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Do Elves have free will?
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a.s.
Valinor


Aug 23 2008, 6:19pm

Post #51 of 157 (4543 views)
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"allowed for the possibility of Hell", then [In reply to] Can't Post

If God did not create Hell but simply allowed for the possibility of eternal damnation there, and also created us with the possibility that we will use our free will to sin and thus earn eternal damnation, then is that "fair" from our point of view?

I say it's moot.

If there is an all-powerful Creator God, then he makes the rules. We can't use "fairness" as an argument when talking about God and his creation, or Tolkien and his sub-creation. That's really my only point.

a.s.

"an seileachan"

Pooh began to feel a little more comfortable, because when you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.


a.s.
Valinor


Aug 23 2008, 6:37pm

Post #52 of 157 (4531 views)
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yes, and no [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Are you defining free will in terms of predestination?




Well. I am including as part of the definition of "free will" the possibility of eternal destination in either Heaven or Hell based on the use of free will, yes.

I am not saying that predestination exists.

I am suggesting that the concept of "free will" may have no particular meaning in the absence of 1) a Creator God who grants part of his creation the capacity for free will and 2) a destination earned by the exercise of that free will.

If we are just finite creatures living in a physical realm and there is no God who created us and/or we have no ultimate destination for some essence of ourselves for all eternity, then how can we speak of "free will" anyway?

We may still be making moral choices with consequences, choices based on unencumbered wills. "Free" in that sense.

In fact, we might think of a Creator God who made us and gave us the ability to freely choose what to do: to make real moral choices which cause real consequences, good or bad. But those real choices don't have any effect on our eventual existence in eternity; we all die and cease to exist anyway, we all have the same ultimate fate in this scenario.

And if this is what is meant by "free will", then Elves have it, too.

But I don't think that's entirely what we mean by the concept of "free will", which to me means our wills are not constrained by either interference at the point of action (or even at the point of willing something) and likewise are not rendered meaningless based on our eternal destination. What we do earns us our eternal destination. If our eternal destination isn't based on our own actions but is instead arbitrarily assigned by God, then our wills are not free. Or perhaps they have the illusion of freedom of choice but in reality they amount to no choice. If wills don't cause actions that have real consequences based on those actions, then how are they real choices to begin with?

Or maybe I just can't wash the Catholic out of me.

a.s.

"an seileachan"

Pooh began to feel a little more comfortable, because when you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.


Beren IV
Gondor


Aug 23 2008, 7:06pm

Post #53 of 157 (4530 views)
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We're arguing over "canon" [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien, when he first tried to publish LotR, did indeed try to publish the Sil as well. He was turned down, by the editors, because the editors did not want Tolkien's grand synopsis, but a story. They wanted LotR. When Tolkien did publish LotR, it was such a resounding success, that he almost certainly could have published the Sil at any time thereafter. Yet, he did not. This implies to me that Tolkien's decision to submit the Sil along with LotR the first time around was one of some measure of wanting to get it published in some form, if not the form that he ultimately wanted. Once he could wait as long as he wanted, he could actually try to finish it - which he never did. Therefore, even though a draft of the Sil and many of the chapters in it did indeed exist at the time LotR was published, it nonetheless is not 'canonical' as a description Tolkien's universe.

Once a paleontologist, now a botanist, will be a paleobotanist


Morthoron
Gondor


Aug 23 2008, 10:47pm

Post #54 of 157 (4592 views)
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Alrighty then... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Tolkien, when he first tried to publish LotR, did indeed try to publish the Sil as well. He was turned down, by the editors, because the editors did not want Tolkien's grand synopsis, but a story. They wanted LotR. When Tolkien did publish LotR, it was such a resounding success, that he almost certainly could have published the Sil at any time thereafter. Yet, he did not. This implies to me that Tolkien's decision to submit the Sil along with LotR the first time around was one of some measure of wanting to get it published in some form, if not the form that he ultimately wanted. Once he could wait as long as he wanted, he could actually try to finish it - which he never did. Therefore, even though a draft of the Sil and many of the chapters in it did indeed exist at the time LotR was published, it nonetheless is not 'canonical' as a description Tolkien's universe.



