil, his ways are evil his goal is evil, and he will not be redeemed in the end he is destroyed by the free people.
    After all these thread pages of being demolished by logic, are you still trying to claim his goal is evil?
    I'm sorry, but then you're living in your own little reality, even Tolkien said many times his original goal was a good one. You're not arguing with us, you are arguing with Tolkien about his own ideas.
    Last edited by BirdofHermes; Sep 01 2012 at 09:28 AM.

  13. #163
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    @ AI.

    You know what I feel it is happening? I think it is becoming clearer that the whole reason we are debating here is due to our definition of an 'evil individual' (when it comes to 'actions' we all seem to pretty much do agree, I believe). In your post, I see an important puzzle piece being brought forth. Your definition of an evil individual seems to be, an individual that due to its complete core structure is doomed to commit what we call 'evil acts'. I'd even go as far as to say a 'true evil being' for you is one that can not be 'corrected' other than through the intervention of a 'god', by basically recreating it 'differently' to how it was created in the first place. A sociopath at present would probably come the closest in our reality to your definition, I assume, but if one day medicine is able to 'correct' whatever disables them to 'feel' with others, you'd probably not perceive them as evil anymore. An 'angelic' being however, as we all I think agree those Ainur are, could never be changed through any other intervention, but one of its own god/creator.

    My definition of an 'evil individual' however is a being that can 'choose' 'evil' 'freely', which due to the influence of nature and nurture in my view makes it almost impossible for any totally evil being to exist. It would mean to me an individual that would choose 'evil' all the time, while having both options to its full understanding available. It means a being that knows and agrees and can relate to our definitions of 'good', an individual which will hear a tiny little voice in its 'head'/'soul' whatever say "you know what you are about to decide to do is not good...", but then decides to ignore it because it wants to go the selfish path. A sociopath is missing that tiny voice, so to me he or she does not 'decide' to do something bad. They propbably understand that 'we' don't want them to do something, but 'we' are not important to a sociopath, other than that we are a pesky nuisance with our laws and threats of punishment. If they think they know a way to get around our laws and punishments, then they will act 'evil' to satisfy a lust for something which we simply can not relate to.
    Is a sociopath a terrifying creature, capable of the most evil acts? Oh yes, to me 100% terrifying, for it knows no 'mercy' as it can not even understand the concept of applying such things to another being, but is it itself evil by my definition? No.

    In Tolkien's story, to me the only being I can think of the top of my head in regards to my definition of 'evil', is Saruman. He appears to me a being which understands 'good', agrees with it, but then decides against it because he chooses to side with Sauron as he believes this will best serve him. I would imagine him truly pondering, weighing, 'hearing' that tiny little voice, but then shrugging and saying to himself "but I want to be on the winning side, so pfft". It is a somewhat illogical part of the story to me, as he should have known Eru will eventually get involved again (remaking Ea and all that), and that therefore Sauron could never be the 'winning side' on the long run, but I accept Tolkien just needed Saruman for other reasons in the story, and thus I don't ponder Saruman's 'stupidity' too much. But as an individual, to me he comes the closest to 'free choice', and consequently choosing the 'evil path', although the very fact he envies Gandalf also indicates there are 'emotions' beyond his control at play within him, which sort of means to me that even he is not in absolute control of himself - and ergo his choices.

    So looking at all this, in my definition - all of us, who can make informed choices, and 'know deep within' when we are about to decide on something that by our own understandings is not 'good' but selfish, then though decide on it anyway - are a 'bit evil' at least. Not absolute, as there will be many moments where we will choose what is 'good' and will listen to that 'tiny voice' (Jiminy Cricket comes to mind >.>), but each time we ignore it or set out to make up excuses for ourselves, that is when we step over a line we ourselves have agreed exists.
    As such, I myself slip, for example when I buy a chocolate bar because I crave one, and because a shop either doesn't have chocolate certified free of slavery, or because I am a bit short of money for the more expensive slavery free chocolate.. when I pick up a different bar - then I KNOW BETTER but I allow my selfish cravings to win over me. I have the 'tools' available to fight my cravings.. I have the knowledge of what terrors can be connected to the harvesting of cocoa.. I agree that supporting an industry which does only work on profit but does not care for the well being of those who harvest the ingrediences for their products, is WRONG - but sometimes I am simply too lazy to set out to battle my selfishness, and in those moments I am 'evil' (by my definition), and it does happen, so I'd never claim I am really 'good', as I know at times I can definitely slide into the realms of the other.

    I think this is what Torweld hick-uped over when he said we are to double check ourselves and what not, and even though I wrote that long post about 'free choices' and such like, which could be seen as me disagreeing with him - I do not disagree with him on that all those of us who are in agreement and understanding of what is 'good', have a duty to also live up to those values, and not just when it 'suits' us. Most 'criminals' are lacking the tools to assert control over their selfishness, ergo they end committing crimes for which they become accountable by our laws. Many of us however will never commit such 'obvious' crimes, but we will 'sin' (and I am not talking about sin in any religious manner).
    If you can not imagine yourself working in a slaughter house or in a laboratory where animals are experimented on, because something within you cringes upon the very thought, then deep within some part of you judges it as wrong to cause such suffering. If you then nonetheless happily benfit from what is happening in places like that, you are in my view no longer in a position to regard yourself as 'good', but slide as well. Rene Descartes on the other hand, as it seems, truly believed that beings other than humans can not feel pain. This was what enabled him to nail a cat on to a board while it was still alive, and to cut it open to have a look at its beating heart, totally disregarding its wails in its horrendous suffering, as to him that suffering simply did not exist. If you can not do what Descartes was able to do to a cat, including your own, then this should lead to you asking yourself 'why' can't I. If you can not come up with any answer which does not include some selfish gain reasoning (like but I want that animal tested shower gel more because I like its smell more/I like meat and will ignore scientific findings which say I don't need THAT much of it, if any at all) then well.. I'd say you know that's not really 'good' and doesn't make you very 'good' if you do not from then on take this knowledge within yourself as a basis for your choices.

    I would say this is where Torweld and I and probably all of us here agree, that being able to 'think' carries a responsibility, but at the same time to what degree we are able to think and 'how' we think about something is a product of influences, which can make it so complicated to bring us all under 'one hat' (and makes me always write so much, as I just do not find myself able to press it into just a few lines >.<)

    But to summurize by personal definition once again:

    Melkor/Sauron = to me not 'evil' as in that they are lacking the ability to understand our version of 'good'
    Saruman = not totally evil, but to me he surely understood 'good' in the ways the Valar would have defined it, and him I COULD imagine changing sides mid battle just to self serve himself, while again hearing a tiny voice saying "eh Saru darling.. you and I both know you are just acting selfish again..."
    Humans = very slippery grounds, but I'd say a simple rule can help: If you do not wish something done to yourself - may it be to be disrespected, hit, stolen from, betrayed, lied to, abused, killed, whatever - then don't do it to others either, unless you truly believe they can not feel pain or fear in any shape or form. If you have any doubt about their abilities to feel such things, apply the benfit of a doubt rule and don't take the risk. If you will subject them or support having them subjected to whatever you'd not wish to be subjected to yourself, for the simply reason that it suits your own selfish 'wants' (not 'needs' as else none of us could even take a step through grass, which of course enters ludicrous and impossible realms), then to me you are slipping into evil. To check whether you'd not like something done to yourself by imagining it happening to you, is something any 'normal' thinking and feeling human is capable of, no matter the influences of nurture (unless they have led to certain personality disorders, including anti-sovial behaviour patterns, in which case individuals need help/curing, and we do not consider them 'normal'). I do agree with Torweld that we should not simply white wash ourselves and avoid responsibility, and hope this is what he was actually referring to.
    Still though, even within the parameters of 'normal' some will find it easier than others to follow that simple rule, and I doubt many will ever be able to truly reach 'perfection' in living up to that rule at all times. But this is where we have to realize that we are not simply 'good' because we like to believe this of ourselves. If we wish to call ourselves 'good', then we have to keep at it, and this might be what Torweld was referring to when he mentioned that 'road to evil' quote. It takes effort to aim to be good in all aspects, not just those which come natural to us anyway. 'Good' is not a case of 'pick and mix', and we should test and check any other rule we might wish to apply against that very simple rule of 'if I don't like it done to myself, I should not be doing it to others', to see whether we might just like that other rule because it allows us to act in ways we 'want' to act (and yes, I do talk about things like 'man's right to dominate all of creation' and similar). Those are very convenient rules that we can use to justify selfish and even instinctive choices, so we should double check deep within ourself whether we really believe them, or whether it is more that we 'like' to believe them as they allow us to remain selfish...

    Btw, this post was obviously not as such directed at AI specifically, and any 'you' used in it was used as in an 'overall you', aside from a few specific referrances to his post.


    @ Curandhras

    I always feel terrible writing so much, forcing all those rows of letters upon others, but I am glad you are still reading, as your contributions have definitely helped me a lot to formulate certain thoughts more clearly (as of course have the contributions of others as well, regardless of agreement or disagreement) ^^


    Don't get much sleep though these days, partly due to this discussion >.> lol >.<

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    EDIT:This post is incredibly long and not very interesting. Please feel free to skip it entirely.
    EDIT2:It's also full of terrible spelling and grammar, I'll get round to sorting that out, I promise...


    Quote Originally Posted by Starina View Post
    <snip>
    I agree with all this, most of it is factual anyway. All good stuff none the less. In the case of rehabilitation/"correction" of people who do wrong things, be it morally or unlawful, IRL there are people who this just doesn't work for. Some people just don't respond to the"threats" of a legal system, don't care enough about life (others' or their own) to change. Some don't understand what's going on, in cases where mental stability isn't quite what it could be there are people who can't be "corrected" because they can't comprehend why what they were doing was wrong.

    I'd think Sauron (if he was alive now.. as a man.. pretty unlikely scenario but there we go) would probably fit into that category. If you managed to arrest him and keep him locked away for a while, I don't think it'd change him. He's far too set in his ways to be brought around to normality or "good" again.

