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CptMetal
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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Sun Dec 18 2016, 22:54

BetrayTheWorld wrote:

The way I view DE is that they're basically super-hedonistic, technologically superior humans. Imagine humankind without religion-based morality, with highly advanced technology, and with no real law except might makes right. Then you'd have DE society.
Religion based morality? Pardon me? That kind of morality is what enables perfectly healthy and empathic people do the most cruel crap.

I think of them as a society of psychopaths. They don't feel empathy the way normal people feel it. They aren't affected by it, they know to do read people and to manipulate them but they don't have real empathy. A psychopath is most likely a functional member of society and may even be successful with wife and kids but the empathic Rules are more learned live vocabulary instead of felt. Psychopaths tend to put themselves first and tend to analyze people and relationships in terms of usefulness. All of that sounds really Dark Eldar for me.

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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Mon Dec 19 2016, 01:51

CptMetal wrote:
BetrayTheWorld wrote:

The way I view DE is that they're basically super-hedonistic, technologically superior humans. Imagine humankind without religion-based morality, with highly advanced technology, and with no real law except might makes right. Then you'd have DE society.
Religion based morality? Pardon me? That kind of morality is what enables perfectly healthy and empathic people do the most cruel crap.

I think of them as a society of psychopaths. They don't feel empathy the way normal people feel it. They aren't affected by it, they know to do read people and to manipulate them but they don't have real empathy. A psychopath is most likely a functional member of society and may even be successful with wife and kids but the empathic Rules are more learned live vocabulary instead of felt. Psychopaths tend to put themselves first and tend to analyze people and relationships in terms of usefulness. All of that sounds really Dark Eldar for me.

I did balk at that phrase initially, but to be honest so much of our culture has roots at some point somewhere in something religious that it would be next to impossible to disentangle it. It's less a 'we follow the rules of the holy book' thing, more of a 'our morality has evolved alongside our society over thousands of thousands of years, and religion has been intertwined with our society so much that it's an inseparable part of it'.

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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Mon Dec 19 2016, 07:08

Ynneadwraith wrote:

I did balk at that phrase initially, but to be honest so much of our culture has roots at some point somewhere in something religious that it would be next to impossible to disentangle it. It's less a 'we follow the rules of the holy book' thing, more of a 'our morality has evolved alongside our society over thousands of thousands of years, and religion has been intertwined with our society so much that it's an inseparable part of it'.
But the less religious we are becoming the more moral we are. Because we humans possess empathy due to our mirror neurons. People in the dark ages were much less moral than we are today. That brings us to the question: what is morality? There can only be subjective morality and the society as a whole agrees on something. Our religious ancestors would be barbarians for us today.

It's safe to say that religion is entwined with our society but luckily, in most societies the influence of the religious is shrinking. And therefore the possibility to justify acts of cruelty with your religion.

The problem with the dark Eldar isn't that they don't possess a religion. Even if they did, they would be douchebag society. They are psychopaths and they put themselves first. They can and will work together but simply empathy isn't keeping them together.

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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Mon Dec 19 2016, 09:55

CptMetal wrote:
Ynneadwraith wrote:

I did balk at that phrase initially, but to be honest so much of our culture has roots at some point somewhere in something religious that it would be next to impossible to disentangle it. It's less a 'we follow the rules of the holy book' thing, more of a 'our morality has evolved alongside our society over thousands of thousands of years, and religion has been intertwined with our society so much that it's an inseparable part of it'.
But the less religious we are becoming the more moral we are. Because we humans possess empathy due to our mirror neurons. People in the dark ages were much less moral than we are today. That brings us to the question: what is morality? There can only be subjective morality and the society as a whole agrees on something. Our religious ancestors would be barbarians for us today.

It's safe to say that religion is entwined with our society but luckily, in most societies the influence of the religious is shrinking. And therefore the possibility to justify acts of cruelty with your religion.

The problem with the dark Eldar isn't that they don't possess a religion. Even if they did, they would be douchebag society. They are psychopaths and they put themselves first. They can and will work together but simply empathy isn't keeping them together.

You're absolutely right that morality is simply a construct of our current society. Similarly, people in the Dark Ages (or even something a lot closer like the Victorian times) would think that our modern, secular society was amoral.

Is it that the less religious we're becoming the more moral we are, or if morality is subjective is it just becoming closer to the morality that you (and I) hold to be true? Personally, I feel like if your morality comes from within then you're more moral, but it's difficult to disentangle that from the subjectivity of morality.

Call me cynical, but I feel like people in general will be perfectly able to do horrible things in the absence of religion goading them forwards (WW1, WW2, Berlin Wall...hell, Trump's Mexican wall while we're at it). Granted, the fewer societal divisions the harder it is to justify doing horrible things, so a step away from religion as a core source of identity would probably be a positive step.

Anyway, I get the feeling that this is going waaay off topic! I do agree that the Dark Eldar aren't amoral because they lack religion. I don't think the OP was suggesting that.

It's entirely possible that there are psychopathic and non-psychopathic Dark Eldar, or that none of them are or that all of them are. Each one is equally likely, given the physical, psychological and spiritual (important in the 40k universe) events that have shaped their society.

Personally, I'm conflicted. They are biologically identical to Craftworld Eldar. Plus, unlike the Craftworlders they feel their emotions to the full breadth of their ability. So, were they willing to, they could be able to feel empathy much more deeply than we are capable. However, their society is one that abhors (and violently punishes) any display of weakness. So, it would be very risky to be empathetic in that sort of society, so you basically get a society full of learned psychopaths.

However, it's probable that the eldar's sense of empathy is tied into their ability to psychically interact with each other (and other beings). If it is, then it would absolutely be the case that the Dark Eldar have a stunted or non-existent ability to feel empathy.

