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kellhus == good guy?? posted 03 Feb 2004, 04:02 by banditski, Candidate

i originally posted this on a discussion board for a song of ice and fire, but i think it should get more response here... ----- maybe i'm too into asoiaf - and all the twists that comes with it - but i somehow see kellhus as being a 'bad' guy. at first i thought he was kind of a 'prince who was promised' kinda guy - the ultimate badasskicker. but now i'm starting to wonder if he is part of, or a different faction of, the bad guys. i doubt that he's in with the non-men, but the non-men aren't necessarily with the no-god. quoting the non-man from the prologue, "i have ridden both against and for the no-god in the great wars that authored this wilderness." so being the enemy of a non-man doesn't make you a 'good guy'. at least i'm quite skeptical that kellhus is simply out to assassinate his father because he 'polluted' the dunyain 'isolation' - which kellhus is doing all over the three seas now, incidentally... ----- it doesn't make much sense now when i reread it, but the point is that i'm really doubting which 'side' kellhus is on... view post

posted 03 Feb 2004, 04:02 by Wil, Head Moderator

I too have the feeling that Kellhus isn't the person we think he is. He's a little too callus and manipulative to be the archtypical "good guy". But who knows what purpose he will serve in the end. view post

posted 03 Feb 2004, 17:02 by delavagus, Commoner

Hmm, yes, who knows... (Looks away coyly.) I made a Poll in the Welcome section on the Kellhus issue. Check it out. view post

posted 03 Feb 2004, 18:02 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

I think Kellhus is up in the air. He is neutral right now, but all of Bakker's characters are morally ambiguous. No one is saintly, and no one is depraved. So far, at least. view post

posted 03 Feb 2004, 18:02 by delavagus, Commoner

No one is depraved?! Bakker would be appalled! Surely he didn't hit so far off his mark with every character? :wink: view post

posted 03 Feb 2004, 18:02 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

I mean illogically depraved. For example, I find many of tolkien's characters too unbelievably evil, lacking the brains that one would require to get anything truly evil done. view post

posted 04 Feb 2004, 02:02 by LooseCannon, Peralogue

I got the impression that Kellhus was completely apathetic to every person he encountered in the book. He seemed to use them as tools and easily discard them if they were of no further use (as he did with Leweth). As for his intentions - I thought he was still planning on killing his father by the end of the book. However, I think in the second and/or third book he is going to change his priorities. For instance once he meets his father they will probably have a long conversation and his father will know how to break through all his Dunyain schooling and turn him to his side or whatever. Other than that I really don't know. It's all just wild speculation on my part. I need to reread tDtcB before May. Hard to remember a lot of this stuff. view post

posted 04 Feb 2004, 03:02 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

Do we ever actually hear from Kellhus that he is going to kill his father? I never remember him thinking that or saying that in an arena ni which we can believe. I am rereading right now, so its possible it simply slipped my mind. view post

posted 17 Feb 2004, 22:02 by Malarion, Candidate

I don't think he did. Bakkar cleverly never revealed any concrete facts about Kellhus. He has allowed us to build up our own opinions/prejudicies about this facinating character. view post

posted 18 Feb 2004, 19:02 by Mithfânion, Didact

Anasurimbor Kellhus has to rank up there in my all-time top three of favoriet characters. Whenever I think of him it's an image of some lone figure standing on a hill, cloak and hair blowing in the wind, ominous aura included. Just seems to fit :) view post

posted 10 Mar 2004, 05:03 by Vanarys, Commoner

[quote="Mithfânion":283uns4i]Anasurimbor Kellhus has to rank up there in my all-time top three of favoriet characters. Whenever I think of him it's an image of some lone figure standing on a hill, cloak and hair blowing in the wind, ominous aura included. Just seems to fit :)[/quote:283uns4i] I completely agree Mifthânion. It annoys me that there aren't more characters like him, but that's part of his attraction I think, that unfamiliar air... view post

posted 18 Mar 2004, 13:03 by LooseCannon, Peralogue

@Sovin and Mal - He does indeed say he is on his way to kill his father, but he says it to Nauir and we are reading from Nauir's POV at that moment. So, you probably have a valid point there as I don't think Kellhus actually thinks to himself about killing his father anywhere else in the books. Regardless I am unsure if he will be able to kill his father. I imagine some sort of Darth Vader/Luke Skywalker encounter in the WP ;). view post

posted 18 Mar 2004, 16:03 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

I think the only information about Kellhus we can assume to be true is that which comes from his POV. view post

posted 25 Mar 2004, 20:03 by Edge, Peralogue

I found it impossible to like Kellhus. He's aloof and manipulative. As for whose side is he on, his own. I think he would be quite happy to side with either "good" or "bad" factions to get his own way. But we still don't know for a fact what exactly he wants, if he is going to join his father or kill him. view post

Kellhus posted 18 May 2004, 13:05 by Attilles Pr'Diem, Commoner

I think we can agree that the Consult is unambiguously evil, ie., utterly hostile to everyone else. So whether Kellhus is good or evil, at least for the purposes of the main plot of the series, is his position with regard to the Consult...the series is called The Prince of Nothing, and we can be reasonably certain that Kellhus is that Prince, so I think it's likely he will oppose the Consult and therefore be a "good guy" for the purposes of this discussion. Though I'm sure any Dunyain would tell us that such distinctions are worthless and I would agree ;) view post

posted 18 May 2004, 15:05 by Peter, Auditor

Apologies, that was me again (I will remember to log in one of these days) view post

posted 18 May 2004, 15:05 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

Out of curiosity, what do you consider yourself to be? You don't have to answer if you don't want to, but I was just wondering since you seem to lament our nihilist positions. I think there is something about fantasy that either attracts or creates nihilist type individuals. That sounds like philosophy to me... view post

posted 18 May 2004, 16:05 by Peter, Auditor

I would like to label myself a Kantian, indeed I try and follow his thoery of ethics, but given how difficult he is it is probably more accurate to say that I am a Kantian as far as I can understand him (next year I am definitely going to be taking courses on him). Anyway, I don't really mind nihilists, one of my best friends is one, indeed I agree entirely with Mr Bakker you have the high ground in the argument so as to speak. I do however believe that whilst Kantian ethics cannot prove you wrong it can protect me from nihilism. Is that clear, sorry I have a feeling that I'm not explaining myself very well... view post

posted 18 May 2004, 19:05 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

It was all quite clear except that I must admit I don't know what kantian ethics are... If you could explain I would be much obliged. view post

