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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Almost everyone, from main characters to one-shot, barely-there characters, is an amoral scumbag. This rubs me a bit wrong; people haven't changed that much over the years. The humans in Westeros are like an alien species that lack empathy. Westeros itself sometimes feels like a modern-day American perception of what the Middle Ages were - a barbaric and cruel counterpoint to the enlightened civilisations of now.

    There are exceptions, but not enough of them to lighten the gloom that coats the whole series. I often re-read A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings, but I still haven't finished a Dance of Dragons despite buying it when it came out because the relentless presentation of evil or amorality as humanity's natural state of being is just so grim.
    Last edited by SmartAlec; 2012-10-11 at 10:43 AM.

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by snoopy13a View Post
    My prediction for the end of the series: Ramsey Bolton ends up as king--with Sansa Stark (or a alternative innocent like Myrcella or Shireen Baratheon) as a tortured, suffering queen--simply because that would be the most twisted ending I can think of right now (outside of the Others winning, that is).
    Still, that seems way too dark an ending for me. Every even slightly sane person should know Ramsey is a... well, I won't spell it out. Who would ever want him to ruin the kingdom? Of all the people in the world, except maybe himself.
    Yeah, Martin doesn't like the good guys to have success but in ASOIAF but in the end I still think we will have a happy-ish ending.

    Quote Originally Posted by SmartAlec View Post
    Almost everyone, from main characters to one-shot, barely-there characters, is an amoral scumbag. This rubs me a bit wrong; people haven't changed that much over the years. The humans in Westeros are like an alien species that lack empathy. Westeros itself sometimes feels like a modern-day American perception of what the Middle Ages were - a barbaric and cruel counterpoint to the enlightened civilisations of now.

    There are exceptions, but not enough of them to lighten the gloom that coats the whole series. I often re-read A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings, but I still haven't finished a Dance of Dragons despite buying it when it came out because the relentless presentation of evil or amorality as humanity's natural state of being is just so grim.
    Not to crush your faith in humanity, but humans are jerks more often than not. And the few people in the story that are not just "I'm evil to further my needs" but "I'm evil because it's fun" are within the normal amount as well, I'd say.
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kato View Post
    Not to crush your faith in humanity, but humans are jerks more often than not. And the few people in the story that are not just "I'm evil to further my needs" but "I'm evil because it's fun" are within the normal amount as well, I'd say.
    Jerks, maybe. That's laziness of spirit, it's a passive thing, or rooted in transference of frustration. Casual murderers, that's a whole 'nother level - it takes quite an effort of will or a lot of twisted emotion to kill or injure for your own gain. More, if it's done cold.

    Because most people have a degree of empathy. That's where the people of Westeros seem different to us, inhuman.
    Last edited by SmartAlec; 2012-10-11 at 11:23 AM.

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    I don't think everyone lacks empathy. What I think is happening that in the current situation, between a feudal culture and a long, drawn-out, complicated war, the most reckless people are getting to the top and, since the story focuses on the most important nobles, we also see them the most.
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    Humans are naturally amoral jerks. The reason casual murder isn't more common than it is is societal conditioning. In other words, society has increased the cost of murder to the point that it outweighs the derived benefit while technology is also decreasing the chance of not getting caught.

    We dress it up with pretty words like empathy and humanity, but what it boils down to is that people always act in a manner that they perceive will benefit them. The most altruistic person in the world acts out of a belief that he'll receive some reward in a future life, which means he's not really altruistic at all.
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    I think Krade is protesting the use of the word mad in in the phrase mad scientist as it promotes ambiguity. Are they angry? Are they crazy? Some of both? Not to mention, it also often connotates some degree of evilness. In the future we should be more careful to use proper classification.

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    You can be an altruist without believing in a future life. It's called reciprocal altruism. Or, to put it in simpler terms, reputation.
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by mangosta71 View Post
    Humans are naturally amoral jerks. The reason casual murder isn't more common than it is is societal conditioning. In other words, society has increased the cost of murder to the point that it outweighs the derived benefit while technology is also decreasing the chance of not getting caught.

    We dress it up with pretty words like empathy and humanity, but what it boils down to is that people always act in a manner that they perceive will benefit them. The most altruistic person in the world acts out of a belief that he'll receive some reward in a future life, which means he's not really altruistic at all.
    Wow, that's incredibly cynical and misanthropic.

