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LtCmdr. Viego & Lt. Satan | The Philosophy Of Logic, part 2

Posted on Sun Mar 10th, 2019 @ 8:16pm by Lieutenant Satan

Mission: Permutations
Location: Cold Station Theta
Timeline: SD 241903.10

A smile and a chuckle graced Tristan's lips. "I never was much good at this game," he conceded, though suddenly the outcome of their conversation grasped his interest more firmly than the outcome of their match. He echoed Satan's posture, reclining in his seat, though his own arms folded themselves across his chest as his brow furrowed into a frown. "You do not believe it is possible for reason to lead to beliefs?" he challenged, though his voice conveyed curiosity more than accusation. "What of the Vulcan belief in logic? The Bajoran belief in the Prophets, who quantifiably exist? What of infinite diversity, in infinite combinations? How can such a philosophy preclude the possibility of anything, when one's frame of reference is the infinite?"

Satan slightly tilted his head, the gesture made him look more Vulcan than ever. "You are incorrect, on both accounts. By Vulcan standards, you are an above-average player. And I did not say it is impossible for reason to lead beliefs. In fact, reason and belief are twinned more often than people realise, which was the point I was trying to make. However, it is difficult to look back at vanished civilisations and ascribe motives to what history tells us of their view of the world, their interpretation of the universe." He pressed his fingertips together, index fingers touching his chin. "As for the Vulcan belief in logic… The facts are there, whether you believe them or not. How those facts fit together can be structured in many ways. Much like with a game of kal-toh, when you can have many outcomes, even though you always start with the same number of t'an. Hence the various schools of logic, varying from the Logic Extremists, to the way of Nirak, or following Surak's teachings to its ultimate conclusion by seeking Kolinahr."

Tristan's smile returned, just a fraction. "Yet like all religions, belief systems, and otherwise, the Vulcan adherence to logic is based on the premise that it is correct, and that alternatives are not. Certainly, there is a historic basis for why logic has been invaluable to your people in the past, but to echo your own words, we only have the word of history to give us context on their view of the world, and their interpretation of the universe. To some extent, Vulcans believe in logic because their forefathers always have, no different from the belief systems of ancient mythologies. And, while it is a matter of personal choice which school of logic one chooses to follow, how many Vulcans ever truly challenge the fundamental principle of logic over emotion? How many Vulcans - outside of pon farr, of course - experiment with emotions enough to determine for themselves that it is the correct path? Most of the Vulcans I've ever met have simply adopted their belief in logic purely on faith."

Pausing for a moment, Tristan reached across towards the edge of the table, taking hold of a lukewarm tea that had been waiting patiently for him. He brought it to his lips, but hesitated before taking a drink. "It is easy to posit that we do not understand the context for the belief systems of extinct civilizations. It is much harder to recognise that we often lack the same context for extant ones as well."

Again Satan gave a slow nod. "True. However, based on the general Vulcan experiences of a life unmoderated by logic – and there are many examples, again, from Romulans to the original followers of Jarok, and the modern-day v'tosh ka'tur – it has been demonstrated on many occasions that a Vulcan, unmoderated by logic, will at some point or another will be violent, belligerent, irrational. Given this fact, we have decided that as a whole, the various paths of logic are better than the alternative." He tilted his head again. "You, as a diplomat, must have seen those alternatives. We prefer our way."

Tristan's expression faltered, not quite all the way to a grimace. "Yet those are isolated examples, and fairly extreme ones at that, not to mention the fact that some of them are centuries out of date. Ambassador Spock proved that, despite generations of separation, Romulans can still be capable of embracing Vulcan logic. There are documented cases of Vulcans and part-Vulcans raised in the belief systems of other cultures, and they do not inherently become overly emotional savages. When you look at how much Federation culture has evolved over the course of our lifetimes, or how much humanity has changed over the span of a few centuries, is it truly logical, and reasonable, to believe without question that the decisions made by your ancestors as part of your distant past are still correct and universally applicable today? Do you believe that your people have not, or are not capable of having changed and evolved over that span of time? Or is it possible that Vulcans embrace logic simply because that is what Vulcans do, and have always done?"

He offered a shrug, and a small shake of his head, as if dismissing his line of reasoning entirely. "I do not mean to call your faith into question, it is just a philosophical conundrum that I find myself wrestling with from time to time. There is a quote from a Terran scientist, Max Planck, that has always resonated with me: a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." His brow furrowed as he allowed himself a small sip of his tea. "I sometimes wonder if the longevity of species such as yours or mine leaves us largely immune to the kind of scientific or cultural evolution of which humanity in particular seems so capable. The older generation takes too long to die, and so the younger never gets the opportunity to explore new paths and avenues without being overshadowed by the lingering endurance of the Old Ways."