    Quote Originally Posted by Starina View Post
    If we declare 'free will' as an absolute 'free', then that would imply that any individual at any given time could make any choice in its same probability. But that would also mean none of us had gone - o.O! - had we in the middle of the battle for Gondor suddenly read a passage describing Sauron heading into the Shire to plant daisies in Bilbo's garden. Tolkien of course 'could' have written this, but I wonder whether the Lord of the Rings would ever had been published at all (as long as that passage would have remained). As a writer I know how important it is to get a character 'round'. A character has to make sense to a reader, and events have to make sense in their causality, else readers will go o.O! and call me at best a bad writer, at worst though probably loony.
    If it was absolutely free you're right that anyone could make any choice at any time. Completely mathematically the probability probably is exactly even. Obviously though when the model is built up to include personality, surroundings, history etc certain choices become more likely, others less likely etc. I think it's entirely possibl that Sauron could have cropped up in the Shire to give the Gaffer a hand in Bilbo's garden. He had the freedom to do that I think, had he wanted to. Like you say though there's no reason for that to happen. He wouldn't want to do it, it doesn't make sense to the reader, probably wouldn't even make sense to the character.

    Absolute free choice would only suggest that there is the potential to make any decision, not that they are all equally as likely. I could go and paint my roof orange now if I wanted. It'd go against the various regulations in place on what we are/aren't allowed to do to our houses around here (like planning permission++ designed to make sure no one does anything silly like painting their roof orange). No one would physically stop me though, the rules certainly wouldn't physically bar me from doing it. Obviously though I don't want to do it, I like my roof "tile colour". I don't think the fact that I am highly unlikely to do it means my freedom of choice is hampered though. I could choose to do it, if I wanted.

    Quote Originally Posted by Starina View Post
    The road to evil is often described as the easier one, indeed, but I'd challange that and say this is due to the fact humans are a product of this planet's evolution. They are opportunistic and will instinctively place their own interests over the interests of others. They will by nature aid the interest of their species over the interests of another species, due to base instincts of survival, same as they will do so with their very own individual interests. In cases of panic, due for example a fire in a cinema, most humans will try to get to the exit as fast they, 'the individual' can. Ship records prove that the Titanic was actually a rather rare case due to the captain and his crew enforcing the rule of 'women and children' first, while many other ship disasters prove that men survived in far higher number - due to the fact they had more strength to secure themselves places in life boats. But even the Titanic carries bitter black marks, as preferance was given to the 'rich, upper class', of which the captain would have counted himself as one, but at least he did go down with his ship, also not a given in many ship disasters.
    As a race we've imposed quite a lot of guilt upon our selves for behaving in the way nature intended us to. The idea that we are now far advanced enough and intelligent enough not to act purely on instinct and survival is a fair one, I think. We've moved on enough that in day to day life you can function on intelligence, emotion etc. You don't have to fend for yourself or your family in the day to day. There are times, like you say, when instinct takes over though. It's very hard to ignore your instincts when the situation requires them though, if anything I think they're probably not meant to be ignored. Like you say the way evacuations used to be handled on a grand scale, favouring upper classes etc, was a broad kind of "suggestion" to most people. The individuals who weren't being "favoured" or not being let on for whatever reason would still be fighting to get off/out alive, even if they were being told to wait.

    Many simulations have been done of people escaping from burning buildings, bomb threats etc. One or two of the professors at my university have dedicated pretty much their entire academic career to these simulations and one of their most surprising discoveries was how very, very easy it is to model humans in these sort of situations given how complex they normally are. Usually a huge number of things have to be taken in to consideration to accurately model human behaviours, but in this sort of "instinct driven" scenario there's very few variables you need. "The door", "the fire", "my family" are pretty much it. Once you have those three locations set its alarmingly easy to model hundreds and hundreds of people. It's almost like the people work as machines, they get to the door, nothing else. Very little else concerns them, injuries to themselves or others don't tend to slow them down, whatever chaos is going on around them is mostly ignored unless it directly impacts on them getting out of the door (and getting any family out with them).

    In these sort of situations where people are working on "auto-pilot" lots of people will do lots of things that, if they were pre meditated, would be considered "wrong" or "evil" by most people. Like you say trampling over people, leaving others to injury/death. There are even some situations where people will kill others to save themselves. If there's some sort of "you or me" situation and surival instincs take hold, it is (according to people who have experience/studied this, not personal experiance) apparently very easy to kill someone else. Not "easy" physically, that obviously depends on the two people involved. More mentally, once your brain goes into the "I'll die if I don't do XYZ" mode, you can do things before you've even realised what it is you're doing. Killing others almost by "accident" in this way is actually pretty common in situations where it's relevant, apparently. Once again this isn't personal experience or first hand knowledge but as I say I've talked with/read a lot of stuff by professors who've studied and modeled this behaviour for a very long time.

    The point of all that was one of premeditation. The act of killing is wrong, I think. I don't think many would disagree with that. However if somone's in a hostage situation and it becomes apparent that whoever has taken the hostages is about to kill them/blow up the building/etc. I think we'd probably all forgive one of those hostages for killing the "enemy". Obviously I can't speak for anyone else, if anyone reading this disagrees then I have no problem with that. I wouldn't try and argue against what is entirely someone's own opinion. Is that person in the wrong then? He has killed another human being. In doing so he's saved his own life and a few others' too. I'd be tempted to say he did the "right thing". Unusual that taking another life can be right. So then are motivations/objectives not important? Some were arguing that the movivation or ends behind actions are not important. I feel I have to disagree here, simply because as instinct based animals there are situations where humans will kill other humans simply because they are surviving. If survival becomes "evil" and "wrong" we, as a race, are entirely evil and wrong. All we've done for however many tens of thousands of years is survive. We do it much more politely these days and as I say there's rarely fights to the death purely based on surviving, at least not in "developed" countries. Still though, I must say I think motivations and context are of utmost importance when judging actions and the nature of the person carrying them out.



    Quote Originally Posted by Starina View Post
    To 'overcome' the base instinct of survival takes a lot, and many will not be able to do that. In the town of Regensburg many years ago a little child was floating down an ice cold winter river, watched by hundreds of on-lookers. Of course they were touched and cried and all sorts, but it was one Turkish young man who stripped himself of his clothes and jumped into those deadly waters. He saved that child, overcoming his own instincts to stay safe at shore - hundreds of others did not.<snip>
    I agree again here, in fact I've pretty much wrote the same thing out above in this post, sorry about that...

    I think this "road to evil being easier" thing is born of religion more than anything else. It is very easy to take actions which will be considered, by those who like to consider, as following the path to the "dark side" or whatever. This is particularly the case when so many of these actions are the "best" ones to take, in a completely instinctive way. Looking out for yourself first, being "greedy", it's pretty much what we're programmed to do. Once you put together a set of rules that try to make humans into perfect altruistic beings and hold this up as "good", obviously most people by comparison will be seen to be leaning towards "bad". The easiest course of action is usually the one that accomplishes what you want with the least effort. That will rarely involve helping others along the way, since that is inherently more difficult than ignoring them completely and just sorting your self out. I don't mean to say that this sort of selfish behaviour should be forgiven. Once again, in our current state of society and development we don't need to behave like this any more. All I am saying is that to expect people to completely forgo the way they are "designed" or evolved to behave is unrealistic and unfair. Obviously we are able to impose limitations on our instinctive selfishness. We don't kill other people because we want their food any more, at least most of us don't. To see this selfish streak shining through in people though isn't surprising and really I don't think it should be frowned upon too much. Perhaps the mantra should read "the road to instinct is easier".


    Quote Originally Posted by Starina View Post
    Melkor's 'evil', I'd say, is a case of 'nature'. Would he be an individual of this world, I'd not bother looking for nurture impacts much, but it is the make-up of his very core being which is leading him to act in 'evil' ways. I'd not see it as a choice of his, as I myself can not imagine him joining Sauron to lovingly plant daisies in Bilbo's back garden, and I don't think at any point of his existence, right from the start, he would have gone to do such a thing. To get him to choose actions which would show consideration for anyone but himself, to me would need an intervention from Eru, recreating or changing his core set-up.
    I completely agree that Melkor is inherently evil. It helps that he is a fictional creation and is almost defined as such. His very being is hate and evil. He was completely self serving, acting only to destroy or twist that which everyone else had created. Being "good", helping others, being selfless just isn't something he would ever do, it isn't in his make up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Starina View Post
    Mairon seems a very similar case to me, albeit also different. I do not think he had a choice as such to for example act like Gandalf, as his ability to consider the feelings of the races of Middle Earth seems to have beeen lacking. His core make-up as well seems to indicate he was 'doomed' to choose actions which did not show consideration for anything but his view on how the races should function within Arda. However, I can not see him to hold that view to just feel 'great about himself'. He looks to me now actually more like Curandhras described him, driven by cold calculations which made 'sense' to him, a form of sense making that did not and could not include feeling for others, thus he never pondered that side and took it into consideration when making his choices.
    I think certainly Mairon was far less compassionate than Olorin or any of the "good" beings. He is always described as a lover of science and logic. Perhaps to him emotions were just distractions that got in the way. That isn't to say he didn't feel though. He have huge amounts of hate, anger vengefulness etc inside him. He certainly responded to these emotions and acted on them, perhaps because they are much more personal than the fairer emotions. Those emotions can be completely inside you in a way that compassion, love etc maybe can't. The "good" emotions are two way things usually, you interact with others through them. The "bad" ones tend to involve far less interaction. If you hate someone you don't talk to them about it every day. It doesn't "slow you down" in the way that caring for others "slows you down", at least that's how I'd imagine Sauron saw it.

    I'm not sure whether I agree that Mairon was "doomed" to be evil though. He began good, studied under a respected, wise, skilful "good" (albeit disobedient) Vala. Perhaps his consuming love of order doomed him to be cold, he'd never be "friendly". I think Melkor was the one that doomed him to evil though. Perhaps you're right in saying Sauron's nature meant he'd always have joined with Melkor. Although I think it is his second master's corruption and influence that turned him evil and doomed him to that fate rather than his own "core".

    I do think you're right in saying he did very little simply to "feel good about himself" or to gain power for power's sake. Melkor certainly loved everyone to know he was the big bad enemy. Feanor dubbing him Morgoth Bauglir probably secretly made his week. Obviously I agree with the bit where you're agreeing with me. I do think if something wasn't useful or wasn't furthering his plan he wouldn't bother. Clearly to execute his plans he'd need power and enough "fame" or respect to command other leaders. I don't think he was ever in the business of power grabbing though. Taking over land and become more powerful was a means to his end, not the end itself.