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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Mon Dec 19 2016, 12:11

There's stories of Dark Eldar getting wasted but then a buddy of theirs brings their hand to a haemonculi for ressurection, so there's some level of social trust or comraderie to them.

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If you've ever played EVE Online, I imagine Kabals to work in a very similar way to corporations in nullsec or wormhole space.

Hahah that is a really perfect description, down to people raiding for the sheer excitement of it. You even regrow from a vat after dying.

Attitude wise the Mad Max movies (Road Warrior to Fury Road) fit.
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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Tue Dec 20 2016, 13:56

@HotukoAndy: I agree that there HAS to be some level of empathy/loyalty/real relationships between them in order to function.

@ CptMetal & Ynead:

As for "religion-based morality", I was simply referring to our history, and where much of our morality is derived from. In western culture, it has traditionally been considered immoral to lie. In some asian cultures, lying is completely acceptable behavior in bartering, negotiations, etc. They even sometimes think if you're not lying, you're not trying, and that it's up to the buyer to make informed decisions not based on the word of the person attempting to sell.

And I disagree with your assertion that we're becoming more moral as a people. I see lying becoming a completely acceptable behavior in the modern day when it was far more shunned and shamed even 25 years ago. Today, if you say someone lied about something, even something really important, people don't even blink. It's considered no big deal, and even expected in certain circumstances. And as for other things you may consider "moral" in the modern day, who's to say I, or anyone else agrees with you? Morality is BASED on something. It isn't intrinsic to our existence, so it's entirely plausible that I wouldn't agree with your version of morality. For instance, many may consider abortion rights to be a matter of morality. But to do so without considering the opposing viewpoint is very narrow-minded, regardless of one's own particular viewpoint. Both sides support opposing views based on their own interpretation of what is "The Moral Thing" to do.

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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Tue Dec 20 2016, 15:17

I had thought we had witnessed "morality" in other species, like chimps and elephants. Cant recall where I saw that, so I cant post a link.

I will stay away from any religious discussions, since they are pointless and always result in someone being called Hitler.

So back a few posts, someone mentioned that DE were once quite psykic, and now they are not. One could assume that this is where they origionally developed their community building "morality". Then the Fall happened, DE no longer use psykic stuff, and are even more immoral now. No need to assume they are still the same they have always been. Humanity has changed over the last 100 years, space elves would probably also change over time
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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Tue Dec 20 2016, 15:58

DE are still psychic. They have to actively supress their psychic power to survive in the webway.

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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Tue Dec 20 2016, 18:00

BetrayTheWorld wrote:
@ CptMetal & Ynead:

As for "religion-based morality", I was simply referring to our history, and where much of our morality is derived from. In western culture, it has traditionally been considered immoral to lie. In some asian cultures, lying is completely acceptable behavior in bartering, negotiations, etc. They even sometimes think if you're not lying, you're not trying, and that it's up to the buyer to make informed decisions not based on the word of the person attempting to sell.

And I disagree with your assertion that we're becoming more moral as a people. I see lying becoming a completely acceptable behavior in the modern day when it was far more shunned and shamed even 25 years ago. Today, if you say someone lied about something, even something really important, people don't even blink. It's considered no big deal, and even expected in certain circumstances. And as for other things you may consider "moral" in the modern day, who's to say I, or anyone else agrees with you? Morality is BASED on something. It isn't intrinsic to our existence, so it's entirely plausible that I wouldn't agree with your version of morality. For instance, many may consider abortion rights to be a matter of morality. But to do so without considering the opposing viewpoint is very narrow-minded, regardless of one's own particular viewpoint. Both sides support opposing views based on their own interpretation of what is "The Moral Thing" to do.

Yeah I thought that was what you were getting at with that.

Agreed that morality is subjective and derived from the society around you. At its basest form, it's a set of rules that are held to be right by the majority of people in any given society.

From that perspective, Dark Eldar are the epitome of moral creatures. They're just not our morals they live by...

fisheyes wrote:
I had thought we had witnessed "morality" in other species, like chimps and elephants. Cant recall where I saw that, so I cant post a link.

Yeah that rings a bell too (been a while since my psych degree!). Lots of stuff about mutually beneficial behaviours, kin selection and other such stuff. Really, that's the basis for our morality too: it's a mechanism by which you can increase the chances of your offspring surviving and thriving. If everyone doesn't go out murdering people and suchlike, then life's better for everyone's children. Hence it's generally frowned upon to go out murdering people Wink

fisheyes wrote:

So back a few posts, someone mentioned that DE were once quite psykic, and now they are not. One could assume that this is where they origionally developed their community building "morality". Then the Fall happened, DE no longer use psykic stuff, and are even more immoral now. No need to assume they are still the same they have always been. Humanity has changed over the last 100 years, space elves would probably also change over time

Agreed that we'd have seen a cultural evolution since the Fall. Even though the Eldar are long-lived (and Dark Eldar doubly so), 10,000 years is still a long time for any changes to have a ripple of different effects.

BetrayTheWorld wrote:
DE are still psychic. They have to actively supress their psychic power to survive in the webway.

Yeah the events of the Path novels support that, with a Dark Eldar moving to live in Craftowrld society (which would be massively impractical without psychic ability as almost all of their tech is psychically activated).

However, whether they're incapable or supressed, the effect is still the same: they can't connect to other beings psychically.

For a race that's evolved with that ability to connect directly to other beings, that sort of change would have a telling effect on how they view other creatures. Perhaps they feel empathy in the same way us humans do, but for the eldar who are used to (biologically speaking) being able to look directly into something's mind and see (even feel) specifically what it's thinking, that would be a massive step down.

It'd be analogous to the difference between how you feel about a pet dog and that dog toy that yaps and does back flips. Would you particularly care if you trod on the yappy electric thing and broke it? Probably not, you'd just go get another one...