posted 18 May 2004, 19:05 by Peter, Auditor

I was hoping this wouldn't be asked cos there is at least one person here who will be able to point out why I have totally misinterpretated it, namely the resident philosophy graduate Mr Bakker... Damn I won't go into the argumentation for it except very briefly because I am a little rusty on this (been nearly a year since I last had to study it for exams). Basically Kantian ethics was developed by Emmanual Kant, a german philosopher of the late 18th century. It is a deontological theory, that is to say that morality is based upon following certain rules or duties rather than aiming for some supposedly desirable goal (as with utilitarianism). Essentially, Kant uses a type of argument called the Transcendental Argument through which one can determine a priori what are pre-conditions of certain things (I am not sure of this, the actual argument is more complex I am sure and this may actually be wrong... perhaps Myself could intervene here, he/she mentioned that he/she was interestred in Kant). through this argument Kant claimed he had found that if there is to be such a thing as morality then it must be universalisable. Universalisability essentially encompasses the idea that morality must be consistent, a rule cannot apply to one person in one situation but not to another in another situation with the same relevant criterion. That was the main argument bit which I am going to talk about, now on to what the theory claims we should or should not do. Kant, through more argumentation develops what he calls the Categorical Imperative which states that one should only act upon such maxims as one may at the same time will to be universal laws. This may seem a little weird, but he then clarifies what he means with an example. Imagine a person wished to universalise the maxim "always make lying promises" (i.e. promises which you have no intention of keeping). The problem is that if this maxim were made into a universal law (universalised) then all no one would ever intend to keep their promises and the institution of promising would cease to exist. The problem does not lie with the fact that no one could ever make any promises any more, that would be consequentialist, instead the problem is that when someone used the word "promise" post universalisation it would not mean anything and therefore the statement "always make lying promises" would cease to have meaning. Universalisation of this maxim destroys the meaning of the maxim and therefore the maxim cannot be universalised. As I understand the Categorical Imperative I think the same system can be applied to lying and theft, and possibly more things beyond this... Kant argues that the Categorical Imperative may be reformulated into what he calls the Practical Imperative which states always treat rational human nature not simply as a means, but also always as an end in itself. I have to admit I cannot remember how he does this and at the moment I do not have access to my book with this in because it has been lent out to a friend... :oops: One final point, how I defend myself against a nihilist... The Transcendental Argument does not require that I make a judgement about the nature of morality before agreeing that it exists (if it exists then it is like this) and from there on in I believe it follows a logically sound path. Someone who denies the existence of morality does so at the same time as I affirm its existence and as such there is no argument between us, merely faith. You have faith that there is no such thing and I that there is. Sorry if this is rather long and probably not all that interesting to most people... view post

posted 19 May 2004, 15:05 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

posted 19 May 2004, 15:05 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

Thank you very much. But regarding your last statement, what If I want to provide examples which support a lack of morality. Can you produce examples that support the existence of morality? I tend to believe that without a deity there can be no morality. And because I feel there can be no deity, I must therefore conclude that there is no morality (using morality in the bigger sense here, not as a personal code). So, what the morality argument comes down to for me is whether there is or is not a god. However, your model seems to support morality without the presence of a deity, but seems to me to fall victim to the same godless morality quandary: there is no real standard if morality is simply a universal principal. Morality in this case then depends on the size and type of your universe, it would seem. Correct me if I'm wrong, and let me know what you think. Edited 05.21.04: Inaccurate reference to Scott Bakker's position on deities and religion removed. My apologies, Scott. Sovin Nai view post

posted 19 May 2004, 17:05 by Peter, Auditor

Oh dear, should have just kept quiet... :) Right, I hope you don't mind if I answer in two separate replies, that way I can keep answers to each separate in my head. I would like to start with Sovin Nai's because it is shorter and therefore easier to keep all in mind. All right, examples whcih support a lack of morality, I am not entirely sure what you mean here. If you mean can I provide empirical evidence for the existence of morality I would have to say I think that is missing the point. A system of ethics is not descriptive, it is not trying to describe how the world is, it is prescriptive, i.e. telling us how it should be. Therefore if I claim that X is immoral and someone points out that so and so has committed over 100 Xs in his life that does not disprove my claim, it merely shows that the world is not perfect. By this same point producing examples of moral actions will not prove the theory. Next, I think it was Dostoyevsky who said "without God anything is permitted". I am pretty sure Kant would have rejected this, but my answer is in no way claiming to be his because I don't claim to know what he thought about morality without God. Nonetheless, when we take his theory what we get is a whole structure built piece by logical piece (I would say that at least, there are certainly parts of the argument which may be problematic, but that isn't the topic here) upon the transcendental deduction. If you accept the transcedental deduction then by extension you accept the rest of the argument and you accept Kantian Ethics. The transcendental argument does not rely upon the notion of God, nor does it rely upon the existence of God, therefore our acceptence or rejection of the argument is separate from God. Kantian Ethics does not need God to make things Right and Wrong, human rationality fills that role. The fact that we are rational and that our moral value stems from this is central to the theory (who can spot the moral dilemma that leaves us with). Now if you do not consider that morality is possible without a God then you reject the transcendental argument and that is fine, but I still hold on to it and I think I am not being inconsistent... back to the nihilist vs Kantian stance again. I don't quite follow your comments about the size and type of universe which makes me think I have missed a central point of your argument and that all of the above is arguing towards the wrong bit... do you think you mught explain this a little further? view post

posted 19 May 2004, 17:05 by Peter, Auditor

Right, second reply, the one to Tattooed Hand... I agree with you when you say that we are not dealing with black and white moralities, but only if we take the general intuitive ethics approach. Some ethical systems would be able to make quite quick and complete judgements over all the actions of all the characters in the book (ok maybe not quick, book is long enough to warrant that). I am not sure I understand what you mean by the problems of making universalisable claims applicable... is this linked to your idea of viewing philosophy historically? Or is it more like Sartre's claim that Kantian ethics cannot encompass the essentially subjective nature of ethics (at least I think that is what Sartre said)? I am also a little confused by your example of the Crusades, the Pope was I would say inconsistent. Now he might have thought himself consistent and to some extent within his own set of beliefs he may have been so, but in reality his belief that infidels are not agents worhty of moral consideration is wrong (they are rational therefore we should treat them rationally). I am not sure what you mean by "This is a well honed mechanism in the application of universalist Enlightnment thought, an inherent problem". If they make a universal rule and then break it they are simply being inconsistent and immoral. Someone could at least try and defend slavery ("look it brought them all to America where their descendedts are much happier" one of the reasons I am not a utlitarian) on utilitarian grounds, but never on Kantian and a person who claims to be a Kantian but also to support slavery is being inconsistent. Oh yes, in the heat of debate I kind of forgot that this was all linked to Kellhus, thank you for bringing us back to him. I would both agree and disagree with you on your view of Kellhus, he does not consider himself in a good/evil context, but I would also claim that that does not stop us form placing him somewhere along a moral spectrum. The fact that he does everything with a single goal in mind may allow him to say the end justifies the means (although I doubt he actually thinks of needing justification), but surely we can still judge him... You mention that you think Kellhus has a kind of moral stirring when confronted with Serwe's rape, but I have to admit that is not how I read it. Consider when Cnaiur first finds Kellhus, around him were the dead bodies of about 20 men (something like that) who had followed Kellhus as some kind of messiah figure from Atrithau and we hear later from Kellhus that he had simply converted them with his words. I think that the way Kellhus treats Serwe is merely the same thing except here we get to see her side of things. Serwe becomes convinced that Kellhus is a god and that he loves her. That sounds like the kind of devotion he got from those men from Arithau. The fact that we never hear about Kellhus's view of her at any of the times that he narrates (at least that I can remember, I've only read the book once to my eternal shame... well eternal until I read it again) I think is meant to help us see Kellhus not as he sees himself, but as others see him. Hmmmm going to stop myself now before I fill up too much more space... Bad me, stop writing and do work instead! view post

