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Arkley
02-11-2007, 15:28
As I am not crash hot in Tau history and I don't own the codex yet (Only just bought the Tau Rapid Insertion Force)...

Tell me please... Is Farsight a follower of Khorne? Or is it just played that way?

Typheron
02-11-2007, 16:05
no one really knows, its implied and denied in places but never confirmed to be either.

malika
02-11-2007, 17:02
Check this thread (http://anargo-sector.net/newforum/viewtopic.php?t=399) on the Anargo Sector Project on the Greater Good and Farsight's position in this.

Vasteye
02-11-2007, 17:07
well i don't know about khorne ...

The problems seem to start when he acquires 'the dawnblade' on the artefact world out in the gulf (i forget the name, something like arthas moloch). Then the ethereal gets himself killed (or is killed :eek:)

Now, the dawnblade is described as a blade that flickers with 'unknown energies' and leaves 'glittering arcs of destruction'. To me, that just yells "look at me, look at me, i'm a daemon weapon!". There was probably some kind of imperial message warning against using it.

Message: We really strongly advise that noone pick this goddamn thing up.
Farsight: Pssh, n00bs

I'd argue that farsight has been posessed by whatever minor daemon is enslaved in the blade. A khornate one is possible with farsights focus on combat, but any chaos daemon will do that to ya, and he really really hates orcs.

Of course there's always the necron relic theory ... :chrome:

He who is doom
02-11-2007, 17:50
last i heard about farsight was that he holds the 100th blade of the eldar. my friend swears by this bit of fluff. he says that the reason farsight revolted was that the swords mind freed him of any control.

Flame Boy
02-11-2007, 17:56
Well, the name is similar, the fabled 100th sword created by Vaul to when he faught with Khaine I think was called Dawnlight, so a weapon called the Dawn Blade could be the same weapon, unless we know for certain that the sword was destroyed? I think it was referenced in the Dawn of War novels, so perhaps it's not the same weapon?

Don't you just love these maddening enigmas? :p

GreenDracoBob
02-11-2007, 18:11
To establish Farsight's motives, you would have to know a lot more than what we do. But, as this is a 40k fluff discussion board, it would seem we must analyze without knowledge.

So, what do we know?

-Farsight was ticked off at the Empire because when he was besieged by Orks, he had to fight out himself and his men wihtout outside help.
-After the Damocles Gulf Crusade, Farsight commanded a group taking back Tau worlds.
-During this time, Farsight's group fights an unknown force on Archas Moloch (sp?), where the group's Ethereals die and Farsight finds the Dawnblade.
-Farsight continues on his mission, finally settling in what are now called the Farsight Enclaves. He is not known to have communicated with anyone in the Empire since.
-Aun'shi has been sent on a mission to find out Farsight's motives, though any more information is unknown.

With all this, you can come up with that Farsight has rebelled from the Empire and the Empire doesn't know why.

The boring answer is just that Farsight is disillusioned with the Greater Good, so he has decided to make his own group.

Other answers include:
-Farsight has been influenced by an outside force. This is usually seen as Chaos or Necrons, though I've also seen other theories. Could also be less nefarious, such as Eldar using him for their own purposes.
-Farsight is fighting to protect the Empire, but wanted to do it his own way, without the Greater Good and Ethereals holding him back. This could be in response to whatever force he fought on Archas Moloch, be it Necron, Chaos or Tyranid.
-Farsight just likes to kill Orks, so he is using the Enclaves as a breeding pool and hunting grounds for the Orky menace. I needed something off-the-wall, right? I mean, Farsight is Alpharius, so who knows what he's up to.

ryng_sting
02-11-2007, 18:11
The Dawnblade is crucial. It might be a daemon weapon, though its appearance makes this highly unlikely. Best bet it's of Eldar origin.

Terrordar
02-11-2007, 18:25
It looks Eldar or Necron in origin.

But remember, humans aren't the only Chaos worshipers. Many alien species worship the dark gods as well, and could have crafted such a blade, like how Fulgrim fell to Chaos.

Bregalad
02-11-2007, 22:18
Here is a thread covering ONE version of what the blade might be (presumably that version almost made it into the Tau Codex):
http://warseer.com/forums/40k-background/82157-i-know-the-secret.html
According to that thread it is the Eldar blade Anaris, the most powerful blade secretly made by Vaul to destroy Khaine.

The boring version of Farsight's story might be that he just went Mont'au after losing the last ethereal, as all Tau would without them (therefore the caste system and the special position of the ethereals).

DantesInferno
02-11-2007, 22:28
I always liked the theory that Farsight and his men were sent off by the Ethereals so they could have a "bogeyman" of the Mon'tau to scare everyone with. Bedtime stories conditioning little Tau children to obey the Greater Good are more effective if they can point to a bad-guy - "This is what will happen to you if you don't listen to us!". Otherwise it's just general tales of foreboding, it's much more concrete and persuasive if you can give an example of someone who's gone off the rails.

Farsight was a good choice for the (voluntary?) scapegoat, as he was already known to be disgruntled, so if anyone was going to abandon the Greater Good, it might plausibly be him. It would also have the effect of bringing out any sympathising secessionists in the Fire Caste.

Tehkonrad
03-11-2007, 00:11
yeah thats a good one although personally i hope it is a chaos weapon I think eldar have enough cool stuff and if it was cron it would probably phase out whenever farsight picked it up.

Imperialis_Dominatus
03-11-2007, 00:29
I prefer it's an Eldarin blade (or rather of their gods), because Necrons have too much cool stuff and Chaos is too easy as a default corruption. Eldar have too much cool stuff? Apparently we're all doomity doom doom doom doomed in every way, shape and form because of the Necrons and their sunsucking masters. They have too much cool stuff, thank you very much.

mistformsquirrel
03-11-2007, 01:34
There are several theories surrounding Farsight - but none of them are proven, and all have faults.

1) Farsight has fallen to Chaos, and the Dawnblade is a daemon weapon of some sort.

On the positive - it surely would make some sense as to why Farsight would choose to break away from the Tau Empire. It's certainly bizarre enough to warrant him wanting to get away.

On the negative - While Chaos Tau are hardly impossible; Farsight does not seem to exhibit the right behavior for a Chaos worshiper. I've never heard of him praising any particular higher power, nor have I heard of Farsight offering any sort of sacrifices or whatnot. A Khorne worshipper would at *least* start collecting skulls I'd imagine. There's also the fact that Chaos tends to send people back to destroy their own. Farsight seems more like he just wants to be left alone, rather than actively tearing at the Tau Empire.

2) Farsight has been freed from Ethereal mind control and is now a rebel. The Dawn Blade is simply an archeotech weapon and is merely 'cool bling'; but doesn't really mean much.

On the positive: Its probably the most straightforward and likely theory; if the Ethereal dies, and no other is around to take the Ethereal's place, than one may imagine that Farsight and his warriors may begin to question the Greater Good. This could lead them to want to break away and form their own colonies.

On the negative: We still can't say for certain the Ethereal's actually exert a mind control effect over the other castes. Its a theory that's been posited many many times - but it hasn't been proven (nor disproven). It also makes the Dawnblade substantially less impressive; and GW isn't usually about handing out weapons "just cause they're shiny".

3) Farsight has fallen in with the Necrons; and the Dawnblade is an artifact of the War in Heaven.

On the positive: This theory seems pretty out there; but it does have some things going for it. For one, Tau are non-psykers; this means to the Necrons, they are relatively 'safe'. There's no fear that a Tau is suddenly going to unleash some warp-crazy stuff on them should they get ticked off. The Tau's technology is also purely based in the physical universe; the Necrons can potentially feed Farsight and his ilk technology without arousing suspicion.

On the negative: Why would the Necrons bother? They hate the living, and the Tau are an incredibly minor force in the galaxy.

4) The Dawnblade is Anaris - the Dawnlight; 100th Sword of Vaul, weapon of Eldar Legend.

On the positive: It provides an interesting and strong link between the Eldar and the Tau - something that's been posited in other ways before; including the possibility of the Tau being manipulated in their development by the Eldar. It also makes Farsight a more 'mythical' hero; which is 'kinda cool'. One can't discount 'cool' when it comes to GW storytelling.

On the negative: If the Eldar indeed have manipulated the Tau's development, then why the heck would they allow one of them to get one of their most revered artifacts; then break way from the society they carefully manipulated? It seems like a great deal of counter-intuitiveness to it. Of course the farseers could have some really whacked out plan in mind; but still...

5) Farsight "Knows Something"; and is creating a buffer between the Tau Empire and that 'something'. The Dawnblade is once again "Cool Bling".

On the positive: This would make Farsight something of a tragic hero. Someone who gave up his status among his own people to protect them from something that they cannot yet deal with.

On the negative: Precisely why would it not be possible to tell the other Tau of this thing? Unless its a plot by the Ethereals themselves - *see the above section on that* - it does not fit well to actually take strength from the Empire to defend the Empire against something. The only rationale I can have for this is that Farsight found something out where a political ally is a potential real enemy; but who would that be?

Those are the theories I've heard, and my opinions both ways on them.

BrotherAdso
03-11-2007, 02:39
One option that hasn't been considered here: What if Farsight has in his possession the key to a new direction for the Tau race?

Consider that the Tau are a psychic blank -- not exactly pariahs, but not as active as even low-level humans and nothing next to even the most sedate Eldar. However, this is not to say they CANNOT be. What if the blade he found, Archaeotech from the Slann (a highly psychic race) or the Fallen Eldar (similarly psychics), or even just some splinter colony of a minor race, is a 'psychic amp'?

With his natural fire caste ferocity "amplified," his Etheral overseers dead, and a sudden knowledge of things beyond the ken of any other Tau, anywhere, he decided to fortify the Damocles gulf against the Warp entities within it. Why? Only he has the knowledge and power to stop them, armed with his Dawn Blade and own 'Far Sight'.

Eh? Eh?

I think it is fairly critical that he established a series of heavily fortified outposts on the edge of the Gulf, in all seriousness. If he had really gone totally bonkers, he would have gone on a crusade, or attempted to overthrow the Ethereals, etc. Instead, he dropped his war on the Ork masses and settled down to watch the Gulf like a hawk, fighting the bejeezus out of anything that comes his way. I'd say this points to some kind of enlightenment / mission, one which is connected to his encounter on Arthas Moloch, which is definitely 'Pre-Humanity'.

The term Moloch, by the way, isn't a lot of help, but most anthropologists and biblical analysts agree that Moloch was a 'tophet god' who was involved in sacrifices, probably human children specifically. Moloch appears to have taken a number of forms -- but Jewish tradition has an interesting note that sacrifices to him might have been done by burning the victims INSIDE statues of the God. The name appears in medieval/gothic literature as a prince of hell who specializes in stealing children (dark, mysterious rather than vicious and violent) and is usually high in the ranks of the host of Hell.

So....sacrifices inside a god? Mysterious stealer of people in the night? I dunno, but Moloch sounds an awful lot like a Necron world to me. Though that might be giving the GW team WAAAAY to much credit for intertextuality.

Whaddya'all think of my mishmash theory above?

Iracundus
03-11-2007, 02:51
The flaw with the Dawnlight = Anaris "theory" is that it rests entirely on one very tenuous premise: that the use of the word Dawn in their names indicates they are the same sword. The Eldar do not have a monopoly on the word Dawn. It's the same line of flawed reasoning as saying one person called John is really the same person as another person called John just because they are both humanoids that have the word John in their name.
Moreover, the symbol of Alaitoc shows Anaris, looking nothing like the Dawnblade.

BrotherAdso
03-11-2007, 03:02
Agreed on the problems with the Eldar blade -- but remember, Eldar myth cycles are notoriously metaphor-centered. The 'Dawn Blade / Anaris' could refer to a giant *******' laser cannon -- it's like a blade of dawnlight -- or a blade shaped like the curve of the sun over the horizon, etc. I wouldn't take the symbol of Altaioc too seriously, since that symbol is a glyph from the Eldar mythological language, not a literal picture of the dawn blade.

Kage - I'm not a big fan of the idea he is a 'straw man' set up by the Ethereals. Why? They don't exhibit that kind of manipulativeness in the fluff. There's no evidence that the Etherals are ruthless power brokers the way Eldar farseers are. It's an elaborate plan -- send Joe Commander on a long crusade toward something which will make him doubt, allow him to kill off his Ethereal escorts, and hope to God he won't do anything unexpected just so you can purge your own ranks and strengthen your own ideology. Doesn't really reek of the direct, 'zen master' style of the Etherals.

Also, the Tau have PLENTY of enemies to be afraid of, and to hold together against. The Ethereals, if they wanted to whip up jingoism, could simply point at the stars, and say "Haven't you seen the newsreels of the latest (pick one): imperial crusade, Ork Waagh, Tyranid Incursion, Dark Eldar torture raid?"

-Adso

GreenDracoBob
03-11-2007, 03:28
The Eldar blade theory sounds a little interesting, but the story in the link seems far-fetched. And a Tau who has won fame throughout the Empire, commanded troops in a large battle and a major action I would not consider young by any stretch of the imagination.

But the Straw man theory sounds interesting.

DantesInferno
03-11-2007, 03:36
Kage - I'm not a big fan of the idea he is a 'straw man' set up by the Ethereals. Why? They don't exhibit that kind of manipulativeness in the fluff. There's no evidence that the Etherals are ruthless power brokers the way Eldar farseers are. It's an elaborate plan -- send Joe Commander on a long crusade toward something which will make him doubt, allow him to kill off his Ethereal escorts, and hope to God he won't do anything unexpected just so you can purge your own ranks and strengthen your own ideology. Doesn't really reek of the direct, 'zen master' style of the Etherals.

I think this was intented for me: Kage hasn't actually posted in this thread :p.

For a start, I agree that it wouldn't at all be furthering the Greater Good if the Ethereals were seen to be exhibiting such manipulativeness. That's why, if you're being manipulative, you shouldn't let people know that you are.... In fact, you should seem like a calm, wise Zen master, which is funnily enough how the Ethereals are portrayed..

But I don't think it's a problem if the Ethereals are being manipulative. In fact, it would be a problem if they weren't being manipulative when the Greater Good requires. After all, manipulative is just another way of saying "making what you want to happen actually happen". If the Ethereals have identified a objective which requires some manipulation to achieve, but is in the Greater Good, the whole concept of the Greater Good requires that it be achieved.

I'll admit that my theory was adapted from some of the philosophical thought-experiments designed to attack utilitarianism (which is all the theory of the Greater Good seems to be). If doing seemingly nasty things are actually what is in the Greater Good, then you should (must?) do those seemingly nasty things. If the Ethereals don't, then they're not adhering to their own creed.

But it actually doesn't require that much manipulation. As I suggested, Farsight could even be a party to the scheme. A council of Ethereals suggests to Farsight that they're getting worried about internal murmurings within the Fire Caste, so they ask him to make some public statements questioning the Greater Good, recruit "like-minded" Fire Caste members into his armies, start ruthlessly exterminating Imperial armies, and so on. Then they send him out on an obscure mission, organise for the Ethereals accompanying him to die (or commit suicide?) and he goes off and sets up his little mini-Empire in a position to protect the Tau Empire's flank.

Meanwhile back in the Tau Empire, the Ethereals can spectacularly declare that Farsight has become a renegade. He's taken those whose faith in the Greater Good was weakest with him, and those left in the Empire are given a clear reminder of their greatest fear: the Mont'au which tore the Tau apart before the coming of the Ethereals.


Also, the Tau have PLENTY of enemies to be afraid of, and to hold together against. The Ethereals, if they wanted to whip up jingoism, could simply point at the stars, and say "Haven't you seen the newsreels of the latest (pick one): imperial crusade, Ork Waagh, Tyranid Incursion, Dark Eldar torture raid?"

They're not rebel Tau. The Ethereals, if they had carried out my little theory, weren't trying to scare the Fire Caste about the perils of the void in general: they're trying to scare them about the prospect of the Mont'au. Reminding everyone whose faith was wavering why Caste cooperation is a good thing, reminding everyone why the Ethereals are necessary, and so on.

I'd personally call this the "Bogeyman" theory.

Inquisitor Engel
03-11-2007, 05:51
It always cracks me up how people have run with the "Sword of Vaul" theory I posited on Portent almost immediately after the first Tau Codex came out. ;) :D It's a theory I can (or, well, could) prove that was my original thought.

Anyway - It's likely that if it IS of Eldar origin, then it's simply one of the standard Swords of Vaul, not the final one. Eldanesh and Ulthanash managed to bugger that up... That and it's simply not powerful enough to be a weapon wielded by a God.

Champsguy
03-11-2007, 07:53
I always thought the sword looked more human in design than anything else. Like he found some old crusade-era stabbity thing. I also thought that his ethereals got killed, and after a while, he and his people "woke up". Now, they're not especially keen on going back to the Tau Empire (part because he's pissed that nobody came to help him out when he was surrounded by Orks, and part because they don't want to get mind-whammied again), so they stay out in the middle of nowhere. Where he goes from here is anyone's guess. He's like the Tau version of Yriel, before he came back to save the day.

Imperialis_Dominatus
03-11-2007, 08:02
It always cracks me up how people have run with the "Sword of Vaul" theory I posited on Portent almost immediately after the first Tau Codex came out. ;) :D It's a theory I can (or, well, could) prove that was my original thought.

Anyway - It's likely that if it IS of Eldar origin, then it's simply one of the standard Swords of Vaul, not the final one. Eldanesh and Ulthanash managed to bugger that up... That and it's simply not powerful enough to be a weapon wielded by a God.

Cool, you came up with it first. It still isn't any less fun to toss around. :D

Could it be that it is substantially less powerful in the hands of a creature without massive psychic potential such as a Tau? I've thought about that problem too, and this could be a solution. Sort of.

Really, I just want it to be anything but C'tan, perhaps even Chaotic.

Pete278
03-11-2007, 08:03
I personally think its either a) he's converted into a necron, and the suit is filled with nothing but his soul, and the blade is a warscythe or b) he's found out the ethereals are evil and is fighting against them. Although, if GW wanted to introduce a new race, they could claim Farsight found them, since, if I remember right, he went into an area that was forbidden to normal Tau, and found they were helping/control the Ethereals all along, and so is fighting against them. Seems like a good way to say the "they've always been there" introduction.

Arkley
03-11-2007, 09:11
Really, I just want it to be anything but C'tan, perhaps even Chaotic.

