PDA

View Full Version : Always bugged me about Aes Sedai..


kielbasaj
08-03-2011, 01:49 PM
If Aes Sedai can't lie, how are they able to have false names and alias'?

Moraine = Alys/Mari.

Someone might say Lan provided the names and Moraine just went with it, but wouldn't that still be lying? Be it through omission.

Perhaps I'm just being nit-picky but it seems a bit of a breaker.

Davian93
08-03-2011, 01:57 PM
If Aes Sedai can't lie, how are they able to have false names and alias'?

Moraine = Alys/Mari.

Someone might say Lan provided the names and Moraine just went with it, but wouldn't that still be lying? Be it through omission.

Perhaps I'm just being nit-picky but it seems a bit of a breaker.

They can lie through omission, misdirection and all sorts of other ways.

"I am known as Alys" is not a lie because, thanks to Lan, she is known as Alys. Thus, Moiraine isn't lying.

jana
08-03-2011, 01:58 PM
*tries not to be mean, tries not to be mean, tries not to be mean*


K, I wasn't mean.

Ishara
08-03-2011, 01:59 PM
And they also use "you may call me..." which, sure they can. She never outright says "I'm ...".

kielbasaj
08-03-2011, 02:09 PM
Ah, thanks for the quick answer, major oversight on my part. Makes sense now.

Ishara
08-03-2011, 08:29 PM
Those sneaky Aes Sedai....

Zombie Sammael
08-04-2011, 04:51 AM
After a certain point, would even "My name is Alys" be a lie? You can certainly do the mental acrobatics to make it true: a name is what a person is called, lots of people call Moiraine "Alys", "Alys" is therefore a name used by Moiraine, therefore Moiraine's name is Alys, it's true. One wonders what other mental backflips one could perform to get around the First Oath.

GonzoTheGreat
08-04-2011, 05:18 AM
One wonders what other mental backflips one could perform to get around the First Oath.The one I would use is far more basic still:

I do not know of any word which is "not true". Thus, I could say any words I wanted, in whatever order pleased me. Which, effectively, would mean that it was no impediment to me at all.

Zombie Sammael
08-04-2011, 07:08 AM
The one I would use is far more basic still:

I do not know of any word which is "not true". Thus, I could say any words I wanted, in whatever order pleased me. Which, effectively, would mean that it was no impediment to me at all.

It's even more amusing that a group which contains negotiators, philosophers, politicians, and researchers, were unable to see how enormously filled with holes all of these oaths were.

Ishara
08-04-2011, 07:54 AM
Oh, I disagree. I think they know exactly where the holes are and exploit them to their fullest when necessary. They saw the need for the Oaths, as Suian has so eloquently explained, but that doesn't mean that they didn't seek to minimize their effects.

Zombie Sammael
08-04-2011, 08:04 AM
Yes, thinking about it a group consisting of such would no doubt have worded the Oaths in exactly that way for exactly that reason. We still haven't seen any AS use quite the mental backflips Gonzo and I have suggested, however.

kabkaba
08-04-2011, 08:49 AM
They make many lawyer like statements that are true in the exact sense but may mislead the listener. Like 'what I do here will not hurt you', 'you may call me...', 'I am a student of history', 'In one of you or all three there is something that the DO seeks', 'in Tar Valon you will find knowledge' etc.

Heinz
08-04-2011, 10:56 AM
Zombie, I always took the Oath against lying to mean that if they formed a combination of words to have meaning together, the statement must have truth to it. Such as one of the 'ferrets' the Salidar AS sent, who said she 'came from the north'. It was true. She came into Tar Valon from the north gates, which she swung up to from the south/southwest before entering Tar Valon, making it a true statement. The fact that other people might assume that meant she BEGAN in the north and came to Tar Valon from there is not that Sister's fault.

Whereas, if she had come directly from the south/southwest, and then said 'I came from the north.', there is no truth to the statement.

I realize you're playing on the 'I vow to speak no word that is not true.', and saying each indvidual word is true so there is nothing false ever said. The trouble is, mentally, to know language is to know that a combination of words convey meaning. To know that the conveyed meaning is absolutely false is the mental block. So no, I do not believe they could mentally backflip enough to be able to say anything they wanted based on the premise that individual words are always true. That is how I've understood the Oath anyway.

