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Is Swearing Fealty a Subversion of the Three Oaths?


MyKillK
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If an Aes Sedai swore an oath of fealty would that not actually loosen the grip of the Three Oaths?

 

The First Oath is to "speak no word that is not true". So by swearing an oath, the truth of what an Aes Sedai said is simply the fact that she swears by it, rather than what she swears to.

 

So if an Aes Sedai simply says "I will obey you," she must obey because it was said simply. But if she says "I swear to obey you," the Aes Sedai is free to be disloyal or disobey because she's only breaking the oath she swore.

Edited by MyKillK
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I don't think RJ would go to that degree of the English language in THIS case just to add the possibility that an Aes Sedai would use wordplay on the fealty oath.

 

That being said, the books itself mentions: They are sworn to obey, but something not explicitly forbidden could be allowed, especially in the case where the Aes Sedai convinced them-self that the action was in part "obeying" the person they swore too.

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I don't think RJ would go to that degree of the English language in THIS case just to add the possibility that an Aes Sedai would use wordplay on the fealty oath.

 

That being said, the books itself mentions: They are sworn to obey, but something not explicitly forbidden could be allowed, especially in the case where the Aes Sedai convinced them-self that the action was in part "obeying" the person they swore too.

 

Think of it this way. If an Aes Sedai swore an oath of fealty or swore to anything at all, and then she broke her oath, would it not still be true that she swore the oath? The words of her statement would still be true so she would not have violated the Three Oaths.

Edited by MyKillK
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Aes Sedai just have to believe they're speaking the truth. Once it's said they're not bound to it. Obviously planning on believing it now but not believing it later doesn't count, because then they're not really ever believing it to begin with.

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Well, even if they TRULY believed that truth at the time of the promise/oath, doesn't mean they can't alter what they meant by the promise/oath later. For example, you're told not to each the cookies, but no-one said you can't nibble them, eh? You just have to convince yourself that nibbling isn't the same as eating.

 

It's one of the reasons the three oaths are so useless.

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Aes Sedai just have to believe they're speaking the truth. Once it's said they're not bound to it. Obviously planning on believing it now but not believing it later doesn't count, because then they're not really ever believing it to begin with.

 

I would think that only applies in the context of making a factual statement.

 

So if an Aes Sedai has some weird color blindness and really thinks that the sky is green, she can say "The sky is green". Even though it's a false statement, she really believes it to be true.

 

But not so when making a statement of intent like "I will obey you". It's a very black and white thing with no wiggle room. The Aes Sedai is bound to obey because as soon as she disobeys, she has spoken a word that is not true. The Aes Sedai could perhaps skirt around it a bit and do something disobedient if she can come up with a convincing reason that it's actually still obeying, but other than that, she is bound.

 

I still think swearing an oath is a clever subversion of the Three Oaths. Even making a pledge or a promise would have the same effect. It essentially creates a second layer of statement that separates the Aes Sedai from the binding nature of the Three Oaths. This is part of the reason why Aes Sedai never seem to say things simply and when they do, it's usually a very powerful moment.

Edited by MyKillK
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That being said, the books itself mentions: They are sworn to obey

 

Do you remember whereabouts this was mentioned in the books?

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Well, even if they TRULY believed that truth at the time of the promise/oath, doesn't mean they can't alter what they meant by the promise/oath later. For example, you're told not to each the cookies, but no-one said you can't nibble them, eh? You just have to convince yourself that nibbling isn't the same as eating.

 

It's one of the reasons the three oaths are so useless.

 

Actually, the Oaths do serve an interesting purpose.

 

The first Oath created was not to make any weapon with which one man may kill another. Right after the Breaking, when they were trying to convince the nations to trust them.

 

The lying and Power-as-weapon Oaths came right after the Trolloc Wars. The Power-as-weapon Oath would obviously be a needed reassurance, as needed after the Breaking, that they weren't going to go after everyone else. What's interesting is the lying Oath- I have a long version of this somewhere, but the Black Ajah was created in the Trolloc Wars. I believe there's enough contextual evidence that it was an attempt to root-out/prevent a re-occurence of the Black, without ever admitting they exist. How can you be an Aes Sedai and Darkfried if you can't lie about it?In fact, Egwene's version of it may have been a form of the original solution- they told the world they were binding themselves against lying, secretly they demanded each sister bound against lying avow in front of, say, the Amyrlin that she was not a Darkfriend. There's no other reason for that Oath to be introduced.

