The Orc Problem

D

Deleted member 207

Guest
You either have still not responded to my earlier point that if Health is objectively Good in a moral sense, to the point that restoring it is objectively Good in a moral sense
I have

And whether we take what the orcs did as positive or negative and whether it counts as healing can be debat but the fact the writers recorded that detail is significant. As are all details
The objective moral value is irrelevant and unknowable. All that’s know is what our writers equate it with and largely they equate it with good.
 

JJ48

Well-Known Member
The objective moral value is irrelevant and unknowable. All that’s know is what our writers equate it with and largely they equate it with good.
Whether it's relevant depends on the question, "Relevant to what?" The claim was made that Orcs can't be completely Evil, and one piece of evidence given was the fact that they administered medicine, and healing is "objectively good" (as in, the act of healing is objectively a Good act, not merely that an Evil act could ultimately turn out to be Good because it was used by Providence). In this light, whether what the orcs did is Good is not only relevant, but the primary point.
 
D

Deleted member 207

Guest
T
Whether it's relevant depends on the question, "Relevant to what?" The claim was made that Orcs can't be completely Evil, and one piece of evidence given was the fact that they administered medicine, and healing is "objectively good" (as in, the act of healing is objectively a Good act, not merely that an Evil act could ultimately turn out to be Good because it was used by Providence). In this light, whether what the orcs did is Good is not only relevant, but the primary point.
The evidence given isn’t that orcs administered medicine. The evidence is that hobbit authors thought this worth recording. Why? Well we have to consult where else this is recorded. In circumstances relating to evidencing a person’s Good. Thus it seems apparent that, by virtue of it being noted, it is a noteworthy action. A noteworthy action connected to, in our authors’ minds, displaying a degree of Goodness.

Interpreting our writers’ intentions in displaying the historical record is a we can do as we only have their record and filter. We are unable to know whether, in the reality of ME, what the orcs did could conduits healing or whether the action, and even the idea of healing itself, is good. What we can know is that our writers think so and draw our attention towards it in one scenario involving orcs
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
1. Whether or not they are "obsessed" with it is completely irrelevant. It's not mentioned in the Shire simply because it never comes up.
It is, as we are evaluating possible narrator bias here and are establishing a basis line as a starting point.

2. It's certainly noted a couple times. I'm not sure I'd say it's a "Big Deal".
Say this to Ioreth from the Houses of Healing. ;-)

3. Same with the Orcs. There's ONE mentioned battle between the Orcs and Hobbits. All the other stuff are either incidents they experience directly or stories/observations of other folk.
True, but do not know what this should suggest.

4. This is a gross mischaracterization. For one thing, I don't recall the text saying that the Orcs had healers; it just said they had medicine.
True, but one aplying it can be descibed as a healer by his actions. I do not suggest he has a degree from the Houses of Healing or Rivendell or something.

For another, the report is hardly given "in passing", rather it's a rather significant portion of text.
Hardly significant, as it is never really followed up upon.

Finally, the nature of the healing is described as effective, but foul and unpleasant; which is more in contrast to the Good healing than it is comparable to it.
Doubt that Erlond's surgery was pleasant in nature too. Healing is quite often unpleasant. Does not invalidate it.

I do remember when first reading LOTR about 30 years ago I was struck by the mention that orcs have medicine. That seemed off, completely out of character. But I never before looked deeper into the matter. Now I find this very interesting indeed.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
I have



The objective moral value is irrelevant and unknowable. All that’s know is what our writers equate it with and largely they equate it with good.
Here I cannot agree. Healing has been described as an action that remedies evil and the marring of Arda so many times, that in contect of ME there aren't many things left that can be as firmly and securely classified as Good as the act of healing.
 

JJ48

Well-Known Member
The evidence given isn’t that orcs administered medicine. The evidence is that hobbit authors thought this worth recording.
Health is objectively good. Like Beauty (e.g. of the Silmarills) - If you kill others to obtain it, you are wrong. Having and using and sharing medicine is objectively good thing/action.
Rob, that may have been your argument, but Odola's argument was the one I was referring to, and it's clearly that simply using medicine is "objectively good". (Also, apparently, that Beauty is objectively good, which makes even less sense.)

