[TGO Spoilers] The Judging Eye - Is it objective truth?

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Titan

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« on: July 24, 2016, 05:54:46 am »
Some thoughts after finishing TGO yesterday...

Mimara's "judging eye" visions bother me. Are they really truly 100% objective? I think not.

Her vision is a rare gift from the gods, yes? But we already know the the Gods do not see all. And there also seems to be some sort of feedback loop from faith of believers across time to the gods. Yatwer is strong because of the number of believers/followers. So... The judging eye sees things certain actions as "damned" because the majority of souls view those actions as "damned"? But does that really mean that this is true!?!

This also brings me back to the idea of sorcery "staining" someone. Yes, sorcery is different that natural things. The "few" - and well conditioned Dunyain - can see the difference between natural and sorcerous things. But why does using sorcery damn you? Isn't that an idea that the Inchoroi snuck into the Tusk? To create this division between normals and sorcerers? Didn't priest-sorcerors lead humans before they entered Earwa, so why would using it cause you to be damned in the first place?

So when Mimara declares Cnaiur the most damned soul she as ever seen - this just seems... strange. Yes, he is a bad man. He has done many evil things. But the judging eye shows him that harshly? Really?

So in conclusion, all these thoughts somehow makes me think that the Judging Eye is not as objectively true, that it only shows her the limited POV of the god(s), with a fair sprinkling of her own prejudices. Thoughts?


Viridius

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« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2016, 10:23:14 am »
Hi Titan,

I completely agree with you. Bakker says: "morality is objective." Hence the Judging Eye affords Mimara a vision of reality; of the spiritual state of a person.  How come? Is that the nature of reality on this planet, in this universe? (That would fit with the Inchoroi's interstellar quest.) Is this because some creator god made it that way? My question is: is this objectivity & the damnation it implies a premise upon which the story is based or a belief of the civilisations in the story?

Humans, Nonmen & Ichoroi all seem to believe in damnation (& that most of them are damned.) But is that so? Hell & damnation are concepts found in pre-modern societies like those on Earwa & are very useful for social manipulation & mind control. A key question for historians of Earwa would be: who first introduced the idea of damnation?

If enough people believe in damnation then it would become an unquestioned fact, like: "Of course then world is flat, just look at it. How could it be an oblate spheroid? We'd all fall off. D'oh!" If enough people believe in damnation then the fear or the anticipation of it or the surrender to it's inevitability would be real & powerful forces at work in the mind, in the world. In a world where sorcery works repeating the mantra "I am damned," every day might even create a hell for you. It might even condition "The Outside" to become a hell dimension. This may be where Kellhus, the unconditioned comes in.

Damnation could have been invented by the Nonmen, within their own culture for various reasons or it might have just been a bad idea someone had some time which caught on. They might have used it in their enslavement of the Emwama, to condition humans. However the Inchoroi might have introduced both races to the concept of damnation. (To humans via the Tusk?) This would have happened so long ago that no-one remembers. There is no-one to question it. The Inverse Fire could be a device which convinces a person of their own personal damnation. Use it on certain key people & you can change history. In fact it could be said that it started a revolution & gave rise to the events leading to The First Apocalypse.

In other words, the concept of damnation might be a psychological weapon deployed by the Inchoroi. If so there's no reason why, in a world where sorcery is produced via speech, via words & concepts that hell & damnation took off, unruly thought-forms that they are & gained a life of their own.

Of course we have it from the Inchoroi themselves that they are on a quest for a world which they can seal off from their own damnation. Funny that the world upon which this is possible is the one which they crashed onto. It is possible that either they believe this for a variety of reasons, or that again it's a mythology which serves some other purpose, even simple mis-direction.

Mimara's judging eye might be a way for her to perceive the moral condition of a person & she might, because of the world in which she has grown up, the world in which she believes interpret that vision as a vision of damnation or of salvation.

In a story in which aliens land a spaceship (did it even  crash? we only have their word for it,) &

(click to show/hide)

I think that the simplest way of understanding what is going on is a more hard-SF interpretation: the Inchoroi  are amoral, predatory invaders from a decadent race trying to establish themselves as the overlords of a pre-modern world & making a hash of it because it turns out that sorcery is real.

« Last Edit: July 24, 2016, 10:24:56 am by Viridius »
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Killjoy

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« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2016, 02:02:43 pm »
The Judging Eye "loves nothing". It just watches. It sees the facts of good and evil (damnation and salvation). Just like it sees everything else that "has already happened".