So, what you're saying is that only The Lord of the Rings is canonical. We, of course, must then preclude The Hobbit from canonicity, because it was rewritten in parts after its 1937 publication, and Tolkien intended an even more extensive rewrite after that (part of which still remains in unfinished form). We must also exclude The Silmarillion, because, as you inferred, it was published after Tolkien's death (by his son, Christopher, who was made literary executor for the express purpose of collating and editing Tolkien's unfinished works), the 12 volume HoMe series (again published after Tolkien's death), Unfinished Tales, The Children of Hurin and The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (because, after all, the letters were not necessarily meant for publication). In your stifling view of canonicity, we must ignore everything Tolkien wrote beyond The Lord of the Rings, even though he himself quoted freely from the unpublished material to explain the nuances and historical perspectives of the War of the Ring.

I will have to disagree with your view, and quite vociferously. Tolkien was the patron saint of procrastination (his letters brim over with his inveterate putzing); in fact, it is amazing he wrote the Lord of the Rings at all (considering how many rewrites he did of the book). If we are to consider that The Silmarillion, imperfect as it may be, is not canonical (and by inference the rest of his works unpublished at his death), then we drastically limit the scope of Tolkien's universe, and eliminate its cosmogony and cosmology, and the truths and beauty of entire ages that preceeded the very brief span of time (relatively speaking) described in Lord of the Rings. How dull and unfulfilling that would be.

THE EARL OF SANDWICH: "Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"
JOHN WILKES: That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."
John Wilkes (1727-1797)


Morthoron
Gondor


Aug 23 2008, 11:05pm

Post #55 of 157 (4515 views)
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Post-script... [In reply to] Can't Post

There is a reason that Tolkien and his wife's graves are marked 'Beren' and 'Luthien', and not Aragorn and Arwen. I haven't heard any complaints that the names there inscribed should be rewritten to be within the bounds of canonicity.

THE EARL OF SANDWICH: "Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"
JOHN WILKES: That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."
John Wilkes (1727-1797)


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Aug 23 2008, 11:08pm

Post #56 of 157 (4510 views)
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Beren [In reply to] Can't Post

...and Lķthien are mentioned in The Lord of the Rings. Tongue

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N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Aug 23 2008, 11:12pm

Post #57 of 157 (4526 views)
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No canon. [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien even modified The Lord of the Rings for its second edition.

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N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Aug 23 2008, 11:14pm

Post #58 of 157 (4508 views)
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Why does it matter? // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

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Morthoron
Gondor


Aug 23 2008, 11:43pm

Post #59 of 157 (4535 views)
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Hmmm... [In reply to] Can't Post


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Tolkien even modified The Lord of the Rings for its second edition. Why does it matter?



*Boggles*

Ummm....Why does it matter? Because you claim that The Silmarillion (and again, by inferrence, everything unpublished at Tolkien's death) is not canonical in an attempt to dismiss pertinent information from the AinulindalŽ as unimportant or not germane to the discussion. Humorously, Verlyn Flieger, who believes Elves do not have free will (which, I believe, is your position), is "relying on a close reading of the AinulindalŽ" to support her points. You should e-mail her and tell her to only use canonically-approved works in defense of her stance.Crazy

THE EARL OF SANDWICH: "Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"
JOHN WILKES: That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."
John Wilkes (1727-1797)


Beren IV
Gondor


Aug 24 2008, 12:53am

Post #60 of 157 (4534 views)
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"Not canonical" does not mean apocryphal. [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
So, what you're saying is that only The Lord of the Rings is canonical. We, of course, must then preclude The Hobbit from canonicity, because it was rewritten in parts after its 1937 publication, and Tolkien intended an even more extensive rewrite after that (part of which still remains in unfinished form). We must also exclude The Silmarillion, because, as you inferred, it was published after Tolkien's death (by his son, Christopher, who was made literary executor for the express purpose of collating and editing Tolkien's unfinished works), the 12 volume HoMe series (again published after Tolkien's death), Unfinished Tales, The Children of Hurin and The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (because, after all, the letters were not necessarily meant for publication). In your stifling view of canonicity, we must ignore everything Tolkien wrote beyond The Lord of the Rings, even though he himself quoted freely from the unpublished material to explain the nuances and historical perspectives of the War of the Ring.


