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STAR TREK: DISCOVERY - S1, E2: "Battle at the Binary Stars".

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#61 Christopher

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 10:48 AM

View PostCybersnark, on 07 October 2017 - 09:57 AM, said:

The cloned Kahless was just that (a clone with fabricated memories), but his existence (and the existence of the Boreth monastery in the first place, in the solar system Kahless supposedly picked out of the sky and promised he would be reborn) could at least be taken as evidence that the concept of reincarnation is firmly established in Klingon culture.


Which has nothing at all to do with whether it's literally real. That's the whole point. The fact that it exists as a cultural belief is exactly why the most likely explanation is that T'Kuvma is simply capitalizing on that belief to win followers. That's what the Boreth priests did -- fabricated something that fit the myth in order to advance their political and religious agenda. That's what myths are for. They're ideas that are used to motivate belief and shape cultural values.



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T'Kuvma clearly expects his claim to carry weight, and he might even believe it himself --in which case it makes no practical difference whether or not he's carrying Kahless' soul (which, from everything we know about either historical or legendary Kahless, he isn't).

Exactly. A belief doesn't have to be literally true in order to motivate people. What matters here in terms of story and character is that T'Kuvma used the belief to inspire his followers, or to gain power for himself. So to read the story as saying "This guy is literally Kahless reborn" is missing the point. That question is completely irrelevant to the story.

Plus, again, it's a genre mismatch to talk about the existence of souls as if it were an axiomatic truth in the Trek universe. Trek has always been based in a secular, rationalist worldview. When characters have spoken about souls, they've spoken of them strictly as matters of belief whose reality is impossible to verify. There are certainly incorporeal consciousnesses, but they're treated as energy matrices and stored or transferred neural engrams.

And preserving a mind isn't the same thing as preserving a soul. Religions tend to pretty vague or abstract when it comes to defining what a "soul" even is, but it's generally not treated as the same thing as a mind or consciousness per se -- otherwise you'd never get a story where characters argued over whether a sentient android or computer had a soul. And even in fantasy stories where souls are real, they aren't equated with minds or personalities. For instance, in the Avatar/Korra universe, every Avatar is a reincarnation of the same soul, but each Avatar is a distinct individual -- Korra is the reincarnation of Aang, but she's a vastly different person from Aang, with none of his memories and almost diametrically opposite character traits and abilities.
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#62 Cardie

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 03:19 PM

I perhaps shouldn't speak for QT, but I thought her argument was that, if Klingons are a religious culture--we know they believe in the afterlife, Sto'vo'Kor--T'Kuvma has all the qualifications for being believed to be the reincarnation of Kahless. (We see that Kol does not buy into this.) I did not think she was arguing one way or the other about whether he was or what this reincarnation might mean in terms of Trekkian science.

Orph, T'Kuvma refers to his father's ship as "holy" and the beacon as "sacred." This may be a distinction without a difference. I took it that it was a vessel owned by his house for generations and that the house had fallen on hard times and the ship into ruin. The beacon/artifact was asserted to be built by Kahless to be kindled to call the Klingon houses together. I wasn't sure whether T'Kuvma was the first to locate it, thus bolstering his claim as Kahless reborn.
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#63 QueenTiye

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 09:08 PM

^^Precisely right.  In the context of the culture, T'kuvma's claim seems credible.

But in terms of Star Trek ethos (not science), the claim still needs to be considered as credible (which is different from factual).  How many times havehave we seen Federation officers familiarize themselves with local beliefs then use local beliefs in order to argue points they want to get across?  Indeed, the eponymous "Vulcan Kiss" is an example of diplomacy from the cultural viewpoint different from those seeking diplomacy. It seems standard procedure to become acquainted with the culture and understand it's internal logic, rather than leading from judgment against said culture.

So, I am arguing that the facts in evidence argue in favor of T'kuvma's claims.  

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#64 QueenTiye

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 09:15 PM

View PostOrpheus, on 06 October 2017 - 10:02 PM, said:

Cardie:
Of course, the question of whether Kahless' philosophy would have driven him to chose such a candidate and goal is worth exploring.

I'm not too familiar with that. As I recall, he was a great unifier, and did (metaphorically?) fight non-Klingon entities (deities), but I don't recall him being purist/xenophobic.