Zombie Sammael
08-04-2011, 11:27 AM
Zombie, I always took the Oath against lying to mean that if they formed a combination of words to have meaning together, the statement must have truth to it. Such as one of the 'ferrets' the Salidar AS sent, who said she 'came from the north'. It was true. She came into Tar Valon from the north gates, which she swung up to from the south/southwest before entering Tar Valon, making it a true statement. The fact that other people might assume that meant she BEGAN in the north and came to Tar Valon from there is not that Sister's fault.

Whereas, if she had come directly from the south/southwest, and then said 'I came from the north.', there is no truth to the statement.

I realize you're playing on the 'I vow to speak no word that is not true.', and saying each indvidual word is true so there is nothing false ever said. The trouble is, mentally, to know language is to know that a combination of words convey meaning. To know that the conveyed meaning is absolutely false is the mental block. So no, I do not believe they could mentally backflip enough to be able to say anything they wanted based on the premise that individual words are always true. That is how I've understood the Oath anyway.

That may be the case in practice, but an astute Grey or White would notice that the wording is "no word" not "no language" or even "no words". There may be another way in which the oaths can defeat lying, however: even having decided that all words are true and can therefore be spoken, the speaker knows what the purpose of the oath is. Since the oaths generate their restrictions based on the knowledge of the speaker, it might be that if the speaker knows that the oaths are meant to bind them not to lie, to speak a word that is a lie would be to render the oath itself untrue, thus breaking the oath. They would thus be bound by it in the manner you suggest.

Also, it was Gonzo came up with the "no word untrue" method, not me (credit where it's due).

Juan
08-04-2011, 12:52 PM
I will speak no word that is not true means exactly that. The vow isn't not to lie. Is to not say anything untrue... Two very important distinctions.

That's also why RJ phrased it that way.

Say nothing untrue as long as what they say is true, even if incomplete which caused other to draw inaccurate conclusions, is part of oath... However half-truths are a form of lying because when you say them, you know that the person will draw wrong conlusions.

Therefore, AS can lie through true but incomplete statements, but they cannot actually say something that is untrue.

Quickly wrote this on phone in lunch break. I think it makes sense. But whatever.

Heinz
08-04-2011, 01:01 PM
Juan, I agree with how you interpret it as well. But I can also see where Gonzo (sorry for the mis-identification of who brought up the literal use of 'word' first) and Zombie are coming from. In today's bunch of legal crap, I think many if not all of us can understand how literal statements can be taken. Some believe in 'spirit of the law', while others 'the letter of the law'. The letter here could be read as they say.

But as we saw with a ferret Aes Sedai when Pevara (iirc) told her to stop speaking lies about the tales of Logain and the Red Ajah, yet also asked for details. The 'ferret' chocked, because she believed the lies, therefore it wasn't a lie.

So, if they believe the first Oath is to prevent lying, which they are all raised (and Raised) to believe, then it does. And yes, that's what Zombie just said too, but was getting there in my own round-about way.

Zombie Sammael
08-04-2011, 01:11 PM
But as we saw with a ferret Aes Sedai when Pevara (iirc) told her to stop speaking lies about the tales of Logain and the Red Ajah, yet also asked for details. The 'ferret' chocked, because she believed the lies, therefore it wasn't a lie.

So, if they believe the first Oath is to prevent lying, which they are all raised (and Raised) to believe, then it does. And yes, that's what Zombie just said too, but was getting there in my own round-about way.

Exactly. The counter-argument, of course, is the fact that Aes Sedai can lie - "You can call me Alys." I don't think it's too much of a hurdle, though; even believing that the Oath is not to lie, that is still not a lie by the strictest possible definition. "My name is Alys", however, would be - though they might be able to use the logic I suggested at first to get around it. "I am Alys" would be more difficult. "The sky is green" would be completely impossible. One might suggest that the point is that there are degrees of truth.

Juan
08-04-2011, 01:24 PM
I think you are over-complicating it.