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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Wed Dec 21 2016, 07:48

Ynneadwraith wrote:

For a race that's evolved with that ability to connect directly to other beings, that sort of change would have a telling effect on how they view other creatures. Perhaps they feel empathy in the same way us humans do, but for the eldar who are used to (biologically speaking) being able to look directly into something's mind and see (even feel) specifically what it's thinking, that would be a massive step down.

In the 40k universe, a whole race being psykers doesn't necessarily mean they can all read each other's thoughts. The way their power manifests when untrained could be different from person to person, and it's not unthinkable that other Eldar would inately have psychic defense against someone peering into their thoughts, so we don't really know whether they required that as a part of their empathy or not.

It's all just conjecture, but what is NOT conjecture is that we're told they feel things like love, compassion, lust, etc to a degree beyond that of humanity, but that it's easier for them to derive their "life force" from pain, fear, and anguish because they're more extreme emotions.

All dark eldar are is Eldar from before the fall, who happened to live in the webway when the eye of terror formed. The "thirst" that sustains them is new, but aside from that, they haven't really physically changed. They altered their behavior to be able to survive in the webway, but remain biologically eldar. The core difference between Eldar and Dark Eldar is a philosophical one, rather than a physical one. And one has a better codex than the other, but I digress...

10,000 years isn't really enough to actually mutate into a new species anyhow, as if reality mattered. Wink

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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Thu Dec 22 2016, 08:36

Wall of text:

What hasn't been mentioned yet is how criminal organizations function. They're a great model for how a DE society would function. Each Kabal is part noble house, part criminal cartel and part collectivist industrial-complex. You join a Kabal because the only alternatives are to join the Hellion gangs or become a slave. You can try and join the ranks of the Incubi or join he Scourge fraternities, maybe try and join the Wych cults or ranks of the Haemonculi, but you need skill and luck for all of those. For the great majority you either join a Kabal and prove your worth or you become enslaved. There are few options in the Dark City. But all of these different societies/organizations couldn't function without some sense of loyalty and shared experience. The DE for all their personality faults are not stupid. You cannot organize sentient beings without provide an organising principle for them to gather around. The Kabals would enforce loyalty through merciless punishment for failure and through reward for success. Promotions bind you to the Kabal by investing you personally in its well-being. This is the fundamental root of civilization and social organization - personal investment born of individual necessity. Look at how real world cults operate, or abusive families. They function socially even when organized by psychopaths and even when abuse is the central feature of them. Look at Stockholm Syndrome, abuse victims defending their abusers. We talk about morals and ethics like they're some kind of central feature of human or civilized societies. They're not. They're social constructs. Empathy itself is nothing more than an extension of the parent-child bond, but even this is secondary to survival. There are many many accounts of parents murdering their own children when conditions weren't fit for ensuring their survival. These include non-healthy children being abandoned at birth, children being murdered when societies are conquered by enemies and even children being murdered because of fear of them being from the wrong father. Our morals and ethics are learned, as would be the Eldar morals and ethics. Their society can function perfectly well, even if it is inherently abusive and pathalogically predatory. We have this modern notion that everybody should be happy and that feelings are the primary import of society. At no time in human history, save right now, in the western world, has the pursuit of happiness and concern for others feelings been the norm. Life for humans for 99.9% of it's existence was harsh and mostly horrible. If you weren't lucky to be born (or become) a king or similar then you're life was crap. You probably broke your back in the field working to enrich somebody of a higher station than you. From our modern perspective we judge societies by how nice they are, but this isn't how societies formed. It isn't even the primary function of them. Genetic survival is the purpose of social organization. You can see this in how quickly humans switched from nomadic to sedentary lifestyles once it became possible to harvest grasses in the fertile crescent. Within a handful of generations it became possible for human societies to sustain many times the number of individuals and so humans fundamentally adapted to the new social organization. This is because humans (and any other sentient creature that evolves out there in the universe) must be adaptable to survive long enough to evolve sentience. Even the Eldar would have shared these same traits when the Old Ones found them. The Eldar may have been uplifted but they would have required this same adaptability to be viable candidates.

DE society can function perfectly well without what we call morals and ethics. Individuals will simply do what they need to do to survive. Whether or not they like it is irrelevant. They just need to survive from day-to-day. Those at the top are going to have a great time, like those at the top of every other social pyramid ever. But they have to watch their backs because those who have power always need to watch their backs because somebody else will always want to take it. Why is it that there is no social hierarchy anywhere where those at the top are safe from the ambition of those below? Whether your system is a monarchy, democracy, papacy, corporate, scout master, there is always somebody who wants your position. Its because social hierarchy increases the chances of genetic survival and the closer to the top you are the higher the chances of that happening. Social creatures instinctively want to be at the top of the pyramid. This is why collectivism cannot work - they tear themselves apart because they contradict human nature. But this nature isn't going to be limited to humans. It's the fundamental driving force of evolution - the selfish gene so-to-speak.

DE society will do fine despite how insane it is. If those sociopaths who keep their own offspring locked in basements for decades and who use their own family members to hunt for victims are any indication of how this can work on the micro level then there's no reason why it couldn't work on the macro level. Plenty of societies have normalised a whole range of atrocities over the centuries, sometimes justified by very flimsy excuses.

The problem people are having with understanding the DE is less a problem of their fictional existence and more a fundamental misunderstanding of what human behaviour/morality actually is. When people say they can't understand why people would do cruel things, it's because they don't understand what behaviour actually is. It's interesting that whilst people with high empathy are very good at sympathising with others and understanding how they feel those with zero empathy - the true psychopaths are considerably better at understanding and predicting human behaviour. Just as predator animals understand the behaviour of their prey, psychopaths understand the behaviour of theirs. This shows us that behaviour itself is rooted in our biology and evolution because these individuals cannot empathise with other individuals. They cannot gain their understand through sharing with or bonding with other individuals. They gain their insight through observation and study - human behaviour is quantifiable. Our moral paradigms are the polar opposite - rooted in mythologies and spiritualism that are ultimately traced back to our earliest imaginations, our fears and needs. Morals and ethics are social constructs that only intersect with biological and evolutionary principles sometimes. Thus they're a byproduct of societies rather than the organizing principle of societies. DE can do fine without them. They can also enjoy good art and be stirred emotionally without them.