This of course opens the door to a familiar Trek trope: the entity or possessed body that wasn't who it seemed/claimed. (Though other shows used that much more)

Christopher:
I agree that reincarnation is not an established occurrence in Trek, and the high-ranked Klingons we've seen don't treat it as a pragmatic reality. (We really don't know any "standard middle class" klingons well.) I vaguely recall an episode or two where the prophecy was raised, Didn't Worf encounter a potential reincarnation of Kahless? Though I'm sure that instance was shown to be 'not real', the depth/character of Klingon belief might well be relevant as this series unfurls. Of course, the writers can posit whatever Klingon beliefs they wish, so many generations before (Earth-raised) Worf and the Klingons we know best.

In the theory of Progressive Revelation, different external practices are revealed for differing times and places, while core truths remain the same. If T'kuvma is the guy, it could be that this I ward looking, seemingly xenophobic attitude is what's needed to reunite the Klingons.  

Alternatively, if he's not who he says he is, then he's an example of the religious leaders corrupting the religion.

QT

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#65 Orpheus

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 09:37 PM

Board formatting (not you) makes it appear as if my words to Cardie and Christopher were their words. They deserve better than that! I'll have rethink how I post.

#66 Christopher

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 10:35 PM

View PostQueenTiye, on 07 October 2017 - 09:08 PM, said:

^^Precisely right.  In the context of the culture, T'kuvma's claim seems credible.

Cult leaders' claims always seem credible to those who want to believe, but that doesn't make them credible to everyone who shares that belief system. Say some random guy showed up and started telling people he was the reincarnation of Jesus, and even did some things that happened to align with the Biblical depiction of Jesus. Would you expect every Christian church and denomination on the planet to just blindly accept him as the Messiah? I think it's immensely more likely that the established institutions would question his claim and dismiss it as a fraud, since they're not just going to give up their institutional authority and control to some stranger on his say-so alone. And because people who do make claims like that are often dangerous psychotics and fanatical cult leaders, so it would be profoundly unwise to blindly trust such a claimant. The only people who'd take him at his word would be those who don't already have power or control over their lives and are thus in need of someone to fill the void.

Heck, we saw this in "Rightful Heir." The Kahless clone was engineered to match both the historical and genetic record and the prophecies in every respect, but Gowron still dismissed him as a fraud -- correctly -- because he had a vested interest in rejecting his legitimacy. Even within the context of a single culture with a shared belief system, there are different agendas and points of view, and not everyone is going to accept the same claims as factual. Indeed, the High Council here seemed just as skeptical of T'Kuvma's movement as Gowron was of the Kahless clone. The culture is obviously not united behind him, or at least it wasn't before his martyrdom. Indeed, the whole point of his movement was to try to get the culture united behind him. Which proves that it hadn't already happened.


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But in terms of Star Trek ethos (not science), the claim still needs to be considered as credible (which is different from factual).

The burden of proof is still on the one making the extraordinary claim. "Credible" means nothing when there are other interpretations that are equally credible, if not considerably more so. If someone is claiming to be the reincarnation of a culture's ancient spiritual leader, it's far more likely -- far more credible -- that he's lying or delusional than that he somehow happens to be the real deal. I mean, even if it were stipulated that reincarnation were hypothetically possible, why him? Why here? Why now? Why not any of the countless other people and places and times that it could've happened? Out of all the cult leaders throughout history who've no doubt claimed to be the reincarnated Kahless, the odds are very slim that this one just happens to be the one that isn't a fraud or a lunatic.



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  How many times havehave we seen Federation officers familiarize themselves with local beliefs then use local beliefs in order to argue points they want to get across?  Indeed, the eponymous "Vulcan Kiss" is an example of diplomacy from the cultural viewpoint different from those seeking diplomacy. It seems standard procedure to become acquainted with the culture and understand it's internal logic, rather than leading from judgment against said culture.

So, I am arguing that the facts in evidence argue in favor of T'kuvma's claims.  

Respecting another culture's beliefs does not mean adopting them. It doesn't mean accepting them as literal fact. It means respecting their right to believe those things if they choose, and respecting that they play a socially and emotionally valuable role in that society, even if they're not physically real. You can respect religion as metaphor without mistaking it for science or history.

The "Vulcan Hello" is a poor analogy there, because what's at issue there is not the factual existence of a phenomenon, but merely the best way to begin an interaction. Since the Klingon military respects strength as a general rule, it's logical to begin an interaction with a show of force to earn their respect, since it's reasonable to expect most any Klingon military crew you encounter to have that similar ethos. But if someone from outside the halls of power is claiming to be a prophet or a Messiah, it's highly likely that the culture will be divided on the question of whether he really is or not. So it would be unwise for the Federation to just blithely accept that disputed claim. Indeed, it would violate the Prime Directive to take sides in that dispute.
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