posted 21 May 2004, 15:05 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

No problem. My point is that if you say morality is rational, stemming from humans, as I believe you are, then what average do you take for morality. The Nazis' morality? Stalin's? An average, where you can't kill people, but retarded people can be maimed? I don't understand how, without a deity, you can say what is truly moral. Otherwise morality is just a convenient social construct, as I believe. Not that this makes it any less important or valuable. That is what I was trying to say, although I may have missed the point about where kantian morality stems from. view post

posted 21 May 2004, 16:05 by Peter, Auditor

When I use the word rationality, I mean man's abiulity to use reason and reason when given a logical argument can only come out with one answer. The fact that we can work out the argument "Socrates is a man. All men are mortal, therefore Socrates is mortal" is what shows us to be rational so there need be no averaging out. Also, even if rationality were a more nebulous (I like that word) thing, it is not our rationality which determines the content of Kantian ethics, but the fact that we are rational. Nazi values (I won't term it ethics) could not ever fit the Kantian ethics because their racial theories break the practical imperative of treating people as ends in themselves, basically it says we should respect people's humanity and the mere fact that they are rational. Kantian ethics lays down a set of specific rules and at least some of them should be followed in whatever circumstances (like the lying promises one), so there is no danger of it being merely a social construct, it applies as much to me as a Westerner as it does to a Hindu, an animist or a Musilim. Now having said that, I recognise that I may be wrong about Kantian ethics so I do not try and lay it down as the law for other people, especially if they have their own moral system which is relatively consistent internally (a utilitarian for instance) and does not differ too far from Kantian ethics (I might feel constrained to make my views known forcefully if someone honestly believed some moral or value system which claimed Africans were inferior human beings etc. view post

posted 21 May 2004, 21:05 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

But [i:ao194b3l]why[/i:ao194b3l] should we follow ethics, Kantian or otherwise. Why is treating people as ends in themselves the way to go? That is my point. Short of a god saying 'becuase,' I see no way to define morality as anything other than fluid. Scott, in another thread, corrected me, pointing out that he said choice was neccessary for morality, not a deity. view post

posted 21 May 2004, 21:05 by Peter, Auditor

This is the point where I have to retreat and say faith in the existence of morality. The strength of the transcedental deduction (as I have understood it, which I cannot stress enough may be wrong) is that it begins in a vacuum, you have no more reason to reject the existence of morality than I do to accept it because we have given it no content as yet. You say no it does not exist and I say yes it does, you end up believing in no such thing as right and wrong and I end up with Kantian ethics. What is more you cannot attack my stance (well you can but not by denying the existence of morality, you would have to find fault with the argument) and conversely (and I would say unfortunately) I cannot attack your stance although I may try and convince you of the existence of morality (but not through arguments about its nature etc.), because the choice is made in the vacuum. view post

posted 24 May 2004, 15:05 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

I disagree about the vacuum, but I will have to respond later. view post

posted 20 Jun 2004, 02:06 by Dustofsnow, Commoner

That's the point, I think of Khellus. He combines Nietzhian ethics (if such a thing exists) and Kantian ethics. If you remember the quote at the beginning of the prologue, "If it is only after that we understand what has come before then we understand nothing. Thus we shall define the soul as follows: that which precedes everything." That's what Khellus does. He stands, or attempts to stand in the nothing that precedes everything. In this way, he is or is at least in the position to be Kantian. At the same time however, since he stands within vacuum, since he is a witness to nothing, everything loses the importance it would have in a world of Kantian morality. Therefore, you see all through out that Khellus moves with nihilistic motives and tendencies. Uses people as he pleases without thought of whether his actions breaks the Categorical Imperiative. In this way, Khellus is nihilistic. Now whats really interesting is the fact that Khellus has to know about morality and has to have lived it out before he can stand "before" it and control the people around him. Which is why Khellus is a man of "intellect". The only way he can know about morality while not being moral is through his intellect. Hence, all the refrences to him as inhuman. Afterall, what we colloquially define as human is very much rooted in our definition of good and evil. Khellus on the other hand thinks himself beyond good and evil. Some speculation. I think later books (I've only read the first one and know nothing of the other ones) will see Khellus become more and more tied up in the morality of the people around him. Intellect isn't everything in the human being. In Khellus we think we see a man whose intellect has conquered everything else in him. But consider this, if Khellus stands before everything, then he cannot see himself. He only sees himself though the eyes of other people. And even then, it is because he wants them to see a certain thing. So Khellus is constantly seeing himself as different things, inhabiting many possibilities. Yet something must remain constant otherwise Khellus is no more. And in this constant part of Khellus, the struggle between intellect and morality continues. While his intellect suppresses his morality, it is at the same time being modified by those suppressed moralities. As an example I point to the time on the cliff when he decided that he needed Cnaiur. Other possibilities were before him. But he only chose one. This decision is not made by intellect because intellect only sees. It does not decide. If Khellus was a man of intellect then his is bound by the chaotic everything and does not stand apart from it in "the nothing." If he stands apart from everything then he cannot know this for sure because he cannot see himself by his own intellect. Anyways, this ain't a paper. Suffice to say, Khellus is the combination of the Kantian man and the Nietzchian man. view post

posted 22 Jun 2004, 05:06 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

WOW. Welcome to the board and what a first post! Re the vacuum (sorry about the lag): We may begin in vacuum, which I have not thought enough about yet to have an opinion regarding, but in the post-vacuum existence, life, we can make theory decisions based on evidence. I see more evidence of a lack of morality than presence. Regardless of where we begin, we can still analyze the world around us. Also, where is this vacuum? Prior to conscious thought? If that is the case then we apparantly randomly choose a belief or disbelief in morality. If you can't think about it, you can't even make a decision. view post

posted 02 Jul 2004, 20:07 by Tighe, Commoner

BTW the last post was mine view post

posted 03 Jul 2004, 21:07 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

Um, I don't think any of us are (lawyers, that is). Mostly absessed readers. Though I suppose its quite a complement. Kellhus himself may be neither good nor evil, but I think he can be put into a perspecitve within the story. In TDTCB I think he would be considered a good character based on his actions, if not his motives. Welcome to the forum, way to jump in! view post