    I personally never saw the supposed problem of everyone being amoral *******s. Yes "A Song of Ice and Fire" has a larger percentage of them than most media, but they are hardly omnipresent. There are still good and noble people in the series. Daenerys, the Onion Knight, Beric Dondarion, Barristan Selmy, and most of the Starks. Just to name those that immediately come to mind.

    Then there are also the people who are neither, they're not good or bad people, they're just people, ones trying to make the best of a horrible situation. Kevan Lannister, Arya Stark, Thoros of Myr, Theon's sister(whose name I can't recall). Theon and Jaime are borderline cases and I can't decide if they should in this category or the amoral ******* one.

    Tyrion falls into one of those two groups, but I can't for the life of me decide which.
    Last edited by Sanguine; 2012-10-11 at 01:49 PM.
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by mangosta71 View Post
    Humans are naturally amoral jerks. The reason casual murder isn't more common than it is is societal conditioning. In other words, society has increased the cost of murder to the point that it outweighs the derived benefit while technology is also decreasing the chance of not getting caught.

    We dress it up with pretty words like empathy and humanity, but what it boils down to is that people always act in a manner that they perceive will benefit them. The most altruistic person in the world acts out of a belief that he'll receive some reward in a future life, which means he's not really altruistic at all.
    That's either hilariously or depressingly cynical.


    Now I'm going to at least partially disagree with you because I have seen people work to justify why they aren't committing crimes when the answer simply is they didn't want to. You can call that social conditioning if you want but the real question comes down to how did such social conditioning come to place if we all are naturally opposed to it?
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sanguine View Post
    Wow, that's incredibly cynical and misanthropic.
    I dont' see it as such. It's finding a game theoretical/evolutionary explanation for altruistic behaviour. Finding that humans not only often act altruistically, but also have logical reasons for doing so? That can only raise my opinion of humans.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    You can be an altruist without believing in a future life. It's called reciprocal altruism. Or, to put it in simpler terms, reputation.
    Yes, I realize that, statistically, people who do not believe in a future life are more likely to exhibit behavior that society defines as altruistic. But again, if their motivation is reputation, they seek a personal benefit through their actions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sanguine View Post
    Theon's sister(whose name I can't recall).
    Asha Greyjoy.
    Quote Originally Posted by Forum Explorer View Post
    That's either hilariously or depressingly cynical.


    Now I'm going to at least partially disagree with you because I have seen people work to justify why they aren't committing crimes when the answer simply is they didn't want to. You can call that social conditioning if you want but the real question comes down to how did such social conditioning come to place if we all are naturally opposed to it?
    Are we naturally opposed to it? Or has society conditioned us to not want to so completely (via the imposition of laws) that we reject the action even before weighing the consequences? Why was it necessary to codify "thou shalt not kill" if we're naturally opposed to murder? Why do we need to have laws against robbing banks if theft is naturally abhorrent to humans?
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    I think Krade is protesting the use of the word mad in in the phrase mad scientist as it promotes ambiguity. Are they angry? Are they crazy? Some of both? Not to mention, it also often connotates some degree of evilness. In the future we should be more careful to use proper classification.

    Mango is a dastardly irate unhinged scientist, for realz.

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    I dont' see it as such. It's finding a game theoretical/evolutionary explanation for altruistic behaviour. Finding that humans not only often act altruistically, but also have logical reasons for doing so? That can only raise my opinion of humans.
    While that is certainly one way to interpret that post, and one that I can easily see, it's very much not how I interpreted it. The way I read it his post seemed to be saying that people are basically *******s who only care about themselves and altruism is all just a lie.

    This is not how I see things. I think people fundamentally care about other people, all other people, it's just we care about those who we are close too more so we are willing to be *******s to others to help those whom we care for deeply.

    As for an evolutionary explanation for altruism, it's quite simple. A sociopath who is able to control himself and avoid any societal repercussions has a marked advantage over non-sociopaths, but only because other people are empathic, sociopathy on a species-wide level would be a huge disadvantage.

