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  1. #1
    Thinks he's a big deal rafis117's Avatar
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    Confucianism in the Grimness and Darkness?

    I just finished Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age and was wondering; could Confucianism exist within the Imperium? One of its basic tenants is striving for order and purity and following the hierarchy - not completely out of place in M40.

    Is Confucianism too idealistic for the Grimness and Darkness? Is it too likely to actually work to be meshed with the story? Thoughts?

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    Senior Member Morkai's Avatar
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    It would really depend on the context you're using it in. A confucian style space marine chapter could work with very little work, just give them a few slightly different rituals and up the filial piety and there you go. So striving for order and purity while honouring the memory of those who have come before, seems perfectly workable to me.
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    Thinks he's a big deal rafis117's Avatar
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    I was thinking more on a planetary scale, but that works too.
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  5. #4
    God's nutcase Xerxes's Avatar
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    It's unlikely, as it doesn't really mesh with the Imperial Cult. There is no central figure to it (at least in my understanding), and so there can be no Emperor-analogue. Therefore it'd likely be considered heresy, with all the logistical problems that implies.

    Also, how would a book on Confucianism have survived into the 41st millennium?

  6. #5
    Son of LO ze_poodle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xerxes View Post
    It's unlikely, as it doesn't really mesh with the Imperial Cult. There is no central figure to it (at least in my understanding), and so there can be no Emperor-analogue. Therefore it'd likely be considered heresy, with all the logistical problems that implies.
    Confucianism is really more of a political ideology than a religion, and it does have a central figure in the form of the ruler of the hierarchy. It would be a simple matter to put the Emperor in the ruler's seat and build the system from there. You do run into the obvious hurdle that basic Confucianism doesn't consider the ruler a literal god like the Imperial Cult does. It does have things like "authority is infallible" and "obey your elders" that any dictatorial planetary governor is going to welcome.

    It would obviously have to stay a local thing, maybe one planet or a single system, since Confucianism also has certain idealistic concepts such as promotion on merit and the ruler serving the people. These would conflict with the hardcore oppression typical of the average Imperial planet. If someone suggested, for example, that the Emperor is around to serve mankind and not the other way around, it would spark at the very least vigorous theological debate and at the worst excommunication.

    I think it would work best as the ideology of a Chinese-themed Space Marine chapter, to be honest. Like Confucius, Marines don't consider the Emperor an actual god so much as a highly accomplished human who they are nevertheless obliged to obey unswervingly. Like Confucius, they promote based on merit and maintain a rigid command hierarchy. And most importantly, Marines can practice whatever variations on the Imperial Creed they so desire so long as they're not openly painting stars on their shoulderplates. I mean, the Flesh Tearers ate an Inquisitor and they got away with it.

    Also, how would a book on Confucianism have survived into the 41st millennium?
    It doesn't have to. Just present a pseudo-Confucianism that developed of its own accord on whichever planet you want and rename it. I mean, the Imperium takes a lot from the Nazis without actually knowing anything about WWII.
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    God's nutcase Xerxes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ze_poodle View Post
    If someone suggested, for example, that the Emperor is around to serve mankind and not the other way around, it would spark at the very least vigorous theological debate and at the worst excommunication.
    Although it is acknowledged that the Emperor works for the good of humanity, as he is acknowledged as protecting humanity from the terrors of the Warp, waging an eternal battle against Chaos, etc. So that could work, particularly as the loyatly to authority and institutions is maintained.

    Quote Originally Posted by ze_poodle View Post
    the Flesh Tearers ate an Inquisitor and they got away with it.
    The Steel Cobras did the same thing and didn't, though... it's all a matter of political pull, so any deviance within space marine chapters needs to be accounted for. A Confucian chapter shouldn't have that much problem though, if you pitch it like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by ze_poodle View Post
    It doesn't have to. Just present a pseudo-Confucianism that developed of its own accord on whichever planet you want and rename it. I mean, the Imperium takes a lot from the Nazis without actually knowing anything about WWII.
    My apologies, it just seemed to be put across that way. Of course, bit of Confucianism are very Imperial.

  8. #7
    Son of LO The_Giant_Mantis's Avatar
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    Speaking as an RS graduate.. The whole 'confucianism is a political philosophy' argument misses the point.. Most languages don't have a natural word for 'religion' anyway, so the distinction between philosophy/religion/science/medicine etc. only really makes sense in European languages and those heavily influenced by them (most nowadays, but regardless).

    That and you can't logically and simply identify a thing called 'Confucianism'.. A lot of people who would actually identify as 'Confucian' in a religious sense carry on a whole load of animistic and pre-secular ritualistic stuff which is very hazily and indestinctly understood. Some people say it's a philosophy, some people build temples and carry out religious observances to appease spiritual beings.

