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Aes Sedai and the Truth


magnutz
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A quick thought/"revelation" that I had a while ago.

 

The Aes Sedai are bound the the oath rod and the oaths taken while holding it. That much I know. What occurred to me while reading one of the books a while ago was that there is a very serious flaw to the "to tell no lies" oath. Here we go: If an Aes Sedai is 100% sure of something (even if it is blatantly wrong/untrue) she will have no trouble telling it as it is true/the truth. That makes the whole oath useless. I think it was Asmodean who said something like this - that might be why I suddenly thought of it. ;)

 

What are your thoughts on the three oaths?

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There were many discussions about the first oath.  The actual oath is speak no thing that is untrue.

 

The only thing they (those bound to the oath) cannot say is something they know is false.

 

The oath actually could help determine what the speaker believes; so it it not exactly useless.

 

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the "to tell no lies" oath.
The "speak no word that is not true" Oath.
Here we go: If an Aes Sedai is 100% sure of something (even if it is blatantly wrong/untrue) she will have no trouble telling it as it is true/the truth. That makes the whole oath useless.
Why does that make the Oath useless? That they are restricted to the realms of subjective truth, while the Oath Rod doesn't grant automatic access to objective universal truths?

What are your thoughts on the three oaths?
I think that they are, fundamentally, useless and counter-productive. They swear to speak no word that is not true, then get around it by telling half truths, making implications, and so on, making the truth dance to their tune. The result is that people don't trust what they say, they scan it for another meaning. So the very trust it was designed to instill is undone by how they circumvent it. Further, it gives the impression that they need the Oaths to hold them back - that without them they would be liars, wantonly killing with the Power and making an arsenal. Of course, this is only part of a wider problem with the AS in that they see themselves as separate from society.
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the "to tell no lies" oath.
The "speak no word that is not true" Oath.
Here we go: If an Aes Sedai is 100% sure of something (even if it is blatantly wrong/untrue) she will have no trouble telling it as it is true/the truth. That makes the whole oath useless.
Why does that make the Oath useless? That they are restricted to the realms of subjective truth, while the Oath Rod doesn't grant automatic access to objective universal truths?

What are your thoughts on the three oaths?
I think that they are, fundamentally, useless and counter-productive. They swear to speak no word that is not true, then get around it by telling half truths, making implications, and so on, making the truth dance to their tune. The result is that people don't trust what they say, they scan it for another meaning. So the very trust it was designed to instill is undone by how they circumvent it. Further, it gives the impression that they need the Oaths to hold them back - that without them they would be liars, wantonly killing with the Power and making an arsenal. Of course, this is only part of a wider problem with the AS in that they see themselves as separate from society.

 

:) I agree with what you say above. The Three Oaths are taken just to mollify the rulers of "Randland" I guess. Some sort of assurance that "we will do no harm but instead use our powers to help mankind."

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I agree. The original intention of the Oaths after the Breaking was noble. But the practical effect was to make people trust Aes Sedai even less. Now everyone is convinced they are trying to trick them.

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on the other hand, how many aes sedai who just go about their own business (be it research or teaching or diplomacy or exploring or whatever) have you seen?  they are all practically trying to manipulate the rest of the world.  how exactly would people trust them even if they are not known to twist their words?

 

you can't blame anything on the oath, or the aes sedai's ignorance on different occasion, nor can you blame them for trying to speak the half truth.  if there is a blame, it is their ambitious nature to control others that caused this.

 

i guess living longer than everybody else pretty much makes you think you should control others.

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I think that they are, fundamentally, useless and counter-productive. They swear to speak no word that is not true, then get around it by telling half truths, making implications, and so on, making the truth dance to their tune. The result is that people don't trust what they say, they scan it for another meaning. So the very trust it was designed to instill is undone by how they circumvent it. Further, it gives the impression that they need the Oaths to hold them back - that without them they would be liars, wantonly killing with the Power and making an arsenal. Of course, this is only part of a wider problem with the AS in that they see themselves as separate from society.

 

I believe that is very well said and completely accurate.

 

on the other hand, how many aes sedai who just go about their own business (be it research or teaching or diplomacy or exploring or whatever) have you seen?  they are all practically trying to manipulate the rest of the world.  how exactly would people trust them even if they are not known to twist their words?

 

you can't blame anything on the oath, or the aes sedai's ignorance on different occasion, nor can you blame them for trying to speak the half truth.  if there is a blame, it is their ambitious nature to control others that caused this.

 

i guess living longer than everybody else pretty much makes you think you should control others.

 

You can blame anybody for anything you want.

 

Aes Sedai manipulate the world because they are super humans with magical abilities, when shaping historiography you must pull people out of Plato's cave, and sometimes you need to lie in order to do that.

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:) I agree with what you say above. The Three Oaths are taken just to mollify the rulers of "Randland" I guess. Some sort of assurance that "we will do no harm but instead use our powers to help mankind."
And while noble in intention, it was immediately undermined by them trying to find ways around it. Thus the fault lay in themselves, and still does - it is no use swearing to say nothing that isn't true if you find ways to twist the truth every time you speak, but if you take no Oath but are honest with people, then you have trust with no need of an Oath. If they could change themselves so that people did trust them, that they were a part of society, then they would have no need of the Oaths. Happily, something of that appears to in progress.
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A quick thought/"revelation" that I had a while ago.

 

The Aes Sedai are bound the the oath rod and the oaths taken while holding it. That much I know. What occurred to me while reading one of the books a while ago was that there is a very serious flaw to the "to tell no lies" oath. Here we go: If an Aes Sedai is 100% sure of something (even if it is blatantly wrong/untrue) she will have no trouble telling it as it is true/the truth. That makes the whole oath useless. I think it was Asmodean who said something like this - that might be why I suddenly thought of it. ;)

 

What are your thoughts on the three oaths?

 

It didnt take me long to figure the Oath out. If it worked as you said, as in truth alone, then the White Tower couldnt possibly deny the Black Ajahs existance. It could hide its existence, but denying its existence would be impossible. They could have every sister attempt accusing each person of being Black Ajah, and they would have names in minutes if it worked like that.

 

Verin gives us a very good idea of how it works, look at her PoV when she is interviewing Aes Sedai in the Aiel camps. She is doing things with the Power to them while talking to them, and she says several things that arent fully true; it explains each bit in her thoughts, she just leaves the important bit unsaid. Stuff like this, not word for word.

 

Aes Sedai: "What are you doing?"

Verin: "Nothing that will hurt you." That depended on what you did with th weave, of course.

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