I myself would dislike it to be Necron/C'tan anything but them....

The only reason I thought of Khorne was the number, Farsight and his full bodyguard = 8 is that not Khornes number?

The weapon design does not strike me as being Eldar... Could it simply be a throwback from the Old ones?

(I know this next question is more rules than anything, as he does not allow saving throws fro the weapon would that include WBB rule? My thoughts thats it might be an anti-necron weapon, or thats probably wishful thinking).

BrotherAdso
03-11-2007, 11:05
Whoops! Dante, you're quite right. I fear I got two of the more venerable / respectable posters confused in my haste.

The Greater Good doesn't equate to utilitarianism, neither in its early Bentham/Mills formats nor in its later, more developed, ethical philosophy stages. It is focused not neccessarily on a 'balance' made in choosing one's actions, but instead an imperative in which one devotes one's life to certain precepts around which society is organized. IR, a Tau (unlike a Utilitarian) will not ask himself what breakfast cereal constitutes the Greatest Good / Maximum Happiness, but will follow (without calculation) the directives of a caste whose orders are equated with that concept.

Anyway, philosophy aside (I dislike utilitarianism of all stripes, and, indeed, most forms of consequentialist moral philosophy), I don't think it matters whether or not Farsight is in on the theory. The manipulation of the REST of Tau society via a supersecret pact with a pretended renegade leader is still far too subtle and disingenuous for a caste which leads, essentially, by moral exemplarism.

Though you have a point in that 'the greater good' may require actions which seem less than straightforward, I believe we should give more weight to the fluff we've seen that suggests the Ethereals believe not only in a material greater good, but also a moral imperative in how that is to be pursued. Ethereals seem to rarely lie, always seem to speak their mind in broad terms, and pursue the most direct and clear means to solve a problem. Wheels within wheels do not suit them -- the consequences are too unpredictable and they undermine the 'universalism' of the Greater Good concept.


Imperialis: It's quite possible that when someone with no psychic oomph weilds a witchblade, it's only a slightly bad-**** sword, instead of a weapon with mythic capabilities. However, the position of Arthas Moloch relative to the old Eldar Empire and the description of the battle and the blade itself don't lend too much credence to the theory that it is of Eldar make.

Oh, and on rules: I believe that, since it is a power weapon, Necrons don't get a WBB save versus the Dawnblade. However, I'm way too lazy to go open my codex, so take this with a Gomorrah-sized grain of salt.

DantesInferno
03-11-2007, 12:04
The Greater Good doesn't equate to utilitarianism, neither in its early Bentham/Mills formats nor in its later, more developed, ethical philosophy stages. It is focused not neccessarily on a 'balance' made in choosing one's actions, but instead an imperative in which one devotes one's life to certain precepts around which society is organized. IR, a Tau (unlike a Utilitarian) will not ask himself what breakfast cereal constitutes the Greatest Good / Maximum Happiness, but will follow (without calculation) the directives of a caste whose orders are equated with that concept.

While we don't know exactly what the Greater Good is (it would be interesting to see some Tau philosophy on the subject), the Codex speaks of it as the ultimate goal for Tau to strive for. But it certainly strikes me as a consequentialist, if not necessarily utilitarian philosophy. The imperative is: chose the outcome which maximises the Greater Good.

Sure, a Tau probably won't consciously ask herself what breakfast cereal promotes the Greater Good (because it's actually going to harm the Greater Good if you spend half the morning deciding which cereal to eat! There's a similar reply for utilitarians: a good utilitarian won't constantly question what cereal they should eat. Utility is maximised by them picking without deliberation).

But they will, if faced with a difficult decision, and without the guidance of an Ethereal, do their best to ask themselves what maximises the Greater Good, and then pick that. Ethereals can't be everywhere, plenty of Tau have to make critical decisions without their guidance.

And if an Ethereal is there, the Greater Good is maximised by following the Ethereal's instructions (because disobeying an Ethereal is an incredibly bad outcome, the opposite of the Greater Good).


Anyway, philosophy aside (I dislike utilitarianism of all stripes, and, indeed, most forms of consequentialist moral philosophy), I don't think it matters whether or not Farsight is in on the theory. The manipulation of the REST of Tau society via a supersecret pact with a pretended renegade leader is still far too subtle and disingenuous for a caste which leads, essentially, by moral exemplarism.

Though you have a point in that 'the greater good' may require actions which seem less than straightforward, I believe we should give more weight to the fluff we've seen that suggests the Ethereals believe not only in a material greater good, but also a moral imperative in how that is to be pursued. Ethereals seem to rarely lie, always seem to speak their mind in broad terms, and pursue the most direct and clear means to solve a problem. Wheels within wheels do not suit them -- the consequences are too unpredictable and they undermine the 'universalism' of the Greater Good concept.

You're quite right: it would dramatically undermine the Greater Good if the Ethereals were seen to lie. Likewise if they were seen to be manipulative, or otherwise less than straightforward. Which is why we see plenty of examples of Ethereals being publicly kind, benevolent, and so on.

But that's not to say they don't act in a manipulative fashion secretly, when that is what the Greater Good requires. And we've got a few examples of some activities which look suspicious from the outside: the sudden conversion of the Vespid to the Greater Good after their leaders were given "communication" helmets, the sudden drop in human birthrates after the Tau conquest of the world in Dark Crusade. The Tau themselves aren't likely to know about them, so the Ethereals' position as wise and benevolent leaders isn't threatened.

I agree that the Ethereals (and the Tau in general) treat the concept of the Greater Good as a moral imperative, but it certainly seems a consequentialist one: the goodness of an action is proportional to its tendency to maximise the Greater Good. So actions which might seem superficially immoral (eg mind-controlling the Vespid) are in fact morally compelled if they maximise the Greater Good.


Imperialis: It's quite possible that when someone with no psychic oomph weilds a witchblade, it's only a slightly bad-**** sword, instead of a weapon with mythic capabilities. However, the position of Arthas Moloch relative to the old Eldar Empire and the description of the battle and the blade itself don't lend too much credence to the theory that it is of Eldar make.

Yep, certainly. Good points.

[And apologies for everyone if this is all getting too philosophical-jargony! Feel free to ask if you want things clarified...]

BrotherAdso
03-11-2007, 12:27
Dante: I apologize for my formatting here, I'm not quite a luddite, but nor am I an E-Z-Board ninja yet.


"While we don't know exactly what the Greater Good is (it would be interesting to see some Tau philosophy on the subject), the Codex speaks of it as the ultimate goal for Tau to strive for. But it certainly strikes me as a consequentialist, if not necessarily utilitarian philosophy."

I agree it seems, initially, to be a consequentialist ethic. However, because of the shadowy nature of the Greater Good, it may be a deontological theory masquerading as a consequentialist one. Consider the formula: "One must always do the action which maximizes the greater good". Compare this to the formula "One must always do the action which conforms to the Will of God". The first statement is consequentalist if and only if the Greater Good is a variable, quantifiable or comparative measurement, and the second is deontological iff the Will of God is a strictly defined set of specific guidelines.

The Greater Good does not seem to conform to any set of standards which can be quantified or compared -- it is not quite the same as species survival, nor is it maxiumum gain of resources for minimum loss of life, etc. It is more similar to "will of god" than "maximizable happiness" (or, if you want to get sneaky, 'minimizable pain').

Therefore, the Greater Good seems to me more akin to a deontological set of evaluators -- actions conform to the Greater Good inasmuch as they meet a set of abstract standards or pronouncements from the Etherals.

However, the bearing of all this fun philosophy on Farsight is minimal -- though it does help to understand how and why he could turn from the Greater Good. After all, one can calculate differently within a utilitarian paradigm and thus be a "rebel", but if the Greater Good is a deontological or metaphysical set of ideas, then divergence is the same as total abandonment.

I have to run, but I'll find some time this afternoon to respond to the "Sneaky Ethereal" questions.

Btw, this is grand fun. I hope no one resents the hijacking of the thread...

-Adso

Vaulkhar
03-11-2007, 13:19
*snip*

So all of that was basically a hi-falutin' way of saying that the 'Greater Good' is whatever the Ethereals say it is and that the Tau philosophy is 'Do as you're told by the Ethereals and don't question it'?

malika
03-11-2007, 13:42
Im kind of tired that everything seems to be done by Eldar/C'tan/Chaos/Old Ones/Alpharius/etc. Isnt it possible that Farsight's rebellion is simply a politically motivated thing, or maybe even a result of Battlesuit Syndrone?

Iracundus
03-11-2007, 14:33
The quote by Farsight in WD and now repeated in the Tau Codex does indeed suggest it is a "simple" rebellion. In that quote, you can see how he has seen the major races of the galaxy at each other's throats. In particular, there is the sentence:


none will join their strength together just to see their ancient enemies prosper. Neither should we

By ancient enemies, Farsight appears to be referring to the non-Fire caste Tau. In the 3rd ed. Tau Codex, it is hinted that in the Farsight Enclaves the Fire Caste may be the ruling caste with the others subserviant to them.

Farsight breaking away from the cause of the Greater Good shouldn't be seen as sudden as soon as the Ethereals on his expedition were killed. Farsight was already embittered even before that due to his perception that other Tau had let him down when he was fighting Orks. The Ethereals were probably the only thing keeping him from making that final break. Ethereals cannot be everywhere at once, so their pheromones shouldn't be seen as some sort of "mind control" but they may be that final obstacle that made the difference between Farsight being a disgruntled bitter Tau and an actual rebel.

Chilltouch
03-11-2007, 15:44
The residents Ethereals died. Result was, Farsight and his men didn't have any all-controlling overlords above them. They were free to do as they wished, so he decided to make his own little enclave and go against the Tau Empire, due to his new views on their battles.

Oh, and he also found a spanking new sword.

Iracundus
03-11-2007, 17:16
It's important to note that simply killing an Ethereal doesn't make the Tau under him suddenly go renegade. As mentioned in the Tau Codex, the death of a popular Ethereal can make the Tau under his command go into the equivalent of a battle rage, though this takes the form of a storm of firepower rather than charging into hand to hand.

Farsight was however unlike other Tau, in that he was apparently already embittered, after his battles with the Orks. He was like a dog straining at the leash, with the Ethereals being the leash keeping Farsight from that final step.

GreenDracoBob
03-11-2007, 17:36
All the mind-control mumbo-jumbo seems quite over-the-top for me. The Ethereals do control the Tau, but why do they need something beyond basic skills to do so? The Vespid are hard to explain otherwise, but I still don't buy it.

In that case, and rejecting outside influence, Farsight rebelled for reasons any soldier would. He believed that how he was treated was unfair, so he felt he had to get away from the Empire. So he did. Or was convinced to.

And as to the philosophy: I know the feeling. I would probably go for study into philosophy if it wasn't such a dead end. But that's why there's electives.

BrotherAdso
03-11-2007, 17:49
So all of that was basically a hi-falutin' way of saying that the 'Greater Good' is whatever the Ethereals say it is and that the Tau philosophy is 'Do as you're told by the Ethereals and don't question it'?

Nope. It's a high falutin' way of saying the Greater Good is less like a calculator and more like a set of Commandments. The Ethereals may be more "qualified" to interpret them, but any Tau who embraces the greater good uses them to guide his actions.


You're quite right: it would dramatically undermine the Greater Good if the Ethereals were seen to lie. Likewise if they were seen to be manipulative, or otherwise less than straightforward. Which is why we see plenty of examples of Ethereals being publicly kind, benevolent, and so on.

But that's not to say they don't act in a manipulative fashion secretly, when that is what the Greater Good requires.

Dante, here is where we disagree. I think the moral content of the Greater Good means an Ethereal following its guidelines would not merely avoid seeming deceptive, he would avoid BEING deceptive, since a deceptive action is itself detrimental to / in violation of the Greater Good. Your argument holds true if the Good is totally act-consequentialist -- anything is justified which serves it -- but it is not true if the Tau believe (as I think they do!) that morality is either rule-consequentalist or act-deontological. An Etheral simply would not decieve on a grand scale -- because to do so would contradict the Good, even if it were to result, materially, in some gains.


Im kind of tired that everything seems to be done by Eldar/C'tan/Chaos/Old Ones/Alpharius/etc. Isnt it possible that Farsight's rebellion is simply a politically motivated thing, or maybe even a result of Battlesuit Syndrone?

Quite possible, Malika. But is a single lone psycho quite as interesting as a justified rebel? Or a galactic inheritor of heroic proportions?


hinted that in the Farsight Enclaves the Fire Caste may be the ruling caste with the others subserviant to them.

Tau Praetorianism? Sound interesting to me. Any further speculation on why he would have (after thousands of years) brought the subspecies wars to forefront of his reasoning?


OFF TOPIC:


And as to the philosophy: I know the feeling. I would probably go for study into philosophy if it wasn't such a dead end. But that's why there's electives.

Learning to think and write is never a dead end. You can always apply those skills in a civilized world (though they aren't much good in survival terms). Besides, the best prep for law school is....surprise...a philosophy degree. And who doesn't want to be a member of the most despised professional group on Earth?

END OFF TOPIC

-Adso

shaso_iceborn
03-11-2007, 17:52
On a pholiosophical note see my signature that pretty much sums it up for me at least.

On the subject of Farsight I have a personal theory, He found one of the living "Old ones" who explained the war of Heaven to him and gifted him the Dawn Blade to prolong his life and enable him to fulfill the prophecy of "he shall who bring balance" (sorry for the Star Wars plot but ideas are generally tossed about and this one makes the most sense to me)

Chilltouch
03-11-2007, 18:22
Then Farsight's a Tau with particularily strong willpower to resist the pheromones. After the pheromones wear off, Tau probably begin to question command and wonder why they're all united. They don't become anarchists as soon as an Ethereal dies.

Iracundus
03-11-2007, 18:57
Having an ideological rebel IS more interesting than yet another whacked out conspiracy or manipulation.

I never said that Farsight was fighting old caste wars. What was hinted at in the 3rd ed. Codex was that the Fire caste was the ruling caste in the Farsight enclaves. That's a big difference between that and having internecine wars again. "Not uniting to see ancient enemies prosper" can be read as not uniting as equals. The ancient pre-Ethereal Fire Caste tribesmen weren't out to exterminate other Tau. They were attempting to conquer.

The Farsight enclaves need laborers and technicians to maintain their suits and guns, as well as grow the food and manufacture the ammunition. They need starships to get anywhere to fight as mercenaries. They also need administrators to manage and coordinate their limited resources. The Farsight enclaves need all the other castes but their society is probably similar to that of ruling warrior classes everywhere: Work for us and we protect you. Refuse and we kill you.

Rabid Bunny 666
03-11-2007, 19:02
Some good points about the Greater Good not being explained, i've always pictured it like the Individual Eleven in Ghost in the Shell;

there was a computer virus that infected people to make them rebel by making them believe in a book called "the Individual Eleven". They all believed they had read the book, but noone could find it. In the end it didn't exist, and was just a cover story to slow down any investigations into it.

Basically, the Ethereal's pheromones convince the Tau to serve, but also covers why the Greater Good has not been explained to any humans, because the Greater Good isn't an ideal, its a fancy name and a good cover story for doing Tau stuff.

I like the idea of the Dawn Blade being one of the 100 Swords. Ive always pictured them clearing the thought of the occupant allowing them to throw themselves purely into fighting, so if Farsight picked it up an realised that the Greater Good was a lie, well, he'd be pretty pissed after being abandoned against the Orks like he was, so decided to break off from the Tau Empire.

malika
03-11-2007, 20:05
Quite possible, Malika. But is a single lone psycho quite as interesting as a justified rebel? Or a galactic inheritor of heroic proportions?

A single lone "psycho" (not too fond of the term) can be very cool, I mean look at Kurtz from Apocalypse Now, an ideological rebel (justified or not) is pretty interesting as well. Every form of rebellion in the 40k universe seems to be "heroic" or "epic" in proportions. If we have to believe GW the Eldar a bunch of retards who have too many superweapons left around on every planet and dont look after then, the C'tan are directly responsible for every event in the universe and the Old Ones made the entire ******** universe! Every time we see something in the 40k universe...its some totally unique item which can destroy the universe and doom us all...boohoo! Farsight as a political enemy (suffering from Battlesuit Syndrone or not) is far more intruiging since we can also get a better picture of the Tau's political picture instead of people just going: "oh the Tau are blue space communists bla bla bla".

The only intruiging thing is that Farsight is a couple of centuries old while normal Tau dont get that old. Some might say its the Dawn Blade that does that, might be true. But remember that this still doesnt have to be the reason for him to rebel. Another possibility is my little theory that the original Farsight is long dead, you just have other Tau taking his identity and becoming "Farsight".

DantesInferno
03-11-2007, 21:45
I agree it seems, initially, to be a consequentialist ethic. However, because of the shadowy nature of the Greater Good, it may be a deontological theory masquerading as a consequentialist one. Consider the formula: "One must always do the action which maximizes the greater good". Compare this to the formula "One must always do the action which conforms to the Will of God". The first statement is consequentalist if and only if the Greater Good is a variable, quantifiable or comparative measurement, and the second is deontological iff the Will of God is a strictly defined set of specific guidelines.

The Greater Good does not seem to conform to any set of standards which can be quantified or compared -- it is not quite the same as species survival, nor is it maxiumum gain of resources for minimum loss of life, etc. It is more similar to "will of god" than "maximizable happiness" (or, if you want to get sneaky, 'minimizable pain').

Therefore, the Greater Good seems to me more akin to a deontological set of evaluators -- actions conform to the Greater Good inasmuch as they meet a set of abstract standards or pronouncements from the Etherals.

OK, I agree that that's a possible way of looking at what the Greater Good could be.

However, it still seems to me to be better explained through a consequentialist ethic. Indeed, the very name "Greater Good" suggests some sort of maximising process (even if we're not exactly sure what the Greater Good commands to be maximised: happiness across society, the safety/productivity of the Tau Empire, etc).

If a Tau has a choice between two actions, both of which satisfy the abstract pronouncements of the Ethereals, she won't necessarily be indifferent between the two. For an action to be "for the Greater Good" it doesn't just have to satisfy a set of criteria: it seems that it has to be the best action you could do in those circumstances to promote the Greater Good.