    Quote Originally Posted by Starina View Post
    Gandalf on the other hand, I can not imagine to even have considered joining with Melkor, as Gandalf was by core nature different to the both above. He too in my view did not have a totally free choice, unless we wish to imagine him mid battle for Gondor to turn around and kill Aragorn. Could he have theoretically? Indeed, but the likelihood of that strikes us so beyond reason, that we can hardly say Gandalf actually had that choice by who he was, nor did Tolkien have a choice to add such a passage, if he wished readers to be able to make sense of his story.
    I'm unsure to what extent the Istari were a tool of the "light". The fact that all but Gandalf "fell" to different extents seems to suggest that they were free to do whatever they wanted. Gandalf's position as the wisest and noblest amongst them combined with his dedication to "the cause" prevented him from failing. I'm not sure that he wouldn't have considered joining the "evil" side though. I don't mean to say that he ever thought he would do it, I mean to say that he would be able to entertain the thought. I can consider joining an "evil" organisation on Earth (whichever particular organisation fits the bill best for you is probably a personal thing), I'd never do it, any consideration would be very brief, but I can consider it. I'm doing it right now simply by writing about it. I do think Gandalf and the other wizards were completely free in their choices, simply Gandalf was almost "perfect" in so much as he hardly ever made a "bad" choice. Killing Aragorn is something he could quite easily do, but it wouldn't help his cause in the slightest. He was waging a war against Sauron and for that Aragorn was very useful as a figurehead an ally, killing him would really ruin the plan. Added to that I do believe that Gandalf cared for his friends, or "acquaintances". I think his feelings were certainly a major consideration in his "life". I don't think they'd ever get in the way of him doing what he needed to do though, certainly not in a big way. The difference between him and Sauron is that if Gandalf did something evil or wrong, he'd feel bad about it afterwards.


    Quote Originally Posted by Starina View Post
    If there is anybody out there who wishes to believe I am arguing against these characters being 'evil' as in saying "evil is okay, go ahead commit evil acts as much as you like", then rest assured you have not understood me in any shape or form. <snip> I know from my own world of emotion that demonizing an enmy can make it a lot easier to justify wishing them 'bad' too. Just in simple discussions, I have seen posters try to 'hurt' others by their wordings. It is a very 'natural' reaction, and when we succomb to it, we justify it within ourselves by telling ourselves that the other 'deserved' it <snip>
    I count myself 'lucky' that nature and nurture have influenced me in such ways, as are those generally lucky who I encounter. In the case of others though, the 'lucky' part looks a bit different, but still they too are acting according to what shaped them. Should they, if by any chance possible, look closely into their inner mirror and check whether they might be ruled by too much selfishness and what not, and set out to overcome? <snip>
    I apologise for so ruthlessly cutting your post up. I have no idea how long this post is going to be with only my own comments though. I am probably responding to more than I've quoted in most cases so if anything seems out of place or "random" to anyone reading this once again I'm sorry for that.

    You're right though. Disagreeing with the accepted "normal" of Sauron being pure evil does seem to be seen as defending Sauron in some way. I have never tried to do this, I argue only against the idea that he is "pure evil" and that his motives were evil. From your posts it's clear that you're not defending Sauron either, the same goes for Hermes.

    I've fallen into the "demonising the other poster" trap a fair few times myself. I'm not always as diplomatic as I should be on the internet.

    Quote Originally Posted by Starina View Post
    In Melkor's and Sauron's case, I do not think there are enough nudges in the whole of Ea for them to even consider looking into some inner mirror, which could lead to them understanding our 'morals'. It would need Eru to change their 'nature', but would I therefore call them 'evil'? No, but I'd call them representatives of an extreme end spectrum of the creation, whose actions I find deeply disturbing and wish would never have come to pass, would it be a 'real world' and not just some story needing them and their actions to make it all 'interesting'.
    Weird actually - we all seem to love this story so much BECAUSE it has this major conflict in it. What hunger drives us to enjoy reading about a terrible war, even if it was just one that only ever happened on paper?
    Think I shall go and ponder that for a bit instead...
    I do think Melkor is "pure evil". Everything about him is bent toward corruping and harming others or their creations. His means and ends were dedicated to destruction and pain.

    Sauron, clearly, I don't think was. His actions certainly but not his entire being. You're right, I think, in saying there's nothing that could have changed him. I think Melkor is perhaps to blame for that.

    I think perhaps the reason we enjoy Tolkien's work so much is the shining good that comes through the terrible war. One of my favourite scenes in the films is Sam's speech at Osgiliath. I think that speech perfectly sums up why I enjoy Tolkien's works so much.



    Just a comment on your other post (the @Al one). I do think Melkor is capable of understanding good. I think he knew exactly what it was and he hated it. Everything that was "good" was the antithesis of everything he was. For that reason I do think he was completely evil, although that does depend hugely on our repsective definitions of the word.
    Last edited by Curandhras; Sep 02 2012 at 02:19 PM.

  15. #165
    Nothing in its beginnings is fully evil, I believe that JRRT (via Gandalf) said something to that effect.

    WRT Melkor, it means that he was not evil in his beginnings nor was he created to BE evil or to fulfill the role of villain. To make the argument that he was runs us into issues of intentionality and morality on the part of Illuvatar... which is why JRRT does NOT make it.

    Melkor starts down the path that he takes through desire--the desire to know and do things that only Illuvatar can do. This desire turns to jealousy and, fueled further by pride, turns into the will to dominate and control--which is, in my mind, what JRRT sees as THE ultimate evil.

    Melkor/Morgoth is ultimately a nihilistic character because he CANNOT dominate and control everything, but he CANNOT be satisfied with less... what he cannot dominate/control he will destroy--even, in the end, the very tools he tries to use (orcs, trolls etc), the very fabric of the world, itself and, ultimately, himself. If he cannot have it, no one can... if it will not serve him properly, if it is a flawed (from his perspective) tool, it is useless and will be destroyed. He is entirely self-centered.

    As such, Melkor is, in many senses, not as evil as Sauron--or perhaps, his evil is SO extreme that we truely lack reference for and understanding of it. We only glimpse a pale reflection of it, as if in a glass, darkly.

    Sauron is a much more mundane and understandable evil, as his is essentially a human evil writ large by his power and nature. He does what we would do, if only we could (and were so inclined). It is stereotypical and seems simplistic because it is Archetypal--and we lack the detail and narrative to see more of it other than what is presented to us by JRRT or is perceived and enunciated by the characters.

    Choices are contingent. Each choice that we make closes certain doors and opens others. Different paths MIGHT lead to the same end. each choice is shaped by what came before--because we are the product of both our choices and the choices of others (parents, for example). We are not free to do anything at any time simply because we WILL not, it is not in our constructed nature to do so. Certain choices are simply not possible because we do not even see them. Sauron will not plant flowers in Bilbos garden not because he CAN'T, but because it would never occur to him to do so in the first place. It isn't a choice that he won't make (in one sense) but a choice he CAN'T make simply because THAT choice does not actually exist for him.
    Last edited by Kosomok; Sep 06 2012 at 06:25 PM.

  16. #166
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curandhras View Post
    Well you originally made that observation as an attempt to disprove Saruon's respecting of Aragon..?
    No, I made the observation to bring into question Sauron's judgement. You promptly took it upon yourself to tell me what I meant, disregarding anything I said to the contrary.

    So real life tells you that a ficticious angelic being did not understand the fictitious universe that he witnessed being created?
    Real life tells me that Tolkien's fiction reflected recent history at the time, whereas we have the advantage to have lived to see what happens next. What in Tolkien's writing anywhere states that Sauron was omniscient and could thus see how the future would unfold? (And in fact, if you can find any such reference, please explain how Sauron was unable to find the ring).

    Where is your link between atomic science and the Silmarils? In what way was society not ready for the Silmarils? In what way would they be? Other than having one as a star? And how is any of this related to Sauron?
    They fought a war over the things. Seriously, they were very pretty and powerful but that doesn't sound very 'socially ready' for them.

    This would be true of course, unless they were created in a fictional world in which they were the pinnacle of craftsmanship. Which, by the way, they were and pretty much everyone within that world knew it. You're arguing against a great many things which are inherently facts of Tolkien's universe.
    Please cite reference to this 'fact' that nothing better could ever be produced. Again, the pinnacle of craftsmanship at the time does not say anything about the future.

    Wars aren't literally chaos. And it isn't literal chaos that Sauron was opposed to. I doubt he sat in his dark towers awake at night deliberating over Chaos Theory and it's various implications. He was opposed to disorder and wasteful friction in the day to day running and behaviour of the various races. If you go into an office and see that the management is terrible and the staff are inefficient, you wouldn't try and apply chaos theory would you? It's not literally chaotic. You might say it was chaos, if you used the word in a none literal meaning (if you did that, though, you wouldn't expect people to think you were being literal...). You would go about this by trying to bring everyone under one management structure that was clear, concise and effective.
    You are being pedantic. He arbitrarily declared it wasteful. I cited as an analogy the 'chaos' of a gasoline explosion in a gasoline engine, to which you said 'that isn't really chaotic.' I responded with 'neither is war' to which you now say 'well it is chaotic in a different way.'

    Again, if you try to second guess a development process by force of will, you remove all potential.

    Oh come off it. If you're at the stage where you're considering how to build the perfect football team you'd certainly hope you were in a society where buses were readily available.

    You need to think beyond the blindingly literal.
    I used a perfect football team as a possible (albiet unlikely) goal on the part of Eru's design. Given he was literally starting from scratch, creating the world, everything, development of those buses would be part of 'the plan.'

    Since you are telling me it isn't to create the perfect football team, please explain what Middle Earth is supposed to do, exactly. We do know from Tolkien that it is intended to run its course eventually, with Men being prominent in the singing of the 2nd song.

    If the goal was simply to produce Silmarils, then why bother with Men at all? And why not declare it done and hit the reset when they were made? Presumably there is some goal to the plan more important than the Silmarils.

    Engine construction literally applies to Sauron's mind set? Or the ordering of the workers? Or being opposed to football banter?
    Have you ever heard the term 'bean counter?' It refers to an accountant who worries about cost levels out of context with what the costs really represent, i.e. work done or goods consumed in creating a service or product. They are obsessed with cutting costs, regardless of the effects on the end product. That is how I see Sauron.

