Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Philosophy And Fiction IV

In Poul Anderson's Brain Wave, a general increase in Terrestrial intelligence enables:

a rabbit to escape from a trap;
apes to speak;
human morons to reach average IQ;
everyone else to become geniuses off the scale;
society to become anarchic, meaning "without government," not "chaotic";
human reason and will to win their long struggle against animal instinct and emotion.

In Anderson's A World Named Cleopatra, human explorers of an extrasolar planet wrongly assume that a biped is a rational species merely because of its form.

In Anderson's "The Master Key," the author compares wild and domesticated animals and suggests that both could have speech. On the planet Cain, one species, the Yildivans, has bred another, the Lugals, to be subservient, probably from before the Lugals were fully intelligent. Thus, the Lugals are not slaves but more like intelligent dogs. In a slave population, many, though not all, might at any time rebel whereas, among tamed dogs, very few ever go wild and those few must be instantly killed.

Of the Yildivans, Nicholas van Rijn says:

"'...they are wild animals.
"'I mean wild, like tigers and buffalo. They have no genes for obediences, except to their parents when they are little.'" (David Falkayn: Star Trader, p. 322)

Because they have domesticated an intelligent species for so long, the Yildivans have lost any tendency to be gregarious or to form social ranks among themselves. They have independent families but no tribes, nations or concept of deity. They think that every human being must be a Yildivan-type or a Lugal-type and cannot understand any other form of social organization. The man that they deal with represents a trading company and has come freely. No single master/owner has sent him nor is he the master of others. So he can only be a wild Lugal who has killed his master - extremely dangerous!

Van Rijn concludes the story by claiming that his friends and he are wild and free but that most of mankind is not.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Truly, I have to say "The Master Key" is a very unpleasant, even disturbing story. Because it shows us a non human race enslaving--no, worse than that--domesticating another race.

But this is not meant as a criticism of Poul Anderson, rather, it was a compliment! It shows how PA was willing to carry out to their logical conclusions virtually any idea he had on this and many other subjects.