Dante, here is where we disagree. I think the moral content of the Greater Good means an Ethereal following its guidelines would not merely avoid seeming deceptive, he would avoid BEING deceptive, since a deceptive action is itself detrimental to / in violation of the Greater Good. Your argument holds true if the Good is totally act-consequentialist -- anything is justified which serves it -- but it is not true if the Tau believe (as I think they do!) that morality is either rule-consequentalist or act-deontological. An Etheral simply would not decieve on a grand scale -- because to do so would contradict the Good, even if it were to result, materially, in some gains.

Well, I'm sure you could argue that the submission of the Vespid to the Greater Good, and the sudden drastic drop in human fertility on Kronos after the Tau conquest were just cooincidences. But I think that it's a fairly safe bet that the Ethereals will be deceptive if that furthers the Greater Good. Of course the danger that their deception will be revealed has to be factored in (since that would probably be very bad for faith in the Ethereals' rule across the Empire).


Learning to think and write is never a dead end. You can always apply those skills in a civilized world (though they aren't much good in survival terms). Besides, the best prep for law school is....surprise...a philosophy degree. And who doesn't want to be a member of the most despised professional group on Earth?

He speaks truth, people! I'm a philosophy/law student, and I can thoroughly recommend it. "Can you imagine a world without lawyers?"

Tanith Ghost
04-11-2007, 00:41
Much happier and less full of BS. I can well imagine it. The guilty wouln't get off because a lawyer BSed them out of it.

I myself see Farsight as a political rebel of sorts. One who, once out of the ethereal's control, would revert to fire warrior traits of agression and conquest. I very much hope to see tau vs tau, as Inquisitors and Eldar wheel and deal in the backround.

Khalvanos
04-11-2007, 01:18
Whilst all the sword theories, alien and ethereal conspiracies are pretty interesting to debate, I believe that Commander Farsight simply is what he appears to be... a brilliant tactician, a powerful warrior, a famous and popular hero of the empire gone rogue for his own selfish reasons. He's done what many disgruntled generals of our time have done. In his arrogance, he's decided that he can do a better job of running an empire than his own government and set up a military dictatorship.

sabreu
04-11-2007, 02:11
I think his weapon could be a potential set up for whatever new race they want to introduce in a few years. It doesn't really appear to me to be anything any of the other races would make in design.

shaso_iceborn
04-11-2007, 02:28
I think his weapon could be a potential set up for whatever new race they want to introduce in a few years. It doesn't really appear to me to be anything any of the other races would make in design.

Cool we get the Demiurg (dare I say Squats) back lol I wish!

Talk about me paying hundreds if not thousands

sabreu
04-11-2007, 03:03
::blinks:: If squats carried such big swords, it's no wonder they were so...well, squatish. :p

shaso_iceborn
04-11-2007, 03:40
::blinks:: If squats carried such big swords, it's no wonder they were so...well, squatish. :p

Off topic a bit but now I want to run a "Squat" army using witch hunters rules

ie sephrin as hover board squats
Penitent engines as squats in Mining loaders "think Alien here"
Grey knights as exo armour squats
ect. ect. ect.

And it all fits as the witch hunters hate psychics and so did the Squats

oh and they would be the ally of Farsight after all the help keep his armies equipped in the eastern fringe (story line)

MadDoc
04-11-2007, 06:39
And it all fits as the witch hunters hate psychics and so did the Squats

Uh, actually they never hated psychics, they just didn't have psykers per se, outside of the Living Ancestors (psychics didn't randomly occur in the general population only certain Squats would manifest powers after they reached a seriously advanced age).


oh and they would be the ally of Farsight after all the help keep his armies equipped in the eastern fringe (story line)

:wtf: They didn't hate pyschics but they did hate aliens/xenos, so that makes no sense storywise.

Iracundus
04-11-2007, 08:55
With the newest rumored information from a certain upcoming Codex, it seems the Farsight enclaves are fighting for their lives and slowly losing. At this rate, depending on what GW plans for the next edition, perhaps it means Farsight's reasons for rebelling could become a moot point.

Tanith Ghost
04-11-2007, 13:44
And thus perishes anything redeeming about the tau in that case.

Sephiroth
04-11-2007, 13:47
With the newest rumored information from a certain upcoming Codex, it seems the Farsight enclaves are fighting for their lives and slowly losing. At this rate, depending on what GW plans for the next edition, perhaps it means Farsight's reasons for rebelling could become a moot point.

It's a bit strange I found, that "War of the Dakka" bit. It talks about Farsight as if he's part of the Tau Empire, despite mentioning him as the "renegade O'Shovah"...

Imperialis_Dominatus
04-11-2007, 13:47
Tau... redeem... what did you just say? Guards, take him to the dungeon!

*swift, commanding sweep of arm*

As if filthy xeno scum are ever redeemable. Hmph.

:p

Tastyfish
04-11-2007, 15:46
The Dawnblade is crucial. It might be a daemon weapon, though its appearance makes this highly unlikely. Best bet it's of Eldar origin.

Not in the slightest, the best bet is that its a Daemon Weapon, possibly of alien origin - when the planet Arthas Moloch was first encounted by humans (pre-Imperium) the original inhabitants had wiped themselves out after covering the planet in chaotic runes of a astronomical scale. The planet later was purged by the Imperium and resettled, only to be purged again later and left fallow.

Not really the place the Eldar would leave Anaris (especially given it was inhabited by humans at the time of the Fall and during the time of the Eldar's empire, nor given how the whole planet seems to have come close to slipping into Daemonworldom would a warp artefact of such power remain hidden from the Chaos Power's gaze.

sabreu
04-11-2007, 17:21
It's a bit strange I found, that "War of the Dakka" bit. It talks about Farsight as if he's part of the Tau Empire, despite mentioning him as the "renegade O'Shovah"...

Not that strange really. The key point in the story is the warlord has taken three sept worlds. Correct me if I'm mistaken, but would not the Tau respond, seeing how many orks are pouring into their Empire? To the orks, there is no seperation of O'Shova/Tau Empire, although that schism is quite clear in the Tau's own codex. Plus, O'Shova hates orks, pro'lly even more now and is out hunting da boyz.

Tastyfish
04-11-2007, 21:08
It's a bit strange I found, that "War of the Dakka" bit. It talks about Farsight as if he's part of the Tau Empire, despite mentioning him as the "renegade O'Shovah"...

Grog is attacking the Farsight Enclaves, not the Tau Empire. It mentions the 'Northern Enclaves' a bit later on in.

Bregalad
04-11-2007, 23:28
I myself see Farsight as a political rebel of sorts.
Not everyone running amok and massacring people, is a freedom fighter. Not everyone trying to prevent massacres is a cruel oppressor :rolleyes:

Tanith Ghost
04-11-2007, 23:34
And the tau fanboi wails if anyone ever calls tau something besides 'happy happy sunshine'. What exactly does your tangent have to do with Farsight defecting for personal reasons? Besides to whine it means that tau are not all squueky clean greater good saints?

Bregalad
04-11-2007, 23:42
I don't respond to flamers. It's not worth it.

Tehkonrad
05-11-2007, 04:43
thats a good policy

Imperialis_Dominatus
05-11-2007, 08:55
And the tau fanboi wails if anyone ever calls tau something besides 'happy happy sunshine'. What exactly does your tangent have to do with Farsight defecting for personal reasons? Besides to whine it means that tau are not all squueky clean greater good saints?

Perhaps Tanith was being undiplomatic. It feels to some members of the Warseer community that Tau are deemed 'untouchable' as far as morals go due to a moral superiority assumed by the community's Tau players. What does your Zen-like rationalization of oppression/freedom fighters have to do with the theory that Farsight defected from the Tau Empire for personal reasons? Which is obviously not to complain that this sheds a bad light on the Tau?

I'm not questioning you, to be clear. Just trying to make sure Ghost isn't left in the dark. Note to members of Warseer: application of decency may yield results.;)

reds8n
05-11-2007, 09:46
. The manipulation of the REST of Tau society via a supersecret pact with a pretended renegade leader is still far too subtle and disingenuous for a caste which leads, essentially, by moral exemplarism.




hmm.....don't the Tau Ethereal caste conspire with the Inquisition to assassinate one of the Fire Warrior commanders in one of the Last Chancers novels ?

Bregalad
05-11-2007, 10:13
The majority of warseer members see the Tau as just another oppressive regime with just better PR. They attack every army that is not of the "arrrrgh must kill everything on sight" background as hypocritical and unfitting for 40k. They support it with ignoring 98% of all background material, quoting mostly one sentence in the Codex and making up and/or reiterating false sources that obviously contradict the original concept of the Tau, plus with making idiotic accusations and insults against people supporting the original concept. In addition, there are more Chaos Tau threads than "goody" Tau threads here! As a roleplayer, I would never have started 40k, if I would have only had the choice between 10 "mad psychopaths" backgrounds. Obviously, not playing "mad psychopaths" generated a lot of pure hatred in the warseer community, which is strange, intolerant and not helpful for the game's diversity.

On Farsight: I already posted my opinion that I find his return to Mont'au the most likely theory. Mont'au was the age of bloody civil war that almost destroyed the Tau race. For people who only play "mad psychopath" armies, this fraction and the one sentence added to the new Codex leave open the option to play in the "arrrgh must kill everything on sight" style. But it should be clear, that avoiding Mont'au is a good thing and that the "freedom to massacre" is not.

I will, as many fellow Tau players, follow the original and mainstream concept of Tau, as I see and like it. With options for the Tau Empire to learn and get less naive.


In contrast to other races, we wanted the Tau to be altruistic and idealistic, believing heartily in unification as the way forward. This meant that they would happily incorporate other races into their empire without subjugating them, instead enticing them in with the benefits of mutual protection, trade and technology. This set the Tau up superbly for having a close relationship with the Kroot.

So please, if you are tolerant enough to support Chaos Tau, Chaos Grey Knights, Chaos Harlequins and all, don't be hard on people who play Tau as they are meant to be played.

Quentin
05-11-2007, 10:39
I concur with Bregalad, 100%.

I'll be back later to elaborate on why, and give my own two cents.

Tanith Ghost
05-11-2007, 10:42
Perhaps Tanith was being undiplomatic. It feels to some members of the Warseer community that Tau are deemed 'untouchable' as far as morals go due to a moral superiority assumed by the community's Tau players. What does your Zen-like rationalization of oppression/freedom fighters have to do with the theory that Farsight defected from the Tau Empire for personal reasons? Which is obviously not to complain that this sheds a bad light on the Tau?

I'm not questioning you, to be clear. Just trying to make sure Ghost isn't left in the dark. Note to members of Warseer: application of decency may yield results.;)

Yeah, I should've taken his advice and ignored him.

I do diplomatic to bottomfeeders at work- a nescesarry evil of a small buinines. I don't extend that luxury to eye rollers like bregalad who can't accept that the tau in practice aren't his good goody gumdrops from design notes.

So I said the greater good isn't all powerful. You gonna send an ethreal to arrest me?:skull::p

DantesInferno
05-11-2007, 10:48
So, Bregelad, what do you think the concept of the Greater Good is? Is it a set of rules which tell the Tau which actions they should do, or is it a rule which tells the Tau to maximise some variable or another (overall happiness of society, the prosperity of the Empire, etc)? Or is it a set of rules which tell the Tau what sort of people they should be?

[I'm not trying to bait you here, I'm genuinely interested on what your take on the Greater Good is]

If it is, like I was arguing before, the Greater Good is a consequence-maximising rule (as it sounds like from the title, at any rate), there's ample room for the Tau doing some of the shady things the background hints at. Not, of course, that those things are necessarily oppressive or wrong: they're in the Greater Good!

malika
05-11-2007, 10:50
I can understand that the Tau are less warlike than lets say the Imperium, however this does not make them good or idealistic. While other races are accepted into the Tau Empire it is still the Tau who remain "superior" and in command. However Im not too fond of the whole concept of "good guy vs bad guy", Im more intruiged by the grey area which is something that we tend to see less and less in the more modern fluff. The Tau Empire might be idealistic, but that doesnt mean that they are the utopic society of the 40k universe, they remain imperialists who will kill those who stand in their war. Sure free trade and all that stuff, as long as it works in the Tau's interests, if not they simply send their military there.

Imperialis_Dominatus
05-11-2007, 11:10
So I said the greater good isn't all powerful. You gonna send an ethreal to arrest me?:skull::p

No, but I know an Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos who requests your services...:D

sabreu
05-11-2007, 11:21
:eyebrows: Doesn't the term 'Greater Good' ring with the same self driven noblized concept of 'Great Crusade' that normally wreeks of manifest destiny, and ultimately, confrontation and war? In other words, it's the reason for the action to commit acts; Good for your society, and doom for all others!

Imperialis_Dominatus
05-11-2007, 11:30
To those who resist it, sure. But presumably, the Tau view those who cannot accept the GG as doomed and unable to be saved. Like Imperium view Chaotics- too far gone to help, and a threat to the organization as a whole. In the end it comes down to 'convert or die,' but I will concede that alone among many races in 40k you get the convert option from Tau.

That said, I'd pick option C. Send those blue blooded (lit.), cloven hoofed, flatfaced xeno scum back to their Empire with their (possibly cowlike?) tails between their legs. Those that survive. Then again I'm a crazed Imperial fanatic bent on conquest and the destruction of every enemy within a dozen lightyears.

sabreu
05-11-2007, 11:33
I honestly believe if the Tau were to become the dominant power in the galaxy they would go in the same route as the Imperium and cull off the other races they have incorporated once their use has run dry. It would be in the Greater Good, ya know?

malika
05-11-2007, 11:40
I think it would be way more in the lines of the Roman Empire, assimilate other cultures into the Empire but still have the same original elite in power, in Rome's case it are the pure Romans while in our case it are the Tau. The more one of the other races would try to assimilate into Tau culture the more he/she/it would be accepted by the Tau and might be able to perhaps obtain a higher position.

Imperialis_Dominatus
05-11-2007, 11:47
I honestly believe if the Tau were to become the dominant power in the galaxy they would go in the same route as the Imperium and cull off the other races they have incorporated once their use has run dry. It would be in the Greater Good, ya know?

Absolute power corrupt much? :D

shaso_iceborn
05-11-2007, 15:44
:eyebrows: Doesn't the term 'Greater Good' ring with the same self driven noblized concept of 'Great Crusade' that normally wreeks of manifest destiny, and ultimately, confrontation and war? In other words, it's the reason for the action to commit acts; Good for your society, and doom for all others!

View my signature for more info on the tau (and Yes I play tau as my Primary army) I have even been converting Tau to look like NecroMongers off of The Chronicles of Riddick after all The Necromonger Religion is still for the Greater Good. The Greater Good of their beliefs, But the greater good none the less.

On an additional note the was a Massive genoside in china done "for the greater good" during the Ching dynasty I think but don't quote me on timeline I just remeber it from my high school days ( Kinda made me chose the Tau as the only appear to be goody two shoes but what is for the Greater good is well for Our greater good not yours)

Bregalad
05-11-2007, 15:49
So I said the greater good isn't all powerful. You gonna send an ethreal to arrest me?
People who continue to flame, get reported and eventually banned, but not arrested ;)
Claiming twice that I don't see the dark side of the Tau just after I posted that Farsight is probably Mont'au, is allowed, but not very clever.


So, Bregelad, what do you think the concept of the Greater Good is? Is it a set of rules which tell the Tau which actions they should do, or is it a rule which tells the Tau to maximise some variable or another (overall happiness of society, the prosperity of the Empire, etc)? Or is it a set of rules which tell the Tau what sort of people they should be?
Well, 40k still is a game of toy soldiers, so we have to be content with the little background information we get.

We know, that Tau are generally althruistic and are inspired by Asian culture. So it is a close guess, that "The Greater Good" is the basis for Tau culture, like the Koran or the Bible is for some current societies (at least nominally ;)). Tau are raised and educated to be polite, respectful, non-violent, but also to put the general well-being before the individual well-being, something very common in Asian culture (Japan and China esp.). So for me, "The Greater Good" summarizes the Tau culture, not a pheromone or a single law. Therefore it "generally" works even in windy areas and spaceship engine rooms, where no Ethereal is around.

We also know that Tau can be very violent if not under the control of Ethereals, as seen in old Mont'au times. Farsight and his pupil Brightsword show this behavior when they commit massacres. Tau society fears old Mont'au times and does everything to avoid this selfdestruction of the Tau society. One way is to strictly separate the different castes (and so reduce clashes) and let the calm and peaceful Ethereals rule. Another way is not to allow Mont'au behavior, so Farsight was expelled and Brightsword sacked (in the strange Gav Thorpe novel "Kill Team", Brightsword is even assassinated on behalf of an Ethereal, but the novel is told from the point of view of a paranoid psychopath with blackouts). These cultural limits guarantee peace within Tau society and are accepted because of education and Mont'au fear. Liftin gthese limits does not ensure complete freedom, but civil war until the end of the Tau race.


:eyebrows: Doesn't the term 'Greater Good' ring with the same self driven noblized concept of 'Great Crusade' that normally wreeks of manifest destiny, and ultimately, confrontation and war? In other words, it's the reason for the action to commit acts; Good for your society, and doom for all others!

The principle of "The Greater Good" was introduced to END the bloody violence, not to start it. There was no intention to export it at first. Remember also that no official source presents the Tau as fanatics, but as very pragmatic people (unless you kill their Ethereal that is). As a race, they have experienced that "The Greater Good" can bring peace and a flourishing society/economy. When they are confronted with "human Mont'au" societies, it is natural that they think that the "Greater Good" might also end the violence there. Compare it to Western democracies confronted with a brutal dictarorial regime, they also feel the urge to export democracy. And therefore it is no wonder than many Imperial populations would really like to join the Tau Empire, as shown in IA3 and the novel "For the Emperor".

That's it for now.

sabreu
05-11-2007, 16:35
The principle of "The Greater Good" was introduced to END the bloody violence, not to start it. There was no intention to export it at first. Remember also that no official source presents the Tau as fanatics, but as very pragmatic people (unless you kill their Ethereal that is). As a race, they have experienced that "The Greater Good" can bring peace and a flourishing society/economy. When they are confronted with "human Mont'au" societies, it is natural that they think that the "Greater Good" might also end the violence there. Compare it to Western democracies confronted with a brutal dictarorial regime, they also feel the urge to export democracy. And therefore it is no wonder than many Imperial populations would really like to join the Tau Empire, as shown in IA3 and the novel "For the Emperor".