 

What I've always wondered is if the inability of most Aes Sedai to make ter'angreal, or really do serious successful research into them, is a side effect of the non-lying Oaths. If they don't know what it does, they could be using the Power as a weapon accidentally. Not an effect, but a cultural influence.

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Actually, the Oaths do serve an interesting purpose.

 

The only purpose they serve is to make people trust them while being able to do whatever they want. The only problem is that they have either forgotten the reasons for the oath or the majority of them are too stupid to see what the few smart ones who created the oaths were trying to do.. If the oaths were inteded to work they'd have been worded a lot differently.

 

for example [the dots just mean a couple of lines of extra clauses. a one line oath is pretty useless. a oath the size of a small book with two thousand years of revisions to stop loopholes would probably act as a fairly tight contract]:

 

- I will never attempt to harm anyone in any way through use of any method. be that emotional, physical, economic, ................. I will not command anyone to harm others in any way, .............. unless that person is without doubt a darkfriend ................ or I am under attack at risk of my life.........., etc, etc, etc.

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I will never intentionally mislead, misdirect, or lie to anyone, including by omission. (an actually effective wording of that oath)

Edited by Torn Shadow
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I will never intentionally mislead, misdirect, or lie to anyone, including by omission. (an actually effective wording of that oath)

 

There will always be loopholes. For example, the aes sedai doesnt speak, her warder says she is a mute. She's not misleading anyone, her warder is. the oath would have to have a part about not being party to any lies.

 

.

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True, but that oath would make it far more... challenging to virtually lie to everyone's face, while never breaking it.

Edited by Torn Shadow
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The oaths are a bad idea in the first place. Simply working out better ways to phrase them does not deal with that underlying problem. People often have good reason to lie. The problem with the AS is that they habitually distort the truth. So, would you make the Oath "I swear not to make a habit of doing things wrong, I'll only do it occasionally, when I feel the situation warrants it"? A more reasonable Oath, but one so easy to abuse it's pointless. No, just do away with the Oaths and act like a decent person.

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The oaths are a bad idea in the first place. Simply working out better ways to phrase them does not deal with that underlying problem. People often have good reason to lie. The problem with the AS is that they habitually distort the truth. So, would you make the Oath "I swear not to make a habit of doing things wrong, I'll only do it occasionally, when I feel the situation warrants it"? A more reasonable Oath, but one so easy to abuse it's pointless. No, just do away with the Oaths and act like a decent person.

 

aes sedai = decent person. :huh: how does that logic work. confused. :unsure:

 

I'd rather let the seanchan have their way with the tower than trust aes sedai will be good people. Over a fifth of them are in the black ajah. Half of the rest are politicians of the worst sort. The other half would nuke a great city if it let them achiev their goals.

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Its ironic the way the oath about lying has led to a culture of AS word play, thus making the common Randlander challenge their every word.

I think the oaths have played their part and helped the AS find legitimacy, (look what happened to the AS on the seanchan continent) but have now run their cause and are more a hindrance than anything else.

Maybe AS being released from them on retirement is the fist step towards ending them.

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The oaths are a bad idea in the first place. Simply working out better ways to phrase them does not deal with that underlying problem. People often have good reason to lie. The problem with the AS is that they habitually distort the truth. So, would you make the Oath "I swear not to make a habit of doing things wrong, I'll only do it occasionally, when I feel the situation warrants it"? A more reasonable Oath, but one so easy to abuse it's pointless. No, just do away with the Oaths and act like a decent person.

 

aes sedai = decent person. :huh: how does that logic work. confused. :unsure:

 

I'd rather let the seanchan have their way with the tower than trust aes sedai will be good people. Over a fifth of them are in the black ajah. Half of the rest are politicians of the worst sort. The other half would nuke a great city if it let them achiev their goals.