Here I cannot agree. Healing has been described as an action that remedies evil and the marring of Arda so many times, that in contect of ME there aren't many things left that can be as firmly and securely classified as Good as the act of healing.
You continue to simply assert that healing is objectively good without proving it, and you continue to ignore my argument refuting this assertion. How do you reconcile the idea of "health is objectively Good in a moral sense" with the fact that many "Good" folk (including the Valar and even Ilúvatar himself) intentionally injure or kill others?
 
D

Deleted member 207

Guest
Objective anything is a big misnomer in a book written by a subjective narrator
 

JJ48

Well-Known Member
Objective anything is a big misnomer in a book written by a subjective narrator
I disagree. Even if the narrator is bringing in his own ideas, there can still be objective truth buried within; and I maintain that the "unreliable narrator" argument is overused, and far less applicable than some make it out to be.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Rob, that may have been your argument, but Odola's argument was the one I was referring to, and it's clearly that simply using medicine is "objectively good". (Also, apparently, that Beauty is objectively good, which makes even less sense.)



You continue to simply assert that healing is objectively good without proving it, and you continue to ignore my argument refuting this assertion. How do you reconcile the idea of "health is objectively Good in a moral sense" with the fact that many "Good" folk (including the Valar and even Ilúvatar himself) intentionally injure or kill others?
In ME:

1. Eru is a the giver, originator and owner of life and as such authorised to take/withdraw it.

2. Fighting and killing is never good in itself, but can be used in self-defence, to defend others, to contain evil, or to serve as punishment. The killing is not the primary goal but the means to permanently remove a danger or establishing justice by punishment.

3. Illness, injury and sickness are always effects of evil/corruption. They can be used "for greater glory", as anything can, but are bad in itself.

4. Restoring health is always good, even in a criminal sentenced to death few hours from now.

5. Restoring health is good even when the patient does not want/wish it - Eowyn - or even actively fights againts it - Theoden (force-healed by Gandalf).

Point 5 demontrates that in LOTR healing is good in itself, regardless of cicumstances.
 
Last edited:

JJ48

Well-Known Member
In ME:

1. Eru is a the giver, originator and owner of life and as such authorised to take/withdraw it.

2. Fighting and killing is never good in itself, but can be used in self-defence, to defend others, to contain evil, or to serve as punishment. The killing is not the primary goal but the means to permanently remove a danger or establishing justice by punishment.

3. Illness, injury and sickness are always effects of evil/corruption. They can be used "for greater glory", as anything can, but are bad in itself.

4. Restoring health is always good, even in a criminal sentenced to death few hours from now.

5. Restoring health is good even when the patient does not want/wish it - Eowyn - or even actively fights againts it - Theoden (force-healed by Gandalf).

Point 5 demontrates that in LOTR healing is good in itself, regardless of cicumstances.
Ok, you've demonstrated that some instances of healing are Good. This is not disputed. This falls far, far short of proving that ALL instances of healing are ALWAYS good. For one thing, you list examples with Good intent, but ignore how intent plays into the morality (as stated before, both the text itself and Christian theology inform us that intent matters).

For another, we have the hypothetical example raised earlier of someone tortured to the verge of death, and then healed simply to allow them to be tortured further. Would someone who did that be considered "at least somewhat Good" just because they healed their victim to prolong their torment?
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
For another, we have the hypothetical example raised earlier of someone tortured to the verge of death, and then healed simply to allow them to be tortured further. Would someone who did that be considered "at least somewhat Good" just because they healed their victim to prolong their torment?
The healing itself would be good, it gives the tortured a moment without pain, where s/he can think clearly and make rational decisions, for the moment, however brief, it restores the tortured person's dignity, it increases the chances of survival, of escaping or being resqued.
 
D

Deleted member 207

Guest
I disagree. Even if the narrator is bringing in his own ideas, there can still be objective truth buried within; and I maintain that the "unreliable narrator" argument is overused, and far less applicable than some make it out to be.
It depends what you mean by overused. I’m not saying ‘we can’t trust anything’ but literally what we are given is within the framework of being written by characters within that universe. So we either ignore that fact and pick and choose salient facts or, to do close reading analysis, we have to accept it. And therefore have to accept the historian-storytellers are also characters. However, I’d be annoyed by someone saying ‘well it’s all just pro-Hobbit anti-orc propaganda as that feels intentionally flippant and provocative for its own sake without paying close attention to the text as it is given.

I do agree though with your breakdown of Odola’s syllogisms.

‘Good people heal’ is not necessarily the same as healing is always for good. Or that people who heal are good.

In the same way that ‘good people share’ isn’t the same as all sharing bring good nor that all people who share are good. Depends what and why you are sharing.