You exaggerate.

I do consider The Hobbit to be 'canonical', albeit secondary to LotR. I do not consider anything else to be; However -

Just because the Sil, HoME, Unfinished Tales, the Letters, etc. I do not consider to be 'canonical' does not mean that we should ignore them. All it means is that we should take them with a grain of salt. For example, it is said in the Sil that Beren said nothing about the things that he encountered in the Ephel Duath, but we know that can't be the case because otherwise there is no way anybody would know about it. This is an inconsistency and a mistake. At the same time, there is no reason to suggest that Beren did not face fell monsters in the Ephel Duath, even if it were not mentioned in the chapter whose discussion I just led.

Once a paleontologist, now a botanist, will be a paleobotanist


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Aug 24 2008, 1:28am

Post #61 of 157 (4514 views)
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And even LotR was fluid. [In reply to] Can't Post

Not even the published Lord of the Rings stayed written in stone.

I once got hold of one of the evil Ace paperbacks that preceded the legitimate Ballentine edition. In order to legally publish the Ballentine version, Tolkien changed a few lines here and there. Imagine my surprise when I read the scene of Legolas and Gimli confronting an exhausted and almost-crazed Aragorn who had just gazed into the Palantir. In this earlier version, when Gimli asks whether Aragorn said anything to Sauron, Aragorn snaps back with a sarcastic, "Yes, I asked him whether I could trade a rebel dwarf for a serviceable orc!" And only after that calms down and says, "Nay, I said naught to him."

I wish he'd kept that line.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Aug 24 2008, 1:33am

Post #62 of 157 (4561 views)
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I agree with your premise... [In reply to] Can't Post

...but not with the vehemence. I respect Beren IV a great deal, even if I do sometimes disagree with him. Heck, academics don't even agree on which historical references to trust in this world.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Samamir
Registered User


Aug 24 2008, 1:43am

Post #63 of 157 (4518 views)
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Aragorn said that!?!?! [In reply to] Can't Post

Ha! Thats hysterical coming from a very sarcastic person such as myself.
Wouldnt think Aragorn would say something like that though....sounds more like an elf comment


Morthoron
Gondor


Aug 24 2008, 1:47am

Post #64 of 157 (4500 views)
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I disagree... [In reply to] Can't Post

Now see, I do not consider much of The Hobbit as canonical (at least in the presentation and tone of the piece), because Tolkien himself was bothered by the story and the manner in which he presented it; hence he felt the need to completely rewrite the Hobbit after it was published -- so obviously he didn't consider it 'canonical'. The Elves of the Sil and of LotR are unrecognizable in The Hobbit, trolls mangle the King's English, Orcs are goblins, and there is a twee fairy tale approach which is almost alien to the former and the latter (Sil and Lotr). One also notices in Tolkien's letters a reverence for his earlier writings and a decided annoyance by The Hobbit (almost to the point where he feels the Hobbit blundered into his real history). You mention errors in Beren's story, but you fail to mention the many errors in The Hobbit and LotR, which, because they were published, Tolkien amended along the way in later editions. Tolkien did the same with passages from The Silmarillion; that was his nature. He was a tinker -- a mythical cobbler -- and he tinkered all the way up to his death. That does not make those works published after his death non-canonical; particularly since he wished them to be published.

Your definition is far too limiting if one wants to put Tolkien's mythos in context. Are there aspects of HoMe that are conjectural and uncanonical? Certainly. But one can't blithely wave off the Lays of Beleriand as mere inconsistent and precursive practice for the 'real thing'. They are, rightly, part of the historical record of Middle-earth (if one were taking a historiographical approach to Tolkien's cosmos), just as The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales provide a foundation and historical backdrop to the events that occur during the War of the Ring, and in many instances surpass that epoch in sweep and grandeur. And, from a historiographical sense, even the inconsistencies are consistent with our own real-world record. The further one goes back, the less likely is the data truly factual. If one reads the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles or the writings of Joinville and Froissart, the truth is certainly there (beyond a simply apocryphal nature); however, the emphasis is decidedly different than that of modern medieval historians (and there is a noticeable difference in the idiom and tone Tolkien's former, as opposed to his latter works). That does not mean that a modern medievalist brushes aside such documentation as apocryphal or non-canonical simply because of certain inaccuracies, particularly since much of it is very consistent.