    But we're talking about Sauron, not Tolkien. And as far as I've read in the books and letters there is never anything to suggest that Sauron didn't know what he was working towards or what his subjects would be doing. In fact quite the opposite is implied. He is highly intelligent, highly logical and an excellent planner, a lover of science and reason. I think he'd probably get his ideas pretty well laid out before he set off.
    You don't seem to even acknowledge that there was a plan though, and seem to think that the Silmarils were the end product, irrespective of their being created at the beginning, by the Elves rather than by Men. Elves would be entirely or almost entirely out of the picture by the time the second song is ready to be sung.

    So you believe that other characters, such as Sam or Faramir, could convince Frodo that he should leave the Shire and go to Mordor? Note although he doesn't tell Frodo directly that he will be going to Mordor only Rivendell, he knows that Frodo will end up taking the ring all the way. Is that not evil, to hide that information from someone?
    So you are saying that he knows in advance, pre-Rivendell, that the ring will go to Mordor? And that Frodo will take it? As I recall, Frodo did volunteer to do so. He even tried to flee on his own after seeing what it did to Boromir, without Gandalf being anywhere near. But according to you, he was mind controlled into doing so? And you are accusing *me* of going against Tolkien's writing?

    One of his greatest powers was his ability to subtly influence people. He was the puppet master of the "free peoples" army. He pretty much planned the entire war, even going so far back as installing a Dwarven king (and so army) in Erebor so that when the war came the Easterlings would not have free reign over the northern territories. He bent countless people to his will, be it through wisdom and force of will alone, or more than likely using a fair bit of his innate power too. There are many people who are wise, few who are wise enough to plan an entire war and fewer still who could convince almost every important player within that war (on his side) to do what he said.
    Source.

    What do these words mean?
    I mean that motive does not make something good or evil.

    No, Hitler really didn't like a race so whipped up fervour and propaganda (that he himself ended up believing) so that he could justify wiping them all out.

    Sauron wanted to remove disorder.
    But why did he dislike them? Keep in mind that there was the depression, which hit the world economy pretty bad, and Germany was particularly worse off than other nations due to the harshly worded Treaty of Versailles. Non-Germans and German minorities were easy to pin the 'blame' on. The accusations were false but that doesn't mean he didn't believe them or that they came later. He wasn't wiping them out for the sake of wiping someone out. He was wiping them out because he believed it would strengthen Germany, removing 'impurities.'

    No, Hitler thought he was claiming the territory Germany deserved and killing all the Jews because he thought they were wrong.

    Sauron thought he was removing wasted energy.
    No, he didn't just think they were 'wrong.' Even if he did, though, how is that different? An entire body of 'wrong' people in your country... eliminate them and wouldn't your country be more 'right?'

    You are playing semantics again.

    That is a ridiculous scenario. Tolkien was an intelligent man. If he wrote a character like Sauron he would not claim that that character was purely good, since that is clearly not true.

    If he did claim that, I would disagree. If he did claim that, however, he wouldn't be the sort of man who could construct such a detailed and compelling legendarium though, so I'd probably never had heard of him.
    He was an intelligent man, but that does not make him an infallible one, nor an infinitely wise one. Your argument seemed to be that he said it, therefore it must be so since it is his fictional world. Now you seem to be changing that to 'it must be so since he is intelligent and would never misspeak or have a debatable theological opinion.'

    Barring some form of divine intervention to correct me, I reserve the right to debate theological opinions such as the definition of 'pure evil.'

    Tolkien does not have "opinions" about the Flame Imperishable! He invented it. He can not be wrong about something that only exists in a way he describes. Every aspect of the Flame Imperishable, Sauron, Sam Gamgee and all of Ea exists exactly how he decided and described. You can't go and argue that Sam's last name was actually Bracegirdle and Tolkien's opinion on Sam's surname was wrong.
    1) I am not discussing with Tolkien, I am discussing with you. Your interpretations (including your interpretations of his letters) is still yours, not entirely his.

    2) The nature of the flame is a lot more complex a topic than a character's surname.

    Aule's faux pas is the exception that proves the rule that only Eru can make life. Aule nearly destroyed his Dwarves fearing Eru's wrath but Eru said he'd let him off just the one time and they could stay asleep until later. There is evidence that this is the rule, it says so in the Silmarilion.
    You are confusing rule with ability. Aule was not allowed to create the dwarves, but clearly he had the ability.

    So in saying that, I accept that I don't fully understand the way souls are assigned to new bodies. I don't even know if Tolkien had thought about this. All we know for sure is there's a higher plane (where Eru and the Ainur are) filled with all sorts of spirits, and no one other than Eru is allowed to create life. So we need to work within those two rules to come to any conclusion. If we break either of those rules then our answer doesn't work for Middle earth.
    Again 'allowed' does not equal 'is able to.' We know everyone else is banned from creating new life but clearly at least some of them can.

    You were saying that any two people who have a kid in Middle earth are creating life in that they are creating a new soul. This goes against what Tolkien says about (and in) his work, in that only Eru can do this. So in that sense anything I say on the matter is irrelevant, because it is Tolkien you are going against.
    Again, 'allowed' vs 'able to.' Given procreation occurs due to natural/automatic aspects of procreation rather than the 'choosing to sleep with someone without protection' aspects, people are still creating children 'by the grace of Eru,' even if only by virtue of him having set things in motion (and possibly this is what the transfer of the flame to the core of the planet symbolized).

    Shakespear won't help us here, I don't think. He does not get to define pure evil. He does get to define whether or not any of his characters are pure evil though (since he invents every single part of their being). For example, he could decide that Melkor is pure evil once he's in the world, and that Sauron is not.
    But if I disagree with his definition of pure evil.... or at least the one he is using.... ?

    First Shakespear and now Led Zeppelin? I'm sure Jimmy Page will be happy that you're crediting him for the lyrics too, let alone bringing them to the same table as Shakespear and Tolkien. I'm also sure John Paul Jones will be relieved to see that he is still perennially being denied credit for his part in LZ's songwriting...
    Do you at least understand the meaning of both quotes though? You seem to be telling me that I not only have to agree with Tolkien, but to use the same definitions as he uses.

    By the definition of pure and of evil, if something is "pure[a] evil[n]" every single aspect of that thing is entirely, absolutely evil. If just one, single, minute part of them isn't, then they are not pure evil. So, for example, if one of them had not just "not evil" but actually outright good intentions, they wouldn't be "pure evil".
    Pedantic again. I do not consider good intentions as mitigating or diluting 'purity.' I would have thought I was clear on that by now....

  17. #167
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    Quote Originally Posted by BirdofHermes View Post
    They have? Can you perhaps provide a source on that?
    Not without a lot of leg work News reports and the like are usually not archived on youtube or anywhere convenient, and not sure where I would go for such archive footage. There was also a significant faction arguing in favor of nuking Afghanistan... thankfully the gov't didn't go that far....

    Well, as evil as governments come anyway, not pure evil ofc.
    Indeed.

    I fail to see your point I'm afraid. As I said before, this stagnant heat death of the universe hypothesis on Sauron's rule comes from your own imagining of a pure order concept. Even Sauron could not have an order in that extreme form.
    I was thinking of the social equivalent of the heat death of the universe. Consider what a 'perfectly ordered society' would have to be like.... anything that does not fit in with the perfection, which Sauron's definition of perfection, could not be allowed to exist. How do you have creativity in that kind of environment? "New and different" would only be acceptable to whatever extent they fit Sauron's pattern.

    Naturally I assume the plan is stronger than Sauron. It's Eru's. Sauron might be a big deal for mortals, but he is less than an ant compared to Eru. All his planning and scheming on Arda are all for naught in the end even if he got his Ring back, because the world is destined for demolition by Eru. It might take another 20,000 years before it happens, maybe 100,000, but it will happen.
    But the question is, would the plan have been successful if Sauron won? Was Sauron's defeat part of the plan (even if a contingency aspect kicking in) or was it incidental (not affecting or affected by the plan at all)?

    Sure he did. He was around up until '73, he underwent the fifties and sixties and saw the post war progress. He also witnessed part of the Cold War and how insignificant it was compared to WWI and WWII.
    'Around' is not quite the same thing. His writings were earlier, and since he didn't live to see the end of the cold war, he still saw the threat of another global war, with the potential to be even more widespread and devastating than WWII (due to ICBMs and nukes).

    If you're moving house, have a safe trip with the more fragile belongings. And if you're going on holiday, enjoy.
    Moved.. to much smaller accommodations, so many things had to be stored or given away or outright tossed Glad to be back online again, at least.

    Here I must again disagree with you, but only on a philosophical level, not a factual.
    I do think intentions are mitigating. Say a man decides to murder 11 people "just because". You can stop him, but only by killing him. An evil act surely, but the intention of saving others would be generally be considered a good intention. Does the decision to kill him make you pure evil?
    I understand what you are saying, but to me, there has to be more than intentions to be mitigating. There has to be a real chance to save others, not merely 'I think this will save them.' Lives should never be taken lightly and one should always act with eyes open. At the power scale of a god, even saving lives has to be weighed as to consequences. To me, Sauron is second guessing 'the plan.' The plan obviously involves free will (or it wouldn't be there.... it tends to muck up plans). Sauron looks on Middle Earth, and seems to decide that the free peoples are deciding badly and that is inefficient... but without the ability to decide badly, to occasionally be 'inefficient,' you lose all benefits of free will.

    "Pure evil" defines that something is absolutely evil without anything else (good or neutral) in it. Sauron, though obviously evil for the most part, clearly still has hints of good in him. Tolkien wrote this many times.
    To call Sauron evil is fine; he is mostly evil.
    But to call him pure evil is something else entirely since he is not devoid of non-evil.
    It would be like calling a person "pure water" because they are mostly made up of water.
    We will have to agree to disagree. To me, Sauron is going to very extreme lengths blindly second guessing creation's purpose. To me, it is a 'if you don't understand it, shoot it' mentality, and regardless of who he thinks he is protecting, I have trouble considering that 'good.'