Satan raised an eyebrow, but otherwise remained unaffected and unperturbed. "Of course Romulans are still capable of embracing logic. The teachings of Surak are but one means to an end, they are by no means the one and only way, as my other examples attested. Likewise, not all Vulcans choose to repress all emotions in order to follow Kahr-y-Tan. However, we have realised more than once, both in past and present, that with our people, our emotions can and often do run as hot as our sun burns down on our world, and when left unchecked, it can burn as fiercely as well. It still happens that groups of Vulcans choose not to follow Cthia. They are free to go out and explore their own paths. Regrettably, it rarely ends well." The eyebrow slowly sank back in place. "In the end, every Vulcan must choose his or her own path. To follow a path for tradition's sake is…" another twitch of the eyebrow, "…illogical."

"Indeed it is," Tristan replied with a shrug. "And yet to all intents and purposes, is that not what Vulcans do? There is no escaping the fact that embracing logic and suppressing emotions is at the core of what it means to be Vulcan. There are exceptions, but they are in the minority, and it is naive to ignore the social and cultural pressures that encourage a minority to conform with the majority. Family. Expectation. Education. Consider your words just now, for example: our emotions run as hot as our sun burns down on our world, is only a few syllables removed from the arena of religious dogma. In essence, the choices of the many outweigh the choices of the few; and the culture of the many excludes the culture of the few - which is a dangerous proposition for those whose emotions are as hot as the sun. And having lived on Vulcan? Knowing your history? As recently as two centuries ago, the Vulcan High Command was hardly accommodating of dissenting belief systems. If you accept that the Vulcan people's need for logic over emotion has remained unchanged since the time of Surak, then is it not logical to at least consider that - perhaps even without realising - the Vulcan people's reluctance to embrace dissenting minorities is equally slow to change?"

Satan never smiled, and he would not allow himself to feel joy. But this discussion was stimulating, in a similar way as the game had been. "As to my statement regarding emotions: when compared to most of the major races we have encountered since we began to explore space, our range of emotions has been observed – researched and measured on various occasions, if necessary I can cite the articles in the Vulcan Academy Database – to be broader than theirs. And there have been changes, since Surak's time. There are, even now, various factions within Vulcan society, so there is still change. For some, logic is more a guiding principle than for others. But to relinquish this need would be the end of our society as we know it."

Whatever emotional satisfaction Satan was unwilling to experience or convey, Tristan's smile suggested he was enjoying this enough for the both of them. "Would that be so bad?" he challenged, setting his still half-full mug back down on the table in front of him. "As I suggested earlier, new ideas often only progress following the extinction of their predecessors. You suggest that to relinquish your logic would be to cause such an extinction of the current Vulcan way of life, but is that not the very essence of tradition? Is embracing logic not the means by which your status quo is preserved? You yourself just said that to follow a path for the sake of tradition would be illogical. Therefore, could none not say that your embrace of logic, for that reason, is itself illogical?"

"As a general rule, each individual must decide for themselves which path they follow," Satan replied. "Granted that for most people this is the path they are used to. In that regard, Vulcans are much like people from other races. True visionaries are rare. And…" he tilted his head ever so slightly again, "it is true indeed that many Vulcans are as reluctant to change as any member of most societies. But change there must be, for without any change whatsoever any society will wither and die."

"And yet many of the galaxy's most prominent and enduring cultures are deeply resistant to change. No matter how many times the Klingons are united under progressive new leadership, the Klingon houses still clash and betray each other, and the Empire still grows restless for wars in the name of honour. The Romulans fall into the same patterns of manipulation and betrayal, decade after decade, century after century. And while the Federation shows a capacity for change and reinvention, its constituent worlds and cultures cling ever tighter to their ways and traditions - or however else they choose to describe them - out of fear, reason, preservation, logic, or whatever else. I have lived in this Federation for over a century now, and in all that time and all my experience, there is one truth that I know to be true above all others: the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same."

"Right until they do not," Satan replied. "Cultural evolutions do not always happen gradually. Often only small things change, seemingly imperceptible, until all those changes culminate in one push. I believe humans call it a 'watershed moment'. Not unlike this," he added, picking up one of the few remaining kal-toh rods. "Kahless. Surak. Various religious persons on Earth. First contacts between species. The birth of the Federation." He placed the rod gently back on the table and once again pressed his fingertips together. "But it does make me wonder what will be next."

"Another war, more than likely," Tristan offered back with a grunt, his voice sparking with cynical sarcasm. "The Federation can't seem to go five months these days without tripping head first into another interstellar conflict. It almost makes one yearn for the peaceful days of the early 24th Century. Say what you will about the Treaty of Algeron, but at least it netted Starfleet one of the longest stretches of peacetime in recent memory."

If Satan was inclined to smile, he might have. "Perhaps," he said softly, "everyone could do with a bit more logic, then." He reached out and collapsed the game with a touch of his finger. Then he pushed his chair back and rose. "It has been a very interesting game, and conversation, Commander. I hope we can do this again."

Tristan reached for his mug once more, raising it in a gesture of salute. "The sentiment is mutual, Lieutenant. I look forward to my next resounding kal-toh defeat."

Lt. Commander Tristan Viego
Chief Diplomatic Officer
Cold Station Theta

Lieutenant Satan
Chief Science Officer
Cold Station Theta


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