The Great Crusade was introduced to end the bloody violence against humans by humans and/or xenos. The only doctrinal difference is, Tau are willing to convert, and Imperial factions generally don't. :D

Or in other words, I agree with ya! :p

DantesInferno
05-11-2007, 21:15
Well, 40k still is a game of toy soldiers, so we have to be content with the little background information we get.

We know, that Tau are generally althruistic and are inspired by Asian culture. So it is a close guess, that "The Greater Good" is the basis for Tau culture, like the Koran or the Bible is for some current societies (at least nominally ;)). Tau are raised and educated to be polite, respectful, non-violent, but also to put the general well-being before the individual well-being, something very common in Asian culture (Japan and China esp.). So for me, "The Greater Good" summarizes the Tau culture, not a pheromone or a single law. Therefore it "generally" works even in windy areas and spaceship engine rooms, where no Ethereal is around.

We also know that Tau can be very violent if not under the control of Ethereals, as seen in old Mont'au times. Farsight and his pupil Brightsword show this behavior when they commit massacres. Tau society fears old Mont'au times and does everything to avoid this selfdestruction of the Tau society. One way is to strictly separate the different castes (and so reduce clashes) and let the calm and peaceful Ethereals rule. Another way is not to allow Mont'au behavior, so Farsight was expelled and Brightsword sacked (in the strange Gav Thorpe novel "Kill Team", Brightsword is even assassinated on behalf of an Ethereal, but the novel is told from the point of view of a paranoid psychopath with blackouts). These cultural limits guarantee peace within Tau society and are accepted because of education and Mont'au fear. Liftin gthese limits does not ensure complete freedom, but civil war until the end of the Tau race.

Yes, this is all very well, but it's not really what I was trying to get at.

Suppose a council of Ethereals is convinced, on the evidence before them, that the best way of promoting the safety and prosperity of everyone in the Tau Empire is to begin a secret campaign of, say, mass sterilisation or genocide of one of their subject races (like the one rumoured at the end of Dark Crusade). Is that something that could be in the "Greater Good"? Would the Ethereals be morally obliged to carry it out?

And if you don't think the "safety and prosperity" test is the real one in the Greater Good, feel free to suggest other options (eg best chance of avoiding the Mont'au).

Tastyfish
05-11-2007, 21:21
The Tau honestly beleive that they are working towards the greater good of the galaxy - there really can't be any doubt in that as the Ethereal's numbers are too small and their mysterious abilities to personal to work on a interstellar scale. The Tau's dark side is not that the Ethereal's are off eating space-caviar and stroking space-persians whilst the Fio and Shas grub around in the dirt with happy feelings. The Darkness of the Tau is that they put the Imperium of Man into focus - the High Lords of Terra don't spend most of their time working out how to keep their minions down, but how to guarantee the survival of the galaxies largest society and the contination of the most populous civilised species known. The Tau have undoubtably had to do a few 'ends justify the means' actions in their past, because as altruistic as you may be - the universe has this unfortunately tendancy to muddy your values in politics if you want to reach a better end point.

A non-evil Tau'va perfectly justifies the Imperium's strict stance on aliens if you consider a person's right to determine their own destiny as an important right. Its just a really bad plan to deal with a more advanced race if you want to do anything without their consent (looking at history pretty much prooves this without having to go through the various steps of how to steal a colony with gifts). However if you are willing to make serious sacrifices to your own freedom in return for the ones you hold onto being better protected then the joining the Tau'va is very appealing.

Its not a debate we have worked out here in the real world, and the 40K universe actually deals with the issue in a suprisingly mature way for the sort of setting it is (actually the philosophies of all the races work out quite well, Eldar are probably the only ones on slightly shaky ground).

DantesInferno
05-11-2007, 21:51
The Tau have undoubtably had to do a few 'ends justify the means' actions in their past, because as altruistic as you may be - the universe has this unfortunately tendancy to muddy your values in politics if you want to reach a better end point.

What I've been trying to get at is that any "ends justify the means" actions of the Tau aren't at all bending the rules of the Greater Good, or muddying the values of the Tau Empire. If the Greater Good is an outcome-driven philosophy, as it certainly seems to be, it not only allows but compels such actions when they really are in the Greater Good.

That's not, of course, to say that the Tau are any less genuine or altruistic about their values. Presumably they'd be equally as willing to sacrifice their own lives, or the lives of other Tau, if that was really what the Greater Good commands.

Tastyfish
05-11-2007, 22:04
What I've been trying to get at is that any "ends justify the means" actions of the Tau aren't at all bending the rules of the Greater Good, or muddying the values of the Tau Empire. If the Greater Good is an outcome-driven philosophy, as it certainly seems to be, it not only allows but compels such actions when they really are in the Greater Good.

That's not, of course, to say that the Tau are any less genuine or altruistic about their values. Presumably they'd be equally as willing to sacrifice their own lives, or the lives of other Tau, if that was really what the Greater Good commands.
I totally agree with you, "For the Greater Good" is "The Ends justify the Means" paraphrased. There is no difference other than that the former is more something said in the present, and the latter something said after the fact. More so, the Aun in Xenology states that the Tau'va isn't so much as something they want to acheive but a philosophy to follow that will take them to a progessively better place, its the intentions behind the act rather than the act itself which is most important (ideally coupled with some way of assessing competancy to make it meaningful, and its this which the Ethereal's hold the monopoly on rather than anything else)

Bregalad
05-11-2007, 22:51
First of all, I think that (almost?) all Ethereals and most Tau in the Empire really believe in the althruistic ideals behind the "Greater Good". They simply find massacres, blind destruction and oppressive regimes disgusting. This positive approach generally also extends to Xeno races (even Ork massacres were not tolerated), although the Tau Empire has to learn from e.g. Tyranid and Ork wars, that peaceful relations are not always possible. Farsight and Brightsword are perfect and obvious examples that "The Greater Good" does NOT tolerate all means to an end. Tau are pragmatic, but only within the limits of their culture and "The Greater Good".

I can't imagine an Ethereal order a genocide on former (and, in a sense, current: humans) allies, not even a sterilization program. Taking prisoners and controlling the life of potential hostile combatants in prisoner camps is perfectly possible and implicated in IA3 (prisoners have to work there). But this has to be the exception, not a general Xeno strategy, as the Tau are simply not numerous enough to oppress more than a couple of planets even if they wanted it, esp. as it would undermine the ideological basis of the whole Empire. The Tau Empire only functions as long as all members are convinced of a mutual beneficial relationship (trade, Tau protection, scientific exchange), which is explicitely stated in the Codex and many other sources (e.g. BFG rulebook). So every Mont'au behavior must be stopped for the sake of the stability of the Tau Empire.

DantesInferno
05-11-2007, 23:15
First of all, I think that (almost?) all Ethereals and most Tau in the Empire really believe in the althruistic ideals behind the "Greater Good". They simply find massacres, blind destruction and oppressive regimes disgusting. This positive approach generally also extends to Xeno races (even Ork massacres were not tolerated), although the Tau Empire has to learn from e.g. Tyranid and Ork wars, that peaceful relations are not always possible. Farsight and Brightsword are perfect and obvious examples that "The Greater Good" does NOT tolerate all means to an end. Tau are pragmatic, but only within the limits of their culture and "The Greater Good".

I don't see how Farsight and Brightsword are examples that the "Greater Good" does not tolerate all means to an end. Their problem was that they had wrongly calculated which "ends" would be produced: the Ethereals had decided, for instance, that the extermination of human armies was not in the "Greater Good", because it meant that other humans would be less likely to join their Empire. Same with the reason that Ork massacres weren't initially encouraged: they wanted to encourage races to join their Empire, because that is in the Greater Good.

But this isn't to say in a case where it is in the best interests of everyone concerned (ie: it'll save lots of Tau lives, it can be done secretly so no other humans will ever know, and so on) that the Tau won't massacre conduct massacres or mass sterilisation programs. In fact, I'd imagine that they'd feel that the Greater Good commands it!


I can't imagine an Ethereal order a genocide on former (and, in a sense, current: humans) allies, not even a sterilization program. Taking prisoners and controlling the life of potential hostile combatants in prisoner camps is perfectly possible and implicated in IA3 (prisoners have to work there). But this has to be the exception, not a general Xeno strategy, as the Tau are simply not numerous enough to oppress more than a couple of planets even if they wanted it, esp. as it would undermine the ideological basis of the whole Empire.

So the objections to a secret sterilisation or genocide program are practical, rather than ideological? Supposing it could be done (the Tau had enough resources) and supposing it was in the best interests of the Tau Empire (some of these humans had acted disloyally, exterminating these ones will be done secretly so it won't harm relations with humans generally) would the Tau do it then?


The Tau Empire only functions as long as all members are convinced of a mutual beneficial relationship (trade, Tau protection, scientific exchange), which is explicitely stated in the Codex and many other sources (e.g. BFG rulebook). So every Mont'au behavior must be stopped for the sake of the stability of the Tau Empire.

Indeed, it only works if everyone's convinced that the Empire is working. So things which hinder the smooth working of the Empire (Mont'au behaviour, for instance) need to be removed from the system quickly. They also need to be removed quietly, otherwise dissent will no doubt rise.

Yours is not an argument for avoiding things like massacres and mass sterilisations, it's an argument for committing them but making sure you cover them up well so no one will ever know...

sabreu
06-11-2007, 00:52
Greatest thing about this whole topic though, and about 40k in general, is that there is inherantly splintered factions within each race; good, evil, chaotic, rebellious, zeolot, purest, so on and so on.

An evil tau will sterilize an entire species that has shown to have rebellious factions, a good tau will sterilize just the dissident faction and the Neutral Ethereal will make a judgement to which course of action is most beneficial at the time of action. The best part is, no Tau is going to get reprimanded as long as some sensible rational equates 'for the greater good'. :D

And then you have depicted rebels, such as O'Shovah, who is as currently displayed simply a splinter faction, rebel or otherwise, but not a traitor!

Bregalad
06-11-2007, 09:31
Yours is not an argument for avoiding things like massacres and mass sterilisations, it's an argument for committing them but making sure you cover them up well so no one will ever know...

Again, the Tau and the Ethereals really believe in their ideals of the "Greater Good", so no doubleplay here. Therefore no standard massacre strategy. Pragmatism demands, that against e.g. Tyranids and Necrons, negotiations and small military operations do not work and endanger the Tau Empire. Even current law allows self defence without sanctioning murder in general.


Greatest thing about this whole topic though, and about 40k in general, is that there is inherantly splintered factions within each race; good, evil, chaotic, rebellious, zeolot, purest, so on and so on.
Really? Where are all the "Good Necrons", "Good Chaos" and "Cooperative Tyranids" threads? Do we need altruistic Necrons to make 40k interesting?

DantesInferno
06-11-2007, 09:44
Again, the Tau and the Ethereals really believe in their ideals of the "Greater Good", so no doubleplay here. Therefore no standard massacre strategy. Pragmatism demands, that against e.g. Tyranids and Necrons, negotiations and small military operations do not work and endanger the Tau Empire. Even current law allows self defence without sanctioning murder in general.

It's not a question of whether the Tau and Ethereals really believe in the ideals of the "Greater Good" or not. We both agree that they do. It's a question of what the concept of the "Greater Good" itself could command them to do.

Supposing such a strategy really was in the interests of everyone in the Tau Empire ("for the Greater Good"), would the Ethereals order it to be carried out?

Arkley
06-11-2007, 10:35
Wow what a complete thread hi-jack :) Ask a simple question it turns into a 5 page discussion on Tau way of life :D.

By all means continue :)

Pete278
06-11-2007, 10:38
Again, the Tau and the Ethereals really believe in their ideals of the "Greater Good", so no doubleplay here. Therefore no standard massacre strategy. Pragmatism demands, that against e.g. Tyranids and Necrons, negotiations and small military operations do not work and endanger the Tau Empire. Even current law allows self defence without sanctioning murder in general.


Really? Where are all the "Good Necrons", "Good Chaos" and "Cooperative Tyranids" threads? Do we need altruistic Necrons to make 40k interesting?
I'm sure the vast majority of water caste negotiators know what a necron is, therefore will try and negotiate with it, and end up getting gauss to the facehole.

bosstroll
06-11-2007, 11:35
Lots of people seem to whine about the Tau and their suposed *goodness*, citing it doesnt fit in with the gothicness of the 40k universe. I think the Tau are perfect race, their *goodness* offsets the darkness of the rest. (black isnt black without white etc)

@Bregalad:
Offcourse there isnt any good-chaos, but chaos isnt a race :) humanity has good (imperium-sortoff) and evil (chaos) members, thats the split.
Necrons and tyranids arent so much good or evil, but more a sortoff of forces of nature. Tyranids are like transgalactic locusts, and necrons are the rot that eats the foundations of your house away.

Theres even some alliances between orks and imperium out there, i remember a hilarious story about a bloodaxe warboss who allies with some blood angels to wipe out a tyranid invasion, when they run out of 'nids, the orks promptly start bashing the BA, because, as the warboss claims, they wuz bitin into ma drinkin time :D

malika
06-11-2007, 11:40
Wow what a complete thread hi-jack :) Ask a simple question it turns into a 5 page discussion on Tau way of life :D.

By all means continue :)

Its not that off topic, we try to analyse Farsight, in order to understand him better you need a better understanding of the Greater Good and of the nature of Tau society/ideology/imperialism. Just because GW likes to stay very simple and vague on things doesnt mean we have to do the same ;)

sabreu
06-11-2007, 20:17
Really? Where are all the "Good Necrons", "Good Chaos" and "Cooperative Tyranids" threads? Do we need altruistic Necrons to make 40k interesting?

Most tyranids are cooperative until their norn queens decide to take different paths. I think there's a precedent on that (a hive fleet splitting). Good necrons? hardly unthinkable that a single lord might muse or even regret his actions, but that's the whole point to a subjecated race; they have no choice. Seriously though, with necrons it doesn't matter how high they jump, just that they do when their master commands it.

And to make myself especially clear (since I apparently left a huge gap in my reasoning), I was originally talking about all the races that weren't classified as Automata or Ravenous Beast Warmachine, which conveniently leaves us with; Humans, Eldar, Tau, Orks, Dark Eldar, Chaos, Kroot, and Vespid, plus all the other non player races that are usually represented in Epic/Other Games (Nicassar, etc)

superknijn
06-11-2007, 20:23
Pragmatism demands, that against e.g. Tyranids and Necrons, negotiations and small military operations do not work and endanger the Tau Empire.

Remember Brightsword? He realized this, and in return, he was ordered to report back to T'au to report for his actions. There aparently is a group of Fire Warrior Commanders who disagree with the idea that every opponent can be convinced to join the Greater Good, which is a very sane conclusion, seeing that they live in the Grim Darkness of the Far Future, where there is only War.

It reminds me of the pragmatic OKH, who strongly disliked the semi-religious OKW, which was under full Nazi controll. It's very intriguing. Perhaps Farsight is one of those who have realized that the Greater Good isn't the thing it's made up to be? Remember, Brightsword was a pupil of his

(And yes, this is the second time I post about this)

malika
06-11-2007, 20:35
Good and evil are relative terms. I see people wanting to put the races in catagories of good and evil, but this wont really work in the 40k universe. Sure you might consider some to be evil, but the races arent evil or good just for the sake of being that. Chaos isnt evil just because they like to be mean, Horus's rebellion was a tragedy for example, other Primarchs were idealistic in their betrayal etc. The Necrons just do what they do, they do it out of revenge and nowadays they no longer have free wil. The Tyranids just eat because they are hungry, I mean is a shark evil for eating other creatures?

The Tau aren't good or aren't evil, some might consider them good while those who dont agree with the Tau's imperialism might call them evil, doesnt mean all races have to be neutral..its all about perception, they dont believe themselves to be doing an evil thing.

sabreu
06-11-2007, 21:01
That's exactly my stance on that Malika. Good and Evil are just perspectives based on personal belief.

Bregalad
06-11-2007, 21:03
And to make myself especially clear (since I apparently left a huge gap in my reasoning), I was originally talking about all the races that weren't classified as Automata or Ravenous Beast Warmachine, which conveniently leaves us with; Humans, Eldar, Tau, Orks, Dark Eldar, Chaos, Kroot, and Vespid, plus all the other non player races that are usually represented in Epic/Other Games (Nicassar, etc)
Ah, I see: friendly Blood Daemons and altruistic Dark Eldar. Now I've got you ;)

I am more and more tempted to do the following Tau auxiliaries:
Necron helpers, Gaunt helpers, Daemon helpers, Sororitas helpers, Warhound Titan helpers, Homunculus helpers, all with a rail rifle and a shoulder armour ;)
As a revenge on all those spike and tentacle Tau Fire Warriors :evilgrin:

sabreu
06-11-2007, 21:10
A good Dark Eldar joins a Harlequin troope. :p

and I think at this moment I realize there's no use in assuming others will use common sense. :cries:

Bregalad
06-11-2007, 21:15
... or logic ;)

DantesInferno
06-11-2007, 21:19
Come on Bregalad, you can't keep dodging my questions forever. You're going to have to bite the bullet one way or another ;)

Suppose the evidence indicates that a strategy to secretly sterilise a client race within the Empire really was in the overall interests of everyone in the Tau Empire. Would the Ethereals carry it out?

If this isn't what the "Greater Good" entails, what do you think it does?

sabreu
06-11-2007, 21:27
:D touche, touche! Although I was speaking within each race, each holding a perspective for their own faction. However, let's swing back towards the original topic before we all get harshly reprimanded. :p

As far as I see it, we know Farsight is out on his own doing his own thing. It can be rebellious against the Tau faction, but still within the domain of working for the Tau faction, or we can consider him a traitor, who actively works against the Tau Empire. It has been hinted that his weapon may have an influence on his actions, but as of yet nothing concrete has placed him definitively in that angle.

And as far as Chaos influence goes, I fall under the group of 'NO'. While Tau may have a very nascent presence in the warp, and may develop further in psychics in millenia to come, I just don't think the four chaos gods really have any interest in them yet. If it turns out to be a daemonic weapon, it's still good though, because a daemon bound in a weapon could simply be trying to manipulate O'Shovah. Finding out the hard way that the best it can manage is to intensify his already present hatred against Orks.

Bregalad
06-11-2007, 21:35
Farsight and Brightsword show, that moral standards are quite strict on the humanistic ... erm ... tauistic side in the Tau Empire, even against proven enemies. More so considering real or potential members of the Empire. They even wanted peace with the human Imperium , as soon as it was possible (and the lost territory was regained).