Healing, I think, can be used as a manipulative tool. Good people might be said to give gifts. But not all gifts are good and neither are all gift givers (I’m looking at you, Sauron!)

The healing itself would be good, it gives the tortured a moment without pain, where s/he can think clearly and make rational decisions, for the moment, however brief, it restores the tortured person's dignity, it increases the chances of survival, of escaping or being resqued.
I think separating that moment of relief out of a cycle and treating it as though it were in a vacuum doesn’t necessarily convey goodness. To abuse someone then give them reprieve knowing that you are intentionally giving them false hope and to make the pursuing pain be felt all the more keenly is hardly in itself an act of good. It’s not healing so much as prolonging torment.
 
D

Deleted member 207

Guest
I disagree. Even if the narrator is bringing in his own ideas, there can still be objective truth buried within; and I maintain that the "unreliable narrator" argument is overused, and far less applicable than some make it out to be.
This also does bring us back to the old ‘what is objective goodness.’ If it’s defined by being Eru-like then we have the chicken and egg problem raised early. If we assume there is objective moral good and bad and that Eru is real and exactly as portrayed, can we actually know whether he is good or bad objectively since the terms presumably stems from using Him as the yardstick. If Goodness means ‘Eru-like’ in the minds of his believers, then of course Eru is Good. It’s the old ‘I believe the Bible is true because the Bible says it’s true.’

But if Goodness exists as its own objective truth then how could it be measured if the subjective view of what Goodness is (reliant on Eru) is put forward as the supreme truth? Or, as someone else put it, could there be a morally evil god?

If there is objective Goodness then yes, but it would never be know as that god would always be called good. Opposing cultures may call that god Bad but of course the god’s followers would record those calling him Bad as heretics. So either Goodness is subjective or it is objective but it’s impossible to know if Eru is Good is we then use Eru to define objective Goodness.

It’s kind of like the thought experiment of ‘do we all see the same colours’? We call a certain shade the same name but can we know we are perceiving what we collectively call yellow in the same way. So we might same Eru is good but that’s because that’s what we have learnt Good looks like. It doesn’t mean concretely the case if such a thing as True Goodness exists apart from Him. Unless of course Goodness is simply a statement about the character of Eru and therefore isn’t a artefact to itself but is actually just measuring characteristics of being up to characteristics of Eru. Which is something open to interpretation and therefore subjective again.

Urgh, this feels like philosophy. Not sure I can handle this much thinking any more. I think I’m hurting my brain.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Odola

Well-Known Member
Healing, I think, can be used as a manipulative tool.
Do can Life, Love, Desire, Trust, Loyalty, and even Hope, no to mention food, water and sleep. Evil uses good things to manipulate us, otherwise it wouldn't be able to tempt us.

I think separating that moment of relief out of a cycle and treating it as though it were in a vacuum doesn’t necessarily convey goodness. To abuse someone then give them reprieve knowing that you are intentionally giving them false hope and to make the pursuing pain be felt all the more keenly is hardly in itself an act of good. It’s not healing so much as prolonging torment.
I think you are overestimasting the certainty of the torment continuing, but even if it does, the relief is real. I have given birth twice, any moment without pain is a gain, gives one more strength to endure the rest.
 
Last edited:

JJ48

Well-Known Member
Do can Life, Love, Desire, Trust, Loyalty, and even Hope, no to mention food, water and sleep. Evil uses good things to manipulate us, otherwise it wouldn't be able to tempt us.
I would agree that most, if not all, Evil is a corruption of a Good. However, this doesn't make it less Evil. Furthermore, the argument that Evil can use Good things to Evil ends would seem to undermine the "Orcs can't be completely Evil because they do something Good" argument.
 
D

Deleted member 207

Guest
Do can Life, Love, Desire, Trust, Loyalty, and even Hope, no to mention food, water and sleep. Evil uses good things to manipulate us, otherwise it wouldn't be able to tempt us.
I wrote a long response trying to argue against you but argued myself out of my own point lol.

I guess the question has to be whether a person who does something that they know will allow another party to experience something pleasant must contain at least enough of a sense of good to permit the experience of pleasure? I suppose a sadist would do this to enjoy the removal of that pleasure, but are orcs really sadists?
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
I would agree that most, if not all, Evil is a corruption of a Good. However, this doesn't make it less Evil. Furthermore, the argument that Evil can use Good things to Evil ends would seem to undermine the "Orcs can't be completely Evil because they do something Good" argument.
Evil cannot love, cannot grant hope, cannot create, cannot heal. It can just pretend. But the medicine the orcs gave was real, not a pretence.
 