P.S. My apologies to N.E. Brigand for mixing him up with Beren IV in my replies. To many B's in the names.Wink

THE EARL OF SANDWICH: "Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"
JOHN WILKES: That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."
John Wilkes (1727-1797)


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Aug 24 2008, 1:47am

Post #65 of 157 (4534 views)
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Cut for a reason? [In reply to] Can't Post

Maybe that's why Tolkien cut it. I'm sure that Aragorn did have that side to him--his comments to Merry after healing him being an example, but maybe Tolkien thought that this was a bit over the top. I loved it, though.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Aelfwine
The Shire

Aug 24 2008, 2:04am

Post #66 of 157 (4502 views)
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FWIW, _I'm_ not arguing over canon [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm interested in what Tolkien's thoughts on Middle-earth were at any and every stage of his development of the Legendarium. "Canon" (whatever that means, and however defined) doesn't enter into it for me.

--
Carl F. Hostetter


squire
Half-elven


Aug 24 2008, 3:11am

Post #67 of 157 (4520 views)
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I'm confused. What is "canon" and what is it good for? [In reply to] Can't Post

If I'm following this, Beren IV is contending that only The Lord of the Rings and (secondarily) The Hobbit is "canon" in arguing about Middle-earth, because Tolkien approved their publication and subsequent modifications. Morthoron is arguing that everything Tolkien wrote about Middle-earth (including, primarily, The Sil, Unfinished Tales, and The 12-volume History of Middle-earth) is "canon" in the sense of being at least "mythologically" consistent enough to support arguments about the nature of Middle-earth.

I guess I thought "canon" was something useful in judging fan fiction - i.e., what is and isn't "consistent" with the original author's (Tolkien's) storylines and backstory. I've never heard it suggested that "canon" has much meaning when discussing Tolkien's deepest philosophical thoughts about the nature of his secondary world - like whether Elves or Men have "free will" in any meaningful sense, whether as individuals or as races, when they are only literary constructs that mimic to some degree a real-world humankind which still debates whether it has free will!

In such a discussion, surely everything Tolkien wrote must be considered - and nothing is "canon", since in this moral and theological realm which totally transcends narrative issues, Tolkien never even came close to constructing a consistent universe. As Aelfwine suggests, we should look at what Tolkien was thinking at different times, when he wrote different works. LotR is just another work here. The publishing issue is totally irrelevant. It wasn't until he was halfway through the epic that he realized he was writing a continuation of the Quenta Silmarillion, not a Hobbit-world sequel. When he finished it, and rewrote it "backwards" (as he put it) to make it internally self-consistent, he also went and attacked his Silmarillion manuscripts, to try to make them consistent with the newly completed LotR. Yet he did not rewrite The Hobbit by choice - he refused to alter it although he could have, and it is for us to accept that the Elves, Gandalf, Gollum, etc. in the two works are not entirely consistent in their essential natures.

It is entirely possible to argue that (for instance) in 1937 Elves had Free Will, but in 1957 they did not. I'm not saying that's what I believe about this particular issue - I'm just giving it as an example of the nature of Tolkien studies. At this level of argument, I do not see what use a term like "canon" has at all.



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a.s.
Valinor


Aug 24 2008, 3:48am

Post #68 of 157 (4483 views)
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To the Elves? Or to us? [In reply to] Can't Post

Or were you just asking visualweasel?

Cool

It matters to me because I thought I had found some kind of clue to try to decipher what Tolkien was attempting to do (good heavens, how many qualifiers can I fit in one sentence?) in showing how Providence must appear to characters who have bodies and souls that are "immortal but not eternal", vs. those who have mortal bodies but immortal souls that continue in an alternate setting.

Now I'm back to square one.

Just to answer for only me and myself on the subject.

a.s.