Well, the BA have removed the Oaths. Thus if you want to join the Darkside, the Oaths aren't stopping you. Thus they do not enforce good behaviour. I see no reason to believe that any but a handful would be willing to nuke a city if it got them closer to achieveing their goals. That just leaves the politicians. Well, they will be politicians regardless. So what do the Oaths do? Stop them lying? Fine, but they do so in a way that lets them distort the truth. Is the problem that AS distort the truth? If it is, then unbound people can still do that, only they also can tell outright falsehoods. The problem is not the Oaths, the problem is with AS society - they have a mindset that whatever isn't forbidden is allowed. They cannot speak words that are not true - but they can speak words that are true but misleading. Therefore they take any opportunity to do so. By changing the Oaths to remove this, you merely force the AS to find loopholes, and hamstring an inconvenience them in silly ways, while any non-AS who wants to make a weapon for one man to kill another or lie with wild abandon can do so to his or her heart's content. They see the Oaths as something to get around, rather than a decent principle to live by. So the problem lies with the mindset of the AS, not the Oaths. Changing the Oaths attacks the symptom, not the disease. You ignore the root of the problem. It is a silly thing to do, and pointless. Most people do not need to swear Oaths like that in their daily lives and they get by just fine. The AS do not need them either. They do more harm than good. I see it as being far more beneficial to deal with the underlying problems in AS culture that encourages bad behaviour - such as unnecessary truth twisting as a matter of course. Moat of them are not bad people, they are simply blinkered, unable to see the deeply ingrained flaws in their system and thus make a lot of bad choices.
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aes sedai = decent person. :huh: how does that logic work. confused. :unsure:

 

I'd rather let the seanchan have their way with the tower than trust aes sedai will be good people. Over a fifth of them are in the black ajah. Half of the rest are politicians of the worst sort. The other half would nuke a great city if it let them achiev their goals.

 

Yes the majority of AS we have seen are decent people and have been working for the light. They have been instrumental in helping the world get to a place in which it has a chance to win the LB. They work in a flawed system and have fallen far from their heights but claiming half would "nuke a great city" if it let them achieve their goals is a joke. In fact the only person we have seen come remotely close to that is Rand at Natrim's Barrow and we know what his mental state was at the time.

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Yes the majority of AS we have seen are decent people and have been working for the light. They have been instrumental in helping the world get to a place in which it has a chance to win the LB. They work in a flawed system and have fallen far from their heights but claiming half would "nuke a great city" if it let them achieve their goals is a joke. In fact the only person we have seen come remotely close to that is Rand at Natrim's Barrow and we know what his mental state was at the time.

 

The nuke a city was an exageration for effect. Not literal. Though I wouldnt put it past cadsuanne of morraine to balefire caemlyn if it let them defeat the dark one. But I wouldnt say the majority of them are decent.

 

In new spring half the tower was trying to put morraine on the sun throne for no other reason than to increase the influence of the tower.

 

Most of the aes sedai are prejudiced against wilders. It seems too me that that sort of [would classism be the correct term] isn't very decent.

 

The majority of them spend most of the time doing there own stuff instead of being "servants of all". The greens don't have any forts along the borderlands, I can't remember reading about any yellows traveling from village to village offering healing services. Elaida kept the palace gardens green while the rest of andor was left to suffer.

 

most of the aes sedai treat others as inferior. The amyrlin seat is seen as above kings. Everyone is supposed to do whatever an aes sedai wants.

 

etc. etc.

 

 

There are a few that are okay. But the majority seem to be pampered, "let them eat cake" noblewomen.

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The majority of them spend most of the time doing there own stuff instead of being "servants of all". The greens don't have any forts along the borderlands, I can't remember reading about any yellows traveling from village to village offering healing services. Elaida kept the palace gardens green while the rest of andor was left to suffer.

 

I agree they have a long way to go to be servants of all. However the Yellow's use their network of eyes and ears to search out and send healing parties to areas where there are outbreaks of disease. Per BS there are Green's and their warders up patrolling the blight.

 

As for Elaida she is terrible, no doubt about it.

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In new spring half the tower was trying to put morraine on the sun throne for no other reason than to increase the influence of the tower.