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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Thu Dec 22 2016, 16:59

I don't disagree that they are a by-product of society. we adopt morals because we need to survive as a collective, there isn't anything metaphysical about this.

However no society functions as an association of individuals. We are inherently gregarious, and require social nourishment through group identity and protection, this holds for all of human history.

I'm also not saying that our society is particularly moral or empathic, but the need for affection and group identity is very important for people, exactly like the gangs you mentioned.

I think the word empathy throws people off. It isn't about being touchy/feely, its about kinship and recognition. These things must exist in any society, especially one as advanced as the Eldar, otherwise you have no collective endeavour. Collective endeavour which is patently present, even in Commorragh.

Anyway, I don't think we are disagreeing too much.

I think everyone posting agrees that the DE aren't just blindly pursuing torture and killing, they obviously have an advanced, self-regulating society, which I think could be expanded on more in the codices.

It must be interesting what the difference is between the Trueborn and the Vatborn, what do the Trueborn claim is superior about their lineage? There is clearly a concept of history, familial links and historical superiority there. Obviously there are relationships as well. And as for being stirred emotionally? Especially in a romantic context (which clearly exists), this would be tremendously difficult without something approaching empathy.
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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Thu Dec 22 2016, 20:56

BetrayTheWorld wrote:
Ynneadwraith wrote:

For a race that's evolved with that ability to connect directly to other beings, that sort of change would have a telling effect on how they view other creatures. Perhaps they feel empathy in the same way us humans do, but for the eldar who are used to (biologically speaking) being able to look directly into something's mind and see (even feel) specifically what it's thinking, that would be a massive step down.

In the 40k universe, a whole race being psykers doesn't necessarily mean they can all read each other's thoughts. The way their power manifests when untrained could be different from person to person, and it's not unthinkable that other Eldar would inately have psychic defense against someone peering into their thoughts, so we don't really know whether they required that as a part of their empathy or not.

It's all just conjecture, but what is NOT conjecture is that we're told they feel things like love, compassion, lust, etc to a degree beyond that of humanity, but that it's easier for them to derive their "life force" from pain, fear, and anguish because they're more extreme emotions.

All dark eldar are is Eldar from before the fall, who happened to live in the webway when the eye of terror formed. The "thirst" that sustains them is new, but aside from that, they haven't really physically changed. They altered their behavior to be able to survive in the webway, but remain biologically eldar. The core difference between Eldar and Dark Eldar is a philosophical one, rather than a physical one. And one has a better codex than the other, but I digress...

10,000 years isn't really enough to actually mutate into a new species anyhow, as if reality mattered. Wink

True, but from snippets of the Asuryan book it's evident that eldar can and do psychically connect with one another (whether that's thought-reading or not it doesn't say). Again, it's all conjecture but for me simply the ability to connect with another being's mind directly would allow for a more profound empathy than anything humans are capable of (the definition of empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another).

Losing that ability, whether it be biologically* or culturally, would have a profound effect on how you'd think about other beings.

However, you are absolutely right in saying that Dark Eldar must be capable of feeling love, compassion etc., because it's stated that those emotions can sustain them. Therefore, they cannot all be true psychopaths (incapable of empathy).

*definitely agree with you that Dark Eldar are pretty much genetically identical to normal Eldar. 10,000 years probably isn't enough time to differentiate them genetically, although there is mounting evidence that evolution can occur very, very rapidly given significant enough environmental pressures. However, with a species as thoroughly K-selected (low birth rate, high investment in offspring) as the Eldar, I doubt they'd be evolving at a fast rate no matter what the pressures (unless the Haemonculi have been messign about with their genome).

Demantiae wrote:
Wall of text:

Spoiler:
 

Wow, you're not wrong! Wink

On both fronts actually. I absolutely agree with you that it's eminently possible to construct a functioning society without the requirement for its citizens to be capable of empathy, compassion or any other emotion that allows them to connect emotionally with each other. The only requirement for a society to function is that it is more beneficial for people to be part of it than not (or, more specifically, for it to improve the chances of their offspring surviving).

I would say that it's unlikely for a society to evolve in that way. There's a reason we've evolved the ability to feel empathy. It's a very powerful tool for working together, which is a very useful survival strategy. However, it's eminently possible to work together without that requirement.

Dubh wrote:
I don't disagree that they are a by-product of society. we adopt morals because we need to survive as a collective, there isn't anything metaphysical about this.

However no society functions as an association of individuals. We are inherently gregarious, and require social nourishment through group identity and protection, this holds for all of human history.

I'm also not saying that our society is particularly moral or empathic, but the need for affection and group identity is very important for people, exactly like the gangs you mentioned.

I think the word empathy throws people off. It isn't about being touchy/feely, its about kinship and recognition. These things must exist in any society, especially one as advanced as the Eldar, otherwise you have no collective endeavour. Collective endeavour which is patently present, even in Commorragh.

Anyway, I don't think we are disagreeing too much.

I think everyone posting agrees that the DE aren't just blindly pursuing torture and killing, they obviously have an advanced, self-regulating society, which I think could be expanded on more in the codices.

It must be interesting what the difference is between the Trueborn and the Vatborn, what do the Trueborn claim is superior about their lineage? There is clearly a concept of history, familial links and historical superiority there. Obviously there are relationships as well. And as for being stirred emotionally? Especially in a romantic context (which clearly exists), this would be tremendously difficult without something approaching empathy.