So I would say: No, not in the current state of the Tau Empire, only possible as single actions soon to be prosecuted or in a degenerated Tau Empire in the far future that lost its ideological basis.

Reminds me of the well known Ethereal exam question:
"Imagine you come across a Mont'au planet and by chance have an extermination virus bomb in your pocket: What would you do?" :p

Ethereals have other means of dealing with violence than the Bush administration :angel:

Sephiroth
06-11-2007, 21:36
Suppose the evidence indicates that a strategy to secretly sterilise a client race within the Empire really was in the overall interests of everyone in the Tau Empire. Would the Ethereals carry it out?

Yep. But it doesn't make sense in the context of the Imperium (humans) as the current Tau Codex outright states the Ethereals decreed that they were to be brought into the Greater Good, rather than fighting a war of extermination, ala their current views of the Orks.

sabreu
06-11-2007, 21:42
Yep. But it doesn't make sense in the context of the Imperium (humans) as the current Tau Codex outright states the Ethereals decreed that they were to be brought into the Greater Good, rather than fighting a war of extermination, ala their current views of the Orks.

It would make perfect sense if the Tau Empire within the next millenia picked up enough steam to conquer most of the galaxy. Once Tau rule is the norm and the Imperium of man is crushed, what do you do with a client race that outnumbers you a million to one? Risk a Mont'au in the future or lower the client race (which is known for beginning Mont'au all the time)?

Sephiroth
06-11-2007, 21:50
It would make perfect sense if the Tau Empire within the next millenia picked up enough steam to conquer most of the galaxy. Once Tau rule is the norm and the Imperium of man is crushed, what do you do with a client race that outnumbers you a million to one? Risk a Mont'au in the future or lower the client race (which is known for beginning Mont'au all the time)?

This suggests a rapid, uncontrolled method of expansion, something the Tau do not do.

The Tau certainly wouldn't begin sterilization simply to thin the numbers of their subject-races. This would imply they were unable to grasp the Greater Good - if such was the case, they wouldn't even bother attempting to integrate them.

Do not underestimate the Tau confidence (or arrogance) in the Greater Good - their belief in it is comparable to the Imperium and the God-Emperor: all races who can will eventually submit to the Greater Good. It is inevitable as sun rise, etc. The Tau belief this is the true state of the universe - they merely see themselves as the most enlightened race currently, and thus seek to guide others to this singular destiny.

Hence, it is also called "The One Path". All shall follow, or they shall fall.

DantesInferno
06-11-2007, 21:53
Farsight and Brightsword show, that moral standards are quite strict on the humanistic ... erm ... tauistic side in the Tau Empire, even against proven enemies. More so considering real or potential members of the Empire. They even wanted peace with the human Imperium , as soon as it was possible (and the lost territory was regained).

Farsight and Brightsword show that the Ethereals are keen to have the appearance of being "humanistic". And there are clear consequentialist reasons why: it'll be more easy to attract humans into the Empire if the Tau aren't famous for annihilating Imperial armies to the last man, the Imperium might make peace, and so on.

It wasn't the slaughter of non-Empire members that the Ethereals were worried about, it was the consequentialist effects which the slaughter would have.

So, if the circumstances were different, and the slaughter really was in the best interests of the Tau Empire, would the Ethereals do it?


So I would say: No, not in the current state of the Tau Empire, only possible as single actions soon to be prosecuted or in a degenerated Tau Empire in the far future that lost its ideological basis.

But surely promoting the welfare of the Tau Empire and its citizens is precisely what the Greater Good is? I would have thought that Ethereals who didn't order such a campaign, if they had clear evidence it was in the interests of the Tau Empire, would be the ones to be prosecuted.


Yep. But it doesn't make sense in the context of the Imperium (humans) as the current Tau Codex outright states the Ethereals decreed that they were to be brought into the Greater Good, rather than fighting a war of extermination, ala their current views of the Orks.

Sure, that's what they decreed. But that doesn't prevent secret programs to reduce the populations of unreliable humans within Tau worlds: see the Tau ending for Dark Crusade.

Or to take another example: suppose the Tau have come across an insect-like alien race with powerful weaponry. The Fire Caste report that having such allies would be a huge boon for the Tau Empire, and would save the lives of many Tau, Kroot, Gue'la and so on. The Earth Caste have been working on two helms: one which could enable communication between the Tau and the new race, and one which could effect mind-control over the new race, to bring them entirely and without question into the Tau Empire. The program is a very secret one, there's little chance of the information of mind-control getting out.

On the evidence before you, it seems clear that the interests of the Tau Empire and everyone in it are clearly best served by giving the new race the mind-control helms. Which helm do you give them? Which one is in the Greater Good?

Sephiroth
06-11-2007, 22:06
Sure, that's what they decreed. But that doesn't prevent secret programs to reduce the populations of unreliable humans within Tau worlds: see the Tau ending for Dark Crusade.

Technically they never outright said the Tau sterilized them; just the human births decreased quickly. Entirely possible that the native humans were just "outmatched" by the newly brought in Tau, Kroot and Vespid, comparable to Native Americans (indians) and... well, Americans.

Again, if their unreliable, why beat around the bush, why not just have them terminated by a few Fire Warriors comitting a campaign of extermination?

Who is going to complain? The Tau citizens hear what the Tau High Council wants them to, and what's the Imperium going to do? Appeal to the Tau Castes and/or their subject races to see the "true evil" of the Tau Empire?

Simply, their is no reason for the Tau to hide wiping out a world of humans if they so wish. They controlled the planet by that point anyway...


Or to take another example: suppose the Tau have come across an insect-like alien race with powerful weaponry. The Fire Caste report that having such allies would be a huge boon for the Tau Empire, and would save the lives of many Tau, Kroot, Gue'la and so on. The Earth Caste have been working on two helms: one which could enable communication between the Tau and the new race, and one which could effect mind-control over the new race, to bring them entirely and without question into the Tau Empire. The program is a very secret one, there's little chance of the information of mind-control getting out.

On the evidence before you, it seems clear that the interests of the Tau Empire and everyone in it are clearly best served by giving the new race the mind-control helms. Which helm do you give them? Which one is in the Greater Good?

The communication helm is the Greater Good. Again, if their unable to be integrated without force/enslavement, their not worth considering. The Greater Good is the ultimate fate of all.

A comparable example of what your saying, is this: There is a small world on the edge of the Imperium. Very puriten place. Meet their tithes, support their neighbours if attacked, etc.

Suddenly, a Tyranid Splinter Fleet is bearing down on them. Help will arrive, but not for many weeks. But then this bunch of alien mercenaries offer their support; if nothing else, it will give Imperial reinforcements time to arrive.

What is the correct Imperial responce? The answer - it is better to die for the Emperor, than consort with xenos, according to Imperial doctrine.

Everything practical suggests they should accept the aliens aid. They won't, because they fuly believe in the God-Emperor, the same way the Tau believe in the Greater Good.

malika
06-11-2007, 22:09
Ah, I see: friendly Blood Daemons and altruistic Dark Eldar. Now I've got you ;)

I am more and more tempted to do the following Tau auxiliaries:
Necron helpers, Gaunt helpers, Daemon helpers, Sororitas helpers, Warhound Titan helpers, Homunculus helpers, all with a rail rifle and a shoulder armour ;)
As a revenge on all those spike and tentacle Tau Fire Warriors :evilgrin:


A daemon is probably selfish and powerhungy, he believes waht he is doing to be normal or even "good" perhaps. Its not like the daemon is like: "OMG IM SO EVIL...MUAHAHAH IM EVIL HAHAHAHAHA" We arent dealing with cartoon heroes and villians who act good or evil just for the sake of doing that.

Chaos is very able to mutate those who are immune (except Necrons I guess) to Chaos, I mean not all vehicles have Machine Spirits or souls, but still they can be totally warped, so why couldnt a Tau be warped then?

sabreu
06-11-2007, 22:16
Again, if their unreliable, why beat around the bush, why not just have them terminated by a few Fire Warriors comitting a campaign of extermination?

Who is going to complain? The Tau citizens hear what the Tau High Council wants them to, and what's the Imperium going to do? Appeal to the Tau Castes and/or their subject races to see the "true evil" of the Tau Empire?

Simply, their is no reason for the Tau to hide wiping out a world of humans if they so wish. They controlled the planet by that point anyway...


At the current time there's going to be a few who do complain, Ethereals having cause to worry, and etc etc. namely:

1.) Disenfranchised Fire Warriors (I thought we were bringing the Greater Good to the Galaxy? :wtf:)

2.) Hurt the chances of bringing in quite docile populations. (Race of Space Lizards/Other humans hear the Tau are approaching. "Aren't those the guys that wiped out planet X when they just wanted to be left alone? We better flee/fight!)

3.) The Tau may have freelance reporters who either brave a military expidition, go on their own, or whatever but report back to their 'network' what's going on. Shocked conservative T'au/Ethereal & T'au Humans (2nd/3rd Generation) goes :wtf: how does that work with the Greater Good?


Edit:

To Malika, while there is a possibility of Tau getting possesed, it's just generally looked as a rare, one time occurances every now and then. The Tau are known to have very nascent present in the warp. If you considered the races of the world as giving demons experience points, Tau would be the rabbits that give the demons 1 XP, humans 50 XP, and Eldar 200 XP. Why bother with the rabbits when you get the others far more easily?

malika
06-11-2007, 22:22
We might need a better picture of Tau society itself, how is the access of information? Is there such a thing as free press? How much influence to the Ethereals and other Castes have on the distribution and access of information to the Tau Empire and those present in it?

EDIT:

To Malika, while there is a possibility of Tau getting possesed, it's just generally looked as a rare, one time occurances every now and then. The Tau are known to have very nascent present in the warp. If you considered the races of the world as giving demons experience points, Tau would be the rabbits that give the demons 1 XP, humans 50 XP, and Eldar 200 XP. Why bother with the rabbits when you get the others far more easily?

I didnt mean possession, there is a difference between daemonic possession and simple mutation, not all mutants are daemonically possessed ;)

Iracundus
06-11-2007, 22:23
In the Apoc book, it says Tau formations are often given bland, politically correct, corporate-speak sounding names deliberately in order to avoid arousing alarm from civilian populations. This doesn't specifically exclude the Tau civilians from other castes either. So the Ethereals and the Fire Warriors are at least taking some care to tiptoe around public opinion, hence why full scale outright execution style extermination (as opposed to a more subtle and "humane" sterilization program) might be avoided.

sabreu
06-11-2007, 22:27
If it's just a random mutation they wouldn't look at it in horror as the imperium does, as long as the Tau still goes for the greater good. But I believe if they made the rationale the imperium did (mutation usually leads to possession) then they might create a protocol to deal with them. ::shrugs:: There really is no precedent yet of mutations in Tau.

DantesInferno
06-11-2007, 22:28
Technically they never outright said the Tau sterilized them; just the human births decreased quickly. Entirely possible that the native humans were just "outmatched" by the newly brought in Tau, Kroot and Vespid, comparable to Native Americans (indians) and... well, Americans.

Of course that's possible. Although it wasn't just that the humans were decreasing as a proportion of the population as more Tau and Kroot arrived: the human birth rate itself declined rapidly.


Again, if their unreliable, why beat around the bush, why not just have them terminated by a few Fire Warriors comitting a campaign of extermination?

There are any number of reasons why you wouldn't want to openly exterminate the humans on this world.

Firstly, if it gets out, it's going to cause dramatic uproar on all your other human colonies.
Secondly, you're going to find it rather difficult to attract new humans into the Empire with the promise of the Greater Good. And humans have proved that they can be useful fighters and workers, so you don't want to rule out the possibility of them joining you. Particularly when there are so many of them around...
Thirdly, it's going to have an effect on the Fire Warriors doing the exterminating, the Earth Caste organising it, and so on. What's the point of provoking a crisis of faith in all these Tau when there's a simple, covert option to remove the humans from the world in a few generations?


The communication helm is the Greater Good. Again, if their unable to be integrated without force/enslavement, their not worth considering. The Greater Good is the ultimate fate of all.

But how can the communication helm be the Greater Good? I specified in this hypothetical example that the mind-control helm was the one which was the one that was in the best interests of the Tau Empire and its citizens. I find it difficult to believe that the Greater Good would require you to act in a manner detrimental to the interests of the Tau Empire and its citizens.

And it's entirely conceivable that there could be races which are unable to be integrated without force or enslavement, but could still be a real benefit to the Tau Empire and its citizens: filling an essential role in its army which no other forces could do, for example.


A comparable example of what your saying, is this: There is a small world on the edge of the Imperium. Very puriten place. Meet their tithes, support their neighbours if attacked, etc.

Suddenly, a Tyranid Splinter Fleet is bearing down on them. Help will arrive, but not for many weeks. But then this bunch of alien mercenaries offer their support; if nothing else, it will give Imperial reinforcements time to arrive.

What is the correct Imperial responce? The answer - it is better to die for the Emperor, than consort with xenos, according to Imperial doctrine.

Everything practical suggests they should accept the aliens aid. They won't, because they fuly believe in the God-Emperor, the same way the Tau believe in the Greater Good.

As I said before to Bregalad, it's not a question of whether the Tau really, truly, genuinely believe in the Greater Good. We all agree that they do. It's a question of what sort of actions the Greater Good can require them to do....

Sephiroth
06-11-2007, 22:42
As I said before to Bregalad, it's not a question of whether the Tau really, truly, genuinely believe in the Greater Good. We all agree that they do. It's a question of what sort of actions the Greater Good can require them to do....

You'll have to excuse me if I only cover this point right now as it is late, but the point I was making with the example of the Imperium, is that if you accept the Tau truely believes in the Greater Good, how can insist they will force others into it?

The Greater Good isn't a condition (ie, being secure, plentiful food/resources, etc) it's a state of being; of rather than looking inwards and seeing only the self, looking outwards and seeing what you can contribute to the whole. Accepting your place as part of the machine.

When a Tau says "For the Greater Good" he doesn't mean "For the people/Empire", rather more comparable to a cry of "For the Ideal" - a desire to see the universe achieve an enlightened state.

The Tau'va philosophy regards selfishness, abstraction and superficiality as utterly redundant. The perfect Tau - be they warrior, artisan, diplomat or fleet-crew - is able to say with perfect honesty that their every action is undertaken in the name of the Greater Good of the Tau Empire, rather than for their own individual benefit.

Ultimately it's something of an impossible goal: few Tau if any can claim to have achieved the perfect serenity that comes with absolute dedication to the Tau'va. Instead it serves as a pathway: a guiding light towards which every Tau is supposed to struggle. Think of a Zen Buddhist: always striving for enlightenment, always living his life as best he can, but never fully achieving it.

You can't force a being on to the One Path - they must find it themselves.

Imperialis_Dominatus
06-11-2007, 22:43
"Good Chaos"


Offcourse there isnt any good-chaos

There are actually members of this board who will take offense at that sort of statement. Some people see Chaos as more than some one-dimensional "grr we're evil!" sorta force. Just throwing that out there, not really espousing it, but....


Wow what a complete thread hi-jack :) Ask a simple question it turns into a 5 page discussion on Tau way of life.

By all means continue

Haha, this is Warseer buddy. Off topic is a misnomer here.


A good Dark Eldar joins a Harlequin troope.

Harlequins are good? Since when? I simply assumed they are as amoral as the vast majority of Eldar, and fight Chaos. Good deeds does not mean innate goodness if it is not pursued for the sake of good itself.


and I think at this moment I realize there's no use in assuming others will use common sense

See what I said to Arkley.


Technically they never outright said the Tau sterilized them; just the human births decreased quickly. Entirely possible that the native humans were just "outmatched" by the newly brought in Tau, Kroot and Vespid, comparable to Native Americans (indians) and... well, Americans.

Again, if their unreliable, why beat around the bush, why not just have them terminated by a few Fire Warriors comitting a campaign of extermination?

Probably to maintain 40k's ambiguity, mystery, and suspense that is a hallmark of their fluff and were it to be ruined like that I'd storm Relic and demand they make reparations... in the form of Tyranids in DoW.

Really, a huge part of 40k fluff is the conspiracies. Something that is implied is generally a fact; if many possibilities are present, take whichever one you want, if you can support it. A Tau player who likes "goodness" will undoubtedly take the stance you did in the first paragraph... I will appeal to the darker nature of 40k fluff and say otherwise.

Besides, I personally don't see how there being more aliens on the planet would keep humans from doing the nasty and making more of themselves... it's one of the few things we do really well, are they afraid of 'peeping Angor Proks?'

And if they were 'outmatched,' does that mean the Empire failed to provide enough resources to support all the races they had under their control, so the other races deproved the humans of their rations and let them starve? Including the large population of Tau dedicated to the Greater Good? Doesn't sound too Greater Good to me.

sabreu
06-11-2007, 22:56
Harlequins are good? Since when? I simply assumed they are as amoral as the vast majority of Eldar, and fight Chaos. Good deeds does not mean innate goodness if it is not pursued for the sake of good itself.

For the most part I meant that as a jest. I understand what Good and Evil are, they are just perspectives. A Dark Eldar might join the Harlequin troope because he might not be too into the whole hedonistic, back stabbing enviroment. From a Craftworld perspective, he's good. From a Dark Eldar perspective, he's a wuss. :p And no, the Harlequins aren't 'good' as we generally see it. They are still amoral as the majority of the Eldar race.

Iracundus
06-11-2007, 23:14
Besides, I personally don't see how there being more aliens on the planet would keep humans from doing the nasty and making more of themselves... it's one of the few things we do really well, are they afraid of 'peeping Angor Proks?'

And if they were 'outmatched,' does that mean the Empire failed to provide enough resources to support all the races they had under their control, so the other races deproved the humans of their rations and let them starve? Including the large population of Tau dedicated to the Greater Good? Doesn't sound too Greater Good to me.

Contraceptives in the rations or water, subcutaneous implants, or surgical sterilization.


Harlequins are good...for their race. They care about fighting Chaos and helping the Eldar race. Those are their objectives. Human welfare or lack thereof isn't their concern. They are amoral only from human eyes.

DantesInferno
06-11-2007, 23:16
You'll have to excuse me if I only cover this point right now as it is late, but the point I was making with the example of the Imperium, is that if you accept the Tau truely believes in the Greater Good, how can insist they will force others into it?