 

Most of the aes sedai are prejudiced against wilders. It seems too me that that sort of [would classism be the correct term] isn't very decent.

 

The majority of them spend most of the time doing there own stuff instead of being "servants of all". The greens don't have any forts along the borderlands, I can't remember reading about any yellows traveling from village to village offering healing services. Elaida kept the palace gardens green while the rest of andor was left to suffer.

 

most of the aes sedai treat others as inferior. The amyrlin seat is seen as above kings. Everyone is supposed to do whatever an aes sedai wants.

 

etc. etc.

 

There are a few that are okay. But the majority seem to be pampered, "let them eat cake" noblewomen.

If anything, surely you're just proving the point that they exist within a flawed system. It's not always easy to see the flaws from the inside - and not always easy to fix those flaws if you do see them. Yes, many of them are prejudiced against wilders. However, throughout history, a great many people have been prejudiced against other races, seeing them as inferior. Should we take from that that most people throughout history are not decent, or should we take from that decent does not mean perfect? Even decent people can have flaws. They're not monsters, merely people. They have no more need of Oaths than do normal people.
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Anyway, the reason I brought this subject up was because it immediately sprung to mind when I recently re-read the chapter in tFoH where Moiraine swears to follow Rand and not try to manipulate him. Instead of simply saying, "I will not guide or manipulate you" she swears one of the strongest oaths possible. Rand is shocked and is certain that under a such a strong oath, he can trust Moiraine now. But if what I think is true, instead it was a clever subversion of Three Oaths that binds Moiraine to nothing.

 

But, more importantly, I think this subject could have significant consequences for the Aes Sedai sworn to the Asha'man in the Black Tower. They were forced to swear obedience to their Asha'man captors right? They surely think the Aes Sedai are obedient servants bound by their Three Oaths, not realizing that the very oaths they made the AS swear created a giant loophole in the Three Oaths. This opens up the possibility of a very interesting Aes Sedai revolt at the Black Tower...

Edited by MyKillK
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In new spring half the tower was trying to put morraine on the sun throne for no other reason than to increase the influence of the tower.

 

Most of the aes sedai are prejudiced against wilders. It seems too me that that sort of [would classism be the correct term] isn't very decent.

 

The majority of them spend most of the time doing there own stuff instead of being "servants of all". The greens don't have any forts along the borderlands, I can't remember reading about any yellows traveling from village to village offering healing services. Elaida kept the palace gardens green while the rest of andor was left to suffer.

 

most of the aes sedai treat others as inferior. The amyrlin seat is seen as above kings. Everyone is supposed to do whatever an aes sedai wants.

 

etc. etc.

 

There are a few that are okay. But the majority seem to be pampered, "let them eat cake" noblewomen.

If anything, surely you're just proving the point that they exist within a flawed system. It's not always easy to see the flaws from the inside - and not always easy to fix those flaws if you do see them. Yes, many of them are prejudiced against wilders. However, throughout history, a great many people have been prejudiced against other races, seeing them as inferior. Should we take from that that most people throughout history are not decent, or should we take from that decent does not mean perfect? Even decent people can have flaws. They're not monsters, merely people. They have no more need of Oaths than do normal people.

 

Didn't Egwene go through this whole argument with herself? At first she didn't like having to Swear the Three Oaths, but in the end she decided it was a vital element of what being an Aes Sedai was.

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But, more importantly, I think this subject could have significant consequences for the Aes Sedai sworn to the Asha'man in the Black Tower. They were forced to swear obedience to their Asha'man captors right? They surely think the Aes Sedai are obedient servants bound by their Three Oaths, not realizing that the very oaths they made the AS swear created a giant loophole in the Three Oaths. This opens up the possibility of a very interesting Aes Sedai revolt at the Black Tower...

 

IIRC the AS didn't swear anything to the Ashaman. We do know however that the "extra bit" in the Ashaman bond is used to compel them to obedience.

 

BTW I do not feel there is any such loophole. As for Moiraine at that point she was desperate and sincere in helping Rand. There is nothing to really suggest otherwise...

Edited by Suttree
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