Dragaera and Shakespeare [Spoiler for POTD]

Thu Feb 20 15:30:13 PST 2003

> > I think that they must.  Else there would be no scandals > since 
>everyone would merely be acting by their inborn natures and, > thus, beyond 
>rational criticism.
>Well, I don't believe in free will, but I do believe in acting as if it

As it happens, I don't believe in free will, either (more precisely, I've 
never heard a definition that is simultaneously coherant and non-trivial 
[1]).  Be that as it may, even if we discount free will, this says nothing 
as to whether a given persons actions ultimately stem from their inherant 
nature or from their interactions with their environment (e.g., the failure 
to uphold a sworn honor).

>Also, House character must be a complex, contradictory thing -
>this is a theme of _Dragon_.

But how much of that complexity and contradiction is generated by the very 
fact that Dragaerans aren't just stamped out, cookie-cutter, by their House 
natures but that they are, indeed, individuals with individual temperments 
who are *influenced* but not necessarily determined (in the strict sense of 
the word) by their Houses?

I think that the very fact that there are characters whose actions are *so* 
divergent from their Houses that they abandon them to join the catch-all 
Jhereg suggests that this is the case and, furthermore, that a certain 
amount of the coherency of character traits represented by House is due to a 
sampling bias since those who deviate too far are selectively removed from 
their Houses (either voluntarily or otherwise).

Doubtless the genetic variation in behavior is more pronounced between races 
of Dragaerans than between human races because they are, in fact, distinct 
quasi-species, but even allowing an innate nature, this doesn't mean that 
the nature has to be rigid.  There is still a wide latitude for variation.

-- Andrew Lias

[1] Dennett has given it a damned good go in _Elbow Room_ but, in spite of 
his insistence, I don't think that what he's calling "free will" are groping 
at when they use the term.  He does do an excellent job, however, of 
demonstrating why the fears that people have with regards to a loss of 
freedom aren't warranted.  I understand he has a new book that expands on 
the theme.  I'm looking forward to reading it.

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