posted 04 Jul 2004, 15:07 by saintjon, Auditor

For me it's the opposite. In The Darkness That Comes Before his actions were what made him out to be er 'questionable' to me, whereas I think his motive might be a respectable enough one. Well when he first left Ishual he was thinking to himself "I shall dwell in the house of my father." Now that could just mean that he's going to hang around after he kills him, but I don't think so. He seems (and even more through the second book) like he yearns for his father in a different way. After all, neither of them can go back to Ishual, and an island of Dunyain in a sea of deluded animals would probably start to appeal to him after awhile. Also, going out into the world and blindly following the Dunyain mission to the letter kind of goes against what the dunyain are about anyways. Why shouldn't he (or what he wants to do) come first? Anyways, for me de-valuing everyone around you because they can't see what you can does not a good man make. Even the ones he supposedly decides to "help out", he only shows them enough of what the Dunyain understand to make them need/want him even more. In the prologue the monk who found the Anasurimbor says crimes will continue "only so long as men are decieved", well I fail to see how being decieved by history is worse than being decieved by Kellhus. view post

posted 04 Jul 2004, 22:07 by Loof, Peralogue

Great reply saintjon, you summed up my feelings about Khellus almost exactly. Especialy the inconsistency about trying to eliminate ignorance and at the same time deceiveing and useing everyone around him. view post

posted 05 Jul 2004, 16:07 by saintjon, Auditor

Thank you for the compliment. Even if Kellhus did use his abilities truly for the greater good of those around him the idea of him still scares the bejeezus out of me. view post

posted 05 Jul 2004, 19:07 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

I think you are right, actually. I never thought about it quite like that, and I agree with you. I still maintain that the reader empathizes with him as a 'good' character (at least in TDTCB). view post

posted 06 Jul 2004, 05:07 by saintjon, Auditor

Oh I dunno about that so much, he sort of moves in the trappings, but the way he worked Lleweth over was pretty harsh. view post

posted 22 Feb 2005, 23:02 by RevCasy, Candidate

[quote:2jpf8dsx]I still maintain that the reader empathizes with him as a 'good' character (at least in TDTCB).[/quote:2jpf8dsx] I'm a reader and I didn't empathize with him as a good character. I identified with him as a protagonist, and because the character fascinated me, but I never stopped being troubled by him and thinking of him as, if not evil, not-good. I've never been the type to root for the villains either. Kellhus is a little like Dirty Harry (without the redeeming quasi-moral crusade against crime), you like him because he is strong and hard, not because he is nice, or even good. However, I suppose that it is easier to avoid thinking about the troubling aspect of Dirty Harry (precisely because Harry justifies himself with that quasi-morality) than it is to ignore Kellhus' amoral manipulations. If Kellhus had died I would have been dissappointed, and I suppose that reaches to the heart of my loyalties, doesn't it? But I would rather, over the course of the series, that Kellhus would become... more than he is now. Because, as he is now, I can imagine the possibility of being glad if he died at the end of PoN. view post

posted 14 Apr 2005, 00:04 by Scilvenas, Auditor

I wouldn't say he's a bad guy. The problem is trying to judge him by "normal person" standards. He's quite a bit beyond "normal" in ability. If you judge him by a lower standard, a human standard, he appears almost evil. No, I think the problems might arise if he ever becomes capable of judging by human standards. view post

posted 14 Apr 2005, 13:04 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

Well, some strange things are happening to him. He's beginning to have emotions and involuntary emotional reactions. I am not sure he is evil either, at least not in the sense of what we think of as unadulterated malice. He simply has one overarching goal -to get to dad - and all other things must be made to follow. (Maybe also to be equal to dad, hence the desire to learn the sorcery). I am just curious, if the Dunyain are so free of emotions and customs and history, what is this sense of "Father" that he sets out with from the beginning and does that change over the course of the book? What is vested in the biological connection? What cultural notions of paternity? view post

posted 21 Apr 2005, 14:04 by Randal, Auditor

I don't know whether universal morality exists or not, but by my code of ethics Kellhus is evil, for his casual abuse of humans when it suits his ends. Not just when it's absolutely necessary to achieve his goal, but also when it just might give him an infinitesimal advantage later on will Kellhus gladly kill, manipulate and destroy. Not even an "end justifies the means" defence (to which I do not subscribe) would get Kellhus off completely, I think. But he is more than just evil. Cnaiur is evil, probably more so then Kellhus, since the Sklyvendi destroys, kills and maims for pleasure, whilst Kellhus destroys to achieve a goal he percieves as necessary. But even so, when the two of them travelled through the steppes I found myself rooting for Cnaiur to prevail, to defeat and kill the abomination that is Kellhus. For whilst Cnaiur is a thoroughly evil and despicable man, it's a human evil, which I can in some ways understand even as I abhor it. Kellhus... frightens me. Yes, the book would not nearly be as interesting without the Dunyain monk, so on a more rational level I wanted him to survive. But that did not change the way I felt. I think, as some have said above, that Kellhus indeed cannot be judged by human standards. He is beyond that. But to me, that does not make him more than human. It makes him less. He no longer is one of us. Instead, he is utterly alien; the monster in the night, the beast that howls and screams at the moon, the unknown and the enemy of all. Although he wears a pleasant mask, he'll destroy you with as little thought as the beast that jumps your back in the woods. And the fact that he acts not out of mindless hunger, but out of cold logic combined with preternatural intelligence, only makes him more of a threat. Maybe Kellhus is more than human. Maybe he is better than us. But so were the Martians in the War of the Worlds. And whilst I am one of those lowly humans crawling on the ground in Kellhus' shadow, every instinct I've got screams at me to kill him before it is too late. view post

posted 27 Apr 2005, 11:04 by Echoex, Auditor

[quote:2qn6t8n9]But he is more than just evil. Cnaiur is evil, probably more so then Kellhus, since the Sklyvendi destroys, kills and maims for pleasure, whilst Kellhus destroys to achieve a goal he percieves as necessary.[/quote:2qn6t8n9] This very topic was dealt with in TDTCB, wasn't it? Didn't Cnaiur explain that the Scylvendi kill out of some twisted respect for life? I don't remember the exact phrasing, but it had something to do with being a part of the course of existence -- of taking life because life was there to be taken. Cnaiur and Khellus are so similar in character that Bakker needs to win a Booker prize for this slight of word genius. Both are victims of their environment. Cnaiur is conditioned to be violent by the harsh laws of his race. Khellus is conditioned to be single-minded and egocentric by the teachings of the Dunyain. Both characters really have no idea how to live otherwise. Does that make them evil? view post