They can force others into believing in the Greater Good if it is in the Greater Good to do so....


You can't force a being on to the One Path - they must find it themselves.

The Tau certainly don't have problems with forcing people to accept the Greater Good at gunpoint:


The Greater Good requires that all join together and acknowledge the guidance of the Ethereal caste, and this includes any and all races with whom the Tau come into contact. Perhaps unsurprisingly, few races are willing to surrender unreservedly, and so the Fire caste has gone to war on numerous occasions. Those worlds that will not willingly join the empire are dragged to the negotiating table under threat of annihilation. Those that remain openly defiant face obliteration under the orbital guns of the Air caste fleet.


When a Tau says "For the Greater Good" he doesn't mean "For the people/Empire", rather more comparable to a cry of "For the Ideal" - a desire to see the universe achieve an enlightened state.

The Tau'va philosophy regards selfishness, abstraction and superficiality as utterly redundant. The perfect Tau - be they warrior, artisan, diplomat or fleet-crew - is able to say with perfect honesty that their every action is undertaken in the name of the Greater Good of the Tau Empire, rather than for their own individual benefit.

Yes, actions need to be undertaken in the name of the Greater Good of the Tau Empire. But what, exactly, does that entail? It's not just some abstract ideal, it's also a decision making tool. If a Tau wants to work out what she should do in any given situation, she looks to what maximises the Greater Good. Say we have a Shas'O with an option to engage an enemy force in battle or not: the Shas'O will pick whichever option is in the Greater Good.

Or an Ethereal, contemplating whether or not to order a secret campaign of mass sterilisations: pick whichever option is in the Greater Good.

Imperialis_Dominatus
06-11-2007, 23:22
Contraceptives in the rations or water, subcutaneous implants, or surgical sterilization.

OK. So this is basically sterilizing them. But the post I quoted stated that the sterilization theory is not known as absolute fact, and I was trying and failing to rationalize the human births dropping without such sterilization.


Harlequins are good...for their race. They care about fighting Chaos and helping the Eldar race. Those are their objectives. Human welfare or lack thereof isn't their concern. They are amoral only from human eyes.

Sure, relativity of good and evil, I know. But what, then, constitutes morality in Eldar society? Does it share anything with Humanity? Or is it just whatever is good for their race? Do they truly have morality? Or is this simply a human concept, and they have found something better (cause they're Eldar, you know)?

Shinzui
06-11-2007, 23:40
Also remember that the population living with the Tau mostly sided with the Imperium when it arrived effectively betraying the Tau. In light of that sterilizing them is pretty forgiving if it did happen. It could be easily rationalized by the Tau as to prevent resentment or pro-imperial being passed down to the next generations

sabreu
06-11-2007, 23:43
can you cite your source Shinzui?

Imperialis_Dominatus
07-11-2007, 00:07
I would imagine his source would be Dawn of War: Dark Crusade. ;)

Bregalad
07-11-2007, 00:19
Yes, at first I was also fooled by the non-GW PC game example (that Shinzui is referring to). Until someone quoted it precisely.
There are two prisoner camps on that planet: One for male human prisoners, one for females, both strictly separate. The Imperial storyteller now presents several theories why the human population has less offspring. I think, we can explain it without any sterilization (which was NOT the first option in the list), but I won't tell in a 13+ forum (something with bees and flowers not meeting ;))

Congratulations, DantesInferno. You found the one paragraph, that was added to the new Codex, to allow people to play Tau in the usual "arrrgh, me kill everything on sight" way, that is so popular. Too bad, that it contradicts even all the "copy and paste" 3rd edition material in the same Codex, e.g. the Kroot and Vespids, who are presented as partners, not as slaves. Not to speak of all other material like novels, BFG rule book, IA3 and so on.

You will understand the Tau Empire better if you compare it to the EU-way of uniting European countries instead of the Hitler/Stalin-way. Strong trade relationships of mutual benefit let Germany and France forget, that they once were arch-enemies (in Mont'au times ;)). The Tau Empire is decentralised with mostly autonomous planets, only united in the philosophy of the Greater Good, i.e. the will to support each other and not fight each other. The BFG rulebook gives examples, that Tau protect smaller planets even if they get nothing out of it. After seeing Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine", I also like to compare the human Imperium with the Bush-USA and the Tau Empire with Canada. Canada's society and foreign policy is far less violent than the US-counterpart.

P.S.: I give you a hint on answering the Ethereal exam's question: It starts with not dropping the virus bomb ;)

DantesInferno
07-11-2007, 01:35
Yes, at first I was also fooled by the non-GW PC game example (that Shinzui is referring to). Until someone quoted it precisely.
There are two prisoner camps on that planet: One for male human prisoners, one for females, both strictly separate. The Imperial storyteller now presents several theories why the human population has less offspring. I think, we can explain it without any sterilization (which was NOT the first option in the list), but I won't tell in a 13+ forum (something with bees and flowers not meeting ;))

You can look it up on YouTube if you want. One thing is clear though. By whatever means the Tau did it, the human population on Kronos was "but a footnote" after a few generations.

Referring to Dark Crusade as a "non-GW PC game" is incredibly misleading, though (if not completely false). There are GW logos and GW IP all through the game. If you think GW weren't consulting with Relic, making a game which provides them with mass exposure and lots of potential players, I'm at a bit of a loss....


Congratulations, DantesInferno. You found the one paragraph, that was added to the new Codex, to allow people to play Tau in the usual "arrrgh, me kill everything on sight" way, that is so popular. Too bad, that it contradicts even all the "copy and paste" 3rd edition material in the same Codex, e.g. the Kroot and Vespids, who are presented as partners, not as slaves. Not to speak of all other material like novels, BFG rule book, IA3 and so on.

You will understand the Tau Empire better if you compare it to the EU-way of uniting European countries instead of the Hitler/Stalin-way. Strong trade relationships of mutual benefit let Germany and France forget, that they once were arch-enemies (in Mont'au times ;)). The Tau Empire is decentralised with mostly autonomous planets, only united in the philosophy of the Greater Good, i.e. the will to support each other and not fight each other. The BFG rulebook gives examples, that Tau protect smaller planets even if they get nothing out of it. After seeing Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine", I also like to compare the human Imperium with the Bush-USA and the Tau Empire with Canada. Canada's society and foreign policy is far less violent than the US-counterpart.

Maybe you're not sure what I'm arguing for here. I agree with you entirely that the Tau prefer to incorporate races into their fold peacefully. Why? Because it is generally in the Greater Good to do so. Getting new, willing members of your Empire without force is, in general, better, because they will be less resentful, more eager to participate in the Empire, and so on. You won't lose military forces when you fight them to force them into the Empire. It's the consequences, and the consequences alone, which determine which action is in the Greater Good. They will force people to embrace the Greater Good if and only if it is in the Greater Good to do so. That's been constant all the way through the portrayal of the Tau.

There's nothing intrinsically special about the peaceful approach which makes it better: it's only that the consequences, in general, are better.

So, I'll come back to my hypothetical example. Suppose that it really is in the best interests of the Tau Empire to embark on a secret campaign of mass sterilisation. Doesn't the concept of the Greater Good then force you to begin?


P.S.: I give you a hint on answering the Ethereal exam's question: It starts with not dropping the virus bomb ;)

Not quite. It starts with not dropping the virus bomb if that isn't in the Greater Good.

Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that dropping the virus bomb will be clearly beneficial for the Tau Empire and all of its citizens. Failing to drop the bomb will cause millions of your citizens to die. Surely the concept of the Greater Good commands you to drop the bomb?

Surely any Ethereal who claims that it is wrong in all circumstances to drop the bomb, no matter what the consequences for the Tau Empire or its citizens has completely lost sight of the concept of the Greater Good?

[Note: I'm not trying to show that the Tau are hypocritical, secretly evil or anything else. I'm just trying to demonstrate what the concept of the Greater Good entails.]

Imperialis_Dominatus
07-11-2007, 06:41
After seeing Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine", I also like to compare the human Imperium with the Bush-USA

Much as I'm not into Bush, don't take Michael Moore too seriously. Conversely, Ann Coulter is also to be avoided. Besides, real-world politics probably should be avoided where you might hurt someone's... feelings. Not that I care about their weakness, but it's a forum rules kinda thing (I think). ;)

Bregalad
07-11-2007, 08:51
I was more referring to the comparison of a US- and a Canadian city in view of each other, where in the US-city violence was high and in Canada almost non-existent (last murder was 3 years ago by an US-citizen IIRC, according to one police officer). This is a non-political example that it doesn't take drugs, pheromones, brutal force or oppressive indoctrination to make a more peaceful society (as Tau society is supposed to be), even in neighboring countries. And I was referring to the difference between US and Canadian society and foreign policy (please make correct quotes), not the US regime itself.

@DantesInferno: You seem to see Ethereals as a kind of lawyers that are bound to a written version of law (that may lead to strange jurisdictional decisions regardless of whatever was intended). I see them as the source (legislation if you want) of the ethical setting. Against Tyranids and Necrons, there might be no other solution as to use weapons of mass destruction, but the use of those is not standard procedure like in the Imperium (Inquisition seems to have a big supply, where every Inquisitor can take one, no questions asked), but a historical event talked about for generations.

DantesInferno
07-11-2007, 09:40
@DantesInferno: You seem to see Ethereals as a kind of lawyers that are bound to a written version of law (that may lead to strange jurisdictional decisions regardless of whatever was intended). I see them as the source (legislation if you want) of the ethical setting. Against Tyranids and Necrons, there might be no other solution as to use weapons of mass destruction, but the use of those is not standard procedure like in the Imperium (Inquisition seems to have a big supply, where every Inquisitor can take one, no questions asked), but a historical event talked about for generations.

Not sure what you're getting at here. The Ethereals are, for the Tau, the ultimate arbiters of what is in the interests of the Tau Empire. They make sure the other castes are cooperating. They decide what is in the Greater Good.

But, at the end of the day, do you think that the Ethereals would consciously make a decision which is not in the interests of the Tau Empire? Surely that can't be a decision which is in the Greater Good: it would be making a mockery of the whole concept.

So, once again, suppose you're an Ethereal presiding over the recently reconquered world of Kronos. Its humans recently threw off the rule of the Tau Empire and embraced the Imperial forces attacking. However, the Fire Caste have recaptured it. The optimal way of securing the planet for the long-term prosperity of the Tau Empire and all its citizens is to begin a secret plan of sterilisation of the humans living there.

Isn't that in the Greater Good? Surely to act against the interests of the Tau Empire and its people can't be in the Greater Good: that's almost a contradiction in terms. If you can come up with an example where an action really is in the long term interests of the Tau Empire and everyone in it, but isn't an action which is "in the Greater Good", I'll drop the point. But as it is, I've raised this thought experiment about 6 times so far in the thread, without any real engagement with it.

EDIT: And please, no more real-world analogies. It would be a shame to get this thread P&Red.

Bregalad
07-11-2007, 10:48
So, once again, suppose you're an Ethereal presiding over the recently reconquered world of Kronos. Its humans recently threw off the rule of the Tau Empire and embraced the Imperial forces attacking. However, the Fire Caste have recaptured it. The optimal way of securing the planet for the long-term prosperity of the Tau Empire and all its citizens is to begin a secret plan of sterilisation of the humans living there.

Once again. No! We didn't stop Mont'au by killing the Fire caste, and we won't massacre, mutilate or sterilize citizens of the Tau Empire, just because they are annoying. Ethereals have a different view on solving problems than the Inquisition has. Altruism is NOT about who to kill to get a better world (I will swallow any real world comparison here ;)).

DantesInferno
08-11-2007, 03:53
Once again. No! We didn't stop Mont'au by killing the Fire caste, and we won't massacre, mutilate or sterilize citizens of the Tau Empire, just because they are annoying. Ethereals have a different view on solving problems than the Inquisition has. Altruism is NOT about who to kill to get a better world (I will swallow any real world comparison here ;)).

It's not about massacring or mutilating citizens just because they're annoying, that misses the point entirely. Surely the "Greater Good" is about doing what provides the greater good to the Tau Empire and its citizens? Otherwise why would it be called the Greater Good?

You seem to be saying that an action could be detrimental for the Tau Empire and its citizens and still be in the "Greater Good"? Surely that's just a contradiction?

And if the Greater Good isn't about trying to achieve a better world for the Empire and its citizens, what is it about then? "Whatever the Ethereals say" isn't a particularly appealing answer, it runs into the 40k version of the Euthyphro dilemma.

Bregalad
08-11-2007, 09:55
Just try to think "The Greater Good"=altruism.
And try to accept that massacring or secretly sterilizing the humans on Kronos is not in the interest of the Tau Empire, considering the long term effects!
Massacring or secretly sterilizing the Fire Caste during Mont'au times would have been a simple way to stop that civil war, but was not done because of ethical reasons. Still they stopped the conflict. Think about it!

Iracundus
08-11-2007, 10:05
We cannot a priori assume subtly sterilizing the humans on Kronos would inherently be against the Greater Good. That is approaching the issue with a preconceived bias in favor of the Tau and a fixed idea of what the Greater Good is. Given that the Tau got rid of a substantial population at significant risk of recurrent unrest, and which had already acted in rebellion against the Tau, a program of sterilization at least on Kronos would seem to have very much been in the Greater Good's interests.

It is similar flawed reasoning to a past thread about Imperial technology where some posters approached the topic with the preconceived notion that Imperial tech must be advanced and therefore discarded any details or information to the contrary as being erroneous.

One should approach the issue, then draw a conclusion from the evidence, not approaching the issue with a pre-made conclusion and then picking only that evidence that supports that pre-made conclusion.

DantesInferno
08-11-2007, 10:49
Just try to think "The Greater Good"=altruism.

What could be more altruistic than caring for all the interests of the citizens of the Tau Empire equally and without bias? If an action causes an overall net benefit for your citizens, how is it not altruistic?

Likewise, if you're ignoring the long-term interests of the Tau Empire and its people when you make your decisions and just go with what causes the least disbenefit for a small number (say, the humans on Kronos), how can that possibly be altruistic?


And try to accept that massacring or secretly sterilizing the humans on Kronos is not in the interest of the Tau Empire, considering the long term effects!

I haven't been saying that it definitely was in the interests of the Tau Empire to sterilise the humans on Kronos.

I have been asking you to consider a hypothetical situation where it is definitely in the Tau Empire's interests to conduct such a secret campaign. Suppose you're an Ethereal who's got a bunch of concurring intelligence reports telling you that this option is in the best interests of the Tau Empire and its citizens.

Now, if you agree with me that in this hypothetical case it is in the Greater Good to conduct the secret campaign, it's entirely possible that they did, for instance engage in the actual sterilisation program on Kronos, that they did authorise the mind-control of the Vespid, and so on. It just depends on how the Ethereals assessed what the consequences would be, and how those consequences would affect the interests of the Tau Empire and its citizens.

All these cases require is a determination that it is in the Tau Empire's interests ("in the Greater Good").


Massacring or secretly sterilizing the Fire Caste during Mont'au times would have been a simple way to stop that civil war, but was not done because of ethical reasons. Still they stopped the conflict. Think about it!

It might have stopped the civil war, but it's certainly not a decision which would be in the Greater Good. They'd be losing the caste they rely on to establish their Empire: to fight their wars, to defend their worlds, and so on. And they'd probably shake the faith of all the other castes in their rule too.

So in this case it was clearly in the Greater Good to unite the Tau peacefully, because it had better consequences.

You seem to be under the impression that I'm claiming that the Tau would go around nuking whatever they want, massacring whatever they want, sterilising whatever they want. I'm not saying that at all. I'm just saying that the Tau will do these things if and only if they're in the interests of the Tau Empire and its people ("in the Greater Good"). So the cases may be very rare indeed: it'll depend on the consequences. But you can't say that they'll never do such things: to rule them out would be to deny that the Greater Good represents the interests of the Tau Empire and its citizens.

Bregalad
08-11-2007, 14:26
And they'd probably shake the faith of all the other castes in their rule too.
That's what I wanted to hear! The Tau race is too small to take AND hold a whole sector against the will of the inhabitants, even if it wanted it (the human Imperium CAN do that). The whole Empire generally (with probable exceptions like war opponents) is united by the common will of benefitting from each other (protection, trade, science), so everything that undermines this common basis is to be avoided.


You seem to be under the impression that I'm claiming that the Tau would go around nuking whatever they want, massacring whatever they want, sterilising whatever they want. I'm not saying that at all. I'm just saying that the Tau will do these things if and only if they're in the interests of the Tau Empire and its people ("in the Greater Good"). So the cases may be very rare indeed: it'll depend on the consequences. But you can't say that they'll never do such things: to rule them out would be to deny that the Greater Good represents the interests of the Tau Empire and its citizens.

I guess, our different opinion comes from the fact that your definition of "The Greater Good" is limited to the benefit of the Tau Empire, while I (supported by the Codex) claim, that it is seen by the Tau as a general, "undeniable" principle, that in principle is true for all sentient beings (therefore my "The Greater Good"=altruism and /=Imperialism). They try to convince all Xenos, that trading and communicating is better than killing each other. And in their naivity they think that in the end, all Xenos can be convinced of that.

Of course there are Tyranids, Necrons and Blood Daemons, who can't be negotiated with. So these opponents meet the full force of the Tau military. But even then, it doesn't have to be done secretly. Secret operations involve trade relationships with Imperial planets, but that's a different topic, as it does not harm anyone.

Tastyfish
08-11-2007, 20:43
Just try to think "The Greater Good"=altruism.
And try to accept that massacring or secretly sterilizing the humans on Kronos is not in the interest of the Tau Empire, considering the long term effects!
Massacring or secretly sterilizing the Fire Caste during Mont'au times would have been a simple way to stop that civil war, but was not done because of ethical reasons. Still they stopped the conflict. Think about it!

Course the sterilization could have been done by accident, or as an alternative accepted by the human colonists themselves. The Tau empire can't support anything like an Imperial Hiveworld and the way that shapes the Imperium is not something in line with the Tau's philosophy, the Hive places too high a burdan on surrounding worlds and makes them practically vassals of the metropolis.

