Just felt like it…


Why have I posted this? Not sure. But one can never have too many Russian Symbolist paintings lying around your blog, can you?

[It’s a painting of the Tsarevich Demetrius, iirc – it’s by Mikhail Nestorov. Wikipedia assures me it’s public domain – do correct me if it isn’t]


OBSOLETE: Vajhoran Religion Continued… – OBSOLETE


The First City: Virtue and Law

Virtue imposes a series of codes that regulate entitlement. Nobody may claim more than virtue decrees that they may claim. Virtue is thus the first road to the first city. The exact nature of virtue is constantly debated, but a number of principles are common:

  1. What one has promised to another, one has no further claim to, save by the terms of the promise.
  2. What another has laboured to create, one has no claim to.
  3. What has been given virtuously to another, one has no claim to.
  4. What a group holds together, no individual has claim to.
  5. What a group holds together, any member has a claim to use.
  6. What is given to one by a promise, one has claim to only so long as one abides by the term of the promise.
  7. What one has claim to, one may give to another.
  8. One has claim to one’s own body.
  9. What another has claim to one may not damage or destroy.
  10. One has claim to use only those things one has claim to, or those things one’s group has claim to, or those things the use of which has been ceded to one.
  11. One has no claim to anything obtained through deception or without virtue.
  12. What has been taken from one, one may take from the taker.
  13. What of one’s one is damaged, one may inflict equivalent damage on the things of the damager.
  14. One may protect one’s claims however necessary.

Virtue, however, can be superseded by the second road to the city: law. Where people consent, their claims under virtue can be replaced by laws, providing that the laws are themselves virtuous. Laws may be seen as aggregate virtue; they defy one part of virtue to bring greater compliance to it overall. For instance, virtue prohibits bodily punishment, but the law may permit it in order to deter unvirtuous behaviour like theft. Virtue permits killing trespassers (who violate ones claims to one’s land), but the law may forbid it to prevent unvirtuous murder being presented as protection of claims. Virtue continues to bind individuals in matters where the law does not regulate, and with those not regulated by the law (e.g. when in a foreign land).

The Second City: Mercy and Restraint

Where virtue and law sets limits, the second city, the prevention of poverty, enjoins that those limits not be met. Mercy is the first road, in which the individual does not make his claims where they would create greater suffering for others. The second road, restraint, is where unnecessary claims are not made as a precaution against poverty – the individual is enjoined to consider their needs, their security, their suitable motivating rewards, and claim nothing beyond these things.

The Third City: Prudence and Temperance

To avoid inconstancy, there are, again, two roads. The first is prudence, in which the individual does not do now what will cause him difficulties in the future. The second is temperance, in which the individual does not accede to transient lusts that are not in accord with his general will.

The definition of a ‘lust’ is not what we might always expect, and is defined by its force and transience. For example, if a man likes drinking a certain amount of alcohol, this is a constant, if background, desire, and it is prudence to avoid it for the sake of a hangover, or for the sake of avoiding embarrassing behaviour. If, however, he does drink, and having drunk finds himself desiring more drink than he, when sober, would desire, this is a lust, and it is temperance to avoid it, in order to avoid shame and self-loathing when the lust has passed. Likewise, it is not a lust for a man to desire a woman, if it is a continual desire, though prudence may in some cases stop him from following it; however, if a man encounters a woman engaged in seductive behaviour and desires her when he would not normally do so, or if he encounters her when he himself is in an altered state of mind, due perhaps to intoxication, or to grief, or to excessive joy, then his desire is a lust, and it is temperance that calls him to restraint.

The Fourth City: Deliberation and Resignation

The final city, unity of desire with others, is, like the others, found by two paths. The first is deliberation. Here, the individual, wary of conflicting desires, consults with those who might be concerned in the matter at hand, at through argument and persuasion brings the desires of the parties into unity.

This is not always possible, and where deliberation arrives at no consensus there exists a second path: resignation. Here, the conflicting individuals all sacrifice their individual desires and pass the matter to an agreed arbitrator, who is impartial between them, and who sets a single desire that all parties abide by. In families, this may be a father, or a respected family friend; between strangers, it is likely to be a religious figure or a political authority.

Next: The Nine Vehicles