Last edited:

Odola

Well-Known Member
I wrote a long response trying to argue against you but argued myself out of my own point lol.

I guess the question has to be whether a person who does something that they know will allow another party to experience something pleasant must contain at least enough of a sense of good to permit the experience of pleasure? I suppose a sadist would do this to enjoy the removal of that pleasure, but are orcs really sadists?
But, exactly like in this case, whatever their plan was, they did not live long enough to fulfill it. When bad people triy to use good to achieve a bad end they often overplay, as in this case. But pure, irredeemable evil cannot heal at all. It is completely contrary to its very nature.
 

JJ48

Well-Known Member
This also does bring us back to the old ‘what is objective goodness.’ If it’s defined by being Eru-like then we have the chicken and egg problem raised early. If we assume there is objective moral good and bad and that Eru is real and exactly as portrayed, can we actually know whether he is good or bad objectively since the terms presumably stems from using Him as the yardstick. If Goodness means ‘Eru-like’ in the minds of his believers, then of course Eru is Good. It’s the old ‘I believe the Bible is true because the Bible says it’s true.’

But if Goodness exists as its own objective truth then how could it be measured if the subjective view of what Goodness is (reliant on Eru) is put forward as the supreme truth? Or, as someone else put it, could there be a morally evil god?

If there is objective Goodness then yes, but it would never be know as that god would always be called good. Opposing cultures may call that god Bad but of course the god’s followers would record those calling him Bad as heretics. So either Goodness is subjective or it is objective but it’s impossible to know if Eru is Good is we then use Eru to define objective Goodness.

It’s kind of like the thought experiment of ‘do we all see the same colours’? We call a certain shade the same name but can we know we are perceiving what we collectively call yellow in the same way. So we might same Eru is good but that’s because that’s what we have learnt Good looks like. It doesn’t mean concretely the case if such a thing as True Goodness exists apart from Him. Unless of course Goodness is simply a statement about the character of Eru and therefore isn’t a artefact to itself but is actually just measuring characteristics of being up to characteristics of Eru. Which is something open to interpretation and therefore subjective again.

Urgh, this feels like philosophy. Not sure I can handle this much thinking any more. I think I’m hurting my brain.
I think the main issue is "what is Good"? You say that if objective Goodness exists that there could be a morally Evil God, but this would be the case only of Goodness were defined outside of God. And yet, upon what objective measure would such a definition be made?

Rather, I think the objective Good is based upon God. We're not talking about Zeus or Odin, nor any other god who is essentially just a really powerful being within Creation; we're talking about a Creator God who created the world and all the rules that govern it (whether natural laws or moral ones). What standard would there be to hold such a God to, outside Himself? And yet judging by His standard is not subjective, as He placed it into the very fabric of Creation.

Evil cannot love, cannot grant hope, cannot create, cannot heal. It can just pretend. But the medicine the orcs gave was real, not a pretence.
Again, you simply assert as fact the very thing we're trying to figure out. As you yourself stated before, Evil can use Good things to try to achieve Evil ends. For that matter, to get technical, the Orcs aren't even doing any healing; it's whatever's in the salve and the draught that are doing that. The Orcs are simply using it towards their own purposes.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
I think the main issue is "what is Good"? You say that if objective Goodness exists that there could be a morally Evil God, but this would be the case only of Goodness were defined outside of God. And yet, upon what objective measure would such a definition be made?

Rather, I think the objective Good is based upon God. We're not talking about Zeus or Odin, nor any other god who is essentially just a really powerful being within Creation; we're talking about a Creator God who created the world and all the rules that govern it (whether natural laws or moral ones). What standard would there be to hold such a God to, outside Himself? And yet judging by His standard is not subjective, as He placed it into the very fabric of Creation.



Again, you simply assert as fact the very thing we're trying to figure out. As you yourself stated before, Evil can use Good things to try to achieve Evil ends. For that matter, to get technical, the Orcs aren't even doing any healing; it's whatever's in the salve and the draught that are doing that. The Orcs are simply using it towards their own purposes.
They did not steal the medicine just to tempt the hobbits. It was their own which they shared at need. That they had it for themselves is a sign that they are actively combating the corruption they are subjected to.
 
Top