    So I guess my point is, what do you mean by 'Confucianism'? Do you mean Chinese-derived culture in general? The animistic religious practices which some people in China still perform or the literal writings/teachings of Confucius? Of those three.. the first works well as the basis for an army/planet, the second not so much as it involves severe religious deviance, and the third is a bit of a stretch to explain why these books survived when none of the other big ones did but otherwise sort of makes sense.

    I always prefered Lao Tzu anyway.
    Last edited by The_Giant_Mantis; January 19th, 2010 at 04:04.

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    Thinks he's a big deal rafis117's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Giant_Mantis View Post
    Speaking as an RS graduate.. The whole 'confucianism is a political philosophy' argument misses the point.. Most languages don't have a natural word for 'religion' anyway, so the distinction between philosophy/religion/science/medicine etc. only really makes sense in European languages and those heavily influenced by them (most nowadays, but regardless).

    That and you can't logically and simply identify a thing called 'Confucianism'.. A lot of people who would actually identify as 'Confucian' in a religious sense carry on a whole load of animistic and pre-secular ritualistic stuff which is very hazily and indestinctly understood. Some people say it's a philosophy, some people build temples and carry out religious observances to appease spiritual beings.

    So I guess my point is, what do you mean by 'Confucianism'? Do you mean Chinese-derived culture in general? The animistic religious practices which some people in China still perform or the literal writings/teachings of Confucius? Of those three.. the first works well as the basis for an army/planet, the second not so much as it involves severe religious deviance, and the third is a bit of a stretch to explain why these books survived when none of the other big ones did but otherwise sort of makes sense.

    I always prefered Lao Tzu anyway.
    O.O Wow. Huh... I'm not even sure. I, apparently, hazily understand a hazy understanding of a way of life that people haven't practiced in many decades... I don't think I've put my foot in my mouth like that in quite a while.
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    Son of LO The_Giant_Mantis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rafis117 View Post
    O.O Wow. Huh... I'm not even sure. I, apparently, hazily understand a hazy understanding of a way of life that people haven't practiced in many decades... I don't think I've put my foot in my mouth like that in quite a while.
    No no no! I think you're dead onto something and I wasn't trying to crap on the parade.. Confucianius is still hugely important in the world today and a marine chapter or Imperial world based on Chinese or Korean culture with Confucian ideals would be awesome in a way. I just think you need to define what you mean is all, what bits you're going to keep and what bits you take..

    It's not that it's bad idea, it's that you're talking about something with such massive and broad effect you kind of need to specify. It's like having a society/chapter based on the age of enlightenment or something, it's all well and good but you need to narrow it down somewhat.
    Last edited by The_Giant_Mantis; January 19th, 2010 at 04:26.

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    Thinks he's a big deal rafis117's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Giant_Mantis View Post
    No no no! I think you're dead onto something and I wasn't trying to crap on the parade.. Confucianius is still hugely important in the world today and a marine chapter or Imperial world based on Chinese or Korean culture with Confucian ideals would be awesome in a way. I just think you need to define what you mean is all, what bits you're going to keep and what bits you take..

    It's not that it's bad idea, it's that you're talking about something with such massive and broad effect you kind of need to specify. It's like having a society/chapter based on 'the enlightenment' or 'romanticism', it's all well and good but you need to narrow it down somewhat.
    Oh, I see. Now the explanation for the rep I gave you for that informative post sounds overdone... *pouts*.

    I was thinking along the lines of the hierarchical theology of Confucianism - the system is as strong as its weakest part so everyone must purify themselves. That seems like it would mesh with the Imperium, but some of the other things, such as animism and the fact that for a long time Confucianism in China seemed to work, (the latter according to my freshman history teacher, who also tried to explain to me how Islam is a peaceful religion... after I was in Israel during a war... oy vey) might not be compatible with the Imperium (animism) or the Grimdark in general (chance of the theology working, et al).

    Now, I have nothing riding on this (the only Imperial forces I could foresee myself making already have stories), so feel free to tell me if you think that the Inquisition would make Dresden look like a tamed campfire compared to this; ready?

    Essentially, World X believes that the Emperor is only as strong as Humanity (potentially valid from a psychic standpoint), Humanity is only as strong as its planets, its planets only as strong as its peoples, and its peoples only as strong as the collections of individuals. World X believes that hard work and self-reflection (during hard work) are the keys to bettering oneself, and in infinitely small way, the Imperium and the Emperor. They are perfectionists in all things - in craft, in weaponry, and in war. They have a number of tactica, written by military philosophers, (while they were working hard) and their devoted populace understands the necessity to lay down their lives in service of the Imperium, because when they have attained a state where their courage supersedes their fear, they have attained the ultimate strength that they can devote to the Emperor.

    However, these ideas also come with what the Imperium might view as heretical superstition, such as the value of the human life (implicit in the belief that the Emperor is effectively Humanity incarnate) or that progress is acceptable.
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