To me it's quite simple. As I said, something that is untrue and a lie are two different things.

To lie, you are intentionally deceiving someone (whether with good intention or bad) into believing something as true that is not true.

You can do this by saying half-truths, no truth at all, etc. But you are lying. No way around it.

To say something that is not true.. Well I believe it's a bit more self-explanatory.

Idk where you get the idea that all AS think first oath is to prevent LYING. It's to prevent as it says, them from saying anything untrue. Which is why that "loophole" exists.

Ishara
08-04-2011, 02:13 PM
I think you are over-complicating it.

To me it's quite simple. As I said, something that is untrue and a lie are two different things.

To lie, you are intentionally deceiving someone (whether with good intention or bad) into believing something as true that is not true.

You can do this by saying half-truths, no truth at all, etc. But you are lying. No way around it.
To say something that is not true.. Well I believe it's a bit more self-explanatory.

Idk where you get the idea that all AS think first oath is to prevent LYING. It's to prevent as it says, them from saying anything untrue. Which is why that "loophole" exists.

Actually, that's called omission, which has a different definition altogether. Clearly your ethos associates and equates the two, but that does not make it so.

Marie Curie 7
08-04-2011, 07:34 PM
The oath against speaking no word that is untrue is about intent. From RJ:

RJ's blog 20 January 2006 "IT'S BEEN A WHILE" (http://www.dragonmount.com/forums/blog/4-robert-jordans-blog/)

The Oath against lying does leave room for sarcasm. It is intent and result that matter. No sister can intentionally speak an untruth either with the intent of passing on false information or with the belief that false information might be passed on. Thus the careful slicing and dicing of words. But if someone were to hold up a piece of white cloth and ask whether it was black or white, someone who had sworn the Three Oaths would be capable of saying that it was black as a matter of sarcasm. But not if, for example, the person asking the question was blind and thus might well take the statement for truth rather than sarcasm.


DragonCon 4 September 2005 - Emma reporting (http://theoryland.yuku.com/topic/9912)

Question: Quoting from Tamra in New Spring: "You will tell no one about this, not for any reason. If necessary, lie, even to a sister. Gitara died without speaking. Do you understand me?" How is it that Tamra can tell Moiraine and Siuan that Gitara died without speaking, when she knows full well that she did speak?

Jordan: It's simple. It is part of her instructions. There are a lot, thousands of loop holes, about that thou will speak no word that is not true. This is part of her instructions; she is telling them what they are to say. She is not saying something she believes, and thus she was able to say it.

Question: I have a follow up to a question you just answered. Based on the Oaths: if a sister asked them, if they were instructed, as to what they have to say, would they be able to say it after taking the Oaths?

Jordan: After taking the Oaths they would find it hard to say; even with instructions, they might not be able to say it at all, because they know it is a lie. That is the key: you can't knowingly tell a lie.

Zombie Sammael
08-05-2011, 04:52 AM
The oath against speaking no word that is untrue is about intent. From RJ:

The thing about that is it still leaves Gonzo and my loopholes open to an extent. The quotes demonstrate what RJ was thinking, but also demonstrate that you can quite capably use mental acrobatics to get around them.

I suspect what the questioner in that particular interview was trying to get to was whether or not Tamra was BA. ;)

GonzoTheGreat
08-05-2011, 06:10 AM
The question is basically whether the enforcement of the Oath is based on what the AS believes the oath to require, or whether it is governed by some outside force (and if so, what force).

If the issue is that an AS would not be able to violate the Oath, then, as long as she believes that what she says does not violate it, she could tell lies, using the "every single word is true" interpretation I've given.

If there is some external "oath compliancy mechanism" which keeps track of precisely what AS are and aren't allowed to say, then what is it?

Zombie Sammael
08-05-2011, 06:13 AM
If there is some external "oath compliancy mechanism" which keeps track of precisely what AS are and aren't allowed to say, then what is it?

There isn't, as Marie pointed out.

GonzoTheGreat
08-05-2011, 06:15 AM
But then there would be nothing other than AS stupidity to stop them from figuring out that the Oath is totally worthless. Admittedly, that stupidity may indeed be big enough to accomplish this task.