If anything, going by Kellhus' inversion of the role of prophets, the Judging Eye is not the eye OF the zero god, it is a point that can see to the Zero-God's place-beyond-place.
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Odium

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« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2016, 10:30:30 pm »
Hi Titan,

I completely agree with you. Bakker says: "morality is objective." Hence the Judging Eye affords Mimara a vision of reality; of the spiritual state of a person.  How come? Is that the nature of reality on this planet, in this universe? (That would fit with the Inchoroi's interstellar quest.) Is this because some creator god made it that way? My question is: is this objectivity & the damnation it implies a premise upon which the story is based or a belief of the civilisations in the story?

Humans, Nonmen & Ichoroi all seem to believe in damnation (& that most of them are damned.) But is that so? Hell & damnation are concepts found in pre-modern societies like those on Earwa & are very useful for social manipulation & mind control. A key question for historians of Earwa would be: who first introduced the idea of damnation?

If enough people believe in damnation then it would become an unquestioned fact, like: "Of course then world is flat, just look at it. How could it be an oblate spheroid? We'd all fall off. D'oh!" If enough people believe in damnation then the fear or the anticipation of it or the surrender to it's inevitability would be real & powerful forces at work in the mind, in the world. In a world where sorcery works repeating the mantra "I am damned," every day might even create a hell for you. It might even condition "The Outside" to become a hell dimension. This may be where Kellhus, the unconditioned comes in.

Damnation could have been invented by the Nonmen, within their own culture for various reasons or it might have just been a bad idea someone had some time which caught on. They might have used it in their enslavement of the Emwama, to condition humans. However the Inchoroi might have introduced both races to the concept of damnation. (To humans via the Tusk?) This would have happened so long ago that no-one remembers. There is no-one to question it. The Inverse Fire could be a device which convinces a person of their own personal damnation. Use it on certain key people & you can change history. In fact it could be said that it started a revolution & gave rise to the events leading to The First Apocalypse.

In other words, the concept of damnation might be a psychological weapon deployed by the Inchoroi. If so there's no reason why, in a world where sorcery is produced via speech, via words & concepts that hell & damnation took off, unruly thought-forms that they are & gained a life of their own.

Of course we have it from the Inchoroi themselves that they are on a quest for a world which they can seal off from their own damnation. Funny that the world upon which this is possible is the one which they crashed onto. It is possible that either they believe this for a variety of reasons, or that again it's a mythology which serves some other purpose, even simple mis-direction.

Mimara's judging eye might be a way for her to perceive the moral condition of a person & she might, because of the world in which she has grown up, the world in which she believes interpret that vision as a vision of damnation or of salvation.

In a story in which aliens land a spaceship (did it even  crash? we only have their word for it,) &

(click to show/hide)

I think that the simplest way of understanding what is going on is a more hard-SF interpretation: the Inchoroi  are amoral, predatory invaders from a decadent race trying to establish themselves as the overlords of a pre-modern world & making a hash of it because it turns out that sorcery is real.

I really love some of your thoughts here, Viridius! I want to challenge a few of them for the sake of discussion. Mainly, I am of the belief that regardless of whether or not Hell is some kind of almighty topos, the Inchoroi definitely believe in their own damnation. Everything indicates that they fear what awaits them in the afterlife. Wutteat mentions in TWLW that they sailed for "countless ages" through space, bringing ruin to world after world, in their search for Earwa. I agree that this then begs scrutiny of the coincidence that their technology should somehow fail them and leave them stranded there, a race doomed to die and so even more obsessed with escaping damnation... there's so much to scrutinize, in fact.

If all of them had witnessed the Inverse Fire, why would they risk themselves in combat with the Nonmen? Countless Inchoroi died in that conflict. Certainly it could have been handled with more finesse somehow and they had time enough to contemplate their own "shortest path," or at least one shorter than the four thousand years of struggle they've been saddled with...

In another thread, someone (Redsetter?) suggests that perhaps Earwa is a far-future Earth, or that the Inchoroi hail from such a place. I think there's a certain truth in that interpretation regardless of whether or not we receive literal confirmation in the narrative. In any case, what we see are three races who share enough emotional and cognitive overlap that they all fear an eternity of torment - we could see them as potentially problematic roads of transhumanism, something to consider in our future and a tragedy of Earwa's past. The Inchoroi generally seem to represent the essence of depravity, right down to their use of nuclear technology. Maybe the collective fear of these three races what created Hell, or maybe that is just the natural state of the Outside in this cosmos. In any case, regardless of my speculation, I think we definitely receive confirmation that Hell is real to the Inchoroi and to the Nonmen independently and that they reached awareness of it independently of each other.