    Humanity became the dominant species on the planet because we are able to band together to protect and better ourselves. Sure our incredible ability to make tools was also an important part, probably even equally so, but it wouldn't be enough on it's own. If we didn't care about our fellow man we would never have bonded together into the societal groups that have allowed us to survive a world full of bigger and scarier creatures. Nor would we have advanced as much as we have, because technology is based on a very simple premise: People make tools, other people than use those tools to make better tools, which are then used to make still better tools, and so on. Without the free trade of knowledge between humans this would be all but impossible.

    Without our ability to empathize with each other cooperation would never have fostered within our species. Why help someone else when it's time and energy you could be using to help yourself?

    But without cooperation our species would never have become what it is today. Ignoring for a moment our big cultural and architectural achievements that literally require the cooperation of many people, its necessary for the survival of our species. A single man against a wild boar is hopelessly outmatched, however a group of men working in concert can take down a boar with minimal chance of any of them being permanently injured.

    I hope that was all coherent.
    Last edited by Sanguine; 2012-10-11 at 03:04 PM.
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    *looks around*
    Okay, still no Mods complaining.

    So, since I kind of started the discussion I might as well clarify my view on it.
    I wouldn't quite put it as far as mangosta but overall, yes, I believe people would be much more evil if our society wasn't as it is.
    I'm not blaming anyone or anything but in many less developed regions crimes like rape or murder are much more common than in more developed countries. Same goes for medieval times... raping after a victorious battle was... pretty much expected of you. Well, maybe not that but you get what I mean, I think.
    I'm not saying people are just being good because they are afraid of repercussions it's much more complicated than that but I think to believe people are good and portraying people as more evil than the people around you are is overly cynical... we better be glad we live in a society where we are pretty safe.


    Then again, people who are cruel mostly for the sake of being cruel, like Ramsey, Clegane or Joffrey... those are not the norm. People being evil and ruthless because it will help them have a better life... that might not be fun to watch but it's not unrealistic, even in the amount ASOIAF has them.

    Of course, as I said, part of this is "what I believe" so you are free to disagree. Maybe I'm just terribly misanthropic as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sanguine View Post
    <snip>
    I actually heard a quote somewhere (can't remember where right now) where someone said (paraphrasing here) that humanity became the dominant species on the globe because of our intelligence, community, and opposable thumbs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mangosta71 View Post
    Are we naturally opposed to it? Or has society conditioned us to not want to so completely (via the imposition of laws) that we reject the action even before weighing the consequences? Why was it necessary to codify "thou shalt not kill" if we're naturally opposed to murder? Why do we need to have laws against robbing banks if theft is naturally abhorrent to humans?
    This assumes all of mankind has the same emotional makeup, and that it takes situation away from

    Now on the development of morality one of the more interesting methods I've seen has been based upon looking at our closest genetic cousins Bonobo's and Chimps. Now Bonobo's have shown far lower signs of aggression and acts of violence, while the Chimps are one of the most violent and aggressive, which I think is probably more accurate in a look at human morality than anything else. Some folks are more violent than others, some folk are less, our genetics, our backgrounds, and more crap than I think anyone can actually comprehend affect how we react, how much we're willing to sacrifice for others and how much we're willing to commit violence upon each other.

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by 123456789blaaa View Post
    I actually heard a quote somewhere (can't remember where right now) where someone said (paraphrasing here) that humanity became the dominant species on the globe because of our intelligence, community, and opposable thumbs.
    Yeah, that seems about right.
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sanguine View Post
    Theon and Jaime are borderline cases and I can't decide if they should in this category or the amoral ******* one.
    Theon is super-complicated. He started off okay, fell off the deep end of the cruelty pool trying to live up to what he thought he should be, and may yet try to redeem himself.

    Jamie was absolutely a sack of crap when we first met him. He has experienced character growth since then, and is definitely becoming a better person. It would be stretching things - a lot - to say that he is becoming a good person, but better is a start. He might yet end the series on the more-or-less good side.

    (And personally, I still think the series is going to have a happy ending. George wants it to be grim and brutal, but he's given enough moments of light and saved enough of his characters from certain death that I have no reason to expect that monumental a subversion of genre.)

    *EDIT*
    Quote Originally Posted by mangosta71 View Post
    Are we naturally opposed to it? Or has society conditioned us to not want to so completely (via the imposition of laws) that we reject the action even before weighing the consequences? Why was it necessary to codify "thou shalt not kill" if we're naturally opposed to murder? Why do we need to have laws against robbing banks if theft is naturally abhorrent to humans?
    Turning this around - if everyone naturally thinks that theft is a-ok, who sat down and decided that "society" would tell us that it wasn't?