No society we know of currently functions as a collection of individuals, but we've got a pretty small sample to be working with.

Actually, I'm not certain that's right either. You can look at the animal world for examples. I can say with almost utmost conviction that bees, wasps and ants are incapable of empathy (they're not even close to sentience, so they don't even know how they feel let alone others!). However, they have some of the most complex and successful societies we know of.

However, I would agree with you (and near everyone else) that the Dark Eldar are not mindless psychopathic killers who feel nothing but hunger for torture.

Personally, I'm of the opinion that their current culture enforces a sort of learned psychopathy upon its citizens, where displays of compassion or empathy are ruthlessly punished (unless, of course, you're powerful enough to be immune from that punishment. Hence why Vect can get away with displaying affection towards Lelith).

Definitely agreed that the Codex could really benefit from delving a little more into their culture (in an intelligent way of course).

I wonder if the Path novels give us any insight. I've always thought that Gav Thorpe has a good grasp of what the eldar are like, and the depth of thought to think through the implications od what's said.

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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Thu Dec 22 2016, 23:30

Yea it's a super interesting discussion. For some discussions on empathy (or it's equivalent - essentially learned cooperation) in animals I recommend the primatologist Frans De Waal's books. His work is mainly on primates, specifically with regard to cooperation, aversion to inequality, conflict resolution resource-sharing - but he has plenty on other species too.

I think I probably picked the wrong word with empathy - but yes we are all agreed that the DE psyche as per the codex is broadly insufficient to lay the foundations of the society they are described as having built. tl;dr there must be more to them Wink

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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Thu Dec 22 2016, 23:32

Demantiae wrote:

You join a Kabal because the only alternatives are to join the Hellion gangs or become a slave.

Uh, I don't think you're correct here. Where does it insinuate that this is the case? I know that we, as players of a game, are presented factions as a series of archetypes in the form of 40k units, and it's easy to view them only through that lens, but I think it's a mistake to assume that the ONLY professions on commoragh are the units presented in the books. Every society has things they want, things they need, places they live, services they require, etc. I know it might not be the most exciting to think about these things, but these things MUST exist in DE society:

Traders
Architects
Craftsmen
Mechanics
Chefs(Do DE eat?)
Cashiers
Fluffers
Prostitutes
And every other mundane job that would hold value in a society that values goods and services.


No one talks about the DE shoe salesman, or the reaver mechanic, or the "potion" peddler because they're not very relevant to the game we all play, but I imagine they have to exist, and by existing, they basically cause your theory to implode. Now, it's entirely possible, even likely, that many of these mundane workers are affiliated with, and probably pay for protection to a Kabal. In that way, your "criminal empire" analogy is probably a good one. Essentially, the law that exists in any given area of the webway is whatever the strongest faction/kabal/gang in that area is capable of enforcing. But for every Kabalite warrior or Reaver thug, there are probably 3 Dark Eldar Joe Hammer swingers. Vect himself was a miner at one point, if I recall correctly(although forced into it through slavery, I believe).

For the record, none of the books go into great detail about or even mention a shoe salesmen from the Imperium of man, Tau, or Heretic worlds either. But basically, almost every faction in 40k comes from a society where goods and services have value. And in any society where goods and services have value, relationships and empathy are sure to exist as well. Relationships are important to ensure you don't get ripped off every time you try to buy/sell things, and empathy is important to determining things like, when you're about to get robbed.

Even Necrons value "stuff", as shown by the existence and story of the collector, which means that among the self-aware, true AI necrons there is sure to be some necron salesman somewhere who specializes in getting other self-aware necrons things they want. Even orks value goods and services, as evidenced by the existence of doks and meks, who are smaller, weaker and would otherwise be bullied/murdered by bigger, meaner orks prior to developing their non-skull cracking talents to a useful level.

Essentially, the only society that doesn't value goods and services, and therefore doesn't necessarily require empathy/relationships is going to be a society that doesn't use tools, relying completely on their own bodies to hunt, dig/build housing, stay warm, stop attacks against them, etc. That only applies to Tyranids and C'Tans that I know of.

Ynneadwraith wrote:

Personally, I'm of the opinion that their current culture enforces a sort of learned psychopathy upon its citizens, where displays of compassion or empathy are ruthlessly punished (unless, of course, you're powerful enough to be immune from that punishment.

Just to be clear here, you're speaking in hyperbole, right? I mean, there is no ACTUAL punishment in their culture for displays of compassion or empathy that I know of. It's only that people who want what you have will use whatever they can against you, and if they know you care for X, they can exploit that weakness, right?

Or is there an actual LAW I missed in some obscure book somewhere? Mostly just clarifying for other readers who might take your words literally.

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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Fri Dec 23 2016, 00:47

Dubh wrote:
Yea it's a super interesting discussion. For some discussions on empathy (or it's equivalent - essentially learned cooperation) in animals I recommend the primatologist Frans De Waal's books. His work is mainly on primates, specifically with regard to cooperation, aversion to inequality, conflict resolution resource-sharing - but he has plenty on other species too.

I think I probably picked the wrong word with empathy - but yes we are all agreed that the DE psyche as per the codex is broadly insufficient to lay the foundations of the society they are described as having built. tl;dr there must be more to them Wink


Neat I'll look him up Smile it's been a while since I read up on anything evo-psych related Smile

Definitely agreed on the 'there must be more to them' front.

BetrayTheWorld wrote:
Demantiae wrote:

You join a Kabal because the only alternatives are to join the Hellion gangs or become a slave.

Uh, I don't think you're correct here. Where does it insinuate that this is the case? I know that we, as players of a game, are presented factions as a series of archetypes in the form of 40k units, and it's easy to view them only through that lens, but I think it's a mistake to assume that the ONLY professions on commoragh are the units presented in the books. Every society has things they want, things they need, places they live, services they require, etc. I know it might not be the most exciting to think about these things, but these things MUST exist in DE society:

Traders
Architects
Craftsmen
Mechanics
Chefs(Do DE eat?)
Cashiers
Fluffers
Prostitutes
And every other mundane job that would hold value in a society that values goods and services.