As far as the Judging Eye, I'm torn. It's definitely set up to look like the most absolute vision of morality we can get in the series, but I think we'll have to see what happens in TUC before we can make a call. It will really depend on what it sees when its gaze is turned on Kellhus, or possibly by that point, the No-God. H speculates in another thread that Mimara will answer the No-God's question... that would be a great scene.

A really interesting idea for an Atrocity Tale would be the Inchoroi's discovery of the Inverse Fire. Maybe a relic they found on another world they conquered while they swarmed across it? Maybe one left for them by a race they extinguished, so that they could see the fruits of their labor? Bakker could go a lot of interesting places with that.

spacemost

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« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2016, 11:46:41 pm »
Has Mimara ever seen a 'pure' soul with her eye? Maybe everyone is damned.

Cosi

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« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2016, 03:54:35 am »
Has Mimara ever seen a 'pure' soul with her eye? Maybe everyone is damned.

I recall early in The Judging Eye when she's first introduced it mentions something like "good men shine more than good women", but that could easily be a degrees of damnation thing rather than seeing people who are actually saved.

Titan

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« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2016, 05:27:30 am »
Has Mimara ever seen a 'pure' soul with her eye? Maybe everyone is damned.

I recall early in The Judging Eye when she's first introduced it mentions something like "good men shine more than good women", but that could easily be a degrees of damnation thing rather than seeing people who are actually saved.

Yes, and the "fact" that she says that men's souls "shine brighter" than women's is probably another giveaway that the Judging eye is heavily influenced by Earwa society and history, and *not* objective truth.

Mandos

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« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2016, 06:07:14 am »
Quote

Yes, and the "fact" that she says that men's souls "shine brighter" than women's is probably another giveaway that the Judging eye is heavily influenced by Earwa society and history, and *not* objective truth.

Mimara also mentions earlier how pigs are look unclean, while snakes shine holy in the eye, which seems like a very biblical/scriptural judgement.

MSJ

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« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2016, 07:48:29 am »
I asked Bakker about this in the Q&A. Morality is objective on Earwa, so the beliefs of men do nothing and cannot change it. No, I'd have to assume the JE is Bakker's way to show us the true morality of things.
“No. I am your end. Before your eyes I will put your seed to the knife. I will quarter your carcass and feed it to the dogs. Your bones I will grind to dust and cast to the winds. I will strike down those who speak your name or the name of your fathers, until ‘Yursalka’ becomes as meaningless as infant babble. I will blot you out, hunt down your every trace! The track of your life has come to me,

Viridius

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« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2016, 08:39:52 am »
Interesting discussion.

Mandos, Titan & Cosi, we all seem to be thinking similar thoughts & having similar doubts.

Odium:
Quote
...what we see are three races who share enough emotional and cognitive overlap that they all fear an eternity of torment
Indeed, but for me the question remains as to whether some one is exploiting that fear, even cultivating it.

Odium:
Quote
I think we definitely receive confirmation that Hell is real to the Inchoroi and to the Nonmen independently and that they reached awareness of it independently of each other.
I wonder if someone out there has a reference for that. Is it so clear? Not that is unreasonable.

Odium:
Quote
H speculates in another thread that Mimara will answer the No-God's question... that would be a great scene.
Wow, yes! I had always thought that it would be Achamian... unless he was in there asking the question himself! ;-)

MSJ: I saw & included your answer from RSB in my post, thanks. It's an important point. I suppose I just don't feel comfortable with that idea! As if these books were meant to make us feel comfortable. LOL. I'm curious about how morality can ever be objective anywhere. (Except in the minds of certain kinds of philosophers & religious zealots.) I suppose it goes back to my original question: is it just a premise that we have to accept, like a McGuffin in a SciFi tale? To which you are, I gather, saying: "Yes it is." If we accept sorcery as a premise, then why not eternal damnation?

What do people that this eternal damnation is? Being soul-eaten by the Gods & Ciphrang?

Meanwhile... he said pedantically... the term soul is used a lot. What is that?