    Pretty much every bigot has good intentions. Many thieves and murderers do too. There have been serial killers who have been convinced they are doing the work of God. None of those good intentions make said people any less evil. They might not be fully evil people, but if not, it isn't the good intentions that redeems them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    No, I made the observation to bring into question Sauron's judgement. You promptly took it upon yourself to tell me what I meant, disregarding anything I said to the contrary.
    You said:
    A rash attack against Gondor? Sauron had superior ground forces. The only reason that he lost on the ground is the ring was destroyed and him with it. He didn't respect Aragorn per se, he was afraid Aragorn might have the ring and thus be a threat.
    I was simply saying that anyone who values his own plans as much as Sauron does wouldn't like having to change a plan for someone else. To do so shows that they respect said person's ability to affect their plans. So originally this observation wasn't made about Aragorn? It seemed that way to me. I apologise.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Real life tells me that Tolkien's fiction reflected recent history at the time, whereas we have the advantage to have lived to see what happens next. What in Tolkien's writing anywhere states that Sauron was omniscient and could thus see how the future would unfold? (And in fact, if you can find any such reference, please explain how Sauron was unable to find the ring).
    There's nothing to say he's omniscient. There's nothing concrete to say he knew how the future would unfold. He knew more of the music than Melkor, for example, but whether he could interpret it is another matter. Gandalf seems to have some ability to do this (knowing Bilbo finding the Ring was Eru, same with knowing Gollum would be needed). Sauron might have similar powers but it's not to say that anything he'd ever hear/remember would lead him to the Ring.

    Either way, that's irrelevant. He had seen what the living races had been capable of and what they'd descended into over his lifetime. That was enough for him.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    They fought a war over the things. Seriously, they were very pretty and powerful but that doesn't sound very 'socially ready' for them.
    Well that's an understatement. Once again, when would they ever be "socially ready" for an earthly being dwelling amongst them to create something even the Valar envied? There is no parallel you can draw on Earth. It's only (vague) equivalent would be the sun going out and someone creating 3 jewels which gave the exact same effect as having the sun back. How long should Feanor have held off on this to ensure everyone was comfortable with that idea? I doubt they ever would be.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Please cite reference to this 'fact' that nothing better could ever be produced. Again, the pinnacle of craftsmanship at the time does not say anything about the future.
    Quotes from the Silmarilion:

    "In that time were made those things that afterwards were most renowned of all the works of the Elves"

    "[Feanor] pondered how the light of the Trees .... might be preserved imperishable"

    "But not until the End... ...shall it be known of what substance they were made."

    "Like the crystal of diamonds it appeared, and yet was more strong than adamant, no that no violence could mar or break it within the Kingdom of Arda"

    He's made indestructible jewels that contain the light of the two Trees that will last until Dagor Dagorath and are ever after the most renowned work of the Elves. One of them also becomes their favoured star. It also goes on to say that until Dagor Dagorath (the end) no one will ever figure out what the Silmarils were made of or how Feanor made them.

    Within the framework of the books it's fair to assume that no one will ever craft anything as good as the Silmarils. Even Feanor's "closest" effort was only the Palintiri. As nice as they are, they aren't living gems that hold the light of the trees inside them.

    I wonder what achievement you would consider superior to the Silmarils? What could any earthly being create that surpassed the light of the Trees?



    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    You are being pedantic. He arbitrarily declared it wasteful. I cited as an analogy the 'chaos' of a gasoline explosion in a gasoline engine, to which you said 'that isn't really chaotic.' I responded with 'neither is war' to which you now say 'well it is chaotic in a different way.'
    Well no, neither are truly chaotic. To use "chaotic" in it's non literal day to day usage is nearly correct, I suppose, but the way you were going on about the heat death prior to it I assumed you meant the scientific definition of chaotic. Which doesn't apply.

    He noticed prevalence of "disorder and wasteful friction" in the world. Since Tolkien wrote that he "hated" this, it's fair to say it did exist.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Again, if you try to second guess a development process by force of will, you remove all potential.
    Saruman did more for "development" in about 50 years than pretty much anyone else did in (very) roughly 40000. I think Sauron had probably given up on the "development".



    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    I used a perfect football team as a possible (albiet unlikely) goal on the part of Eru's design. Given he was literally starting from scratch, creating the world, everything, development of those buses would be part of 'the plan.'

    Since you are telling me it isn't to create the perfect football team, please explain what Middle Earth is supposed to do, exactly. We do know from Tolkien that it is intended to run its course eventually, with Men being prominent in the singing of the 2nd song.

    If the goal was simply to produce Silmarils, then why bother with Men at all? And why not declare it done and hit the reset when they were made? Presumably there is some goal to the plan more important than the Silmarils.
    Why does it have to "do" anything? Why can't it just be creation? Eru and his pals were singing a song that they all really liked, so Eru made it into being. The Valar were pretty impressed by this and they went to live there inside the world they'd been singing about and made some changed by "physical" means rather than singing at it.

    Why is there a plan? For all we know the Arda you read about is a lost cause anyway. Melkor turned up and ruined everything. DD is planned to re set and get rid of evil. Maybe that world will have a plan.

    I really don't think there needs to be a "plan" for Arda. Eru made it on a whim because he like the Ainur's singing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Have you ever heard the term 'bean counter?' It refers to an accountant who worries about cost levels out of context with what the costs really represent, i.e. work done or goods consumed in creating a service or product. They are obsessed with cutting costs, regardless of the effects on the end product. That is how I see Sauron.
    The "end product" of Eru or the "end product" of Sauron's plan? Because I'd contend that Sauron had an excellent view of his own plan and how to attain the end goals. Obsessed with the detail, maybe, but let's not forget he's pretty much god-like in terms of strategising.

    If it's the "end product" of Eru you're talking about, then firstly, how do you know he even has one, secondly, why is it of importance to Sauron? Sauron was concerned with his own plans and aims, not the plans and aims of a being that he thought had abandoned Arda completely.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    You don't seem to even acknowledge that there was a plan though, and seem to think that the Silmarils were the end product, irrespective of their being created at the beginning, by the Elves rather than by Men. Elves would be entirely or almost entirely out of the picture by the time the second song is ready to be sung.
    No, I don't think there was a plan. Why do you? There was a song. The world is supposed to be the song incarnate in various ways, but that doesn't mean there's some "end product".


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    So you are saying that he knows in advance, pre-Rivendell, that the ring will go to Mordor? And that Frodo will take it? As I recall, Frodo did volunteer to do so. He even tried to flee on his own after seeing what it did to Boromir, without Gandalf being anywhere near. But according to you, he was mind controlled into doing so? And you are accusing *me* of going against Tolkien's writing?
    Not mind controlling, at all, did I ever say that? Although when he enters Frodo's mind at Amon Hen and makes him take the Ring off, that's pretty mind controlly. Although we'll let him off there since he did Frodo, and Middle-earth a favour.

    Gandalf gave Frodo a "shove" much like Bilbo. Far more of a shove though. Note he says to Bilbo of the Council of Elrond (where Frodo says he will take the Ring) "the only eye-openers were you and Frodo; and I was the only one not surprised." He expected Frodo to take the burden of the Ring on from Rivendell. He also makes it painfully obvious that he's letting Frodo go to Mordor with no idea of the dangers that await him.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Source.
    Read the books. The istari have clearly got power over the minds of those they choose to sway. Saruman is the most blunt, obvious and evil with his power. Radagast turns his to animals and is able to command them. Gandalf disguises himself as an advisor and bends the paths of everyone of importance that he has dealings with to make sure, to the best of his ability, that the free people's will win.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    I mean that motive does not make something good or evil.
    But good motive surely barrs "pure evil"?



    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    But why did he dislike them? Keep in mind that there was the depression, which hit the world economy pretty bad, and Germany was particularly worse off than other nations due to the harshly worded Treaty of Versailles. Non-Germans and German minorities were easy to pin the 'blame' on. The accusations were false but that doesn't mean he didn't believe them or that they came later. He wasn't wiping them out for the sake of wiping someone out. He was wiping them out because he believed it would strengthen Germany, removing 'impurities.'
    Oh, hello! You mean to say that Hitler (along with general feeling in Europe at the time) was a bit of a racist and didn't like Jews? Well now. Could it be he thought he'd use this to his advantage and whip up antisemetic fervour amongst the people to get them on board? Don't forget the Nazis got elected. People voted for Hitler. He needed to appeal to "the people" and he did this by playing on the hardships and prejudices of his electorate.

    I'm not sure he genuinely belived it would strengthen Germany. He probably genuinely believed that Jews were untrustworthy and likely to hamstring the country through greed or whatever if they were in positions of power, he was racist like that. Still though, his plan to eradicate a race for the furthering of a "perfect race" (one which he didn't even belong to) is inherently more evil than a plan to remove disorder and wasteful friction.

    Note both plans are independent of "making the world a better place". They are both the desires of the individual, Sauron and Hitler respectively...

    Moreover, Hitler saught to increase the power, control and prosperity of one nation. Sauron thought he was making the entire world more impressive. Attempting to reinstate the Holy Roman Empire in some fictional "third reich" was the selfish desire and objective of Hitler. It is far removed from the desire and aim of Sauron.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    No, he didn't just think they were 'wrong.' Even if he did, though, how is that different? An entire body of 'wrong' people in your country... eliminate them and wouldn't your country be more 'right?'

    You are playing semantics again.
    Hitler's motive was genocide. Whether he thought he was doing "God's work" or not is irellevent. Sauron's motive was never genocide. I seriously doubt Hitler genuinely thought he was in the "right". He was a massive nationalist and racist. However you field it, wanting to wipe out a race is not comparable to wanting to reduce disorder.



    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    He was an intelligent man, but that does not make him an infallible one, nor an infinitely wise one. Your argument seemed to be that he said it, therefore it must be so since it is his fictional world. Now you seem to be changing that to 'it must be so since he is intelligent and would never misspeak or have a debatable theological opinion.'

    Barring some form of divine intervention to correct me, I reserve the right to debate theological opinions such as the definition of 'pure evil.'
    But we've defined it already and a few posts back you actually said you agreed that Sauron was not pure evil?

    Also,
    Your argument seemed to be that he said it, therefore it must be so since it is his fictional world
    I stand by that. Within the framework of his legendarium he is the "creator". He is the be all and end all as far as information on that world goes.

    And his definition of pure evil is not relevent to that quote. You were asking wether or not I'd disagree with Tolkien if he said Sauron was pure good. Which I would. But then Tolkien wouldn't ever have said that, because he isn't a fool.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    1) I am not discussing with Tolkien, I am discussing with you. Your interpretations (including your interpretations of his letters) is still yours, not entirely his.

    2) The nature of the flame is a lot more complex a topic than a character's surname.
    The basic principle is the same. Tolkien definied it as Gamgee in the same way he defined the nature of the Flame Imperishable. To argue with either is to disagree with what Tolkien said about his own creation.