No one talks about the DE shoe salesman, or the reaver mechanic, or the "potion" peddler because they're not very relevant to the game we all play, but I imagine they have to exist, and by existing, they basically cause your theory to implode. Now, it's entirely possible, even likely, that many of these mundane workers are affiliated with, and probably pay for protection to a Kabal. In that way, your "criminal empire" analogy is probably a good one. Essentially, the law that exists in any given area of the webway is whatever the strongest faction/kabal/gang in that area is capable of enforcing. But for every Kabalite warrior or Reaver thug, there are probably 3 Dark Eldar Joe Hammer swingers. Vect himself was a miner at one point, if I recall correctly(although forced into it through slavery, I believe).

For the record, none of the books go into great detail about or even mention a shoe salesmen from the Imperium of man, Tau, or Heretic worlds either. But basically, almost every faction in 40k comes from a society where goods and services have value. And in any society where goods and services have value, relationships and empathy are sure to exist as well. Relationships are important to ensure you don't get ripped off every time you try to buy/sell things, and empathy is important to determining things like, when you're about to get robbed.

Even Necrons value "stuff", as shown by the existence and story of the collector, which means that among the self-aware, true AI necrons there is sure to be some necron salesman somewhere who specializes in getting other self-aware necrons things they want. Even orks value goods and services, as evidenced by the existence of doks and meks, who are smaller, weaker and would otherwise be bullied/murdered by bigger, meaner orks prior to developing their non-skull cracking talents to a useful level.

Essentially, the only society that doesn't value goods and services, and therefore doesn't necessarily require empathy/relationships is going to be a society that doesn't use tools, relying completely on their own bodies to hunt, dig/build housing, stay warm, stop attacks against them, etc. That only applies to Tyranids and C'Tans that I know of.

Ynneadwraith wrote:

Personally, I'm of the opinion that their current culture enforces a sort of learned psychopathy upon its citizens, where displays of compassion or empathy are ruthlessly punished (unless, of course, you're powerful enough to be immune from that punishment.

Just to be clear here, you're speaking in hyperbole, right? I mean, there is no ACTUAL punishment in their culture for displays of compassion or empathy that I know of. It's only that people who want what you have will use whatever they can against you, and if they know you care for X, they can exploit that weakness, right?

Or is there an actual LAW I missed in some obscure book somewhere? Mostly just clarifying for other readers who might take your words literally.

Yeah you've got me right. It's not that there is any sort of specific law against it, it's more that the structure of their society is extremely punishing to those who display weakness or show what their vulnerabilities are. That's a better way of putting it.

I was under the impression that the majority of the more menial/civilian work in Dark Eldar society was undertaken by slave labour (be that xeno or Dark Eldar slaves), and that the choice was basically 'find some protection or become a slave'.

I do like the idea of it being closer to a sort of mafia culture though. Where while you may not be specifically part of a Kabal, you can be under its protection. Due to the lack of any firm laws (aside form no psykers), they can ask pretty much whatever they want of you in payment for that protection, but it's better than the alternative. Also, I'd definitely agree with you that there would be Dark Eldar craftsmen. It's known that they make their own Incubi warsuits, so it's definitely a learned skill in the Dark City (as opposed to all the tech coming from trade with the Haemonculi). However, it would be possible for all the craftsmen to be part of a Kabal. As I see it, Kabals are criminal organisations that would encompass a whole host of useful people Smile

Just one small thing though. You definitely don't need empathy to form relationships (in the context of interpersonal ones rather than romantic), nor to trade effectively, nor to be a fully functional member of society. Psychopaths completely lack empathy, yet are perfectly capable of all of those things (in the case of trading, they tend to be better at it!). Society works because it's mutually beneficial for members of the society to be in it, not because they can understand how other people are feeling. Society could function perfectly well if everyone was a psychopath (although there's likely be a couple of changes!).

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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Fri Dec 23 2016, 01:30

BetrayTheWorld wrote:
Demantiae wrote:

You join a Kabal because the only alternatives are to join the Hellion gangs or become a slave.

Uh, I don't think you're correct here. Where does it insinuate that this is the case? I know that we, as players of a game, are presented factions as a series of archetypes in the form of 40k units, and it's easy to view them only through that lens, but I think it's a mistake to assume that the ONLY professions on commoragh are the units presented in the books.

If I recall correctly, joining a Kabal may not be as easy as one thinks. Also, there are individuals, but without a Kabal backing them up you are a noname that can be killed without any consequences. I think one main character in the books was just a "hired associate".


BetrayTheWorld wrote:
Every society has things they want, things they need, places they live, services they require, etc. I know it might not be the most exciting to think about these things, but these things MUST exist in DE society:

Traders
Architects
Craftsmen
Mechanics
Chefs(Do DE eat?)
Cashiers
Fluffers
Prostitutes
And every other mundane job that would hold value in a society that values goods and services.

Naturally so, but most of these can easily be achieved simply with slaves. I also can confirm that Dark Eldar eat. In fact, at the end of the first DE novels, there was a big banquet. And technology could also explain other parts.


BetrayTheWorld wrote:
No one talks about the DE shoe salesman, or the reaver mechanic, or the "potion" peddler because they're not very relevant to the game we all play, but I imagine they have to exist, and by existing, they basically cause your theory to implode. Now, it's entirely possible, even likely, that many of these mundane workers are affiliated with, and probably pay for protection to a Kabal. In that way, your "criminal empire" analogy is probably a good one. Essentially, the law that exists in any given area of the webway is whatever the strongest faction/kabal/gang in that area is capable of enforcing. But for every Kabalite warrior or Reaver thug, there are probably 3 Dark Eldar Joe Hammer swingers. Vect himself was a miner at one point, if I recall correctly(although forced into it through slavery, I believe).