For the record, I'm not a reductionist-materialist so-called skeptic of the Dawkins/ Hitchins variety I just like thinking outside the box & asking interesting questions.
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MSJ

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« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2016, 08:54:28 am »
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MSJ: I saw & included your answer from RSB in my post, thanks. It's an important point. I suppose I just don't feel comfortable with that idea! As if these books were meant to make us feel comfortable. LOL. I'm curious about how morality can ever be objective anywhere. (Except in the minds of certain kinds of philosophers & religious zealots.) I suppose it goes back to my original question: is it just a premise that we have to accept, like a McGuffin in a SciFi tale? To which you are, I gather, saying: "Yes it is." If we accept sorcery as a premise, then why not eternal damnation?

I see where your coming from and it's why I asked Bakker the question. I argued a lot about it at Westeros the past couple of years. I was wrong, Bakker says morality is objective. So, I guess in these books, on Earwa, yes it's something we just have to accept.
“No. I am your end. Before your eyes I will put your seed to the knife. I will quarter your carcass and feed it to the dogs. Your bones I will grind to dust and cast to the winds. I will strike down those who speak your name or the name of your fathers, until ‘Yursalka’ becomes as meaningless as infant babble. I will blot you out, hunt down your every trace! The track of your life has come to me,

MSJ

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« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2016, 08:59:27 am »
Though I think that Kellhus is trying to stop is said damnation. The God and the Hundred are separate. And the 100 are the ones whom feed off damnation. Have basically set up the system so that everything leads to damnation.
“No. I am your end. Before your eyes I will put your seed to the knife. I will quarter your carcass and feed it to the dogs. Your bones I will grind to dust and cast to the winds. I will strike down those who speak your name or the name of your fathers, until ‘Yursalka’ becomes as meaningless as infant babble. I will blot you out, hunt down your every trace! The track of your life has come to me,

Titan

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« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2016, 05:12:49 pm »
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MSJ: I saw & included your answer from RSB in my post, thanks. It's an important point. I suppose I just don't feel comfortable with that idea! As if these books were meant to make us feel comfortable. LOL. I'm curious about how morality can ever be objective anywhere. (Except in the minds of certain kinds of philosophers & religious zealots.) I suppose it goes back to my original question: is it just a premise that we have to accept, like a McGuffin in a SciFi tale? To which you are, I gather, saying: "Yes it is." If we accept sorcery as a premise, then why not eternal damnation?

I see where your coming from and it's why I asked Bakker the question. I argued a lot about it at Westeros the past couple of years. I was wrong, Bakker says morality is objective. So, I guess in these books, on Earwa, yes it's something we just have to accept.

That may well be true, but my argument is that the *Judging Eye* is should not be taken at face value for deciding morality/damnation of a person - it presents a very slanted view. (women souls being lesser, and other things)

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« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2016, 05:24:06 pm »
Odium:
Quote
...what we see are three races who share enough emotional and cognitive overlap that they all fear an eternity of torment
Indeed, but for me the question remains as to whether some one is exploiting that fear, even cultivating it.

As far as the reader can organize the information we're given so far, I think there is evidence that this is the Consult's go-to argument for co-option, though I think this also obfuscates the reader's perception of in-universe starting conditions (probably purposefully, given how ingrained our real-world agnoticism-lite seems).

Odium:
Quote
I think we definitely receive confirmation that Hell is real to the Inchoroi and to the Nonmen independently and that they reached awareness of it independently of each other.
I wonder if someone out there has a reference for that. Is it so clear? Not that is unreasonable.

It would be in The False Sun, I believe, Viridius. Just on the off chance you haven't read it, though normally the newest book subforum includes open spoilers for the Atrocity Tales out there:

(click to show/hide)

There's a lot to be unpacked in The False Sun that still hasn't been addressed explicitly in the main series yet. However, that reference is preceded historically by the Inchoroi adding that the "Nonmen are False" to the Tusk and catalogue of the Eannan Halaroi Oral History (revealed in a Pat's Fantasy Hotlist interview and corroborated in-text in TGO), which is preceded by the war between the Shamans and the Prophets (referenced to White Lord by Bakker on Zombie Three Seas), which the Prophets win (those seemingly deemed to have strictly thaumaturgical powers rather than the alleged Shamanic synthesis). Since we don't know much about the Oral tradition of Kiunnat belief as preceding the Tusk, I don't think we can say one way or the other yet that Hell isn't an actual condition of Earwan Reality, as opposed to simply a conception of the Earwan collective-mind.