That said, surely sterilisation is a fairly benign thing that fits well with the greater good. No one is getting killed and the population of a species second only to the Orks in their fecundity remains at a level where they don't end up dominating the world through breeding faster. Better than just killing them or having to transport them away. Its not like the Tau think having children is a fundamental right in the slightest, and likely think the traditional family unit is somewhat backwards and likely one of the main flaws in human society - afterall there is no oversight of any kind, nor any form of quality control on behalf of the caregivers. Even more importantly it causes the wrong sort of bonds to form, overemphasising trivial matters like the similarity of your genetic material at the expense of encouraging intergration within the society that supports you.

Besides, if they didn't know it was happening then they would likely not even be aware of it - especially if the increase in the number of offworld races arriving on the planet masked a fall in the numbers of the original colonists. And if you are unaware that an event is even occuring, then you can't be suffering due to it.

DantesInferno
08-11-2007, 20:58
That's what I wanted to hear! The Tau race is too small to take AND hold a whole sector against the will of the inhabitants, even if it wanted it (the human Imperium CAN do that). The whole Empire generally (with probable exceptions like war opponents) is united by the common will of benefitting from each other (protection, trade, science), so everything that undermines this common basis is to be avoided.

So if you're going to sterilise a group of humans who have shown their lack of faith in the Greater Good, you do it secretly so that it doesn't undermine the general common good will of the members of the Tau Empire.


I guess, our different opinion comes from the fact that your definition of "The Greater Good" is limited to the benefit of the Tau Empire, while I (supported by the Codex) claim, that it is seen by the Tau as a general, "undeniable" principle, that in principle is true for all sentient beings (therefore my "The Greater Good"=altruism and /=Imperialism). They try to convince all Xenos, that trading and communicating is better than killing each other. And in their naivity they think that in the end, all Xenos can be convinced of that.

Why do you think that they try to convince Xenos to join their Empire? Because it is generally in the Greater Good to do so. Having lots of alien races all cooperating is going to be in the interests of the Empire on the whole (and in the overall net interests of its citizens, both the existing Tau and the new alien members of the Empire). It also explains why the Tau prefer races with "broadly similar methods to themselves" (they're going to contribute to the Greater Good more).

But I don't see how you can describe your version of the Greater Good as "altruistic" when it involves acting in a way which is against the overall interests of your Empire and its citizens (both current and prospective). And I don't think your particular version is the only one which can draw support from the Codex: you'll find the phrase "the Greater Good of the empire" at multiple points throughout the Codex.


Of course there are Tyranids, Necrons and Blood Daemons, who can't be negotiated with. So these opponents meet the full force of the Tau military. But even then, it doesn't have to be done secretly. Secret operations involve trade relationships with Imperial planets, but that's a different topic, as it does not harm anyone.

Other than the humans who get brutally executed by the Imperium when they're discovered trading with Xenos?

How about the humans killed in riots where a planetary governor, swayed by the Water caste, declares independence from the Imperium?

How does your "altruism" cope with that?

Bregalad
08-11-2007, 21:02
Just to get things right:

In the DoW Tau ending, the Imperial storyteller (who is not familiar with Tau society) states that men are in a separate prisoner camp than women.Therefore the Imperial storyteller considers that this might be the cause for the declining human population (let me tell you, that women can't get pregnant without close contact to men ;)). After that he speculates that there might also be a sterilization program, so that the separated women REALLY can't pregnant.

If even the Imperial storyteller does not think at first of a secret program, why should we present this second-grade speculation as fact?

That means: THERE WAS NO STERILIZATION PROGRAM!

malika
08-11-2007, 21:09
Seperating men from women still prevents the population from reproducing, if we take Raphael Lemkin's complete definition of genocide it would mean that the Tau are responsible for genocide of this human population by preventing them from reproducing. You dont need to sterilise them if you simply seperate all males from female contact.

DantesInferno
08-11-2007, 21:19
Just to get things right:

In the DoW Tau ending, the Imperial storyteller (who is not familiar with Tau society) states that men are in a separate prisoner camp than women.Therefore the Imperial storyteller considers that this might be the cause for the declining human population (let me tell you, that women can't get pregnant without close contact to men ;)). After that he speculates that there might also be a sterilization program, so that the separated women REALLY can't pregnant.

If even the Imperial storyteller does not think at first of a secret program, why should we present this second-grade speculation as fact?

That means: THERE WAS NO STERILIZATION PROGRAM!

Shock, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Testing, Acceptance. You're up to denial :p

Not all the humans were placed in re-education camps, and even if they were, how long do you think reeducation would take?

"The humans left on Kronos found life increasingly difficult for them. Many had embraced the Imperial return and now found themselves subject to re-education or other penalties.... Although no public announcements were ever made to this effect, it seems clear that human births on Kronos also dropped precipitously. In part, this was due to the single-gender re-education camps imposed by the Tau. But it is also possible that the alien powers undertook some form of sterilisation project, all for the so-called Greater Good. Whatever the truth, when Kronos was admitted as a full Sept of the so-called Third Sphere, its human population was but a footnote."

Some of the images which go along with this are of a human Gue'vesa being fed to a Knarloc, and of humans freezing in a poor ghetto.

And whether it's the product of secret sterilisation or keeping people locked up in single-gender "re-education" camps, how is the latter any better, anyway?

Imperialis_Dominatus
08-11-2007, 21:57
That means: THERE WAS NO STERILIZATION PROGRAM!

There is no absolute proof of a sterilization program. You know, like all good 40k fluff.

Bregalad
08-11-2007, 23:56
You mean, like there is no absolute proof that all Ethereals are children of the Emperor?
Or that Gork and Mork are actually Eldar Harlequin in disguise?
Or that Leman Russ is actually Chuck Norris?
Or ...

Imperialis_Dominatus
08-11-2007, 23:58
You mean, like there is no absolute proof that all Ethereals are children of the Emperor?
Or that Gork and Mork are actually Eldar Harlequin in disguise?
Or that Leman Russ is actually Chuck Norris?
Or ...

Except none of those have any sources indicating it might be true, like DoW does for the sterilization theory you detest so much. Though the Chuck Norris one holds water, from what we know of Leman Russ... ;)

DantesInferno
09-11-2007, 00:03
I'm still not exactly sure why Bregalad is so adverse to the sterilisation theory anyway. It's not like the alternatives are much more flattering (active extermination, keeping people locked up in single-gender "re-education" camps until they die out/are unable to reproduce)...

Iracundus
09-11-2007, 00:35
Actually from reading the posts, the objection doesn't seem to be purely about the sterilization program but also about the alternatives. The objection seems to be about any detail which doesn't portray the Tau in a shining white spiffy clean good guy image.

Khaine's Messenger
09-11-2007, 00:43
It's not like the alternatives are much more flattering (active extermination, keeping people locked up in single-gender "re-education" camps until they die out/are unable to reproduce)...

The "alternative" would have been to let them live and take steps to return them to their daily lives. How this would have been managed given that parts of the planet were in armed revolt is an open question, but systematic slaughter or curtailing reproductive rights just seems out of character given that the Tau have pacified human worlds before. This is, I think, what Bregalad is trying to get at. And yes, it avoids the question, which is to say, "What if killing all the humans on Kronos was determined to be in the Greater Good?" The simple answer is that it isn't, and so asking the question betrays some sort of base ignorance of what the Greater Good entails.

Given that some policy decisions amongst the Ethereals are made behind closed doors and depend on the results of formal bloodless duels, however, it could well be that a more bellicose faction pressed the issue with respect to the loyalty of the humans of Kronos.

Brother Siccarius
09-11-2007, 00:53
So...anyone want to mention the "War of Dakka" background in the new ork Dex that explains how Farsight was cut off and why he's still stuck on the eastern fringe?

DantesInferno
09-11-2007, 01:14
The "alternative" would have been to let them live and take steps to return them to their daily lives. How this would have been managed given that parts of the planet were in armed revolt is an open question, but systematic slaughter or curtailing reproductive rights just seems out of character given that the Tau have pacified human worlds before.

The alternative explanations, given that the human birth rate on Kronos fell precipitously after the Tau recapturing of the planet.

Of course the Tau could have left the human population to return to their daily lives, but we know that they didn't, because "when Kronos was admitted as a full Sept of the so-called Third Sphere, its human population was but a footnote."

The natural question is then "Why?", and none of the options seem particularly palatable for Bregalad's "Tau are altruists in some undefined way" theory.


This is, I think, what Bregalad is trying to get at. And yes, it avoids the question, which is to say, "What if killing all the humans on Kronos was determined to be in the Greater Good?" The simple answer is that it isn't, and so asking the question betrays some sort of base ignorance of what the Greater Good entails.

This is the sort of response I was trying to pry out of Bregalad :p

So if the Greater Good doesn't entail maximising the interests of the Tau Empire and its citizens, what does it entail? Why is such an interest-maximisation definition of the Greater Good so anathema to the concept? Especially since that's what the term itself would seem to indicate...

BrotherAdso
09-11-2007, 01:20
Wow, I go away to do research for a few days and there's an awesome ethical debate. Sigh.

OK.

Where to begin?

The Greater Good -- we are making a fundamental mistake about the term "good". The fact that the Tau seem to take a lot of their inspiration from Chinese ethical thought could help understand this. (takes down his copy of the Analects)

Look, Confucius did not understand "good" to equate to "benefit" the way we do. A small man, a morally ambiguous or confused one, is confined to such calculation. The man who has ren (human virtue) is concerned with acts which are consistent with that virtue, which are not always going to win them office or admiration or even rice to eat. However, in a society where virtue rules, virtue also reaps rewards.

The Tau are that society. The virtuous, it seems, rule and follow their own code of virtue -- an endless cycle.

A hypothetical example to provide contrast. It would be to the GREATER BENEFIT of the Tau race to ruthlessly exterminate an inconvenient alien population which lay helpless before them. However, it would not be to the GREATER GOOD to act in such a recklessly cruel way, showing no regard for life or the possibility of cultivating virtue in others, and thus endagering the inner virtue of those taking the actions. The Tau seem to believe that our actions can shape who we are, and who we are is best seen through our actions -- hence, the Greater Good is no mere utility calculus for the whole, but instead a code governing behavior which prevents the development of a destructive ethic within each individual.

This does not neccessarily make them "squeaky clean" -- for example, it might be judged that to act with unneccesary mercy cultivates a destructive individual ethic just as much as cruelty. Or the Good might demand such a rigid social conformity that, by human standards, Tau society will seem repressive, stifled, roundabout or obsessed with form and morality.

Sigh. Now back to work....though I'd love to jump back into this debate, I'll reply when I can.

-Adso

Champsguy
09-11-2007, 01:53
Dante, you may want to read "A Call to Arms" by Alan Dean Foster. Good book. There's a race in that book called the Ampliteur. They're an octopoid race with telepathic abilities, and are driven by an all-consuming "purpose". Each race they encounter is brought into the fold, seeking out this "purpose" to unite the galaxy as one. The Ampliteur see all races as equal, some are just more equal than oth... I mean, some have different talents than others. As the Ampliteur have the ability to brainwas... er, coordinate the other races, they naturally take charge.

Of course that all gets screwed up when they encounter the most violent race in the galaxy, humans.

It's an entertaining read, and the similarities between the Ampliteur and the T'au are numerous.

Khaine's Messenger
09-11-2007, 01:58
I would like to hear of this "War of Dakka," as I have not seen its like...however, if it is in the new Ork 'dex, I am a little concerned about waiting a bit, since I've not kept up with release dates. Anyone willing to pony up?


Why is such an interest-maximisation definition of the Greater Good so anathema to the concept?

Because the Tau are often portrayed as rather miserly with their manpower resources, they are perceived to care deeply about the lives of individual people or sub-groups (in principle), frowning on things like murder or needless waste and encouraging proselytizing and the "savior" mentality. I don't think interest-maximization is anathema to the Greater Good, but I can see why that perception is there.

Essentially, there's this idea that interest-maximization is a cut and dry approach where you just do the arithmetic to arrive at a solution, the end result being something that emotionally distances you from the outcome. By contrast, the Ethereals are supposed to arrive at their decisions almost as a matter of intuition and deep "wisdom." Which brings us back to the idea that the Greater Good is what the Ethereals say it is, which I recall from previous pages you did not exactly want to touch on.

DantesInferno
09-11-2007, 02:01
The Greater Good -- we are making a fundamental mistake about the term "good". The fact that the Tau seem to take a lot of their inspiration from Chinese ethical thought could help understand this. (takes down his copy of the Analects)

Look, Confucius did not understand "good" to equate to "benefit" the way we do. A small man, a morally ambiguous or confused one, is confined to such calculation. The man who has ren (human virtue) is concerned with acts which are consistent with that virtue, which are not always going to win them office or admiration or even rice to eat. However, in a society where virtue rules, virtue also reaps rewards.

The Tau are that society. The virtuous, it seems, rule and follow their own code of virtue -- an endless cycle.

But what is good about a "virtue", other than its tendency to promote action in a way which promotes overall welfare?

How do the Tau decide which characteristics are virtuous, without referring to the way that they help to promote the welfare of the Tau Empire and its citizens? If one Ethereal were to declare that, say, honesty is a virtue, and another Ethereal were to declare that dishonesty is a virtue, how would they be able to settle their dispute? How do you justify your selection of "virtues" in a way which both isn't arbitrary and doesn't rely on their consequences?

My "Greater Good" theory at least provides a clear answer: honesty is good if and only if it maximises the welfare of the citizens of the Tau Empire in any given situation. And it's one which meshes with what we've seen from the Tau: they're happy to manipulate Imperial Governors if it's in the interests of the Tau Empire to do so.


A hypothetical example to provide contrast. It would be to the GREATER BENEFIT of the Tau race to ruthlessly exterminate an inconvenient alien population which lay helpless before them. However, it would not be to the GREATER GOOD to act in such a recklessly cruel way, showing no regard for life or the possibility of cultivating virtue in others, and thus endagering the inner virtue of those taking the actions. The Tau seem to believe that our actions can shape who we are, and who we are is best seen through our actions -- hence, the Greater Good is no mere utility calculus for the whole, but instead a code governing behavior which prevents the development of a destructive ethic within each individual.

But why would you want to prevent the development of a destructive ethic within individuals? Isn't it simply because we don't want them to develop a tendency for doing destructive things in the future?

If exterminating a race is going to embitter the Fire caste who do the exterminating, and make it harder to stop the Fire caste from exterminating future races you want to negotiate with, surely there wouldn't be an overall benefit, and extermination wouldn't be in the (consequentialist) Greater Good?


Because the Tau are often portrayed as rather miserly with their manpower resources, they are perceived to care deeply about the lives of individual people or sub-groups (in principle), frowning on things like murder or needless waste and encouraging proselytizing and the "savior" mentality. I don't think interest-maximization is anathema to the Greater Good, but I can see why that perception is there.

Essentially, there's this idea that interest-maximization is a cut and dry approach where you just do the arithmetic to arrive at a solution, the end result being something that emotionally distances you from the outcome. By contrast, the Ethereals are supposed to arrive at their decisions almost as a matter of intuition and deep "wisdom."

Nice explanation for that: you don't want your leaders to be seen to be using such an emotionally distant decision making procedure. You'd really like to have leaders who just seem to be able to intuitively arrive at the right solutions. It wouldn't be in the Greater Good, after all, if people were questioning the Ethereals. So the Ethereals make sure they're seen to be wise and profound, while (consciously or not) making decisions on what is in the Greater Good on the basis of their consequences for the Empire.


Which brings us back to the idea that the Greater Good is what the Ethereals say it is, which I recall from previous pages you did not exactly want to touch on.

Well, because it runs into the Euthyphro dilemma. Is it the Greater Good because an Ethereal says so, or does the Ethereal say so because it's the Greater Good?

If the former, then anything whatsoever, no matter how horrible or counter-intuitive it might seem, is in the Greater Good if an Ethereal says so. There's a line in the Tau Codex to the effect that "the Ethereals' control is so complete over the other castes that if an Ethereal ordered another Tau to kill himself, he would be obeyed instantly". On this view, if the Ethereal did, it would by definition be in the Greater Good. If an Ethereal ordered T'au to be virus bombed, it would be in the Greater Good.

The other avenue is to say that the Ethereals would never order such things, because they simply would never be in the Greater Good. But if this is the case, it's not the fact that the Ethereals aren't ordering it which makes it not in the Greater Good, it's some independent quality of the act which makes it not in the Greater Good. And then the question is: "What's this independent quality, and why don't we look for it instead?"

And let's not even think about if two Ethereals disagree...

BrotherAdso
09-11-2007, 02:28
But what is good about a "virtue", other than its tendency to promote action in a way which promotes overall welfare?

How do the Tau decide which characteristics are virtuous, without referring to the way that they help to promote the welfare of the Tau Empire... How do you justify your selection of "virtues" in a way which both isn't arbitrary and doesn't rely on their consequences?

Ah, we tread near the damning ground of relativistic morality, let us not fall into that swamp. Suffice it to say the Tau seem to have, as a society, a self-sustaining and socially constructed set of virtues. This set is not arbitrary, having been arrived at through a mystical, metaphysical, or simply abstruse process of reasoning long ago by the Ethereals. Think of it as the terms of a social contract in Locke -- we are not justified in breaking a social contract just because it is no longer beneficial, only when it infringes on natural rights. Similarly, the Tau exist in their 'ethical contract' as a society not because it is 100% reliable as a consequentialist ethic, but because it promotes a morality and ethos they have deemed neccessary.




But why would you want to prevent the development of a destructive ethic within individuals? Isn't it simply because we don't want them to develop a tendency for doing destructive things in the future?

If exterminating a race is going to embitter the Fire caste who do the exterminating, and make it harder to stop the Fire caste from exterminating future races you want to negotiate with, surely there wouldn't be an overall benefit, and extermination wouldn't be in the (consequentialist) Greater Good?

The discouraging of a destructive ethic in individuals is not done simply in order that they not throw bricks through our windows. The nature of an ethical point of view, concerned with the Good rather than the Beneficial, is not overly concerned with that -- what matters is that such an ethic, such a point of view, is fundamentally wrong.

For example, the Imperial credo is to cleanse the Xenos/Heretic/Whatever. The Imperium would probably be way better at doing so if it abandoned many of its old superstitions, antiquated methods of organization, etc. But the Imperium judges its actions on a more complex and metaphysical basis than this -- cleansing the Xenos is no good, for example, if in the process one accidently learns forbidden secrets, and even if a better tank would help defend the planet, the Machine God's dictates are not to be ********* with.