posted 28 Apr 2005, 17:04 by Randal, Auditor

I did qualify "by my code of ethics Kellhus is evil." Maybe Kellhus isn't evil for a Dunyain. But to truly answer that question, one would probably need something to compare them with. i.e. other Dunyain or Sklyvendi. Right now, we don't know whether all Sklyvendi are murderous bastards like Cnaiur, nor do we know all Dunyain are manipulative bastards like Kellhus. Maybe the ones we see are the exceptions to the rule. We do know Cnaiur is violent and nasty even by Sklyvendi standards; that's how he held onto his position despite being hated by all his tribesmen as a tradition breaker and father killer. Maybe Cnaiur is evil even for a Sklyvendi. And as for the Dunyain, I'm not quite convinced they're all manipulative bastards. They teach extreme detachment and rationalism, yes. But they don't come into contact with the outside world, so they don't teach their monks to manipulate 'lesser' humans. Maybe Kellhus made that part up by himself. He's nothing if not good at improvising... view post

posted 28 Apr 2005, 18:04 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

Remember the scene where the Pragma smacks Kelhus so hard in the face he falls down, just for interrupting him... by our ethics, that is bordering on child abuse. But even up to my grandparents' generation, that sort of thing was just good child rearing. Kids were whipped and beaten by their parents and teachers on a regular basis, for their own good. It was accepted practice. So in a way, comparing the practices of the Dunyain (or Cnaiur's violence) to our time (and place) is a little pointless. (Because having killed the most men in battle was considered admirable and brave in most medieaval contexts.) So is Kelhus evil? Maybe from where we are standing. But is that really the most interesting way to pose the question? view post

posted 25 May 2005, 10:05 by Randal, Auditor

I'd be willing to bet Kellhus is evil from the Three Seas viewpoint, too. He himself probably disagrees with the very notion of "good" or "evil." And whilst his people might well admire Cnaiur for his savagery in battle, (for which I do not condemn him either) they still think him a monster for what he did to his father. But yes, it's perhaps not the most interesting question to ask whether in this time and age Kellhus or Cnaiur would be evil. In any case, that wasn't my point. The point was, whether he works for some strange good or evil or nothing at all, Kellhus [i:wwtdqrh8]scares[/i:wwtdqrh8] me. Much more than Cnaiur, who may be a psychotic bastard, but at least is fundamentally human in the dispicable deeds he commits. And I think this is a testament to R. Scott Bakker's writing skills, for I've never encountered any villain who scared me half as much as Kellhus, be it in literature or movies. Even if it turns out he's working for the greater good all along, I'll hate and fear him. view post

posted 25 May 2005, 16:05 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

Kelhus is definitely evil from the Three Seas point of view. He's even evil from Cnair's point of view and I think that takes some doing! I don't think he'd necessary disagree with the concept of good and evil (how ever it may be historically constructed) but he's probably think it's irrelevant, a world born construct. Although there is that interesting moment when he watches Serwe get raped the first time that (I don't have the book with me now) his head spins and he has this new inkling that this might be wrong. Maybe the fact that he is starting to have emotional reactions (like crying at Serwe's death) might link him up with the concept of good and bad and right and wrong in a new way. view post

posted 20 Jul 2005, 18:07 by SoulKing, Commoner

This question of Kellhus being either good or evil becomes more of a philosophical question rather than a physical one. When we reflect back onto that which we have learned regarding Kellhus, what have we been shown that would solidify our knowledge of Kellhus' motivitions being "good" rather than "evil"? What do we know about him for certain? We have learned for certain that his main goal is to find the "Absolute" form of Logos - though we don't possess a clear picture of what this means as of yet. We have also learned that Kellhus possesses an intelligence of the human condition unlike anyone - with the exception of his fellow Dunyain - the world has ever seen. We have witnessed Kellhus' ability to recognize the whole spectrum of human emotions and react in kind. Is it a possibility that we as humans refuse to quantify that someone who possesses so much knowledge and understanding about ourselves and our purely human condition, with all of the ups and downs that make up this condition, from being evil? When we consider his motives, which have not been plainly shown to us, after witnessing is actions, can we truly "know" that his intentions are good rather than evil? Can we base our view solely on the relationship between what it means to be human and Kellhus' keen abilities to influence this condition? On the other side, we know that Kellhus believes that each soul, each person, has been dominated from birth. Dominated by their family, their principles, their society and their customs. Dominated by their fears and joys. Kellhus sees nothing wrong with dominating these individuals for his own end (which [i:o39cair9][color=darkblue:o39cair9][b:o39cair9]may[/b:o39cair9][/color:o39cair9][/i:o39cair9] be a worthy or good end) since they are already dominated. If one is currently a slave does it really matter that they have swapped one owner for another? This seems to be at the heart of Kellhus' reasoning for dominating and conquering those he comes in contact with. So if we analyze these actions can we consider these acts of domination over the already dominated an evil gesture? When we consider what an "evil" act truly is, do we require there to be an [b:o39cair9][color=darkred:o39cair9]intention[/color:o39cair9][/b:o39cair9] to commit such an act? Or can we say that if intention to commit evil is not present it cannot be considered evil; such as when we speak of fraud the "intention" to de-fraud is implicit to it even taking place? Does evil follow the same rules surrounding intention that are so prevalent when speaking of fraud? What if we say - for the sake of argument - that intention is irrelevent and the Kellhus' actions in and of themselves [b:o39cair9][color=darkred:o39cair9]are[/color:o39cair9][/b:o39cair9] evil, but his overall objectives remain worthy and good. With this being the prerequisite, are these individual acts of evil overidden and out-weighted by the [b:o39cair9][color=darkblue:o39cair9]OVERALL[/color:o39cair9][/b:o39cair9] act of good that Kellhus is striving for? Can Kellhus be considered good because his [b:o39cair9][color=darkblue:o39cair9]INTENTION [/color:o39cair9][/b:o39cair9]is not to commit evil but rather to commit good? Does the old-time addage of the end justifing the means hold up under this scenerio? There are many questions that arise when we discuss Kellhuss' motives, overall objectives and intentions and whether in the end Kellhus is good or evil. Simply being able to ask these questions and debate the answers on such a philosophical level allows us to see that Kellhus is one of the most interesting and intelligent fictional characters created in the history of literature. view post

posted 29 Jul 2005, 12:07 by Echoex, Auditor

[quote:2s6qllk8]We do know Cnaiur is violent and nasty even by Sklyvendi standards; that's how he held onto his position despite being hated by all his tribesmen as a tradition breaker and father killer. Maybe Cnaiur is evil even for a Sklyvendi. [/quote:2s6qllk8] Perhaps he is. Or perhaps he's just the best at who he is. Remember, we're talking about a character who's title is 'violent-of-all-men'. If you're going to do it right, do it right. .Ex. view post