    Laws exist because not everyone thinks the same way. They are ways for the majority of people to make sure that the minority who do not think like them understand the social contract that they are undertaking by being a member of society.
    Last edited by Friv; 2012-10-11 at 03:14 PM.
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by mangosta71 View Post
    Yes, I realize that, statistically, people who do not believe in a future life are more likely to exhibit behavior that society defines as altruistic. But again, if their motivation is reputation, they seek a personal benefit through their actions.
    Absolutely. I know that I?m selfish. But I don't think I'm amoral. There are a lot of actions that I wouldn't do. I think that everyone acts in a a rational and low-key selfish way, society is essentially stable and peaceful. Of course, I also believe that non-selfishness does not exist. Any action ever done is selfish, just for different reasons. Even if it is just "I would like to do this, so I will", or "I think this is right, so I will do this" are selfish motives.

    Sanguine: but see, that is also essentially selfish. We help others, because that, overall, improves society. Which also helps us. A strong tribe can protect us and feed us when we need it, so we give to the tribe when we have more than we need. That is the basis of altruism, but also a selfish motivation. You said it yourself: cooperation is a smart idea because it helps you too.
    Last edited by Eldan; 2012-10-11 at 03:17 PM.
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by mangosta71 View Post
    Are we naturally opposed to it? Or has society conditioned us to not want to so completely (via the imposition of laws) that we reject the action even before weighing the consequences? Why was it necessary to codify "thou shalt not kill" if we're naturally opposed to murder? Why do we need to have laws against robbing banks if theft is naturally abhorrent to humans?
    I think you misunderstood me. Or I'm misunderstanding you right now.

    But I mean if we are naturally amoral jerks who only seek personal gain then how would the social conditioning arise that makes us not act like amoral jerks who only seek personal gain?

    People can sacrifice their time, money, and even their lives for something else and be expecting nothing in return. Some of these people do in order to protect someone else or because they believe that whatever cause they are giving everything up for is good for humanity as a whole, or perhaps just their own country.

    Basically I think you are doing yourself a disservice by trying to force everyone into the idea that no one is capable of doing things for reasons other then personal benefit.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Absolutely. I know that I?m selfish. But I don't think I'm amoral. There are a lot of actions that I wouldn't do. I think that everyone acts in a a rational and low-key selfish way, society is essentially stable and peaceful. Of course, I also believe that non-selfishness does not exist. Any action ever done is selfish, just for different reasons. Even if it is just "I would like to do this, so I will", or "I think this is right, so I will do this" are selfish motives.

    Sanguine: but see, that is also essentially selfish. We help others, because that, overall, improves society. Which also helps us. A strong tribe can protect us and feed us when we need it, so we give to the tribe when we have more than we need. That is the basis of altruism, but also a selfish motivation.
    The one problem with this is that I don't think many people ever think this way. I know I sure don't. It assumes people are on a whole logical and plans in advance their actions and their effects on society as a whole. Also it stretches the definition of selfishness beyond the point of it's meaning.

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Sanguine: but see, that is also essentially selfish. We help others, because that, overall, improves society. Which also helps us. A strong tribe can protect us and feed us when we need it, so we give to the tribe when we have more than we need. That is the basis of altruism, but also a selfish motivation. You said it yourself: cooperation is a smart idea because it helps you too.
    Which I am fine with. I was never arguing that people were selfless. Merely that altruism was a thing. True selflessness is not something I think humanity is capable of. I feel good when I help someone. This means I get something out of it, thus making the act at least partially about myself, it does not however diminish its altruism.

