"Even the Lies?" "Especially the Lies"

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' started by tomalak301, Sep 16, 2013.

  1. tomalak301

    tomalak301 Admiral Premium Member

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    I was watching The Wire tonight (Great episode) and I was trying to think about Garak's development as the series went on, from being Tain's son to trying to even get him to accept him and I was wondering if this episode laid a much bigger groundwork in terms of the overall character arc. Garak tells 3 stories to Bashier, and at the end it culminates to him and Bashier sitting down for lunch and we get the great back and forth between them. The thing I don't really know is were all those stories true, or at least true in only the way Garak could tell them? Maybe I don't get the significance of the ending, or maybe I'm reading too much into it but was there something bigger in that final scene than just the two of them sitting down for lunch?
     
  2. lvsxy808

    lvsxy808 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think a few other lines from other episodes shed light on the way his mind works. Things like, "I never tell the truth because I don't believe there is such a thing," or "The truth is usually just an excuse for a lack of imagination."

    I would say Garak's opinion is that truth is subjective - every person has a different view of what the 'truth' is, from their own perspective. And I suppose Garak is just someone who accepts that, and works with it rather than trying to force one objective version of 'truth' into a situation.

    Look at the show as a whole - we see it as Sisko being the big hero. But Dukat would think he was the hero and Sisko was the villain, unfairly blocking him from his rightful place as the master of the galaxy. Which one is the truth? It depends.

    One of Garak's stories in "The Wire" is about his 'friend' Elim. He explains how he tried to betray his friend Elim and blame everything on him, only to find that Elim had beaten him to it. Then we find out that Elim is Garak, they are the same person. So what we have to take from that is that Garak believes he betrayed himself - in other words, that everything that happened was his own fault.

    From one perspective, the 'Elim' story was a complete lie. From another, it's totally the truth.

    So I guess what Garak is trying to teach Bashir in that "Even the lies" scene is that there is truth in every lie. Something there is true as someone understands it. You can't say that something is a complete lie or a complete truth, because someone else would see it differently. That's how Garak's mind works - he accepts that and goes with it - and he probably sees it as vital to surviving in the world to which he was accustomed. And now he's trying to teach that to Bashir, to broaden the doctor's mind from the typically Starfleet black-and-white to a more Cardassian grey.

    And yes, I think it does signify the way both characters develop over the course of the show. Garak is teaching Bashir, but Bashir is teaching Garak at the same time. They practically swap places. Bashir becomes suspicious, distrustful, involved in shady dealings and nefarious secret organisations. Garak becomes one of the team, working for the greater good, a trusted friend and confidant, a righter of wrongs.

    And it could be said that that begins in "The Wire," with Garak opening Bashir's eyes to the complexities of life and truth. And at the same time, Bashir is showing Garak what it is to be a friend, by staying by his side no matter what the truth may or may not be.

    .
     
  3. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Good and evil is an opinion, that's why there can't be an objective political truth.

    Someone's terrorist is another one's freedom fighter.
     
  4. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I wouldn't go that far. The only reason Garak really became "one of the team" was because they were in a war where his skills would be useful. I think the only thing they trusted was his dislike towards the Dominion was genuine.

    Bashir did become more suspicious and distrustful and involved in shady dealings. But that last part really wasn't his fault as he was targeted by 31 and not the other way around.

    Did they rub off on each other at least a bit? Sure. I don't think they fundamentally changed the core values of each other though.
     
  5. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    BS. Moral relativism is garbage when you apply it to murdering defenseless people.

    Garak has lived in a world for years where there's no such thing as the truth, there's only different stories you use to maneuver people. So he has adopted those stories as a method of expressing truth, regardless of their factual accuracy. He told Bashir three stories which are along the lines of what actually happened as his way of maneuvering his naive friend the arm's length away he wanted him at.
     
  6. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    When you make a surprise air attack on a military base, the soldiers are usually also defenseless.

    It's all relative.
     
  7. Captain Kathryn

    Captain Kathryn Commodore Commodore

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    Oooooooooh this is such a great Garak episode!!!!! Probably my favorite. :bolian::bolian:
     
  8. Peach Wookiee

    Peach Wookiee Cuddly Mod of Doom Moderator

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    Garak is an amazing character...
     
  9. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I disagree with pretty much this entire post.
     
  10. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    If good and evil aren't opinions, what are they? Is there factual evidence of what they are...? Or opinions formulated collectively throughout history? Just because quite often enough it's morally accepted what actions are good and evil, what actions are right and wrong, doesn't change the fact these are collective opinions. Few people universally accepted to be evil, actually believe they're evil and doing wrong after all.
     
  11. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Irrelevant. A person can be evil, whether or not they think they are.
     
  12. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I share that opinion. I should hope most people do. But it's still an opinion.
     
  13. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Post-modernist non-sense.

    Any moral code must have as raison d'etre 'the most happiness for the most people'. This is a necessary condition for any moral code worth this name (but not sufficient for some which invoke other objectives).

    Based on this, objective (aka the same for all rational actors) moral rules can be and are derived.
    Meaning, good and evil are most definitely NOT an opinion.

    PS - Do tell, R. Star, JarodRussell& co, when was all this post-modernist non-sense ever helpful?
    BTW, making humanities departments staff at universities delude themselves that they're cool, sophisticated and fair by indulging in white guilt and disparaging western civilisation is not even close to any relevant definition of the notion 'helpful'.