posted 29 Jul 2005, 13:07 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

Remember that what gave Cnair away when Moenghus rode away was that he cried. So everyone thinks he was Moenghus's lover (plus according to them, a very "unmanly" thing to do). Thus the betrayal of his father and the breaking of traditions is always in the shadow of the suspicion of homosexual behavior. That is part of why his tribe treats him with underlying contempt and disgust. If that makes him evil is another story. And probably why he strives to be uber masculine by beating his wives and killing the most men. In the middle ages, the accusation of sodomy was not often leveled at the actual instances of anal sex, rather during instances of "heresy", whether political or religious. This is one of those instances where the ambiguous charge applies. There is some homoerotic tension between Moenghus and Cnair, which Moenghus works to get Cnair toward the betrayal. And the muttering of his tribe afterward link the two inextricably. view post

posted 29 Jul 2005, 16:07 by Lucimay, Subdidact

good evil black white this doesn't enter into this story for me. i suspend disbelief when i read. i don't judge "the world of the play". i become immersed. i think this discussion is going on because of the complexity of the characters in this story. nobody is all good or all bad. we see things that are likable about Xerius (or at least pitiable) and unlikable about Kelhus. i am truly surprised at a lot of the reactions to Cnaiur. i find him to be the most intriguing kind of interesting. (but then I always go for the most dangerous guys!!hahahah!) if i had to choose which tent to sleep in, i'd be in Cnaiur's tent as opposed to Kelhus'. violence is honest. it's up front. understandable. for me, easier to deal with than that sneaky stuff that Kelhus is up to. view post

posted 29 Jul 2005, 19:07 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

Personally I'd rather live in a happy little delusion than a repeat rape filled horror fest. So it's Kelhus for me. view post

posted 29 Jul 2005, 21:07 by Lucimay, Subdidact

weelll...i'm not saying rape is preferable i'm just saying that Cnaiur is more up front and Kelhus is slimier and possibly MORE dangerous. losing your innocence is one thing, losing your soul is quite another. i didn't mean to spin off into a tangent, tho'. i only meant to say that i don't think either Kelhus or Cnaiur are "evil" or "good". and if you asked me which one of these two characters is actually capable of love (i.e. which one actually LOVES Serwe) i'd still have to say Cnaiur, Kelhus seems concienceless and therefore more CAPABLE of greater "evil." of course, it remains to be seen, doesn't it. view post

posted 29 Jul 2005, 22:07 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

OK, but Cnair "loved" his wife Anissi too. But now he's fogotten who she is and seems to have replaced her in his mind with Serwe. I think Cnair is too insane to really love anyone. He's obsessed with Serwe more than anything, which you could argue is Kelhus's doing. I am not trying to argue that Kelhus actually loved her or what not, but I don't think that what you see with Serwe is real love. It's mentioned that he even beats Anissi. Count me out! I guess this is a long winded way of saying I agree with you, there is just not black or white here. Sure, maybe we could say Akka "really" loves Esmi, but at the end of the day, he left her before and now, even after all his pretty promises, he left her again. view post

posted 29 Jul 2005, 23:07 by Lucimay, Subdidact

i capitulate! you like kelhus better. that's cool. we all get what we get from a story, no matter the author's intent it's better for me if the waters are a bit muddy, the experience is better, i have to think more, decide how what i am reading is making me feel because if the story is well-told, it's going to make me feel SOMETHING. and in THIS particular story, one of the most intriguing (there i go with that word again) aspects is the complexity of the characters. not just caricatures of barbarians and noble knights. real people in bizarre circumstances. AND i am glad now, to be having a conversation about the story, so thank you! (i had just, for the past week, been browsing around the forum and chatting about whatever, just to get acclimated!! :) ) view post

posted 30 Jul 2005, 02:07 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

And so you have! You have more posts than me and I've been a lazy lurker for a while now... it's an interesting forum, more interesting than most. I'm checking in after a while and perhaps I will see what's been said recently. The wait between books is brutal. Yes, I agree. Black and white is boring and trite. I like to live in the world of the book too, but I have always thought that you can never totally leave yourself behind. Thus is the curse (and blessing, if acknowledged) of the historian, no? Thus when I read history, I know the sources aren't just speaking for themselves, there is the mediation of the historian. And Bakker is in the here and now and what ever rendition he has given us of his world has an element of our time inevitably as the lens... view post

posted 30 Jul 2005, 03:07 by Lucimay, Subdidact

lordy. you've gone eloquent on me! don't lurk!! i'm happy you're here!! this site is better than most!! (limited experience speaking here) i'd like to talk about the dark tower series but i'm terrified to go to a king forum!! :lol: kingians can be very zealous and possesive!! so i might bring it up here if a decent thought ocurrs. anyway, i ramble. thanks again for the communique! view post

posted 30 Jul 2005, 15:07 by target, Auditor

Interesting thoughts there about the nature of the historian, i will have to keep that in mind, especially as it is kind of the basis of my dissertation. As far as the characters go, i feel a greater affinity to Cnaiur than to Kellhus. I would heartily agree that he does seem souless, but what scares and concerns me more than that is his seeming complete lack of agenda. OK, so he has been summoned by Moenghus, but throughout the story i have no real idea of his motives or objectives, especially concerning his manipulation of the Holy War and the major characters. I think one of the reasons i quite like Cnaiur is his ability to resist Kellhus's verbal and mental games (much like trying to make sense of a civil servant - especially Sir Humphrey Appleby, gotta ove 'Yes, Prime Minister'). I won't deny that i like Kellhus, i don't really see how you can. Rather i'd say i don't trust Kellhus and to that extent i would not yet consider him good or bad. Yet. view post

posted 08 Aug 2005, 20:08 by Randal, Auditor

For me, to say I "like" Cnaiur would definitely be going too far. He's a murderous bastard. It's more like I'll cheer for anybody who tries to oppose Kelhus. As I said in my first post, I don't find it all that relevant whether one would call Kelhus "good" or "evil." What's relevant is him being completely alien to "normal" humans, and incredibly dangerous to them. Let me put it this way: if I were one of the people in the Three Seas and knew what I do now about Kelhus' nature, I would turn all my resources towards destroying him before all of us are enslaved. And if that would be impossible, I'd run until I'd put as much distance between me and him as possible. view post

posted 08 Aug 2005, 20:08 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

I vote for running, since there is no possible way to win... view post

posted 09 Aug 2005, 10:08 by target, Auditor

Is there no possible way though? Wouldn't some schoolmen be able to take him out? Especially a member of the Mandate with their Cants? I think 'd probably vote for running too though. view post

posted 09 Aug 2005, 20:08 by Randal, Auditor

There are ways... I would never go up against the guy personally, of course. But if I were a noble of some kind, or otherwise in the position to hire assassins, there are ways. Dunyain training avails not when your food is poisoned... as far as I know. Or an assassin could simply wait until he's in the middle of a crowd (and hence suffers from an information overflow, and won't be able to notice everything) and shoot him with a poisoned crossbowbolt. Or stick a poisoned knife in him whilst his back is turned. view post