    Hell, I am an incredibly self-centered person. I can't deny this without becoming a liar. However, I also like to think of myself as a good and altruistic person. Maybe I'm not, maybe I'm just biased. However that doesn't change the fact that I don't see a contradiction in those two statements.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Friv View Post
    Turning this around - if everyone naturally thinks that theft is a-ok, who sat down and decided that "society" would tell us that it wasn't?
    Someone with enough power and influence to impose his will didn't want other people taking his stuff. The irony is that he gained that power and influence by taking stuff from other people and giving it to those who saw the personal benefit to themselves in following him.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RabbitHoleLost View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gryffon View Post
    I think Krade is protesting the use of the word mad in in the phrase mad scientist as it promotes ambiguity. Are they angry? Are they crazy? Some of both? Not to mention, it also often connotates some degree of evilness. In the future we should be more careful to use proper classification.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mangosta71 View Post
    Someone with enough power and influence to impose his will didn't want other people taking his stuff. The irony is that he gained that power and influence by taking stuff from other people and giving it to those who saw the personal benefit to themselves in following him.
    Actually this directly opposes current theories on the start of civilization. Studying current models of the hunter-gatherer society there does not seem to be any dominant social figure outside the heads of various families.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dienekes View Post
    The one problem with this is that I don't think many people ever think this way. I know I sure don't. It assumes people are on a whole logical and plans in advance their actions and their effects on society as a whole. Also it stretches the definition of selfishness beyond the point of it's meaning.
    The wonderful thing about Evolution and sociobiology? You don't have to make these decisions consciously. They reinforce themselves over generations, and what doesn't work dies out. We feel enjoyment when we act altruistically. That's an evolved response, our brains are rewarding us for beneficial behaviour.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    I want more mwa-ha-haaa and much less boo-hoo-hoo.

  24. - Top - End - #84
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by mangosta71 View Post
    Humans are naturally amoral jerks. The reason casual murder isn't more common than it is is societal conditioning. In other words, society has increased the cost of murder to the point that it outweighs the derived benefit while technology is also decreasing the chance of not getting caught.

    We dress it up with pretty words like empathy and humanity, but what it boils down to is that people always act in a manner that they perceive will benefit them. The most altruistic person in the world acts out of a belief that he'll receive some reward in a future life, which means he's not really altruistic at all.
    Can I see a source for the bolded? Because I'm not inclined to take that statement at face value at all.

  25. - Top - End - #85
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Ok, here's my list of good characters, innocent characters, and characters who may be good. Some of the good characters are debatable and we can do that in spoilers. The arguably good characters are those whose motives are questionable or unclear:

    Spoiler
    Show


    Innocent characters: Tommon, Myrcella, and Shireen Baratheon--all are described as good children. They can be constrasted with Joffery Baratheon and Robert Arryn--who are spoiled and cruel. Ayra Stark is the middle ground as a pragmatic character. Sansa and Bran Stark start in this category and develop into good characters. Penny the Dwarf is probably in this category as well. Margery's Tyrell's younger cousins may be in this category also (the motives of the young Tyrells are unknown)

    Good characters: Ned, Robb, Bran, and Sansa Stark--all try to live up to ideals of proper behavior and honor, justness, etc. It'll be interesting whether Sansa remains good--she may aid Littlefinger in murdering her cousin Robert.

    Meera and Jojen Reed: Loyal and dutiful.

    Edmure Tully: He is protective of his smallfolk--allowing them to enter Riverrun so they aren't harmed. Other characters believe this was foolish as that led to more mouths to feed. A constrast is his uncle, the Blackfish, who expels all unnecessary people from Riverrun after the Red Wedding. His surrender to Jaime can be viewed as placing human life above personal honor. The contrast between Edmure and the Blackfish demonstrates Martin's cynicism. The more noble Edmure is displayed as a bit of a fool while the pragmatic Blackfish is respected.

    Brienne of Tarth: She tries to act as a model knight. Of course, she apparently lied to Jaime in the 5th book so she may no longer be good. Her father is also described as a good person.

    Bonifer Hasty: His nickname is Bonifer the Good. Another example of Martin's cynicism as this minor, good character is displayed as an idiotic prig. Despite being a moron, however, he is good.

    Samwell Tarry: I wonder if Samwell Tarry is a bit of an author insert. Samwell is good, despite being a coward. His goodness is a fault; for example lagging in Braavos because of Aemon's ill health.

    Dorna Swift (Kevan Lannister's wife): She is described as gentle and cares about family. Kevan won't bring her to King's Landing; he views it as dropping a kitten in a pit of snakes.

    Daenerys Targaryen: She is just, kind, and devoted to her subjects. Her devotion often has unintended awful results. Although just, she can be strict (rather similiar to Ned Stark) and had made some pragmatic choices.

