Dunyain: nature vs. nurture

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dulac3

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« on: March 12, 2014, 06:38:37 pm »
I'm not sure if this has already been asked and answered elsewhere, and if so I apologize.

One thing I found a bit odd after starting on the Aspect Emperor series, and which has continued to bemuse me on my recent re-read of the PoN series, is the apparent (to me at least) dichotomy of the Dunyain as those who seem to be primarily molded through Nurture (which I would say is the main gist of things in the PoN series) vs. seeing them as primarily shaped by Nature (as is made explicitly the case in the Aspect Emperor series).

I at least saw the Dunyain presented in the first series as primarily the product of their harsh lifestyle and training: their insights were the result of their philosophical vigor and scientific analysis of the people and environment of the world around them. Much is made of Kellhus' training sessions in the refuge, for example, as being the primary foundation for his abilities, esp. his ability to 'read' people and intuit their desires and actions from what he sees in their faces.

The second series, on the other hand, seems to make much more of the genes that make a Dunyain what they are (esp. a 'true' Dunyain like Kellhus) and how these are not only largely incompatible with 'normal' humans, but that they lie at the heart of nearly all of Kellhus' abilities (which his half-Dunyain children have mostly only partially received). I know it is stated that Kellhus did train his children as well, but given that it apparently takes nearly the entire childhood of a normal Dunyain to train them into a fully mature Dunyain and given the fact that Kellhus hardly had this kind of time for the training of his children it does imply to me that the impressive abilities they do have seem to be largely attributable to their genetic heritage which just seems to belie the need for rigiorous, monomaniacal training as it was presented in the PoN series.

I know both Nature and Nurture are needed/important to making the Dunyain what they are, but it just feels to me as if Bakker made a significant shift from implying the latter was the key element in the first series, to the former in the new series.

Thoughts?

Madness

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« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2014, 07:49:24 pm »
Difference in emphasis?

The half-Dunyain (unless through trick of Divine intervention, genetic anomaly, sorcery, Tekne, etc, etc,) will never be equal to a true Dunyain. I think that each generation of the Dunyain also benefited from the newly emphasized nature but then they are also trained... it's not an either/or scenario for the Dunyain.
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dulac3

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« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2014, 07:53:09 pm »
Yeah, I didn't mean to imply it had to be either/or. Obviously both are important, but it just seemed like Bakker really weighted it on one side near the beginning of the story and then abruptly shifted gears later...the emphasis seemed to shift so abruptly and so significantly (from my reading of it anyway) that I found it a bit jarring.

Madness

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« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2014, 08:14:30 pm »
It can be... I actually expect that now with each book. New Layers of Revelation - he seems to be trying to change the story so if you read it each time you could have as many different serial reading experiences as new books extending the series (as they introduce new knowledge to the reader's perspective that was in effect throughout the past events without the readers being tipped-off).

There were less half-Dunyain in the first book and we didn't really get a good gauge of Maithanet... who also had a father who trained him obsessively, which Kellhus can't do with his children as you highlighted.
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locke

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« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2014, 08:14:52 pm »
Make the physical meta physical and you have your answer.

The dunyain belief in the principles that underlie their training are delusions.  We--the readers--think the Dunyain are accurate and not deluded, because the dunyain are using scientific principles and explanations we ourselves recognize, therefore we are as deluded as the Dunyain.

The reason those principles are delusions is because the Dunyain have discarded information of the metaphysical and so all their conclusions follow from an incomplete data set.  And the metaphysical is crucial to understanding what is going on with their abilities.

So if the Dunyain lived in our world, they would be exactly right, because in our world there is no metaphysical data to include, and infact including such data in scientific study would corrupt the validity of scientific conclusions.

But this means in a world like Earwa, the Dunyain are exactly wrong, because discarding metaphysical data means you can never get a correct conclusion.

So what does this mean?  We see with Serwe's Heart (where her and his soul are so close that Kellhus can grab her heart via his own chest, the heart being the seat of the soul) that souls are connected.  Kellhus and Achamian later explain that each soul is like a pinprick of a greater light. We see both Esmenet and Serwe and Cnaiur have all acquired 'leaky' information from Kellhus or Moenghus via the closeness of their mundane souls to the Dunyain souls (Esmenet has out of body experiences, seeing herself from Kellhus' or Serwe's eyes and also picks up lots of Dunyain terminology like Absolute that Kellhus rarely ever vocalizes (but thinks about regularly).  In other words souls are connected and communication happens from soul to soul, incredibly fast.

Just like how the thought that causes a face to smile happens incredibly fast, the thought leads to the action of smiling, and Kellhus and the Dunyain think that they see the muscles reflect the thought, they think they reverse engineer the muscle movement to identify or hypothesize the sourcing thought.

That would be right, in our world.  Technology is being worked on that analyzes the muscles of the face and tailors advertising based on the reverse engineered hypothesis of what thoughts (conscious or unconscious) caused those muscle movements.

But we know it's not right in Earwa.  What's happening in Earwa is something the Dunyain cannot conceive--so because they cannot conceive it they have invented an elaborate belief and training structure to explain it: they read faces.

What the Dunyain do not realize is the metaphysical component. They are not reading thoughts from faces, they are reading thoughts from that super-fast soul-to-soul communication.  Their training and breeding would still select and hone this ability, they just wouldn't understand the origins of what they are doing, because they think faces not souls.   This is why the native ability is metaphysical--based on the proportions of the soul in question--rather than genetic.  So Kellhus' children have a lot of his abilities because of the proportions of their souls, not because they were trained as he was.  They lack the technique but they have the talent.

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« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2014, 09:48:14 pm »
@ locke - I really like your 'reading souls not faces' thing.  Right on with the Dunyain leaving out the metaphysical.

Wanted to chime in the Maithanet had to be 'stunted' because of his lack of expert training.  I don't know if old Moe was even a pragma, but I suspect Kellhus enjoyed direction from a plethora of Dunyain authorities--Moe wouldn't be able to provide for all of that.

I don't remember who said that they thought Kellhus is like the "breath that is ground"; they argued that Kellhus will play the prophet until he is.  I wonder if the Dunyain could pull the same trick with the metaphysical dimension of reality.  Pretend that the world is meaningless and ordered by laws until the world conforms.  This would fit with the view that the series will end with the disenchantment of Earwe.

MrGanondorf

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« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2014, 12:37:16 pm »
@ locke - your insistence on the metaphysical over the physical has cleared up something that bugged me for a long time: that there is simply no way that the dunyain could breed a Kellhus in the confines of Ishual because of physical limits.  He would have had no exposure to 3 seas diseases, allergies, even drugs and alcohol would be a huge wild card.  But if the Dunyain were (knowingly or not) breeding for some kind of extreme being (objectively better or worse, like Mimara's comment about good men being better than good women) THEN they could also be breeding for metaphysical advantages, like being on the right side of the god of disease.

Could you breed to please all gods or does pleasing more necessarily mean invoking another's anger?  Got to wonder what the Pragma are up to hidden from Kellhus eyes.  If there is any regularity to appeasing the gods, the Dunyain would have made an exact science of it to efficiently maximize divine favor.

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« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2014, 02:03:50 am »
Because of TDTCB, nature and nurture are firmly intertwined.

The dunyain seek to control their history so that their nature is controlled by the logos, which is supposedly outside the circuit of TDTCB. 

Thus, as an end product of this process of eugenics and conditioning, Moe and Kellhus's nature (i.e. their physical heritage and spiritual characteristics) is fundamentally 'different' from the world born.  So rather than a shift of focus, I see it as a natural continuation of the premise of the dunyain.   
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