"an seileachan"

Pooh began to feel a little more comfortable, because when you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Aug 24 2008, 7:00am

Post #69 of 157 (4464 views)
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To whom are you responding? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To
Tolkien even modified The Lord of the Rings for its second edition. Why does it matter?



*Boggles*

Ummm....Why does it matter? Because you claim that The Silmarillion (and again, by inferrence, everything unpublished at Tolkien's death) is not canonical in an attempt to dismiss pertinent information from the AinulindalŽ as unimportant or not germane to the discussion. Humorously, Verlyn Flieger, who believes Elves do not have free will (which, I believe, is your position), is "relying on a close reading of the AinulindalŽ" to support her points. You should e-mail her and tell her to only use canonically-approved works in defense of her stance.Crazy


A little confusion here: you're quoting statements I made in two different posts.

First, responding to your argument that more than just LotR was canon, I wrote, "No canon. Tolkien even modified The Lord of the Rings for its second edition." Second, responding to visualweasel's original question about whether Elves have free will, I wrote, "Why does it matter?" without reference to the side issue of canon.

However, you seem to have meant to reply to Beren IV, not me. I never dismissed the statements in the AinulindalŽ -- I only asked why Tolkien chose not to include that information in works he saw through to publication.

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FarFromHome
Valinor


Aug 24 2008, 7:32am

Post #70 of 157 (4474 views)
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Not only that... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
It is entirely possible to argue that (for instance) in 1937 Elves had Free Will, but in 1957 they did not.



It's not just that Tolkien's thought evolved over time. He's sometimes also clearly writing from the point of view of one racial group or another, at varying periods of their "history". They might have conflicting (or evolving) beliefs themselves about their own destiny. If the Silmarillion (and similar writings) are the Elves' equivalent of the Bible, why shouldn't there be contradictions? There are contradictions in the Bible. And Christian thought has taken many different and contradictory views of these questions too, over the centuries. Tolkien was under no constraint to make up one immutable theory to explain everything (even if in later life he may have felt the desire to do so).


...and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew,
and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth;
and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore
glimmered and was lost.


Beren IV
Gondor


Aug 24 2008, 8:24am

Post #71 of 157 (4475 views)
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Except that this question [In reply to] Can't Post

is of extreme interest to fanfiction, then yes, you would be absolutely right.

But, for example, I have a character that I have used as an NPC in some roleplays I have run in Middle Earth who is a female elf named Neithaniel. Neithaniel is, by ancestry, a Sinda, living around the time of the War of the Ring. Neithaniel believes that it is her calling to remain in Middle Earth, even if the Free Peoples defeat Sauron, helping people and the world in every way she can, until her death. Despite being an elf, she does not regard herself as immortal, since she sees it inevitable that one day something will kill her. Thus, if ManwŽ and Mandos want her soul back in Valinor, they can have it once she is no longer using it, her being dead (notice the reversal of the usual placement on the significance of the soul versus the body - this is also part of her belief).

Based on the different factions of Elves that Tolkien created and their dooms as placed upon them by various Valar, Neithaniel really doesn't fit well into any of them. For her character to work, she sort of has to have free will, at least at the level of the individual. Does this clash with Tolkien's "canon"? This is the reason why the "canonical" question regarding the nature of fate and free will in Arda comes up.

Once a paleontologist, now a botanist, will be a paleobotanist


Morthoron
Gondor


Aug 24 2008, 9:10am

Post #72 of 157 (4553 views)
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Fade to Black (or Dark Elves)... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
But, for example, I have a character that I have used as an NPC in some roleplays I have run in Middle Earth who is a female elf named Neithaniel. Neithaniel is, by ancestry, a Sinda, living around the time of the War of the Ring. Neithaniel believes that it is her calling to remain in Middle Earth, even if the Free Peoples defeat Sauron, helping people and the world in every way she can, until her death. Despite being an elf, she does not regard herself as immortal, since she sees it inevitable that one day something will kill her. Thus, if ManwŽ and Mandos want her soul back in Valinor, they can have it once she is no longer using it, her being dead (notice the reversal of the usual placement on the significance of the soul versus the body - this is also part of her belief).

