Even if all the free folk of the world begged him?

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Hi amysrevenge. Would that really be a lie? If I were a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and predicted them to win the Super Bowl, while secretly fearing that the Kansas City Chiefs had a better chance, would that really be a lie? I don't think so.

Besides, one hypothesis that I have outlined is that Gandalf's reading of Bombadil might have characterized him as feckless, un-committed, insufficiently dedicated to the war against Sauron (two more different Ainur, at least amongst those who never sided with Morgoth or Sauron, than Gandalf and Bombadil would be hard to find). In this case, Gandalf really would doubt Bombadil's character as a fit guardian for the Ring. Thus his assertions that Tom would soon forget the Ring, or throw it away, might be hyperbolic exaggeration, but not entirely out of line with his convictions.
 

JJ48

Well-Known Member
On the subject of why would Gandalf lie, Predictions of future events cannot strictly be called 'lies'. A definition of 'lie' is: A false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth. Now, whether or not Tom Bombadil would soon forget the Ring, or throw it away, is a conjecture about future possibilities. It cannot be a false statement nor an untruth. We may consider Gandalf's assertion to be ridiculously improbable, but that does not make it a lie.
For Gandalf to state such with certainty if he knew full well that it was questionable would be lying. If not in a legal sense, then in a moral sense (which I think is more relevant in this case).

Hi amysrevenge. Would that really be a lie? If I were a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and predicted them to win the Super Bowl, while secretly fearing that the Kansas City Chiefs had a better chance, would that really be a lie? I don't think so.
Is predicting one team to win even though there's a high degree of uncertainty a lie? No. Is stating that it is certain that one team will win when in fact you know that the results are absolutely uncertain a lie? Yes. In the text, Gandalf is not saying that he thinks there are better options they should explore; he's saying in no uncertain terms that Tom is a bad choice and needs to be absolutely dismissed as a possibility. If he is not certain (or at least near-certain) that Tom would be a horrible choice, then he's lying (and we've seen above that the only way Gandalf could feel certain, even mistakenly, is by drawing woefully irresponsible conclusions when he really should know better).

If you want me to engage in the reasoning of the Tuesday discussion, you will have to cite it. I cannot remember all the points.
I had assumed from how easily you dismissed it that you had been paying attention and had found some fault with the reasoning. My bad. The reason I even brought it up was because there was a lot of discussion leading to the conclusion that the very traits that make Tom a candidate

At this point, though, I feel we're just talking around in circles. Ultimately, it comes down to you think that the passages about Tom remembering stuff contradict Gandalf's claim, and I don't. I think that reading it that way cheapens the character of Gandalf and the themes of the book itself, and you apparently don't. Maybe I'll chime in again if there's some new development, but until then, see you next overly-controversial debate.
 

Anthony Lawther

Well-Known Member
Making a prediction as if you believed it to be likely while secretly believing it to not be likely would be a lie.

(eta) To elaborate:

The statement "Tom will forget the Ring" isn't necessarily technically a lie (but as soon as you get into debating whether something is technically a lie or not, you're walking on thin ice already).

The statements "I believe Tom will forget the Ring" or even "I think there is a non-zero probability that Tom will forget the Ring and even a small chance is too much" would be genuine lies if you didn't actually believe or think them. The "I believe" part is the lie, not the "Tom will forget" part.

A predictive statement like the former carries an implied "I believe" or "I think it likely" even if it's unstated, as that's the only way that predictive statements even make sense.
The only other way for predictive statements to make sense is if you specifically preface them with a disclaimer along the lines of 'Others say' in order to personally distance yourself from the prediction. Even a preface of 'Some say' is ambiguous.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Hi Anthony,

Oh I agree that Gandalf could well be skating on thin ice. And I also agree with JJ that while Gandalf's statement might not be legally lying (and I think it is not. If there is a lawyer in the thread, maybe they could chime in, but my impression is that you could not convict someone for perjury for any statement they made about a possible future outcome, no matter how probable?) it is morally more questionable.

However, my belief that Gandalf does not 'lie' is not based on either legal or moral considerations, but on linguistics. Which I think were extremely important to JRRT. Words are important, especially to JRRT, and precision in language is also important to him. So, I think JRRT would reject, on linguistic grounds, the notion that Gandalf lied, even if he was pretty sure that he was exaggerating, when speculating about future outcomes, .

Besides which, as I said, I think it is possible that Gandalf actually doubts Bombadil's capacity to be a conscientious guardian of the Ring (though probably not to the extent that he exaggerates).
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
For Gandalf to state such with certainty if he knew full well that it was questionable would be lying. If not in a legal sense, then in a moral sense (which I think is more relevant in this case).



Is predicting one team to win even though there's a high degree of uncertainty a lie? No. Is stating that it is certain that one team will win when in fact you know that the results are absolutely uncertain a lie? Yes. In the text, Gandalf is not saying that he thinks there are better options they should explore; he's saying in no uncertain terms that Tom is a bad choice and needs to be absolutely dismissed as a possibility. If he is not certain (or at least near-certain) that Tom would be a horrible choice, then he's lying (and we've seen above that the only way Gandalf could feel certain, even mistakenly, is by drawing woefully irresponsible conclusions when he really should know better).



I had assumed from how easily you dismissed it that you had been paying attention and had found some fault with the reasoning. My bad. The reason I even brought it up was because there was a lot of discussion leading to the conclusion that the very traits that make Tom a candidate

At this point, though, I feel we're just talking around in circles. Ultimately, it comes down to you think that the passages about Tom remembering stuff contradict Gandalf's claim, and I don't. I think that reading it that way cheapens the character of Gandalf and the themes of the book itself, and you apparently don't. Maybe I'll chime in again if there's some new development, but until then, see you next overly-controversial debate.

Hi JJ48,

No, I found no fault with the reasoning in the discussion on Tuesday. I thought there were many good points made about why Tom might not have been a great guardian for the Ring. I thought they were all based on accepting Gandalf's statements about Tom, and then trying to explain them. I thought they did a pretty good job of trying to explain them. But, I also thought that there was no consideration to the alternative possibility that Gandalf's statements were not necessarily accurate, and did not fit with what we had learned about Tom from the textual evidence. I was trying to open a discussion on that alternative possibility. Which I think is a valuable discussion (at least for me) and one that should be held. I am less willing to accept Gandalf statements as gospel than most people. And I think this is a particular instance where taking Gandalf's statements as gospel is particularly problematic.

I particularly thought about Sam's possible reaction to Gandalf's assertions. If Sam had the same experience of Tom Bombadil that we, the first-time readers, had, then I cannot imagine him not being shocked and surprised. Sam is pretty straight-forward, down to earth, and not easily taken in. Now, he does have a pretty vast respect for Gandalf. And, he is unlikely to say anything, for that reason, and because he is not supposed to be in the Council anyway. But I have to imagine Sam shouting in his own mind, "But Gandalf! That is not the Tom I know!"
 
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