This does not make the Tau better than others in the 41st millenium -- it actually brings them to a similar plane. They have a sophisticated belief system for which they fight, and they are quite fanatically devoted to it (whether due to diamond-headed-perfume is an open debate). The only difference is that the ethic they prefer is more palatable, in some respects, to the modern mind. Like I said above, though -- I think the lack of individuality, moral rigidity, and doctrinare nature of the Tau would make them a little more like the (ideal) Qing Empire with the technological sophistication of Orwell's 1984....kinda scary.

-Adso

DantesInferno
09-11-2007, 02:41
Ah, we tread near the damning ground of relativistic morality, let us not fall into that swamp. Suffice it to say the Tau seem to have, as a society, a self-sustaining and socially constructed set of virtues. This set is not arbitrary, having been arrived at through a mystical, metaphysical, or simply abstruse process of reasoning long ago by the Ethereals.

So what exactly about it wouldn't be arbitrary? If the Ethereals' mystical processes of reasoning had been different, the Tau Empire could have ended up with an entirely different set of values, surely?


Think of it as the terms of a social contract in Locke -- we are not justified in breaking a social contract just because it is no longer beneficial, only when it infringes on natural rights. Similarly, the Tau exist in their 'ethical contract' as a society not because it is 100% reliable as a consequentialist ethic, but because it promotes a morality and ethos they have deemed neccessary.

Sure, the Tau might not consciously think that they're employing a consequentialist ethic, but that doesn't mean they're not doing so anyway.


The discouraging of a destructive ethic in individuals is not done simply in order that they not throw bricks through our windows. The nature of an ethical point of view, concerned with the Good rather than the Beneficial, is not overly concerned with that -- what matters is that such an ethic, such a point of view, is fundamentally wrong.

The difference is between saying:
"Cooperation is just good" and "Cooperation is good because it promotes everyone's welfare". The first seems to me to be entirely arbitrary. Why didn't you decide, for instance, that mutual destruction was good instead, if not for the differing consequences between these two approaches?


For example, the Imperial credo is to cleanse the Xenos/Heretic/Whatever. The Imperium would probably be way better at doing so if it abandoned many of its old superstitions, antiquated methods of organization, etc. But the Imperium judges its actions on a more complex and metaphysical basis than this -- cleansing the Xenos is no good, for example, if in the process one accidently learns forbidden secrets, and even if a better tank would help defend the planet, the Machine God's dictates are not to be ********* with.

Indeed, the Imperium's principles are a horrible mess. Some of the Imperials aren't consequentialist ("Never consort with the alien no matter what!") while some are ("It's ok to consort with the alien if you use him to kill more aliens"). The Tau are much more organised: they have a single governing principle that can be applied in all situations: the Greater Good.

BrotherAdso
09-11-2007, 03:04
So what exactly about it wouldn't be arbitrary? If the Ethereals' mystical processes of reasoning had been different, the Tau Empire could have ended up with an entirely different set of values, surely?

You can say the same of any set of social values. However, the reason I fear to tread here is because it can get personal rather than fluff-oriented.

To forge ahead with that, despite the risk:
1) A set of socially erected ethics is both durable and positive if it is in accordance with basic characteristics of human/Tau/social nature.
2) Those characteristics exist as part of the structure of thought and self-consciousness.
2a) Characteristics which are structurarlly inherent cannot be consequentially dependent.
3) The Greater Good is a durable set of socially erected ethics.
C1: The Greater Good derives from the basic structure of Tau thought and self-consciousness.
C2: The Greater Good cannot derive from a consequentialist analysis.

This depends on your accepting the idea that there is some kind of moral reality outside of consequences, which, needless to say, in our world is a heavy *******' question.

Moving on....



Sure, the Tau might not consciously think that they're employing a consequentialist ethic, but that doesn't mean they're not doing so anyway.


You have a good point here. In fact, the idea that all ethics are based in some kind of hidden or disingenuous calculation of interest is very difficult to refute. But here's my try:

1. In order to employ a consequence-based judgement of an action, you must be able to think about that action and balance its consequences rationally.
2. In order to balance and examine the consequences of an action, one must set out consciously to determine what balance of consequences is most desirable.
C: In order to employ a consequentialist judgement, one must consciously determine to do so.



The difference is between saying:
"Cooperation is just good" and "Cooperation is good because it promotes everyone's welfare". The first seems to me to be entirely arbitrary. Why didn't you decide, for instance, that mutual destruction was good instead, if not for the differing consequences between these two approaches?


This is the same argument hashed out at the top, about moral systems, though you've used an excellent example. To slot that example in above:

Mutual destruction is bad and cooperation is good because human beings are fundamentally social beings, who depend on one another for self-definition and development. Cooperation follows from the nature of our way-of-being-human, mutual destruction does not.


Finally, to bring this all back to the Tau: the Greater Good is rather mysterious, but if you understand it to be a social ethic which has developed out of and is uniquely reinforced by Tau society -- the way a group of people develops a common language over time -- then it begins to make a lot of sense.

-Adso

DantesInferno
09-11-2007, 03:28
You can say the same of any set of social values. However, the reason I fear to tread here is because it can get personal rather than fluff-oriented.

To forge ahead with that, despite the risk:
1) A set of socially erected ethics is both durable and positive if it is in accordance with basic characteristics of human/Tau/social nature.
2) Those characteristics exist as part of the structure of thought and self-consciousness.
2a) Characteristics which are structurarlly inherent cannot be consequentially dependent.
3) The Greater Good is a durable set of socially erected ethics.
C1: The Greater Good derives from the basic structure of Tau thought and self-consciousness.
C2: The Greater Good cannot derive from a consequentialist analysis.

This depends on your accepting the idea that there is some kind of moral reality outside of consequences, which, needless to say, in our world is a heavy *******' question.

Well, yeah. I don't see the strength of 2a), myself.

Nor why a set of ethics has to be in accordance with the basic structure of Tau thought: after all, the "basic characteristics of Tau social nature" seem to be anathema to the Greater Good (they were in a state of Mont'au before the coming of the Ethereals). The Greater Good isn't a natural thing at all, it needs all the conditioning from birth that the Tau Empire can provide (not to mention possible pheromone control...).


You have a good point here. In fact, the idea that all ethics are based in some kind of hidden or disingenuous calculation of interest is very difficult to refute. But here's my try:

1. In order to employ a consequence-based judgement of an action, you must be able to think about that action and balance its consequences rationally.
2. In order to balance and examine the consequences of an action, one must set out consciously to determine what balance of consequences is most desirable.
C: In order to employ a consequentialist judgement, one must consciously determine to do so.

It depends on what you mean by a "consequence-based judgment": premise 1 seems to assume that it's a conscious judgment. For instance, imagine an Ethereal has to pick between option A and option B. He picks option A as being in the Greater Good, but isn't consciously aware why. However, if you did ask him, and he had a bit of a think about it, he'd say that he picked A because it maximised the interests of the citizens of the Tau Empire. I'd describe this as a consequence-based judgment, even though it's not a conscious one, and so I'd deny (1).


This is the same argument hashed out at the top, about moral systems, though you've used an excellent example. To slot that example in above:

Mutual destruction is bad and cooperation is good because human beings are fundamentally social beings, who depend on one another for self-definition and development. Cooperation follows from the nature of our way-of-being-human, mutual destruction does not.

To which the utilitarian replies "Surely what's good about something which is in line with our "way-of-being-human/Tau" is its tendency to promote our welfare and happiness?" :p

It's a certainly more direct explanation. After all, there are lots of things which are not immediately clearly in line with our "natural" state as humans, but are still good. (Debating ethical questions in the context of a fantasy universe on an internet forum instead of writing an essay on Locke's epistemology springs to mind :p)

Satisfaction of desires is a much more direct and common-sense route, as far as I can see.


Finally, to bring this all back to the Tau: the Greater Good is rather mysterious, but if you understand it to be a social ethic which has developed out of and is uniquely reinforced by Tau society -- the way a group of people develops a common language over time -- then it begins to make a lot of sense.

That may well be that the way the Tau would describe their system. But if you started to question them about why action X was in the Greater Good and action Y wasn't, I suspect you'd see a consequentialist pattern emerging...

Brother Siccarius
09-11-2007, 21:08
Well this thread certainly derailed a good while back.

Bregalad
10-11-2007, 10:15
I am waiting for DantesInferno to advertise his new computer program "E-Z-Ethics - the computable conscience- Never do a morally wrong decision again and prove it!" ;)

DantesInferno
10-11-2007, 10:33
I am waiting for DantesInferno to advertise his new computer program "E-Z-Ethics - the computable conscience- Never do a morally wrong decision again and prove it!" ;)

I wouldn't presume: utilitarianism's been around for 200 years and is still going strong as the leading ethical theory around (at least in terms of popularity among ethical philosophers). People can read Bentham, Mill or Sidgwick if they want it explained properly.

But after all, it's neat, explicable and intuitive (once an outcome has been properly specified).

And it fits really nicely with the Tau's concept of the Greater Good. When faced with reports of Tau doing things which seem nasty, you don't have to say either
(a) they didn't really do them, no matter what the evidence
or (b) if they did do that, it wasn't in the Greater Good, and they shouldn't have.

It allows you to explain a lot more of what the Tau might be up to, without having to make them any less ethical, or having to make them raging hypocrites.

malika
10-11-2007, 11:39
Well this thread certainly derailed a good while back.


It didnt, in order to understand Farsight and his rebellion from the Greater Good one needs to understand the Greater Good. ;)

Brother Siccarius
10-11-2007, 18:57
It didnt, in order to understand Farsight and his rebellion from the Greater Good one needs to understand the Greater Good. ;)

In order to understand Farsight and why he's been out of contact with the Greater Good one only needs to do as I mentioned a page ago and peek at the new ork codex, under the "War of Dakka". Farsight's been spending his time fighting off a massive ork invasion that's been threatening the eastern fringe worlds of the Tau Empire (and has even claimed several of them). more and more orks pour into the WAAAGH as word of a good dust up spreads. Farsight lost most of his command because the orks surprised and destroyed their command posts by using cunningly brutal tactics as opposed to brutally cunning tactics. This is even somewhat hinted at in the Tau Empire book as Farsight decided to abandon the colonization entirely in favor of setting up fortified defenses and outposts right before contact was lost with him. Showing that there really was something he was afraid could threaten the Tau Empire.

DantesInferno
10-11-2007, 20:48
In order to understand Farsight and why he's been out of contact with the Greater Good one only needs to do as I mentioned a page ago and peek at the new ork codex, under the "War of Dakka". Farsight's been spending his time fighting off a massive ork invasion that's been threatening the eastern fringe worlds of the Tau Empire (and has even claimed several of them). more and more orks pour into the WAAAGH as word of a good dust up spreads. Farsight lost most of his command because the orks surprised and destroyed their command posts by using cunningly brutal tactics as opposed to brutally cunning tactics. This is even somewhat hinted at in the Tau Empire book as Farsight decided to abandon the colonization entirely in favor of setting up fortified defenses and outposts right before contact was lost with him. Showing that there really was something he was afraid could threaten the Tau Empire.

The Ork Codex bit is still entirely consistent with any of the other myriad Farsight-explanations suggested at the start of the thread. It doesn't help us resolve the problem of why he left ("left"?) the Tau Empire in the first place.

Iracundus
10-11-2007, 23:46
That bit about the Orks makes mention also that Farsight is a "renegade" from the 3rd person narrator POV. The latest losses to the Orks all appear to have taken place recently after Farsight had already gone renegade. It is stated as 3 sept worlds lost to the Orks within the space of 1 year. Given the limited number of enclaves shown in the Tau Codex, that puts the long term survival of the Farsight faction in some doubt.

BrotherAdso
11-11-2007, 00:18
I wouldn't presume: utilitarianism's been around for 200 years and is still going strong as the leading ethical theory around (at least in terms of popularity among ethical philosophers). People can read Bentham, Mill or Sidgwick if they want it explained properly.

Actually, I think just about any non-dead religious ethical theory has utilitarianism beat in terms of popularity, by a long shot. And among academes, well, we don't count and probably shouldn't.


But after all, it's neat, explicable and intuitive (once an outcome has been properly specified).

The proper specification is the hard thing. I've learned, in the course of writing several theses, that utilitarianism, while it appears to be a very realist system, in reality requires far more commitment to faith in ideology than deontological systems. This is because human beings are simply unable to accurately estimate the maximum happiness in any meaningful way.


And it fits really nicely with the Tau's concept of the Greater Good. When faced with reports of Tau doing things which seem nasty, you don't have to say either
(a) they didn't really do them, no matter what the evidence
or (b) if they did do that, it wasn't in the Greater Good, and they shouldn't have.

It allows you to explain a lot more of what the Tau might be up to, without having to make them any less ethical, or having to make them raging hypocrites.

Agreed. But I think that's what makes this debate so interesting. It is quite difficult to determine WHAT makes the Tau moral system tick. But tick it does.

Anyhow, this debate has derailed the thread enough.

On to Ork planets!

Do you all think that the 'Renegade' Farsight might get saved by the Tau Empire? I think that would make for a fantastic story....the beleaugered enclaves must choose between their prideful rebellion and extinction, or a shameful return to the fold and survival...

Outcome?

-Adso

FrankManic
05-12-2007, 08:17
To throw in my pet theory.

The Tau were uplifted by someone. They have pretty close to no warp presence. In game terms, this may just be to balance out their ranged killiness. In fluff terms, the only folks in the history of the universe that don't do psychic presences are the C'tan. So, by this little string of Illogic, the Tau were probably uplifted by the C'tan, who are in some arcane and complicated way responsible for the mysterious control exerted by the Ethereals.

The Dawnblade is an Eldar weapon. The Eldar are the creatures that most exemplify the relationship between warpspace and realspace, existing comfortably in both realms (when Slaanesh isn't trying to eat them). The Eldar are the successors of the Progenitor race. The Eldar are the natural enemies of the Necrons, and exist, in part, to fight the C'tan (which sounds a lot like Satan, one of who's many titles is occaisionally rendered Prince of Lies.) The Dawnblade is an Eldar weapon. It's purpose, like many Eldar weapons and the eldar themselves, is to preserve the balance between Realspace and Warpspace. By some virtue of his interaction with the Dawnblade Farsight has recognized the danger posed to the tau by the C'tan.

The C'tan are entirely material beings, existing only in realspace. They cannot be harmed in any meaningful way except by warp energy (Though a recent apocalypse game proved that three Ork warlords and some angry MANobs can give them a good hiding). The Tau are largely material beings, with a limited warp presence and no meaningful psychic power at all. This is largely unique in the Universe. The Tau, unable to utilize or even properly recognize the existence of the warp, have no weapons of any kind that can defeat the C'tan. If the C'tan bring the Tau to battle the Tau will be wiped out.

By finding an Eldar Artifact Farsight has somehow been given insight into the vulnerability of the Tau in relation to the C'tan. Farsight has used this insight in some manner that he feels will protect the Tau. At this point I run out of ideas, and go to sleep.

GreenDracoBob
05-12-2007, 20:02
So you are saying that the C'Tan uplifted the Tau to kill them dead. Farsight has found an Eldar weapon (which should be keyed by psychic power in some fashion) which has somehow given Farsight some psychic-like vision (in a low psychic race) that showed him the Tau's weakness to the C'Tan.

I really don't think this follows very well. But besides that, it still doesn't answer the question of why Farsight left the Empire instead of warning everybody.

malika
05-12-2007, 20:33
Lets say if the theory is true. (eventhough I dont agree with it)

The C'tan want to whipe out the Tau, Farsight found out about this and reports this to his Ethereal masters. However they already knew this since they are closer to the C'tan than all the other Tau. Disgusted by this truth Farsight escaped the Empire and tries to save the Tau from certain doom.

I dunno...to kind of build on the theory posted here...

GreenDracoBob
06-12-2007, 16:15
So the Ethereals are guiding the race forward throughout the galaxy, ever-expanding to reach the Greater Good, just so the C'Tan can kill every Tau alive.

I suppose your addition to the theory answers my question, but the Ethereals really aren't acting like they are leading the race towards a destruction by their evil masters, who created the race's strengths and weaknesses just to destroy them. It sounds like the C'Tan aren't very smart if they put a lot of work into something just to kill it.

malika
06-12-2007, 22:56
So the Ethereals are guiding the race forward throughout the galaxy, ever-expanding to reach the Greater Good, just so the C'Tan can kill every Tau alive.

If all the races are under Tau control, because lets face it...thats what the Greater Good kind of is, it would mean that the Tau rule the galaxy. Instead of military conquest this is done in a more friendly way... But once the Tau rule everybody they can just give all those races on a plate to their C'tan masters.


I suppose your addition to the theory answers my question, but the Ethereals really aren't acting like they are leading the race towards a destruction by their evil masters, who created the race's strengths and weaknesses just to destroy them. It sounds like the C'Tan aren't very smart if they put a lot of work into something just to kill it.
They C'tan are more patient than that, the C'tan wait for the Tau to be powerful enough to remove all threats to the C'tan and subjegate other races. Once that is done the C'tan could just devour everybody. The Ethereals know this longer term plan, but they know what has to happen first...so it isnt a short term suicide cult but more a suicide cult that takes millenia upon millenia of preperation.

Clockwork-Knight
06-12-2007, 23:28
If all the races are under Tau control, because lets face it...thats what the Greater Good kind of is, it would mean that the Tau rule the galaxy. Instead of military conquest this is done in a more friendly way... But once the Tau rule everybody they can just give all those races on a plate to their C'tan masters.


They C'tan are more patient than that, the C'tan wait for the Tau to be powerful enough to remove all threats to the C'tan and subjegate other races. Once that is done the C'tan could just devour everybody. The Ethereals know this longer term plan, but they know what has to happen first...so it isnt a short term suicide cult but more a suicide cult that takes millenia upon millenia of preperation.
Then how comes that Eldrad Ulthran says that he feels some kind of kinship or something special about them?

"I have followed the myriad potential future of the Tau with great interest. Though barely even striplings compared to us, I feel a strange protectiveness towards them. In time I believe they will exceed even our greatest feats and master the darkness with."

malika
07-12-2007, 08:38
Oh man, that could be a trick by the Deceiver :p

But yeah, like I posted before I dont agree with FrankManic's theory on the Tau-C'tan relation, just trying to imagine how it would be if he were right...

Baltar
17-01-2008, 02:33
I guess I am an old fashioned fan of the Farsight is worshipping the C'Tan theory.