Exactly, slavery. I also recall Phil Kelly saying that most production is simply done by slaves and that in a very wasteful manner. Probably only one in a thousand Splinter Rifles really works satisfactory, but with enough slaves that ratio doesn't matter.

Of course, not everything is only made from slaves, if I may quote the Codex: "Khromys is an exceptionally skilled artisan in the field of weaponsmanufacture, and a blade or pistol bearing her signature mark will sell for a huge price in slaves and souls."

It makes sense that not every Dark Eldar is a warrior. Back in ancient greek, even Sparta could not have afforded not having any civilian jobs so to say.

And it is also stated that going on a raid is a privilege. The non-plus ultra in all of adrenaline-kicks. And all the units we field come directly from the very top of the Commorite food-chain. Our fluff covers why we need those raids. Not the economic system that is prevalent in Commorragh.


Still, why bother doing something by hand when a slave does it for free?
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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Fri Dec 23 2016, 02:09

That's easy and the only reason: My work is inherently more valuable then theirs, because if I couldn't pull off that creative spark it wouldn't be worth my while to try in the first place.

As the old mon'keigh saying goes: If you want something done right you do it yourself.

or another way to look at it would be after millenia of artisenal work, you're slaves will have figured out a way to kill you with their trade unless you know their trade well enough to see through their treachery.

It's 7d chess and everything is coming up milhouse.
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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Mon Dec 26 2016, 06:01

"Slaves build our stuff and 99/100 of the time it's shoddy" struck me as a really odd piece of their fluff. It's already grimdark enough that they need to enslave sentient beings to eat their souls and live forever/regenerate from a hand.


I would've preferred if they highly valued personal craftsmanship, like every Kabalite builds/repairs their own gear. It would also open up fluff/design space for things like "This Kabal is especially noted for their craftsmanship, all their sybarites/trueborn/archons have master crafted weapons".

Quote :
It makes sense that not every Dark Eldar is a warrior.
Humorously that makes Commoragh a more peaceful society than a Craftworld where every single adult is a trained Guardian ready for war.
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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Mon Dec 26 2016, 06:48

Quote :
It makes sense that not every Dark Eldar is a warrior. Back in ancient greek, even Sparta could not have afforded not having any civilian jobs so to say.

The Spartans also kept their second class populations as slaves and periodically weeded out the smarter ones. However, they were inevitably conquered by the Athenians who set them free.

This discussion of slavery brings up opportunity cost. It's basically "what am I giving up in order to have something." In the case of the Dark Eldar it would be, what are they losing by having a slave do something? Slaves need to eat, places to sleep, they need to be taken care of. Since they're used in trading they are presumably valuable, and while their misery might be used to extract entertainment and sustenance for their masters, they want to be kept more or less healthy and productive, especially if they are skilled. A slave who manufactures something in an assembly line is more or less expendable as their work requires zero skill, only long hours (see also: China). Those are the ones being killed for looking above waist level, there is a low opportunity cost in losing a slave for momentary pleasure. However, a craftsman, a housekeeper, an animal handler, these are skilled workers who require training and would therefore be more valuable, even worth protecting. There are examples of this all throughout history, with some slaves even having slaves of their own. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the Dark Eldar slaves were kept as status symbols.

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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Mon Dec 26 2016, 10:57

One would assume that the skilled slaves are valuable but the dark Eldar are so bad in restricting themselves and not following their immediate desires, that they probably just kill a slave for fun anyway. And that's why their society is doomed in the long run.

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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Mon Dec 26 2016, 17:01

Ynneadwraith wrote:
Due to the lack of any firm laws (aside form no psykers), they can ask pretty much whatever they want of you in payment for that protection, but it's better than the alternative.

Well, not exactly. It'd still basically be like a capitalist free market, because if one Kabal asks too much from their craftsmen for "protection", those craftsmen just seek protection from a Kabal that gives them a better deal.

Ynneadwraith wrote:
You definitely don't need empathy to form relationships, nor to trade effectively, nor to be a fully functional member of society. Psychopaths completely lack empathy, yet are perfectly capable of all of those things (in the case of trading, they tend to be better at it!).

I agree with this part of what you said, but don't agree with the second part of the paragraph. The reason psychopaths can function in society, and are even better in some aspects of society(like sales), is because the rest of society, by and large, are NOT psychopaths. It's estimated that 1 out of 100 people are psychopaths. Psychopaths end up having their greatest problems when they run into OTHER psychopaths. See, the rest of society aren't so "me" focused that they can't let go of it for the briefest of moments. That allows the majority of people to ignore the signs that they're dealing with a psychopath, and just move forward with a deal, even if it isn't structured 100% in their favor. A psychopath, on the other hand, is constantly looking out for themselves, and has a huge problem giving any ground to someone else once they've made up their mind. So things like negotiations would be nearly impossible with a society of psychopaths. Virtually every meetup to buy or sell would devolve into a combat, because neither side would have showed up at the meeting if they didn't think they had the power to enforce their price demands. I could go on and on about this scenario and why it wouldn't work, but I think I've sufficiently pointed out the inherent problem with a society of psychopaths. They're selfish and stubborn to a degree most people will NEVER be able to comprehend.



The Strange Dark One wrote:

If I recall correctly, joining a Kabal may not be as easy as one thinks. Also, there are individuals, but without a Kabal backing them up you are a noname that can be killed without any consequences. I think one main character in the books was just a "hired associate".

Think like a mob boss. You don't have to "join" a kabal to be useful to one. There may be people who aren't part of your Kabal, but who are very useful to you, and so you afford them protection. If one of your kabalite warriors killed the guy, there'd be consequences. It might be in the form of forfeiting his share of loot on the next 3 raids or something, but he'd pay for it one way or another.


