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kellhus == good guy?? posted 03 February 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? 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...

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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...

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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


kellhus == good guy?? posted 03 February 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? 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


kellhus == good guy?? posted 03 February 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? 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


kellhus == good guy?? posted 03 February 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? 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


kellhus == good guy?? posted 03 February 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? by delavagus, Commoner

No one is depraved?! Bakker would be appalled! Surely he didn't hit so far off his mark with every character? <!-- s:wink: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=":wink:" title="Wink" /><!-- s:wink: --> view post


kellhus == good guy?? posted 03 February 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? 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


kellhus == good guy?? posted 04 February 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? 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


kellhus == good guy?? posted 04 February 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? 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


kellhus == good guy?? posted 17 February 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? 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


kellhus == good guy?? posted 18 February 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? 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 <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) --> view post


kellhus == good guy?? posted 10 March 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? by Vanarys, Commoner

Quote: &quot;Mithfânion&quot;: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 <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) -->[/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


kellhus == good guy?? posted 18 March 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? 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 <!-- s;) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- s;) -->. view post


kellhus == good guy?? posted 18 March 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? 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


kellhus == good guy?? posted 25 March 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? 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 == good guy?? posted 18 May 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? 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 <!-- s;) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- s;) --> view post


kellhus == good guy?? posted 18 May 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? by Peter, Auditor

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


kellhus == good guy?? posted 18 May 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? 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


kellhus == good guy?? posted 18 May 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? 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


kellhus == good guy?? posted 18 May 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? 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


kellhus == good guy?? posted 18 May 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? 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... <!-- s:oops: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_redface.gif" alt=":oops:" title="Embarassed" /><!-- s: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


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


kellhus == good guy?? posted 19 May 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? 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


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

Oh dear, should have just kept quiet... <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) -->
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


kellhus == good guy?? posted 19 May 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? 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


kellhus == good guy?? posted 21 May 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? 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


kellhus == good guy?? posted 21 May 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? 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


kellhus == good guy?? posted 21 May 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

But why 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


kellhus == good guy?? posted 21 May 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? 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


kellhus == good guy?? posted 24 May 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

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


kellhus == good guy?? posted 20 June 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? 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


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