Zombie Sammael
08-05-2011, 06:25 AM
But then there would be nothing other than AS stupidity to stop them from figuring out that the Oath is totally worthless. Admittedly, that stupidity may indeed be big enough to accomplish this task.

Sorry Gonzo but I think we are going round in circles - see my earlier post about how if that were the case the Oath itself would be a lie, creating a paradox.

The Unreasoner
08-05-2011, 06:28 AM
stupidity may indeed be big enough to accomplish this task.

I see no issue with this explanation

Zombie Sammael
08-05-2011, 06:34 AM
Alternatively, it might be that although various Whites and Greys are able to see the logic, no Aes Sedai really believes that's what the Oath is for, or that that logic would allow them to lie, hence they are still bound.

I've always thought that the Whites withdrawing from the world and dealing only with logic and reasoning and philosophy made them both the most useless Ajah and flawed from the outset. Logic and reasoning (and philosophy) are much more useful when applied to the real world, in any case.

Marie Curie 7
08-05-2011, 07:10 PM
The thing about that is it still leaves Gonzo and my loopholes open to an extent. The quotes demonstrate what RJ was thinking, but also demonstrate that you can quite capably use mental acrobatics to get around them.

I suspect what the questioner in that particular interview was trying to get to was whether or not Tamra was BA. ;)

No, actually, I doubt it. The second quote was from 2005. Winter's Heart had already been released at that point, so besides the information presented in New Spring itself that indicated Siuan thought that Tamra was murdered by the Black Ajah, Chesmal admitted the Black Ajah's role in putting Tamra to the question in Winter's Heart.

So I'm pretty sure that Emma knew at that point that Tamra wasn't Black, and she was asking precisely what the question said: how exactly was Tamra able to include a falsehood in her instructions to Siuan and Moiraine while bound by the oath against untrue words?

Mik
08-08-2011, 04:40 AM
After a certain point, would even "My name is Alys" be a lie? You can certainly do the mental acrobatics to make it true: a name is what a person is called, lots of people call Moiraine "Alys", "Alys" is therefore a name used by Moiraine, therefore Moiraine's name is Alys, it's true. One wonders what other mental backflips one could perform to get around the First Oath.

The one I would use is far more basic still:

I do not know of any word which is "not true". Thus, I could say any words I wanted, in whatever order pleased me. Which, effectively, would mean that it was no impediment to me at all.
Hey Gonzo,

For starters: I like the way you think about this.

While I also believe the Oaths mean very little and that how it makes people bound by them is causing more harm then that it does good, I doubt anyone can percieve them in the way you mentioned and believe it themselves.

Here's why;
There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking the Oath literally.

"To speak no word that is not true"

If you take the meaning of the sentence out of it's context (which is perfectly fine by me!) and just look at the logical meaning of the words of this sentence, you can't be picky. No self-respecting brain with enough IQ to view the Oath this way would believe herself the way you explain it. You either aproach the whole Oath this way.. or you don't.
The problem lies in the fact that I think it's impossible for someone smart to take only a section of the Oath sentence literally. When you view this Oath analitically like in your example, you can't be picky about what section you're going to take totally litetally and what section to view differently. That's not how logic works.

And when I try to look at this from an 'all logic' & 'literally' perspective, I end up with an Aes Sedai who can only say one word; "true"

"To speak no word that is not true"

It would be hilarious if an Aes Sedai looked at it like you said! A very logical & analitical White might convince herself and and up royally screwed because I think she'd only have one word left in her vocabulairy!

My point is that you used logic in a very illogical matter. Get it?

Like I said; I like your line of thought (a lot actually), but I doubt it works this way.

Cheers,
Mik


(edit: misquoted who said what. fixed)

GonzoTheGreat
08-08-2011, 06:43 AM
And when I try to look at this from an 'all logic' & 'literally' perspective, I end up with an Aes Sedai who can only say one word; "true"True.

Mik
08-08-2011, 06:56 AM
And when I try to look at this from an 'all logic' & 'literally' perspective, I end up with an Aes Sedai who can only say one word; "true"True.



Almost choked on hot coffee laughing! :D
Best one word reply ever!