    Missandei: Dany's scribe is kind, loyal, and gentle. Of note, she cares for the dying Quentyl Martell.

    Barristan Selmy: A noble and loyal knight.

    Jon Snow: Tries to live up to the ideals of honor, courage, etc. He is somewhat wise and values life--even wildling life--which puts him at odds with his "comrades."

    Wylla Manderly: She supports the Onion Knight in his audience with her grandfather. She believes that the Manderlys should support Stannis because of honor, justice, and loyalty. She denounces the Freys to their face. Her grandfather secretly agrees with her but isn't as naive to admit it in front of their enemies.

    I'm sure I've missed quite a few. And some characters, like the Onion Knight, I'm too lazy to double check on.

    Arguably good characters. I'm not saying these characters are good, only that they may be good:

    Aemon aka "Young Griff": He has the potential to be a noble character but hasn't been put to the test yet. Stereotypically, Targaryens, if he is a Targaryen, end up as noble or crazy (or in the case of Baelor the Blessed, both).

    Jon Connington: He does risk his life (and will eventually die from this attempt) to save Tyrion.

    Margery Tyrell: She may or may not have had an affair. She seemingly is trying to guide Tommen to be a good king. She does little good things like give alms to the poor (of course, this could be for simple good publicity). Her motives (and whether she is unfaithful) are unclear.

    Renly Baratheon: He was a bit of an engima. He was kind to Brienne and he may have acted for, what he believed, was best for the country.

    Again, these are people who we don't know enough about to make a conclusive decision.


  26. - Top - End - #86
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    The wonderful thing about Evolution and sociobiology? You don't have to make these decisions consciously. They reinforce themselves over generations, and what doesn't work dies out. We feel enjoyment when we act altruistically. That's an evolved response, our brains are rewarding us for beneficial behaviour.
    This is where I'd have to drop out of the argument. I do not know about the subconscious mind. What little I was told about it has since largely been dis-proven, or so someone else has told me. So I cannot agree or refute with an argument based around the how the unconscious mind works, and will leave that up to folks much smarter than me.

  27. - Top - End - #87
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    On "good" characters in aSoIaF:
    Spoiler
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    One of my favorite things about the setting is that there are essentially no characters who are completely, unassailably good, just as there are very few who are completely and totally evil. A case can be made to support the actions of almost any character morally. Sure, you have your Gregor Cleganes and your Joffreys, and you have your ... uh ... well, Starks on the good side, but even they have mitigating factors or points of contention.

    For example: Dany. Dany wants to be good. I'll even go so far as to say that Dany does a decent job of being good. But she's also near merciless to anyone who crosses her, blinds herself to the venality and corruption of those close to her, and idolizes her dead husband, a man who, let's be frank, no matter how badass he was or what culture he grew up in, was still a serial murderer, rapist and thief who led a nation of the same. She's not without her moral flaws.

    Ned himself was essentially too good for these sinful Seven Kingdoms, but even he, when faced with the child murdering ways of his friend, decided to retire to the North to be left alone rather than actually try to stop him, both times. He was also intolerant of anyone who didn't live up to his standards of honor (not morality, but HONOR), which was IMO the real nail in his coffin.

    One of my favorite exchanges from the books is one between Davos and Melisandre, who I think exemplify the conflict between moral relativity and absolutism in this series.
    Quote Originally Posted by A Clash of Kings p. 620
    "Are you a good man, Davos Seaworth?" she asked.
    Would a good man be doing this? "I am a man," he said. "I am kind to my wife, but I have known other women. I have tried to be a father to my sons, to help make them a place in this world. Aye, I've broken laws, but I never felt evil until tonight. I would say my parts are mixed, m'lady. Good and bad."
    "A grey man," she said. "Neither white nor black, but partaking of both. Is that what you are, Ser Davos?"
    "What if I am? It seems to me that most men are grey."
    "If half of an onion is black with rot, it is a rotten onion. A man is good, or he is evil."
    I've always viewed Davos as having a near direct line from the author, here, and Melisandre as exactly what's wrong with a lot of Westeros. The "us vs. them" of Melisandre's good vs. evil is too easy to fall into when we're discussing morality, when really everyone fits somewhere on a broad spectrum.