    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    You are confusing rule with ability. Aule was not allowed to create the dwarves, but clearly he had the ability.
    No, no I think I'm perfectly clear in my separation of rule and ability. You were claiming that free peoples giving birth is tantamount to creating life in the way that Eru does. Aule created life, Eru said "No, don't do that. Only I'm allowed to do that. Stop it." That proves the rule. Other Valar are able to create, Dwarves, Ents, Eagles etc. but they must go to Eru first for permission and quality control. No one is allowed to create new life without Eru's concent. Melkor is not able or allowed.

    I disagree that two Elves having a child is in any way equivalent to creating the race of Elves and giving them existence. Even so, if it was then you'd have to stop and ask permission half way through.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Again 'allowed' does not equal 'is able to.' We know everyone else is banned from creating new life but clearly at least some of them can.
    So clearly, then, having a child doesn't equate to creating new life. Since they're not allowed to do that.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Again, 'allowed' vs 'able to.' Given procreation occurs due to natural/automatic aspects of procreation rather than the 'choosing to sleep with someone without protection' aspects, people are still creating children 'by the grace of Eru,' even if only by virtue of him having set things in motion (and possibly this is what the transfer of the flame to the core of the planet symbolized).
    But a child is not a new race. It's not a new "thing". They're not creating something like when Eru created the Elves or Aule the Dwarves. They're doing what they were designed to do by their creators, that is all. They are not imagining and then willing a new thing into the universe. They're doing what they are naturally able to do because of how their creators made them.

    I think you're right to say that the Flame moving into the heart of the world gives the "pool" from which new "souls" or spirits are drawn when a child is born. At least that makes sense to how I understand the cosmology. Still though, this isn't the mother and father having command over the Flame and the ability to independently create.


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    But if I disagree with his definition of pure evil.... or at least the one he is using.... ?
    Which part of "pure evil" do you disagree with? It seems to be the "pure" part?


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Do you at least understand the meaning of both quotes though? You seem to be telling me that I not only have to agree with Tolkien, but to use the same definitions as he uses.
    I think he uses the same definition I do, which is, completely and entirely evil. Do you disagree that pure evil means purely evil?


    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Pedantic again. I do not consider good intentions as mitigating or diluting 'purity.' I would have thought I was clear on that by now....
    So imagine you kill a terrorist to save the lives of 2000 innocent children. As far as you're concerned your good intent is irrelevant, you killed someone, so you are evil?
    Last edited by Curandhras; Sep 07 2012 at 08:55 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Not without a lot of leg work News reports and the like are usually not archived on youtube or anywhere convenient, and not sure where I would go for such archive footage. There was also a significant faction arguing in favor of nuking Afghanistan... thankfully the gov't didn't go that far....
    I see. There might possibly be some websites where they are archived, but I wouldn't know any.



    I was thinking of the social equivalent of the heat death of the universe. Consider what a 'perfectly ordered society' would have to be like.... anything that does not fit in with the perfection, which Sauron's definition of perfection, could not be allowed to exist. How do you have creativity in that kind of environment? "New and different" would only be acceptable to whatever extent they fit Sauron's pattern.
    Creativity would be limited to whatever adds to productivity in Sauron's eyes, I imagine.



    But the question is, would the plan have been successful if Sauron won? Was Sauron's defeat part of the plan (even if a contingency aspect kicking in) or was it incidental (not affecting or affected by the plan at all)?
    This is only speculation on my part, but I think Sauron's little scheme and whether or not it succeeded isn't relevant to the destruction and re-making of Eä. I'm guessing that even if he had won and conquered all of Middle-earth, Eru would still put his plan in effect and destroy everything.



    'Around' is not quite the same thing. His writings were earlier, and since he didn't live to see the end of the cold war, he still saw the threat of another global war, with the potential to be even more widespread and devastating than WWII (due to ICBMs and nukes).
    You're right, I obviously wasn't thinking straight. He didn't see the post-war progress at the time of writing.



    Moved.. to much smaller accommodations, so many things had to be stored or given away or outright tossed Glad to be back online again, at least.
    Ah that's a shame, but at least you're back online.



    I understand what you are saying, but to me, there has to be more than intentions to be mitigating. There has to be a real chance to save others, not merely 'I think this will save them.' Lives should never be taken lightly and one should always act with eyes open. At the power scale of a god, even saving lives has to be weighed as to consequences. To me, Sauron is second guessing 'the plan.' The plan obviously involves free will (or it wouldn't be there.... it tends to muck up plans). Sauron looks on Middle Earth, and seems to decide that the free peoples are deciding badly and that is inefficient... but without the ability to decide badly, to occasionally be 'inefficient,' you lose all benefits of free will.
    I think we must agree to disagree here. I think immortal, god-like beings like Sauron will take mortal's lives lightly. Even Eru does it when the free-willed Men of Numenor decide badly. By which I do not mean that they'd just kill people for no reason, but if they feel their deaths are outweighed by something positive, they'd do it.
    I suspect this may have something to do with Tolkien's catholic faith. Yahweh also takes lives lightly, killing off millions for the most petty reasons throughout the bible, and I think this may have shaped Tolkien's views on godhood. I believe that, in a way, Sauron and Eru are extensions of that.
    And perhaps they value the concept of "life" differently from us because they know that a mortal's existence does not end with death, it just changes. It is possible that Sauron simply reasons that, when they die, they are happily sent to Aman and continue their existence. No harm done.



    We will have to agree to disagree. To me, Sauron is going to very extreme lengths blindly second guessing creation's purpose. To me, it is a 'if you don't understand it, shoot it' mentality, and regardless of who he thinks he is protecting, I have trouble considering that 'good.'

    Pretty much every bigot has good intentions. Many thieves and murderers do too. There have been serial killers who have been convinced they are doing the work of God. None of those good intentions make said people any less evil. They might not be fully evil people, but if not, it isn't the good intentions that redeems them.
    I fear we'll have to.

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    Reading Hermes' above post has just occurred something to me.

    Tolkien was a Catholic. The area of England I live in is heavily influenced by Catholisism. There's not a particularly high percentage of people who are actually religious any more but the influence is there. A lot of Irish families moved over to where I am (including my parents' parents) and in general the area is a "Catholic" one. I'm not religious at all (nor are my parents) but I recognise things I think/believe as having been influenced by Catholicism.

    I assume (@Torweld) from your spellings/phrasings that you're from the USA? I don't know that much about religious distribution or influence in the US really but from Americans I know/people I know who have family there it seems that Protestantism (or at least divisions other than Catholicism) are far more prevalent and hold more sway and influence (direct or indirect) over upbringing.

    Perhaps that could be why we're disagreeing so flatly over the idea of pure evil. If we're essentially arguing from either side of a cultural/religious rift I imagine we're probably not going to get anywhere. I mean, we saw how it went in Northern Ireland...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Curandhras View Post
    You said:

    I was simply saying that anyone who values his own plans as much as Sauron does wouldn't like having to change a plan for someone else. To do so shows that they respect said person's ability to affect their plans. So originally this observation wasn't made about Aragorn? It seemed that way to me. I apologise.
    No worries.

    There's nothing to say he's omniscient. There's nothing concrete to say he knew how the future would unfold. He knew more of the music than Melkor, for example, but whether he could interpret it is another matter. Gandalf seems to have some ability to do this (knowing Bilbo finding the Ring was Eru, same with knowing Gollum would be needed). Sauron might have similar powers but it's not to say that anything he'd ever hear/remember would lead him to the Ring.
    You seem to read a lot into Gandalf's abilities, particularly translating 'suspects' into 'knows.' And even then, most of Gandalf's suspicions can be attributed to understanding the value of life and free will and not taking others for granted or throwing them away if it can be avoided.

    I don't know if you are a Dr Who fan, but the Doctor exhibits very similar attitudes.

    Either way, that's irrelevant. He had seen what the living races had been capable of and what they'd descended into over his lifetime. That was enough for him.
    Over his lifetime? He is immortal. For an immortal, he is surprisingly impatient.... pretty close to Greek god level impatience.

    Well that's an understatement. Once again, when would they ever be "socially ready" for an earthly being dwelling amongst them to create something even the Valar envied? There is no parallel you can draw on Earth. It's only (vague) equivalent would be the sun going out and someone creating 3 jewels which gave the exact same effect as having the sun back. How long should Feanor have held off on this to ensure everyone was comfortable with that idea? I doubt they ever would be.
    I did not say that Feanor should have held off, any more than any other invention or masterwork should have been held off. Part of not being socially ready is not knowing what to hold off on.

    Quotes from the Silmarilion:

    "In that time were made those things that afterwards were most renowned of all the works of the Elves"

    "[Feanor] pondered how the light of the Trees .... might be preserved imperishable"

    "But not until the End... ...shall it be known of what substance they were made."

    "Like the crystal of diamonds it appeared, and yet was more strong than adamant, no that no violence could mar or break it within the Kingdom of Arda"
    First, 'of the Elves' rather than 'of all the races.' The Elves diminished steadily ever since.

    Preserving the light of the trees otherwise was impossible afterwards due to the loss of the trees themselves. Given they were a key ingredient, and a divine one at that, the question arises as to how much of the Silmarils was craftsmanship, and how much was superior (divine level) materials. Your third and fourth quotes back up the divine materials issue.

    He's made indestructible jewels that contain the light of the two Trees that will last until Dagor Dagorath and are ever after the most renowned work of the Elves. One of them also becomes their favoured star. It also goes on to say that until Dagor Dagorath (the end) no one will ever figure out what the Silmarils were made of or how Feanor made them.
    Given the source material was no longer there to study, and for that matter that the jewels themselves would not be recovered until shortly before the world is to be re-sung, it should not be surprising that no one figured them out. There was nothing to study.

    And again they were the masterwork of the Elves, who are not mentioned in the second singing. My premise is that the re-creation of the planet is the true masterwork, the true 'end goal.' Note that the Silmarils play a role in that too.

    Within the framework of the books it's fair to assume that no one will ever craft anything as good as the Silmarils. Even Feanor's "closest" effort was only the Palintiri. As nice as they are, they aren't living gems that hold the light of the trees inside them.
    They are Elven work, the trees were no longer there as source material, and there is a very very long time to go before the second singing.