    PS2 - R. Star, you really shouldn't take your moral and life philosophy cues from an, at best, mediocrely plotted Star Wars movie.
     
  14. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

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    That's utilitarianism. While a perfectly reasonable ethical approach, and one I mostly agree with, it is not the only valid one. Deontological ethics emphasizes the morality of an action regardless of its consequences. Virtue ethics emphasize the effect actions have a person's inner self. Kantian ethics simply state that actions are ethical if it still makes sense to do them when you assume everyone will make the same choice in the same circumstances. There are more.

    Unfortunately, while utilitarianism appears to provide an objective basis for morality, in practice it does not. It cannot solve disagreements about how to quantify "good", for starters; and even if you have a basis for that, no one can absolutely predict which actions will produce the most good in the long run.

    Utilitarianism is very much an "end justifies the means" philosophy, which is one of its dangers. If a million people's lives will be improved by killing 100 people now, utilitarianism says to kill them. Deontological and virtue ethics would probably not permit this, regardless of its future consequences.
     
  15. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Deontological ethics build their rules, ultimately, on the evolutionary characteristics/hardwired values of the human brain with secondary additions of utilitarianism AKA objective standards (Kantian - its ethics including the categorical imperative you mentioned - and virtue ethics are deontological ethics).

    These are objective standards as well, but rather unhelpful by comparison to utlitarianism.
    I stand by my afirmation - a moral code that does not create the most happiness for the most people does not deserve to be called 'moral'.

    A 'good' action is defined as an action that causes 'the most happiness for the most people'. Happiness meaning from material wealth, rights, emotional well-being, satisfactions, etc.

    Almost always, these 'good' actions are similar and easy to deduce - which is why the best deontological morals (such as Kant's, for example) are applicable, incorporate utilitarianism (with some exceptions).
    You cannot predict with certainty the consequences of an action; but you can predict the probable consequences of most actions. Sometimes, the predictions are wrong - but most often not.

    Utilitarianism is an 'end justifies the means' philosophy only if taken very naively. For example:
    How likely is that 1 million people's lives will be improved in the future by killing 100 people now? Invariably (in an 'end justifies the means' situation/decision), the answer is 'not very' or 'impossible to say to any meaningful degree'. As such, as per utilitarianism, killing 100 people now is not justified.

    Not so if you go by ideology - you know, the 'break eggs to make an omelet' vision of every totalitarianism in history.
    There's a VERY LONG road from utilitarianism to totalitarianism, Lindley. So long, it can only be taken intentionally.


    PS - I'll ask you the same question I posed to R. Star, etc:
    When was all this post-modernist non-sense ever helpful?
    BTW, making humanities departments staff at universities delude themselves that they're cool, sophisticated and fair by indulging in white guilt and disparaging western civilisation is not even close to any relevant definition of the notion 'helpful'.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2013
  16. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

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    I don't know exactly what you're referring to.

    I would argue that a belief in the absolute "goodness" of an action can be a very dangerous thing in the wrong hands. It never hurts to try and understand other perspectives, whether you ultimately agree with them or not.
     
  17. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Let me give you a few examples, then:
    Science and technology improved the life of billions of humans - including ourselves.
    Ethics such as 'slavery is wrong' did the same for millions.

    When has post-modernist non-sense:
    ~'all points of view are valid/justified', ~'scientists are biased/science cannot prove with 100% certainty its conclusions - therefore science is flawed/useless/whatever' + thousands of pages of obtuse text,
    ever helped anyone?

    BTW, utilitarianism does not claim the absolute 'goodness' of an action. On the contrary, it claims an action may be good or not depending on the situation. And then there's the yin/yang argument (any good deed contains some evil).
    As far as I know, some deontologies try to have similar enough views.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2013
  18. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

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    No argument. That just shows there are some things that are so clearly beneficial that it's not worth the time to distinguish them from absolute goods; it does not, however, prove the existence of absolute goods, and it doesn't provide any useful guidance on questions which are less clear-cut.

    First, I doubt anyone here proposes to support either of those positions. Even if they did, as absolute statements they are highly suspect.

    The closest I would argue is that all points of view are worth trying to understand. That doesn't validate them in any way, but you can't oppose *or* support a viewpoint before you understand what's driving it.

    The second is simply a logical fallacy. Science isn't trying to prove anything, it's trying to explain things in a way that is predictively useful. But you can't correct someone about this misconception unless you understand their viewpoint first, can you?

    The "absolute goodness" bit was not strictly related to utilitarianism; it was more to point out one of the flaws in any framework that claims to provide absolute moral guidelines.
     
  19. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    In this thread alone, R. Star, JarodRussell & co are pretty much there with their ~'good and evil are mere points of view'.

    And there's a lot of literature out there (as said, post-modernism) that supports just that.

    Post-modernists disagree, and support their argument with books-full of obtuse non-sense. Obtuse, I suspect, in order to appear sophisticated and to mask the weakness of their argument (which their critics invariably don't understand).
     
  20. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

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    I don't entirely disagree with them. To argue otherwise assumes some universal morality, and that's a difficult case to make. I won't argue it doesn't exist, but I'm not willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, either.

    I do think some things are clearly good and others are clearly evil, but there's plenty of room in between; and it's difficult for anyone to define "clearly" outside of their own cultural context, which is kind of the point.

    At best, you could define "good" and "evil" in terms of those social norms common to the entire human race. Our cultural diversity makes even identifying those tricky, but it's theoretically possible.