The Strange Dark One wrote:
Exactly, slavery. I also recall Phil Kelly saying that most production is simply done by slaves and that in a very wasteful manner. Probably only one in a thousand Splinter Rifles really works satisfactory, but with enough slaves that ratio doesn't matter.

Do you have a source on this somewhere? Almost everything I recall reading about DE weapons and vehicles talks about how well they're made, how they're "sleek", highly advanced, terrifyingly accurate, etc. And this is mostly from the only DE codex confirmed to have been written by Phil Kelly.

Even Ynead's post above makes a reference to how valuable the work of a non-slave skilled craftsman is above. Slaves are likely used for the most rudimentary of tasks: Pushing wheelbarrows, carrying water buckets, mining ore, feeding animals, getting killed by Wyches in the arena, and so on. Occasionally they may have slaves that are very attractive or skilled in cooking and/or ettiquette so that they may be suitable to serve as personal house servants or sex slaves. You may even have slaves that are skilled in a craft, like making firearms. But they're a slave. You'll never get their best work, because they have no incentive to put passion into their work. They will do the minimum necessary to avoid punishment, and that minimum can't be their best, or their owner will end up with a bunch of dead slaves and shoddy work.

To the contrary, what I've read talks about how amazing DE craftsmanship is, how Haemonculi are basically the premiere scientists/engineers of DE society, and how their advanced skills in science and technology are so superior that they appear "arcane" or "magical" in nature.(Hence the "arcane wargear" section of the codex.

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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Mon Dec 26 2016, 18:33

As explained in Phill Kelly's round with developers DE society exist in system of bounds and counter-forces. In essence they cant all go on killing spree because of the consequences. Because if you kill this guy who is sworned to Kabal, his boss will have to show that they wont accept disrespect and payback immediately. If they dont do it - they will lose support among their subjects, cause they will feel loss of security. And security is a primal need. Why the hell Kabalite warrior will hang around Kabal, other then access to painthings and security in numbers.

Its kinda like how anarchic and not lawed based societies works on earth by the way.

Assassination yes, outright killing is a direct challenge. And there is no war if there is assured destruction of both sides. Naturally stronger Kabals dominate and destroy weaker ones, Wych Cults hold on to sponsor Kabals and everyone just simply afraid of Haemunculi. Scourges just fly to high, Reavers will likely kill non Reaver then the other way around, cause you know, speeeeeed. Mandrakes well, you get it. Try kill those things in Commoragh, you'l end up in some dark place without a body below your neck.

Natural Selection in Dark Eldar society already conculded, only groups and personas who already can stay live continue to do so. Pure meritocracy in cruel shadowy hell of eternal paranoia and eternal hunger for pain. No wonder they are hedonists, they must need a lot of steam to blow.

Also system has external management in the face of Vect, who devised and control it from the very beginning. He wont simply allow his personal kingdom to disintegrate so he plan in advance.

Thats why Raids are so popular among Dark Eldar, its taking away leash and just enjoying spree of destruction without any consequences. Just pure souls and pain.

Nothing to do with morale. Morale don't apply to lesser beings, you don't feel morale to chicken or a bug. And as far as Dark Eldar are concerned - everyone is a lesser being Smile. They have massive superiority complex.

A moment of disagreeing on my part.

Quote :
You join a Kabal because the only alternatives are to join the Hellion gangs or become a slave. You can try and join the ranks of the Incubi or join he Scourge fraternities, maybe try and join the Wych cults or ranks of the Haemonculi, but you need skill and luck for all of those. For the great majority you either join a Kabal and prove your worth or you become enslaved.

The Kabals arent massive percent of population, its elite, people at the top. It was mentioned by the developers. And slavery isnt needed when there is massive demand of pain and prisoners that will never be sated. And you, Kabal, is the only provider. There is no need for slavery, you can pick the best and allow them to work for you, and they will gladly do so without any slavery. Kinda like modern capitalism.

Slavery wont do too much good for Darl Eldar, they will become mindless husks without victims and raw emotions. Some i guess are used that way. But this is too much of a hassle to constantly replace them. Better use fellow Dark Eldar as slave-drivers, overseers, guards, servants, they will pick a bit of your share, but will yield more results. I guess thats majority of non-Kabal profession in Commoragh.

Quote :
You'll never get their best work, because they have no incentive to put passion into their work. They will do the minimum necessary to avoid punishment

But the punishment is the point of slavery...espcially in Dark Eldar society. They need beings to suffer all the time, constantly, at every point. There will always be punishment. And through those 'business-process' based on punishment and pain they get their results. Material gains and pain. Sick bastards )

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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Tue Dec 27 2016, 17:21

Azdrubael wrote:
As explained in Phill Kelly's round with developers DE society exist in system of bounds and counter-forces. In essence they cant all go on killing spree because of the consequences. Because if you kill this guy who is sworned to Kabal, his boss will have to show that they wont accept disrespect and payback immediately.

Do you have any sort of link to this "round" or discussion with Phil Kelly so that I can read or hear what he said directly? It's difficult to tell what parts of what you're saying are meant to be quotes, and what parts you are expounding your interpretation of what he said.

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PostSubject: Re: DE Morality & Empathy   Tue Dec 27 2016, 18:53

Quote :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHRIuhukkP8
From 0:40 they basically speak how Commoragh dont end up killing each other. They also tell this was major question when they created background.

Answer is:
1) You just dont go on killing spree without clean kill
2) They have regrowth after death
3) They have artificially boosted birth rate, cuase they do escalated vat raising of fetuses. And they do mating way more then craftworld eldar.

Thats why i dont like Dark Eldar book series. Its basically contradicts authors of codex. It is slaughter all the times all against all. And Kabalite subjugatee just idiotically allow their master to kill them. Picture doesnt connect.

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