Three Seas Forum

the archives

dusted off in read-only


The metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts posted 30 October 2008 in The Thousandfold ThoughtThe metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts by Thorsten, Candidate

Which view describes Eärwa as it is?

It is an interesting observation that even scientific-minded people in our world would accept neither the philosophy of the Dûnyain nor the causes from outside but a mixture of both. In spite of accepting causality, most people would still hold to some kind of ethic principles which make some actions inacceptable even if they are the shortest path towards a goal. But this is not an essay about Earth but about Eärwa, and here RSB gets to decide which view on the world is true, and we get to know by interpreting clues hidden in the text of the trilogy.

There is plenty of evidence that the Dûnyain understand the true nature of the world. Consider simply their enormous success - Kellhus, a single man, manages to bend the whole Holy War to his purpose. He manages to acquire from Achamian what other sourcerous schools have sought for centuries - the Gnosis. Nowhere do we observe a resistive core from Outside in a soul which does not accept manipulation. Even Cnaiür, who is unusually intelligent and moreover has figured out what Moënghus has done and how, who takes ample precaution when dealing with Kellhus since their first encounter - even he falls to Kellhus manipulation and teaches him war when Kellhus uses Serwë (WP, Ch. 13). Thus, not even a person aware that he is manipulated and moreover suspecting that he will be disposed of once he is no longer useful can resist, of such strength is the Dûnyain principle to come before the movements of another's soul. Likewise Achamian, in spite of Kellhus taking the woman he loves from him, in spite of Seswatha residing in him as a kind of second persona who prevents him from revealing the Gnosis even under threat of Xinemus' torture (WP, Ch. 19), in spite of having a philosophy based on doubt eventually yields to the manipulation. So, how could all this occur when the soul is really something with a cause in the Outside? On the other hand, while Kellhus keeps up the appearances of a prophet, he does not actually work miracles. Finding water in the desert (WP, Ch. 18) certainly appears like a miracle to warriors dying from thirst, but is nothing more than keen observation of natural clues. One thing which would require a miracle, i.e. healing the blinded Xinemus, he cannot do (TT, Ch. 6).

And yet, there is also evidence that there is an Outside. In fact, there is rather good, solid evidence through the existence of the Daimos (TT, Gl 'Daimos'), in particular the Ciphrang which are entities summoned from the Outside and through sorcery in general. Moënghus, the only Dûnyain expect Kellhus to have learned sorcery, readily acknowledges the existence of the Outside as such, however he takes the view that there is nothing found which is not a pale shadow of what is found within (TT, Ch. 16). In other words, according to this view, the Logos is still the guiding principle, causality is valid, the Outside is just an extension of the world, a new domain of causality, not something apart from causality.

But the story offers yet more evidence for the view of Inrithism and Fanimry. We may start with the tantalizing clues to prophecy. What about the Kelmomian prophecy that an Anasûrimbor would return before the end (which is a cornerstone in the relation between Achamian and Kellhus, though in all fairness one might consider the possibility that Kellhus would have found another way to acquire the Gnosis - however presumably this was the point which swayed the Seswatha persona in Achamian)? What about the above-mentioned prophecy to Saubon - was it just lucky coincidence, a 'fortuitous Correspondence of Cause', that events played out the way they were predicted - or is this not precisely the way we would expect purposeful events to happen? Then there are the visions of the No-God Kellhus experiences during the circumfixion, visions not anticipated by Moënghus (who otherwise gave a rather accurate assessment of what happened prior to this point).

Most strikingly, there is the question of halos around Kellhus' hands, in the Three Seas taken to be the sign of a prophet. This is a rather confusing clue. Various people observe the halos at various times - but then when, Serwë, during the battle of Anwurat, is visited by a Skin-Spy whom she takes to be Kellhus, she observes halos around his hands too (WP, Ch. 14)! So, are we to conclude that people observe the halos because they already believe Kellhus is a prophet, and their mind completes the picture by showing them what they believe to be true? Partially that seems to be the case - except that Kellhus himself at some point observes the halos (TT, Ch. 16), and that Kellhus himself, on his final way to Moënghus, asks a question and picks up a twig with two leaves as an answer - and acts upon this answer, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the principles of the Logos (TT, Ch. 15). So, what, except an influence from Outside, would drive Kellhus to abandon his otherwise so successful principles? In fact, Kellhus states quite explicitly that he is convinced that he has thoughs from Outside and that Moënghus is wrong.

We may, as Moënghus does, allow for the possibility that Kellhus is getting mad, that his certainty to be right is the false certainty of a person with delusions. However, let us appreciate two important points: First, any formal system used for logical deductions (this includes the Logos as well as mathematics) requires axioms, stated principles about how the system works. However, these axioms cannot be proven within the system, they are assumptions. The Dûnyain philosophy rests on axioms about what is a valid deduction and what not just as any other system, i.e. implicitly Moënghus relies on an unproven certainty to be right just as well as Kellhus. Second, delusional people usually fail to acknowledge some aspect of reality and this leads to discrepancies they have to explain away. Kellhus does not seem to have this problem - all events play out as if he were a prophet. He isn't ever busy explaining away his failures as prophet. Thus, while madness is a possibility, it does not seem to be likely.

In summary, RSB does not seem to answer the issue which view is correct - given the text, both positions can be argued. view post


The Three Seas Forum archives are hosted and maintained courtesy of Jack Brown