    Then again, I could just be looking for an excuse to show off this exchange, because I love it so much.
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  28. - Top - End - #88
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by snoopy13a View Post
    Ok, here's my list of good characters, innocent characters, and characters who may be good. Some of the good characters are debatable and we can do that in spoilers. The arguably good characters are those whose motives are questionable or unclear:

    Spoiler
    Show


    Innocent characters: Tommon, Myrcella, and Shireen Baratheon--all are described as good children. They can be constrasted with Joffery Baratheon and Robert Arryn--who are spoiled and cruel. Ayra Stark is the middle ground as a pragmatic character. Sansa and Bran Stark start in this category and develop into good characters. Penny the Dwarf is probably in this category as well. Margery's Tyrell's younger cousins may be in this category also (the motives of the young Tyrells are unknown)

    Good characters: Ned, Robb, Bran, and Sansa Stark--all try to live up to ideals of proper behavior and honor, justness, etc. It'll be interesting whether Sansa remains good--she may aid Littlefinger in murdering her cousin Robert.

    Meera and Jojen Reed: Loyal and dutiful.

    Edmure Tully: He is protective of his smallfolk--allowing them to enter Riverrun so they aren't harmed. Other characters believe this was foolish as that led to more mouths to feed. A constrast is his uncle, the Blackfish, who expels all unnecessary people from Riverrun after the Red Wedding. His surrender to Jaime can be viewed as placing human life above personal honor. The contrast between Edmure and the Blackfish demonstrates Martin's cynicism. The more noble Edmure is displayed as a bit of a fool while the pragmatic Blackfish is respected.

    Brienne of Tarth: She tries to act as a model knight. Of course, she apparently lied to Jaime in the 5th book so she may no longer be good. Her father is also described as a good person.

    Bonifer Hasty: His nickname is Bonifer the Good. Another example of Martin's cynicism as this minor, good character is displayed as an idiotic prig. Despite being a moron, however, he is good.

    Samwell Tarry: I wonder if Samwell Tarry is a bit of an author insert. Samwell is good, despite being a coward. His goodness is a fault; for example lagging in Braavos because of Aemon's ill health.

    Dorna Swift (Kevan Lannister's wife): She is described as gentle and cares about family. Kevan won't bring her to King's Landing; he views it as dropping a kitten in a pit of snakes.

    Daenerys Targaryen: She is just, kind, and devoted to her subjects. Her devotion often has unintended awful results. Although just, she can be strict (rather similiar to Ned Stark) and had made some pragmatic choices.

    Missandei: Dany's scribe is kind, loyal, and gentle. Of note, she cares for the dying Quentyl Martell.

    Barristan Selmy: A noble and loyal knight.

    Jon Snow: Tries to live up to the ideals of honor, courage, etc. He is somewhat wise and values life--even wildling life--which puts him at odds with his "comrades."

    Wylla Manderly: She supports the Onion Knight in his audience with her grandfather. She believes that the Manderlys should support Stannis because of honor, justice, and loyalty. She denounces the Freys to their face. Her grandfather secretly agrees with her but isn't as naive to admit it in front of their enemies.

    I'm sure I've missed quite a few. And some characters, like the Onion Knight, I'm too lazy to double check on.

    Arguably good characters. I'm not saying these characters are good, only that they may be good:

    Aemon aka "Young Griff": He has the potential to be a noble character but hasn't been put to the test yet. Stereotypically, Targaryens, if he is a Targaryen, end up as noble or crazy (or in the case of Baelor the Blessed, both).

    Jon Connington: He does risk his life (and will eventually die from this attempt) to save Tyrion.

    Margery Tyrell: She may or may not have had an affair. She seemingly is trying to guide Tommen to be a good king. She does little good things like give alms to the poor (of course, this could be for simple good publicity). Her motives (and whether she is unfaithful) are unclear.

    Renly Baratheon: He was a bit of an engima. He was kind to Brienne and he may have acted for, what he believed, was best for the country.

    Again, these are people who we don't know enough about to make a conclusive decision.