MSJ: I saw & included your answer from RSB in my post, thanks. It's an important point. I suppose I just don't feel comfortable with that idea! As if these books were meant to make us feel comfortable. LOL. I'm curious about how morality can ever be objective anywhere. (Except in the minds of certain kinds of philosophers & religious zealots.) I suppose it goes back to my original question: is it just a premise that we have to accept, like a McGuffin in a SciFi tale? To which you are, I gather, saying: "Yes it is." If we accept sorcery as a premise, then why not eternal damnation?

What do people that this eternal damnation is? Being soul-eaten by the Gods & Ciphrang?

My bold. As I mentioned above, I think those of us without faith find it exceedingly difficult to imagine living "inside" the starting conditions of Earwa - or for that matter, any of our real-world pre-Enlightment ideologies.

But even insofar as we can treat the Gods and their eating of delicious souls as given factual conditions within Earwa, to me Bakker is still 100% riffing off the Plato text, Euthyphro. In our context, the whole universe as established so far still paraphrases Euthyphro's dilemma in encountering Socrates: are souls tasty because the Gods love them or do the Gods love souls because they are tasty? The direction of causality mattered a great deal, for whatever reason, to our ancient brethren ;).

Meanwhile... he said pedantically... the term soul is used a lot. What is that?

I think we still only have Ajencis' aphorism from TDTCB to bind our opinions in regard to the Earwan soul... "that which precedes everything," though that context seemed predicated a great deal on Bakker's blind brain theory until TAE began shifting our ability to appreciate in-world contexts more widely.

Quote
MSJ: I saw & included your answer from RSB in my post, thanks. It's an important point. I suppose I just don't feel comfortable with that idea! As if these books were meant to make us feel comfortable. LOL. I'm curious about how morality can ever be objective anywhere. (Except in the minds of certain kinds of philosophers & religious zealots.) I suppose it goes back to my original question: is it just a premise that we have to accept, like a McGuffin in a SciFi tale? To which you are, I gather, saying: "Yes it is." If we accept sorcery as a premise, then why not eternal damnation?

I see where your coming from and it's why I asked Bakker the question. I argued a lot about it at Westeros the past couple of years. I was wrong, Bakker says morality is objective. So, I guess in these books, on Earwa, yes it's something we just have to accept.

That may well be true, but my argument is that the *Judging Eye* is should not be taken at face value for deciding morality/damnation of a person - it presents a very slanted view. (women souls being lesser, and other things)

I agree, Titan. That Bakker's universe has an "objective morality" (which I just take to mean a rule-set that is factually true, always, in-universe) and that the Judging Eye is a lie are not incompatible.

Oh, and this reminds me, Mimara does see herself as "saved" in WLW, which seemed forgotten in this conversation.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2016, 05:26:26 pm by Madness »
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MSJ

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« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2016, 07:49:06 pm »
Quote
MSJ: I saw & included your answer from RSB in my post, thanks. It's an important point. I suppose I just don't feel comfortable with that idea! As if these books were meant to make us feel comfortable. LOL. I'm curious about how morality can ever be objective anywhere. (Except in the minds of certain kinds of philosophers & religious zealots.) I suppose it goes back to my original question: is it just a premise that we have to accept, like a McGuffin in a SciFi tale? To which you are, I gather, saying: "Yes it is." If we accept sorcery as a premise, then why not eternal damnation?

I see where your coming from and it's why I asked Bakker the question. I argued a lot about it at Westeros the past couple of years. I was wrong, Bakker says morality is objective. So, I guess in these books, on Earwa, yes it's something we just have to accept.

That may well be true, but my argument is that the *Judging Eye* is should not be taken at face value for deciding morality/damnation of a person - it presents a very slanted view. (women souls being lesser, and other things)

Ok, then how do we explain Koringhus? Koringhus senses the whatever Mimara has the Absolute is behind it. He figures all this out about the Zero-God, repents, Mimara forgives and the JE approves. Again, the JE approves. So Koringhus goes from as damned as anyone she's seen until then, to forgiven and go to join the Absolute, I'd say it's the most accurate POV of any in the book. Even though there is much I don't like about it.

I don't like the objective morality as much as the next guy. But, Bakker is insistent on it, says he wanted to create a world in which it exists. He then gives us a plot device that shows us the morality of things. Its a pretty big part of the story, especially because Mimara can use it to forgive.
“No. I am your end. Before your eyes I will put your seed to the knife. I will quarter your carcass and feed it to the dogs. Your bones I will grind to dust and cast to the winds. I will strike down those who speak your name or the name of your fathers, until ‘Yursalka’ becomes as meaningless as infant babble. I will blot you out, hunt down your every trace! The track of your life has come to me,