"Morality is an empty concept" and
Lord Littlefinger, on 06 April 2012 - 10:42 PM, said:
i don't think it is an important concept. generally in the series it boils down to who the reader likes more or who is prettier. In the real world it is treated similarly.
Lord Littlefinger, on 06 April 2012 - 09:57 PM, said:
rob isn't so bad. he means well. he doesn't doesn't do anything incredibly stupid. he doesn't do anything smart either. All of his Robb's victories come from Brynden, Catelyn and Greywind. I like Stannis but I don't know how anyone can call him "good". I plunges the realm into war when he should have bent the knee, finished off the lannisters, and then sent in the shadow baby after Renly. But at least Stannis was defending his own shit, what the fuck can be said about Ned Stark who basically guarantees war in order to support one bareon brother over another.
I understand that you don't subscribe to the notion of morality, and rather instead appreciate a character's actions based on how effectively they succeed in the world they live in. However, it cannot be denied that the vast majority of readers form judgments and critiques of the characters based on their own sense, instinctual or otherwise, that leads them to hoping for X character to hold the throne, or Y character to receive just desserts. If this were not the case, about 90% of the threads would not exist on the forum. Clearly there's some kind of calculus readers engage in that leads them to such opinions.
The fact that debates about "who should be king" overwhelmingly appeal to something akin to "absolute morality" or "modern morality" is interesting to me as it pertains here. There seems to be a very pervasive notion amongst forum goers that good kingship stems from ideas of fairness and justice, providing for/ not harming smallfolk, utilitarian concerns (greatest good for the greatest number), temperance and good intentions, all of which exist outside of the imperatives specifically outlined in Westerosi governance, or at least in the execution of kingship we've seen. While there are characters who express belief in some or all of those ideals, the practical realities of Westeros make it difficult for those characters to survive/ compete, and we see many of these characters make compromises for the sake of short term efficacy.
I realize I'd earlier mentioned that I believe in a sense of absolute morality, but I thought it would be productive to clarify. To start, whether absolute morality exists or not isn't something I'm as interested in personally, I'd only mentioned it to frame my own position (and prejudices). But probably more importantly, though I say "absolute morality" I mean something more akin to a system of evaluating behaviors in a consistent rubric based on principles of respect for another's personal agency, and that do not interfere with "the common good." I'm not really referring to a metaphysical delimitation of morality, but more thinking of behaviors that sustain peaceful human co-existence and progress. So I believe that "self-interest" can be compatible with "common good," as well as the belief that success can be gained without destroying someone else's. So I suppose I approach morality somewhat rationally as a system of behaviors that enable long-term success (quality of life, personal freedoms, etc) for the greatest number of people as possible, founded on a belief in human progress- a system that yields tangible benefit rather than a "virtue for virtue's sake" argument.
So as it relates to LLL, I don't think our ideas are as incompatible as you make them sound- inherent in my arguments is a notion of productiveness and efficacy, that I weigh not only in terms of immediate personal gains, but in relation multiple groups of people and seen in the long term.
With that said, I think it raises a number of questions for me pertaining to the books, such as Robb's campaign, for example. I can argue on both sides of the spectrum, that the "right thing" is to challenge an corrupt government for justice and independence, which can yield long-term benefits on an abstract level of "rightness" (changing the system), which ostensibly would lead to greater material benefits for residents of the North. Yet, his campaign has caused downright devastation in the short-term, both in the Riverlands and the North. Not only that, but by Robb marching for justice, his absence from Winterfell has led to several disastrous consequences: there is no food storage for the coming Winter, leaving his seat opened the doors for scavengers, leaving his seat means that there is no responsible lord who can offer support for the NW (as is the imperative of the Lord of Winterfell/ King of the North). I'm in no way blaming Robb for these issues (as it was impossible for him to know that this is how things would play out), but there's a huge disconnect between his "noble" actions and the reality of the consequences. I could see Robb's actions regarding a war for justice and independence from both the side that on an abstract level this is morally right, as well as from the perspective that he ceded very real responsibilities by doing so, and that his actions were reckless in terms of those he was responsible to protect.
So if Robb's actions/ intentions are seen as right in the present tense, then it's likely because we interpret his actions from the perspective of modern ideals of justice and accountability of a centralized government to respect its subjects. If Robb's actions are seen as wrong because he ultimately caused more grief for his own subjects, then that's also a modern interpretation of the accountability of government for its people. If Robb's actions are wrong because he ought to unconditionally respect his liege, then that's a Westerosi perspective. Personally, I find Robb's campaign compelling because of the moral conflict between challenging a corrupt system of government and the cost that comes to your own subjects for doing so.
Edited by butterbumps!, 07 April 2012 - 09:25 AM.