    I wonder what achievement you would consider superior to the Silmarils? What could any earthly being create that surpassed the light of the Trees?
    That which the Silmarils and the songs of Men play a part in creating, the re-creation of Arda.

    Well no, neither are truly chaotic. To use "chaotic" in it's non literal day to day usage is nearly correct, I suppose, but the way you were going on about the heat death prior to it I assumed you meant the scientific definition of chaotic. Which doesn't apply.

    He noticed prevalence of "disorder and wasteful friction" in the world. Since Tolkien wrote that he "hated" this, it's fair to say it did exist.
    I disagree. It is fair to say that Sauron believed he saw that. Not quite the same thing as it being there.

    Saruman did more for "development" in about 50 years than pretty much anyone else did in (very) roughly 40000. I think Sauron had probably given up on the "development".
    What, exactly, did Saruman 'develop?'

    Why does it have to "do" anything? Why can't it just be creation? Eru and his pals were singing a song that they all really liked, so Eru made it into being. The Valar were pretty impressed by this and they went to live there inside the world they'd been singing about and made some changed by "physical" means rather than singing at it.

    Why is there a plan? For all we know the Arda you read about is a lost cause anyway. Melkor turned up and ruined everything. DD is planned to re set and get rid of evil. Maybe that world will have a plan.

    I really don't think there needs to be a "plan" for Arda. Eru made it on a whim because he like the Ainur's singing.
    That is a really convenient argument. If Arda was a lost cause, why let it run so long? Why not do the reset immediately after Melkor's defeat? If everything is so broken, why are Men prominent in the second song? Wouldn't they be flawed, being byproducts of the 'broken' world?

    If you believe there is no plan, if it was all on a whim, why are we even discussing this? If there is no plan, everything is arbitrary. If there shouldn't be evil, that is a 'plan.' It assumes there are design parameters and planning. How could Melkor ruin something arbitrary? There has to be an intended design, a 'plan' for the concept of 'ruin' to apply.

    The "end product" of Eru or the "end product" of Sauron's plan? Because I'd contend that Sauron had an excellent view of his own plan and how to attain the end goals. Obsessed with the detail, maybe, but let's not forget he's pretty much god-like in terms of strategising.

    If it's the "end product" of Eru you're talking about, then firstly, how do you know he even has one, secondly, why is it of importance to Sauron? Sauron was concerned with his own plans and aims, not the plans and aims of a being that he thought had abandoned Arda completely.
    All we know is that Sauron is really good at organizing. That is not the same as being really good at designing.

    As for Eru, we do know that there is an intended second singing, and that the Silmarils are involved, as well as the race of Men... however they have turned out by the time the song is to be sung. If they are flawed, then any flaws would be passed through into the new creation through the song, so it is reasonable to conclude that they are the intended byproducts of the design.

    No, I don't think there was a plan. Why do you? There was a song. The world is supposed to be the song incarnate in various ways, but that doesn't mean there's some "end product".
    Because as someone who studies processes and designs them (helping clients set up bookkeeping systems), I understand that processes are meaningless without understanding their purposes. "Garbage in, garbage out" defiantly applies.

    If there is no end product, then there is no need for the process at all. Its very existence is a waste. If there really is no plan, then Melkor had it right. Wipe it all out, its meaningless.

    Not mind controlling, at all, did I ever say that? Although when he enters Frodo's mind at Amon Hen and makes him take the Ring off, that's pretty mind controlly. Although we'll let him off there since he did Frodo, and Middle-earth a favour.

    Gandalf gave Frodo a "shove" much like Bilbo. Far more of a shove though. Note he says to Bilbo of the Council of Elrond (where Frodo says he will take the Ring) "the only eye-openers were you and Frodo; and I was the only one not surprised." He expected Frodo to take the burden of the Ring on from Rivendell. He also makes it painfully obvious that he's letting Frodo go to Mordor with no idea of the dangers that await him.
    Presence is not mind control. Not being surprised is not the same as knowing. Many things don't surprise me that I did not know in advance, yet might surprise others. I am sure there are things in your life that don't surprise you, yet might surprise others. Gandalf has seen a lot and knows a lot. Again The Doctor is similar, or Sherlock Holmes, if you prefer. In Sherlock's case (no pun intended), many things which surprise everyone else are 'Elementary."

    Read the books. The istari have clearly got power over the minds of those they choose to sway. Saruman is the most blunt, obvious and evil with his power. Radagast turns his to animals and is able to command them. Gandalf disguises himself as an advisor and bends the paths of everyone of importance that he has dealings with to make sure, to the best of his ability, that the free people's will win.
    I don't get that at all. Saurman misuses his power, but there is no indication that Gandalf does anything of the sort. Where is there that level of detail regarding Radagast? Seriously, I am not sure where you are coming from here. Do you also consider politeness and Gandalf thanking the eagles for providing him transport to be 'mind control?' IIRC, he mentions Radagast having sent them, but if they were controlled, why bother to thank them?

    But good motive surely barrs "pure evil"?
    Again, no, not for me.

    Oh, hello! You mean to say that Hitler (along with general feeling in Europe at the time) was a bit of a racist and didn't like Jews? Well now. Could it be he thought he'd use this to his advantage and whip up antisemetic fervour amongst the people to get them on board? Don't forget the Nazis got elected. People voted for Hitler. He needed to appeal to "the people" and he did this by playing on the hardships and prejudices of his electorate.

    I'm not sure he genuinely belived it would strengthen Germany. He probably genuinely believed that Jews were untrustworthy and likely to hamstring the country through greed or whatever if they were in positions of power, he was racist like that. Still though, his plan to eradicate a race for the furthering of a "perfect race" (one which he didn't even belong to) is inherently more evil than a plan to remove disorder and wasteful friction.
    To me, they are the same plan. The only difference is that 'remove disorder and wasteful friction' is 'cleaner.' It leaves out the details so as to sound less objectionable.

    Note both plans are independent of "making the world a better place". They are both the desires of the individual, Sauron and Hitler respectively...
    Which makes them selfish in both cases, rather than selfless.

    Moreover, Hitler saught to increase the power, control and prosperity of one nation. Sauron thought he was making the entire world more impressive. Attempting to reinstate the Holy Roman Empire in some fictional "third reich" was the selfish desire and objective of Hitler. It is far removed from the desire and aim of Sauron.
    Larger scale doesn't make Sauron's plan less evil, especially since there is no reason to believe Hitler would have stopped at Europe. His troops in Africa and Russia prove that.

    Hitler's motive was genocide. Whether he thought he was doing "God's work" or not is irellevent. Sauron's motive was never genocide. I seriously doubt Hitler genuinely thought he was in the "right". He was a massive nationalist and racist. However you field it, wanting to wipe out a race is not comparable to wanting to reduce disorder.
    No, genocide was not Hitler's rational for conquering. It wasn't even his plan. It was the plan of some of his top ministers. He just agreed with it. And again, Hitler wanted to wipe out elements of society that he considered disruptive. Rationalizing around that does not change it.

    This is the real reason for 'Lest we forget.' It is far far too easy to rationalize evil actions, to convince ourselves that since we are good people, we must be doing the right thing. The easy path is always there, tempting us. It is up to us to proceed with eyes open, to question hard our own actions, and to do our very best not merely to believe we are doing the right thing, but to actually be doing the right thing.

    But we've defined it already and a few posts back you actually said you agreed that Sauron was not pure evil?
    Pardon? I did not. Are you sure you didn't misread?

    I stand by that. Within the framework of his legendarium he is the "creator". He is the be all and end all as far as information on that world goes.

    And his definition of pure evil is not relevent to that quote. You were asking wether or not I'd disagree with Tolkien if he said Sauron was pure good. Which I would. But then Tolkien wouldn't ever have said that, because he isn't a fool.
    How can it not be relevant, when that is what we are really discussing? (The definition, that is)

    The basic principle is the same. Tolkien definied it as Gamgee in the same way he defined the nature of the Flame Imperishable. To argue with either is to disagree with what Tolkien said about his own creation.
    Pedantic. We are not discussing basic principles. We are discussing details.

    No, no I think I'm perfectly clear in my separation of rule and ability. You were claiming that free peoples giving birth is tantamount to creating life in the way that Eru does. Aule created life, Eru said "No, don't do that. Only I'm allowed to do that. Stop it." That proves the rule. Other Valar are able to create, Dwarves, Ents, Eagles etc. but they must go to Eru first for permission and quality control. No one is allowed to create new life without Eru's concent. Melkor is not able or allowed.

    I disagree that two Elves having a child is in any way equivalent to creating the race of Elves and giving them existence. Even so, if it was then you'd have to stop and ask permission half way through.
    Unless, of course, that form of creation has Eru's pre-approval. The new life is 'according to the plan.'

    I think you're right to say that the Flame moving into the heart of the world gives the "pool" from which new "souls" or spirits are drawn when a child is born. At least that makes sense to how I understand the cosmology. Still though, this isn't the mother and father having command over the Flame and the ability to independently create.
    True.

    Which part of "pure evil" do you disagree with? It seems to be the "pure" part?

    I think he uses the same definition I do, which is, completely and entirely evil. Do you disagree that pure evil means purely evil?
    The 'pure' part indeed. Again, I disagree with motives being mitigating.

    I have said this many times now, I am not sure why my position is still unclear to you.

    So imagine you kill a terrorist to save the lives of 2000 innocent children. As far as you're concerned your good intent is irrelevant, you killed someone, so you are evil?
    It isn't the motive, but whether the killing someone would really save the innocent children. The end only justifies the means if the means actually have a reasonable chance of achieving the end, and the end really is sufficient benefit to justify the means.

    In your example, if the children were not actually at risk and the shooter simply believed they were (which is not uncommon terrorist logic), then taking the shot would be evil, especially if no attempt was made on the part of the shooter to determine the actual risk (or lack thereof) to the children.

  22. #172
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    Quote Originally Posted by BirdofHermes View Post
    Creativity would be limited to whatever adds to productivity in Sauron's eyes, I imagine.
    Exactly.

    This is only speculation on my part, but I think Sauron's little scheme and whether or not it succeeded isn't relevant to the destruction and re-making of Eä. I'm guessing that even if he had won and conquered all of Middle-earth, Eru would still put his plan in effect and destroy everything.
    Possibly, but since Sauron lost, we will never know. If the plan was to reset to clear evil though, then Sauron's actions would have had to be cleaned up, or the Men singing the second song would be tainted by Sauron, and thus add evil into the song, defeating the purpose. Hence my believing there is more to the plan than that.

