Dragaera and Shakespeare [Spoiler for POTD]

Thu Feb 20 15:50:06 PST 2003

On Thu, 20 Feb 2003, Andrew Lias wrote:

> > > 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
> >existed.
> 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).

I don't see the distinction, frankly.  You act because you were programmed
that way by your genes, your environment, or some complex interaction
between them.  The degree to which genes, environment, or their
interaction prevails affects social planning but without free will we're
robots and there are bad robots (Grr! Arggh!) but not criticizable ones.

> >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.

These are all good points in my view - what I was getting at was that the
House character can combine polarities - so there's the nurturing dragon
mother along with the fierce one, as _PG_ and several (I believe) Vlad
novels put it.  I can see Tiassas being known for both cat-like curiosity
and for cat-like withdrawal.

> -- Andrew Lias
> [1] Dennett ... has a new book that expands on
> the theme.  I'm looking forward to reading it.

Thought his next book was about politics.  Ok, it sort of is.  It's
available at
which Mark should link to so people can pick it up through him...