    I think that I would add Maester Luwin, Jon Arryn, Davos Seaworth, Rhaegar Targaryen and his Kingsguard (minus Jaime) to your list of known to be good/loyal/potentially good characters.
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by Da'Shain View Post
    On "good" characters in aSoIaF:
    Spoiler
    Show
    One of my favorite things about the setting is that there are essentially no characters who are completely, unassailably good, just as there are very few who are completely and totally evil. A case can be made to support the actions of almost any character morally. Sure, you have your Gregor Cleganes and your Joffreys, and you have your ... uh ... well, Starks on the good side, but even they have mitigating factors or points of contention.

    For example: Dany. Dany wants to be good. I'll even go so far as to say that Dany does a decent job of being good. But she's also near merciless to anyone who crosses her, blinds herself to the venality and corruption of those close to her, and idolizes her dead husband, a man who, let's be frank, no matter how badass he was or what culture he grew up in, was still a serial murderer, rapist and thief who led a nation of the same. She's not without her moral flaws.

    Ned himself was essentially too good for these sinful Seven Kingdoms, but even he, when faced with the child murdering ways of his friend, decided to retire to the North to be left alone rather than actually try to stop him, both times. He was also intolerant of anyone who didn't live up to his standards of honor (not morality, but HONOR), which was IMO the real nail in his coffin.

    One of my favorite exchanges from the books is one between Davos and Melisandre, who I think exemplify the conflict between moral relativity and absolutism in this series.
    I've always viewed Davos as having a near direct line from the author, here, and Melisandre as exactly what's wrong with a lot of Westeros. The "us vs. them" of Melisandre's good vs. evil is too easy to fall into when we're discussing morality, when really everyone fits somewhere on a broad spectrum.

    Then again, I could just be looking for an excuse to show off this exchange, because I love it so much.
    This is my favorite quote from A Storm of Swords:

    “Lord Seaworth is a man of humble birth, but he reminded me of my duty, when all I could think of was my rights. I had the cart before the horse, Davos said. I was trying to win the throne to save the kingdom, when I should have been trying to save the kingdom to win the throne.”(ASoS)
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  30. - Top - End - #90
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by Da'Shain View Post
    On "good" characters in aSoIaF:
    Spoiler
    Show
    One of my favorite things about the setting is that there are essentially no characters who are completely, unassailably good, just as there are very few who are completely and totally evil. A case can be made to support the actions of almost any character morally. Sure, you have your Gregor Cleganes and your Joffreys, and you have your ... uh ... well, Starks on the good side, but even they have mitigating factors or points of contention.

    For example: Dany. Dany wants to be good. I'll even go so far as to say that Dany does a decent job of being good. But she's also near merciless to anyone who crosses her, blinds herself to the venality and corruption of those close to her, and idolizes her dead husband, a man who, let's be frank, no matter how badass he was or what culture he grew up in, was still a serial murderer, rapist and thief who led a nation of the same. She's not without her moral flaws.

    Ned himself was essentially too good for these sinful Seven Kingdoms, but even he, when faced with the child murdering ways of his friend, decided to retire to the North to be left alone rather than actually try to stop him, both times. He was also intolerant of anyone who didn't live up to his standards of honor (not morality, but HONOR), which was IMO the real nail in his coffin.

    One of my favorite exchanges from the books is one between Davos and Melisandre, who I think exemplify the conflict between moral relativity and absolutism in this series.
    I've always viewed Davos as having a near direct line from the author, here, and Melisandre as exactly what's wrong with a lot of Westeros. The "us vs. them" of Melisandre's good vs. evil is too easy to fall into when we're discussing morality, when really everyone fits somewhere on a broad spectrum.

    Then again, I could just be looking for an excuse to show off this exchange, because I love it so much.
    I don't disagree. Plus, most of the characters on the good side of the spectrum have the luxury of goodness because they aren't policy makers. It is much easier to be a good advisor or dutiful child than a good lord. For example:
    Spoiler
    Show
    I listed Kevan Lannister's wife as a good character because she is described as gentle, family-orientated, and she would get eaten alive in the snake-pit of King's Landing. Of course, she has her position that allows her to stay home and be a mother thanks in part to by her Machivallian brother-in-law and her pragmatic husband. So, the gray Kevan and the evil Tywin (it is safe to say that Tywin Lannister is evil, right?) allow her to be good.


    As for the quote:

    Spoiler
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    It gets a little complex because Melisandre's concept of morality is a bit foreign to the Westros characters. I don't think too many readers would call her good, regardless of her claims.

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