Based on the different factions of Elves that Tolkien created and their dooms as placed upon them by various Valar, Neithaniel really doesn't fit well into any of them. For her character to work, she sort of has to have free will, at least at the level of the individual. Does this clash with Tolkien's "canon"? This is the reason why the "canonical" question regarding the nature of fate and free will in Arda comes up.



Refusing a summons from Valinor is nothing new for Elves in Middle-earth, and many of the remaining Sindar (as well as the bulk of Silvan Elves) remained in Middle-earth after the War of the Ring. Even the sons of Elrond withheld their final decision on Elvish immortality far into the 4th Age (or at least, after the written record runs silent). Honestly, I don't feel, based on countless readings, that the Moriquendi felt compelled to leave Middle-earth at all, and eventually faded in accordance with their nature. In any case, your Sinda character was not under the doom imposed by Mandos (as she was never in Valinor in the first place); therefore, the question would be why she even considered leaving at all, or the belief that someday something would kill her.

But back to the idea of fading and elvish free will; I don't feel they are necessarily congruent. The elves made choices independent of fading (whether or not the majority of elves knew of this fading factor is another question), and suffered consequences for those choices. The ability to make choices independent of fading thus harkens back to the idea they did indeed to have free will. As someone mentioned previously, it was not fate that drove Feanor to his rebellion, the kinslayings and the burning of the ships, it was free will -- unless someone can show me in the text that Feanor was predestined to commit these acts, which seems highly unlikely. Again, the ability to make choices, even in the face of divine retribution, seems to me consistent with free will. The fading factor is a matter of nature, not a matter of free will, whether or not said fading would cause a younger race to lay claim to Middle-earth.

P.S. N.E. Brigand, I already apologized in my last post for mixing up replies from you and Beren IV.

THE EARL OF SANDWICH: "Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"
JOHN WILKES: That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."
John Wilkes (1727-1797)

(This post was edited by Morthoron on Aug 24 2008, 9:13am)


squire
Half-elven


Aug 24 2008, 1:55pm

Post #73 of 157 (4466 views)
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I suppose you are right. [In reply to] Can't Post

If fan writers have the cheek to make new stories about the destiny and self-image of Elves in the house of Tolkien, it is their affair.

As interesting as Neithaniel is, it doesn't sound to me like any definition of "canon" would satisfy all comers that she fits within Tolkien's literary concept. Shouldn't you should just keep writing what you like based on your enjoyment and understanding of Tolkien, and not worry so much about finding exact, "legally defensible" textual support for it?



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N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Aug 24 2008, 4:22pm

Post #74 of 157 (4448 views)
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Ah. [In reply to] Can't Post


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P.S. N.E. Brigand, I already apologized in my last post for mixing up replies from you and Beren IV.


I see it now. Thanks for clearing that up!

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Beren IV
Gondor


Aug 24 2008, 6:45pm

Post #75 of 157 (4457 views)
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FŽanor's destiny [In reply to] Can't Post

The only thing that I can think of that implies that FŽanor is destined to commit the acts that he does is that he shows evidence of his hot-headedness and disregard for Elven life, particularly of the other houses, beforehand. The former is foreshadowed even in his name, "spirit of fire". But FŽanor does draw steel on his half-brothers when he fears his father loves them more than he, and his wife does divorce him apparently because he's basically a jerk, even though she's got a fairly fiery personality herself. Basically, FŽanor is a tragic anti-hero with a fatal flaw. Tolkien's legendarium is full of those; Tķrin is another spectacular example. Tķrin in particular is cursed, but like any good curse, there are perfectly mundane aspects of Tķrin's personality that lead to the curse's fulfillment.

So is this destiny or is this fate? In an ultimate sense, it's fate, if only because the Author wanted to write the story that way, so that's how He wrote it (whether he liked it or not, Tolkien was more-or-less God of his sub-creation - he did create it, after all). But did Tolkien mean for FŽanor to have had the ability to choose to take another path, but merely didn't? Unless FŽanor is an allegory for something in the real world, I'm not sure that question even has an answer. And, to quote Letter 131, Tolkien "dislike[d] allegory".

Once a paleontologist, now a botanist, will be a paleobotanist

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