posted 09 Aug 2005, 21:08 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

The assasination attempt appears more futile once you've read The Warrior Prophet. Don't want to spoil that here, but let's just say that if there is someone good enough to take Kelhus out, I don't want to meet them either! view post

posted 12 Dec 2005, 21:12 by precentor, Commoner

[quote="Tattooed Hand":2cyrwhq7] 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. [/quote:2cyrwhq7] i think the reality is more nuanced than that. the crusades were the first war waged by christendom for (putatively) religious reasons; killing the saracens in a war to recover the holy land was seen as more like executing malefactors than making war on fellow-christians. and that's probably more of a latin/western thing, which comes from augustine and that lot, and which has its root in the penitential manuals that became popular in the 7th-8th centuries; the east never took that view of war, and being a soldier in the service of the christian empire was seen as a perfectly acceptable and virtuous (i.e. not sinful) calling. view post

posted 12 Dec 2005, 22:12 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

I'm afraid you are wrong. Christian soldiers fought against Muslims - sarascen is a derogatory slur and I don't care to use it shorn of quotation marks - in Spain and Italy before the Crusades. In both cases soliders were required by the Church to repent their sin of killing another human being. At the start of the first Crusade, the Pope issued a Bull saying that killing a Muslim (or a Jew, thousands were slaughtered in the Rhineland by the Crusaders on their way to the Middle East) was outside this definition. A lot had to do with the collapse of the Roman Empire and the relative poverty of Christian European kingdoms vis a vis the more cultured and wealthy Muslim Spain. The former denounced the latter as morally corrupt to make themselves feel better (to grossly simplify things). The representations of Muslim which followed made the later Papal Bull possible. view post

posted 12 Dec 2005, 22:12 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

I didn't mean to imply that being a soldier was a sin in itself, since protection against direct agression was seen as a necessary evil (violence-wise), but breaking a commandment was breaking a commandment, and if you killed someone you had to confess and repent at the end of the day. I do wonder how this view varied with the various Eastern Christian churches. view post

posted 13 Dec 2005, 00:12 by precentor, Commoner

[quote="Tattooed Hand":3u8h1rxo]I'm afraid you are wrong. Christian soldiers fought against Muslims - sarascen is a derogatory slur and I don't care to use it shorn of quotation marks - in Spain and Italy before the Crusades. In both cases soliders were required by the Church to repent their sin of killing another human being. At the start of the first Crusade, the Pope issued a Bull saying that killing a Muslim (or a Jew, thousands were slaughtered in the Rhineland by the Crusaders on their way to the Middle East) was outside this definition. A lot had to do with the collapse of the Roman Empire and the relative poverty of Christian European kingdoms vis a vis the more cultured and wealthy Muslim Spain. The former denounced the latter as morally corrupt to make themselves feel better (to grossly simplify things). The representations of Muslim which followed made the later Papal Bull possible.[/quote:3u8h1rxo] but again, the idea of soldiers doing penance for killing enemies (of whatever stripe) comes from ambrose and augustine. it's not to be found in the earlier fathers. augustine is 5th century, and his views don't find universal acceptance; he's an immense influence on the west (which is where the penitential manuals which prescribe set penances for particular sins come from), and irrelevant to most eastern christians. eusebius (3rd century), in fact, declared that christian soldiers were morally obliged to go to war on behalf of the church, if ordered to do so by the emperor. the east never repudiated that idea. i'm not saying i think you were wrong--i'm just saying that there is nuance and complexity, and that the idea of soldiers needing to do penance for killing enemies comes from late antiquity at the earliest (or the early middle ages, depending on where you draw the line). and the roman empire's collapse was a long process, not an event. for most people in the former (western) empire, things didn't change drastically. peter brown, among others, is very convincing on this point. view post

posted 13 Dec 2005, 01:12 by Tattooed Hand, Auditor

OK, although most Crusaders were from the Catholic kingdoms. But, what were we originally talking about of which the historical example was a part? view post

posted 22 Jan 2006, 03:01 by DB_Cooper07, Commoner

Redaing what I have, he has his own agenda, for good or for bad.... he fights along with the Inrithi... we are given thier side of things... who can say which side is really good or bad... or even if there is such a thing. Seems to me that forcing your religion upon others isn't necessarily good either. There are a lot of hidden agendas left to be uncovered at the end of the "Darkness". We will just have to see. view post

posted 27 Mar 2006, 22:03 by glaz, Peralogue

if i read this as a manuscript, without expecting and knowing anything, id say kellhus is the bad guy at first glance. but then again, because of who he is, id still root for him, even if he's the bad guy view post

posted 08 Aug 2006, 13:08 by Nerdanel, Peralogue

I think Kellhus is evil, even though he wouldn't see himself that way. I see Kellhus essentially as an improved edition of Ikurei Conphas ...and the skin-spies. He is better at what he does than either, but he isn't any nicer. I think it's clear that Conphas is a clever sociopath. He has no lover nor remorse. Kellhus is also like that, but with his mastery of faces he is able to hide it far better. Nobody will see it in his face when he's contemplating the benefits and drawbacks of killing someone. I think a sociopath may be the only true evil there is - beyond the scope of more human-scale evils of people like Cnaiur - and the Dûnyain are Conditioned to be sociopathic. Kellhus is also much like the skin-spies. In the Prologue we learn that Nonmen used the Dûnyain to infiltrate human societies in order to sow discord, war, and suffering. It appears that the Dûnyain were essentially weapons forged for a purpose. Even undirected, they would have retained this heritage of evil, as the Dûnyain culture appears extraordinary unchanging. I belong firmly to the "Kellhus is scary" camp. I think it's a testament to his powers of persuasiveness that all the readers don't see him the same way. He reminds me of Sauron taking over Númenor and Lord Foul infiltrating the Council of Lords in other literature, but we've never seen the process this close and detailed. view post

posted 06 Sep 2006, 20:09 by Harrol, Moderator

Nerdanel I do not think that the nonmen are using the Dunyain to infiltrate human society to sow discord. The consult is using skin spies to do that job. view post

posted 25 Oct 2006, 19:10 by Gutts, Commoner

Kellus is indeed manipulative, but bad guy? I doubt it. The first fight in book one rings too true to me. Also he used leweth but he did try to protect him from the shranc. He told Leweth to run and Leweth said that it was impossible to outrun the shranc(sp?). He acknowleged that and said that that was true but he can slow them down. Seems to me that he could have just left him to die. And this was after he gained everything he needed from Leweth. view post

posted 25 Oct 2006, 19:10 by Harrol, Moderator

Gutts that appears to be true to me too. By the way welcome to the board. If you do not mind go to the welcome section and introduce yourself. Tell us how you got the name Gutts it is very familar to me. view post

posted 25 Oct 2006, 21:10 by Warrior-Poet, Moderator

kellhus is definitely a bad guy in my opinion, when he does something its only to serve his own goals. No matter how good his intentions seem at a time in the end, it was to serve his purposes. view post

