"Implicit" Morality

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Post by Sam Gamgee » Fri Jun 25, 2004 2:16 pm

Full context explains more...

Frodo indeed ‘failed’ as a hero, as conceived by simple minds: he did not endure to the end; he gave in, ratted. I do not say ‘simple=minded’ with contempt: they often see with clarity the simple truth and the absolute ideal to which effort must be directed, even if it is unattainable. Their weakness, however, is twofold. They do not perceive the complexity of any given situation in time, in which an absolute ideal is enmeshed. They tend to forget that strange element in the world that we call pity or Mercy, which is also an absolute requirement in moral judgment (since it is present in Divine Nature). In its highest exercise it belongs to God. For finite judges of imperfect knowledge it must be lead to the use of two different scales of ‘morality’. To ourselves we must present the absolute ideal without compromise, for we do not know our own limits of natural strength (+ grace), and if we do not aim at the highest we shall certainly fall short of the utmost that we could achieve. To others, in ant case of which we know enough to make judgment, we must apply a scale tempered by ‘mercy’: that is, since we can with good will do this without the bias inevitable in judgments of ourselves, we must estimate the limits of another’s strength and weigh this against the force of particular circumstances.
I do not think that Frodo’s was a moral failure. At the last moment the pressure of the Ring would reach its maximum – impossible, I should have said, for anyone to resists, certainly after long possession, months of increasing torment, and when starved and exhausted, Frodo had done what he could and spent himself completely (as an instrument of Providence) and had produced a situation in which the object of his quest could be achieved. His humility (with which he began) and his exercise of patience and mercy towards Gollum gained him Mercy: his failure was redressed.
We are finite creatures with absolute limitations upon the powers of our soul-body structure in either action or endurance. Moral failure can only be asserted, I think, when a man’s effort or endurance falls short of his limits, and the blame decreases as that limit is closer approached. Nonetheless, I think it can be observed in history and experience that some individuals seem to be placed in sacrificial positions: situations beyond their utmost limits for an incarnate creature in a physical world… Judgment upon any such case should then depend on the motives and disposition with which he started out, and should weight his actions against the utmost possibility of his powers, all along the road whatever proved he breaking-point.
Frodo undertook his quest out of love – to save the world he knew from disaster… and also in complete humility, acknowledging he was wholly inadequate to the task. (Letter 246)

conclusion: So agreed that at some point they have no blame, but the Ring doesn't immediately bring its bearer to the 'breaking point.' So Tolkien agrees with you.
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Post by Bnielsen » Sat Jun 26, 2004 9:05 pm

Something I was pondering today (not sure if previously covered in the millions of posts before)

We talk about the will of the ring, and the will of Sauron. Were they one and the same? Saurons power, being bound to the ring, was destroyed at Mt Doom, along with Sauron himself. But many times in the books we hear about the will of the ring itself.

My feeling is that the ring, being crafted of evil and all that black stuff, was not THE spirit of Sauron, but was needed for Sauron to exist after he made it.

Now, the ring having a will of its own, it wanted to get back to Sauron. Was this because it wanted to go back to it's maker, or was Sauron able to slowly exert his will upon the RINGS will to be found. Why did it take so long for it to 'find' Smeagol? Why was Bilbo and Frodo so resistant to it's infulence at first? Did Sauron, once gaining strength, make the will of the ring stronger?
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Post by Sam Gamgee » Sun Jun 27, 2004 12:21 am

Bnielsen wrote:We talk about the will of the ring, and the will of Sauron. Were they one and the same?


The Ring is an inanimate object, not a living being with a free will and soul. So if we talk about a "will", it is certainly different than the free will of one of the Children of Illuvatar. What kind of will does it have, then? Well, it's possessed with a spirit of evil, undisputably. It was made by Sauron, but it doesn't have the same "will" exactly as him because of the disconnect of knowledge. Sauron doesn't know exacltly what's happening to the Ring, and the Ring doesn't really "know" much at all. That much said, I don't know that you could clearly separate the Ring's will from Sauron's will. They certainly they have the same aim and couldn't be at odds, unless a new Dark Lord was powerful enough to challenge Sauron. I don't know that it answers your question, but your question was a really strange one to begin with...

Bnielson wrote:Was this because it wanted to go back to its maker, or was Sauron able to slowly exert his will upon the RING'S will to be found.


I think you're making the Ring's will too powerful. Don't think of "will" quite that literally. A great amount of Sauron's power resided in the Ring, and he was its master. Thus he wanted the Ring back, and the Ring, being formed with his powers, was trying to get to him.

Bnielson wrote:Why did it take so long for it to 'find' Smeagol?


You try getting noticed when you've been lying in the bottom of a huge river!

Bnielson wrote: Why was Bilbo and Frodo so resistant to its infulence at first?


They're hobbits. A plain, contended race that doesn't care for power and domination, but food, drink, and life's simple pleasures. Hobbits aren't nearly as ambitious as Men, Maiar, or Elves. They tend to dislike working too hard for anything, either, and aren't very fond of pain. A person easily corrupted by the Ring would be one who is willing to sacrifice himself for his goals, and so on. These, of course, are gross generalizations, but they are backed up by Tolkien in the text.

Bnielson wrote: Did Sauron, once gaining strength, make the will of the ring stronger?


An increase in Sauron's power increases the will of the Ring, probably, because part of his power is in the Ring. This means that in a sense, part of himself is in the Ring, and thus when one part increases, the whole increases. The Ring could sense when the presence of Sauron or his power grew stronger, and at those times the Ring's power grew stronger in turn. The Ring go heavier as they approached Mordor, whereas in the house of Tom Bombadil the Ring wasn't nearly so strong. So long answer to your question. Yes.
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Post by Bnielsen » Mon Jun 28, 2004 9:57 am

Thanks very much sam- it was with much trepidation that I ever post to this topic lol ;-)

I *did* like my question, though odd, it only proves that my mind is umm... willing to umm... think... of .. stuff. yeah.
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Post by idoron » Thu Aug 19, 2004 11:31 am

I think of the Ring's will as localized magnetic malice.

It imposes this sort of desire for the ring/power on the most convenient and expiditious entity around. The best entity of all would be Sauron because his will and morality align perfectly with the Ring (duh) so it will work it's way back to him because of it's nature. Birds of feather, you know.

Not that it has a consiousness, but it is more like a river. The water flows where it flows: low ground, down hill, into cracks, under stones, etc. The ring imposes itself on the proud, greedy, weak-willed, evil, etc.

I would have to go back a re-read some key passages again to see if this position is defensible. But all my books are in boxes.
Last edited by idoron on Thu Aug 19, 2004 5:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Bnielsen » Thu Aug 19, 2004 12:59 pm

nice to see ya postin here- been a while =)
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Post by idoron » Thu Aug 19, 2004 3:25 pm

Life is busy with a cross country move and a baby.

Also starting a new job here pretty soon.
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