    You're right, I obviously wasn't thinking straight. He didn't see the post-war progress at the time of writing.
    No worries.

    I think we must agree to disagree here. I think immortal, god-like beings like Sauron will take mortal's lives lightly. Even Eru does it when the free-willed Men of Numenor decide badly. By which I do not mean that they'd just kill people for no reason, but if they feel their deaths are outweighed by something positive, they'd do it.
    I suspect this may have something to do with Tolkien's catholic faith. Yahweh also takes lives lightly, killing off millions for the most petty reasons throughout the bible, and I think this may have shaped Tolkien's views on godhood. I believe that, in a way, Sauron and Eru are extensions of that.
    And perhaps they value the concept of "life" differently from us because they know that a mortal's existence does not end with death, it just changes. It is possible that Sauron simply reasons that, when they die, they are happily sent to Aman and continue their existence. No harm done.
    Free will does not equate to freedom from consequence. The Numenorians stepped too far outside the plan.

    Are you sure it is specifically Catholicism you are thinking of? Yahweh's floods, famines, plagues, etc are primarily Old Testament. The New Testament represents the 'kinder, gentler' God. Christ preaches against violence, even against His own defense.

    Even if you are comparing DD to the Book of Revelations, the direct descendants of the tribes of Israel ascend, as do those with sufficient faith to keep the faith during the end of days. But there is no Silmaril equivalent, and the cleansing is via the archangels/horsemen rather than going straight to remaking the world.

    I fear we'll have to.
    No need to be afraid... it is merely disagreement

  23. #173
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torweld View Post
    Possibly, but since Sauron lost, we will never know. If the plan was to reset to clear evil though, then Sauron's actions would have had to be cleaned up, or the Men singing the second song would be tainted by Sauron, and thus add evil into the song, defeating the purpose. Hence my believing there is more to the plan than that.
    It is possible. Then again, there is also the possibility that the Men who were influenced by Sauron would have no part in the new music. I assume the same goes for Saruman in the current situation.



    Free will does not equate to freedom from consequence. The Numenorians stepped too far outside the plan.
    Oh I'm not saying it meant freedom of consequence at all. Just saying that they decided badly, and Eru forfeits their lives, which is the easy way out. Much like Sauron, it seems they can both readily dismiss the value of life if it is beneficial in the bigger picture.



    Are you sure it is specifically Catholicism you are thinking of? Yahweh's floods, famines, plagues, etc are primarily Old Testament. The New Testament represents the 'kinder, gentler' God. Christ preaches against violence, even against His own defense.
    Oh no, I think you misunderstand me. I am not thinking specifically of catholicism, I just mentioned it by that name to illustrate my point about Tolkien, since he was a catholic. Obviously Judaism, Protestantism, Islam and all their sub-devisions would be in the same boat, but I chose to label under catholicism because I'm discussing the possible influence the bible may have had in Tolkien's views of morality in gods.
    And yes, I am aware the new testament tries to take the edge off the god character by making him gentler and more loving towards us mortals, but at the same time it also encourages people to heed the old testament's laws and lessons, which retain most of the horrible stuff. A strange mixed message, but there's no one to blame except whoever bundled together the first bible. I am not sure which parts of the bible the catholic church focused on in Tolkien's youth, but to me it is clear that there's a large portion of old testament mythology in there when it comes to divinity, but not a great deal of new testament (which makes sense). And an even larger portion of Norse and Greek mythology ofc, but that's a different story.

  24. #174
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    Quote Originally Posted by BirdofHermes View Post
    It is possible. Then again, there is also the possibility that the Men who were influenced by Sauron would have no part in the new music. I assume the same goes for Saruman in the current situation.
    But if Sauron had won, how would there be any uninfluenced men? They would be 'inefficient' and therefore would have been changed or eliminated.

    Oh I'm not saying it meant freedom of consequence at all. Just saying that they decided badly, and Eru forfeits their lives, which is the easy way out. Much like Sauron, it seems they can both readily dismiss the value of life if it is beneficial in the bigger picture.
    There is a difference though. The Ainur were under direct threat from the Numenorean invasion. The Ainur were permitted to interfere in Middle Earth to counter Melkor, too (and to a lesser degree, to counter Sauron). The difference in those cases was that there was a clear and present threat, rather than 'chaos is bad.'

    Oh no, I think you misunderstand me. I am not thinking specifically of catholicism, I just mentioned it by that name to illustrate my point about Tolkien, since he was a catholic. Obviously Judaism, Protestantism, Islam and all their sub-devisions would be in the same boat, but I chose to label under catholicism because I'm discussing the possible influence the bible may have had in Tolkien's views of morality in gods.
    And yes, I am aware the new testament tries to take the edge off the god character by making him gentler and more loving towards us mortals, but at the same time it also encourages people to heed the old testament's laws and lessons, which retain most of the horrible stuff. A strange mixed message, but there's no one to blame except whoever bundled together the first bible. I am not sure which parts of the bible the catholic church focused on in Tolkien's youth, but to me it is clear that there's a large portion of old testament mythology in there when it comes to divinity, but not a great deal of new testament (which makes sense). And an even larger portion of Norse and Greek mythology ofc, but that's a different story.
    Based on Gandalf, Tom, and even Eru (who only intervened directly once, and even then only when 'heaven' was under direct attack), I put it to you that Tolkien was much more influenced by the New Testament than the Old. The Silmarilion reads like the Old Testament, but by the time you get to the Third Age, Middle Earth is already starting to settle down. Gandalf's teachings are very 'live and let live' save for direct larger scale threats such as open warfare, including the fight against the Balrog, and the Istari's mission was mostly 'hands off.' That isn't the philosophy of the Old Testament Yahweh.

    In fact it is interesting that no one here so far has questioned the Balrog's motivations in choosing sides. Sauron was not the only Maiar to have followed a darker path. We just know a little more about him because he is a major player.

  25. #175
    Quote Originally Posted by Starina View Post
    What I wished to provide was an alternative take on Sauron's motives.
    Why is that necessary? What is your goal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Starina View Post
    There is this saying that sometimes one has to be cruel to be kind. I am just wondering whether it could be Sauron took this saying to its absolute extreme. Boraxxe spoke of 'The ends justify the means'. So what if we in retrospective would look at a Sauron and his atrocities, while knowing he tried to bring forth Eru's true vision of the creation, and what - if he had succeeded? Would we still judge him evil, or would we judge him a saviour and martyr?
    If Hitler had succeeded, would we view him as a hero? Does it make his acts any less evil? There are always apologists for people who commit atrocities. Albeit Sauron is fictional, your approach is not a new one. Best to look at Tolkien's world and the threat of advancement by the Germans in the World War and the industrial revolution to understand Tolkien's feelings towards Sauron and the coming evil. There is a brilliant National Geographic documentary on Tolkien that examines the world around him and the parallels of the story and characters of the Lord of the Rings.

    Quote Originally Posted by Starina View Post
    Please whoever reads this, understand I am not aiming at controversy here. Instead I am aiming to examine our own view of 'evil'. If we have a rat investation and put down poison, we will hardly accept to be called evil for it. We will justify our actions as neccessary, even though if we'd ask the rats, I am sure they would have a different take on our actions. So what if Sauron eventually chose his path of action 'to clean the creation out'? Many humans will not be interested in compassion when it comes to what they consider 'vermin'. Can we judge Sauron if he perceived the creatures of the creation as nothing but vermin, too? What if he had focussed his attention on mosquitoes in Middle Earth instead? I doubt those who find him the perfect villain now, would have wanted him judged for cruelty then, so where is the actual line for 'evil actions' compared to 'understandable and for us relatable necessities'?
    This of course reaches beyond Tolkien's work and the character of Sauron into a philosophical struggle, but Sauron, I feel, is a good character to use for this.
    For arguments sake, let's say that this is true and you are not trying to start controversy. The questions you are asking are of a philosophical nature. The story, and the fictional world are your analogous content. Fair enough. There can always be an apologetic answer for why someone takes an action. However, sometimes the apologists reach for something that will persuade their audience instead of facing the fact that "some men just want to see the world burn." (sorry for quoting Batman but it is an excellent quote) I doubt that Tolkien had ever intended for the evil actions of Sauron to be open for debate.

    If anything, this fits the modern need to try and understand evil and rationalize away the horror that comes along with it. A very Ayn Rand sort of immature fascination with individualism and ignoring achievement versus consequence to society.

    Of the reasons the recent Halloween films by Rob Zombie failed were because he decided to try and get to the viewer to empathize with the serial killer. More than half of the first film was dedicated to the nightmarish upbringing of Michael Myers. His mother was a stripper, he was bullied, and all manner of atrocities happened to him and every cliche you can think of was introduced to make you feel bad for this poor child. The heroine of the film Laurie Strode was almost entirely ignored. When Michael went after her, you didn't care if she lived or died. In fact, she was downright unlikable and doctor Loomis, the unlikely hero of the first film was completely inept.

    Sometimes trying to understand the evil and take away it's power is just failure. There's a reason why the original Halloween film is superior. Middle class kid unexpectedly snaps and kills his sister. He is institutionalized and his Doctor describes looking into his eyes and seeing "pure evil". You watch Laurie Strode slowly discover what's going on and you worry for her, the PROTAGONIST. The film despite the complete lack of blood, is still scarier than anything Rob Zombie made.

    Why am I bringing this up? because great storytelling sometimes requires not trying to understand or explain away the elements that help you identify with your protagonist. Sauron is the embodiment of evil. The Orcs are evil. Saruman has turned and is EVIL.
    Gandalf, the Hobbits, the Elves, the Dwarves are our protagonists and we get a much better understand of them than we do of Sauron for a reason. They represent hope, humanity, goodness, and they also represent the world around Tolkien, idealized and fantastical but nonetheless analogous to the world when he wrote his stories.

    Ultimately, I don't care what Sauron's motivations were or whether or not his atrocities can be justified. Brilliant cultures and civilizations were all but crushed underfoot of the machine of his evil. The most unlikely of heroes stood up for all of middle Earth in what appeared to be an un-winnable battle against a mighty and completely evil foe. And that, is all I truly need to know to enjoy the story.

    You may feel I missed the point of your original query. I did not. I just don't feel that the question is truly necessary.

 

 
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