posted 30 Jan 2007, 22:01 by Purple Library Guy, Commoner

I think the foundations of ethics, by which we might judge someone to be "good", always come down to variations on the "do unto others as you would have others do unto you" and the idea that people must be treated as ends in themselves, not just means to an end. All of ethics originates in that basic insight, that sort of denial of solipsism, that accepts that other people are, in fact, people just as you are a person, and that it would be wrong of you to do things to them that you'd be upset by if they did them to you. That basic notion that it's essential that the rules be the same for everybody threads its way through ideas of democracy, justice, law and religion. One of my favourite examples is Rawlsian justice theory. This basic concept doesn't seem to change much over time or across cultures. What's different generally is the excuses people come up with for ignoring it, and what particular areas different cultures find it important to do so. By that yardstick, Achamian is a fairly good guy, and very few of the other major characters is. Cnaiur is an odd case--He's extremely violent, but his twisted worldview sees it as perfectly OK for everyone in the world to be violent back. He wouldn't mind if everyone else behaved as he did; indeed, he finds it strange and effete that they don't. He remains evil in that he doesn't take into account or care that the rest of the world that he's violent to don't feel the same way. But I nonetheless have a strange sympathy for Cnaiur, partly because this kind of good/evil assessment doesn't touch the complexities of individual character and background. He has some really heavy and strange forces acting on him, and he's caught strangely, between an intelligence whose potential keeps reaching past his limited, static cultural barriers, and the damage that causes to the stability and solidity of his guides to action and self-worth. Measuring by this basic morality, it seems pretty clear that Kellhus has no ethics in the normal sense. His position is absolute, and as someone suggested further up I find that Conphas is oddly related to him. Both consider other people to be means to their ends and nothing more, both have an intellectual understanding of the things that make other people tick but rightly or wrongly consider those things not to apply to them; both also figure they don't *need* to live within any sort of contractarian considerations because they are sufficiently more competent than everyone else that in the war of each against all, they will handily win. Conphas turns out to be wrong, in some ways a foil to show how badly outclassed a normal brilliant psychopath is by Kellhus, even given the initial advantage of very high birth, wealth and power. Basically, Kellhus' exclusive selfishness and absolute disregard for the welfare, let alone rights or autonomy, of others make him the moral equivalent of a psychopath. The one question he never seems to confront seriously is what all this logos is supposed to be *for*--logic can't be an end in itself, it's a means by which to pursue ends. The ends themselves cannot be founded in logic; if you have an end that seems to be founded in logic, you haven't gone back to look at where the logic chain started that it's founded in. Kellhus is as vulnerable to a little kid continually asking "why?" to every answer as anyone else, but seems not to realize it. I have a sneaky suspicion Bakker is well aware of this; it's an intentional, fundamental flaw or limitation, possibly even an Achilles heel in the end. One or two people on the thread have mentioned Kellhus' objectives, and whether their worthiness might justify his methods. Well, no, they wouldn't. Normal arguments about whether ends justify means don't even really apply. We're talking about someone who, if convinced there would be no longer term consequences, would kill a thousand people for a steak dinner. He would use the same methods no matter how trivial his ends might be. But in fact, there's nothing particularly "good" about his objectives in any case. He's been sent to find his father, and he clearly wants to do so. It's unclear why. Initially it was largely because of the Dunyain's extreme discomfort with the appearance that the father was capable of some kind of paranormal power, something that didn't fit into their views on logos. The whole magic thing bothered Kellhus for some time. There certainly seems to be some indication that either Kellhus needs to be in a very strong position before he finds his father, or anticipates that they may have some shared objective that will require big armies. Otherwise presumably Kellhus could have just gotten on a trading ship and gone there, perhaps in the guise of a pilgrim, rather than hijacking a whole crusade. Whatever the reasons, even if somewhere in the background they include some sort of filial feeling, they certainly don't seem to involve anything unselfish. Similarly the desire to attain some kind of intellectual enlightenment is purely a desire for him personally. It's a respectable desire, but hardly one that justifies objectifying others. Does that effective psychopathy make him evil as such? Well . . . matter of definition. Normal psychopaths are often viewed as evil, but perhaps that's sloppy thinking. Kellhus doesn't actively prefer death or pain, as for instance the Consult constructs do. He just doesn't care. What I will say is that if the No-god weren't on the point of coming back and ending the world, I'd say the main plot question would be "Will Kellhus somehow get his?" In fact, on an emotional level I often feel as if, despite the fact that the consult are out there, despite Achamian's dreams, despite the horror of the No-god, despite the implications all over the place that Kellhus is the only one who can save the world from all that, I'm *still* more worried about whether someone will finish him off. His existence is a danger to the world, and speaking as someone who really, really hates the idea of being dominated by anyone, and hates the idea of emotional domination far worse than the notion of just being physically tossed in jail, if I knew he existed I would fear and hate him beyond all reason. I wouldn't just want to kill him--I'd get violent with anyone who wanted me to *meet* him, potentially exposing me to the bastard's mind control. view post

posted 31 Jan 2007, 00:01 by Warrior-Poet, Moderator

First of all I'd like to say I really enjoyed reading your post, not only was it eloquently written, it was also largely to the point and insightful, and for that alone I thank you. However what brings me to respond to your post was this [quote:eov5k2py]The one question he never seems to confront seriously is what all this logos is supposed to be *for*--logic can't be an end in itself, it's a means by which to pursue ends. The ends themselves cannot be founded in logic; if you have an end that seems to be founded in logic, you haven't gone back to look at where the logic chain started that it's founded in. Kellhus is as vulnerable to a little kid continually asking "why?" to every answer as anyone else, but seems not to realize it. I have a sneaky suspicion Bakker is well aware of this; it's an intentional, fundamental flaw or limitation, possibly even an Achilles heel in the end. [/quote:eov5k2py] This a very insightful thought, as Im not sure whether or not you are a philosophy enthusiast I cannot say whether or not you have ever heard of Parmenides which is where I first learned the concept of logos. In the case that you are unfamiliar with Parmenides then I will use a very good quotation explaining Parmenides' prologue to his poem. [quote:eov5k2py][i:eov5k2py]The Prologue to the poem describes Parmenides sudden insight into truth as a religious experience guided by divine hands. A chariot is described as bearing Parmenides torward "the gates of the ways of Night and Day." Guided by the maidens, he passes through into the realm of the goddess Dike ir Justice. He is there taught "the way of truth" and encouraged to "judge" or "examine" truth through "reason" or "rational discourse"(logos as it is described) -[u:eov5k2py]Great Thinkers of the Western World[/u:eov5k2py], Harper Collins[/i:eov5k2py][/quote:eov5k2py] I would go on to say much more however as I was writing I realized I would be spoiling future books in my examination of such. However I do encourage you to write more and post more of your insight. view post


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