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kellhus == good guy?? posted 19 May 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

I'd like to take issue with the whole good/bad dichotomy. I think trying to moralize Bakker's universe into black and white is to miss an important aspect of his writings. I also find Kant and European Enlightnment thought ethically problematic. While it sounds good in theory, it fails to address many problems which would make its universal claims applicable. A huge problem with philosophy is that it is usually studied completely detached from the historical context in which it was concieved. I think that morality exists, however it looks different as the circumstances shift. And this not moral relativism. We could all agree that killing is wrong, but there are numerous instances where it is deemed permissable. Even in absolutist situations, there are always exceptions. This doesn't mean that you throw out the maxim that killing other people is bad, but you develop sharper skills to evaluate situations and analyze context.

Having studied Just War ethics, I can bring an example from such a context. The Catholic Church, before the Crusades, unequivocally held that killing was wrong. When soliders went to war, they were required to beg for forgiveness for their sin of killing. When they went to fight Muslims in the Crusades, the Pope decided that killing infidels was OK, that it wasn't the same as killing Christians. Muslims were put outside the pale of moral consideration. This is a well honed mechanism in the application of universalist Enlightnment thought, an inherent problem. How could all men have been created equal (except women, and everyone besides white people?) How could we have slavery and colonialism and not have the system collapse under its own contradictions?

Similarly, I don't think that we can put Kellhus in a good/bad dichotomy where he is good if against the Consult or evil if against it. Where are we standing? With him on his mission to protect the Dunyain? Or with the Inrithi? I find that although all that exists for him is Mission, he has moments where he does perceive when something is wrong. (Like the first time Cnaiur rapes Serwe.)

Let's remember that the Scylvendi allied with the No-God in the last Apocalypse. Are they all evil? To the end of time? Because they went to war against other men and killed some? Or is it because their cause was not just? Is the holy war just? Can we really say that making war on people just because they occupy a city that a long dead prophet was born in is just? It is based on a relative conception of holiness.

I think with Kelhus, our ideas of right and wrong and their ideas of right and wrong are not what guide him. The man until now has been outside of history. He is Dunyain. Bad for him is unowned action. He is manipulative and kills, but only enough to achieve his goal. He does not wontonly go around killing people or lying to them. He does not dominate just to dominate. Rather, Kellhus, at this point, is outside of history, and context, relative to his mission, is everything. This may change. But perhaps this is why he occupies such an ambiguous moral position. He is outside of emotions. He is pure intellect. He is war.

That's how I read it anyway. view post


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