Moogle

Contradiction with Taravangian's Intelligence

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“I was smart on that day,” he said. Smart enough that Mrall had declared he needed to be locked in the palace, lest he reveal his nature. He’d been convinced that if he could just explain his condition to the city, they would all listen to reason and let him control their lives perfectly. He’d drafted a law requiring that all people of less than average intellect be required to commit suicide for the good of the city. It had seemed reasonable. He had considered they might resist, but thought that the brilliance of the argument would sway them.

 

Taravangian seems smart enough on his good days, but this seems completely at odds with what we know of him. The main problem is that he's smart enough to manipulate entire nations into civil war and can predict exactly what will happen, but then he brings up something like this. Did he really think the brilliance of the argument would sway anyone? It seems like a contradiction to me.

 

Does anyone have any idea how Taravangian can possibly manipulate people on a global scale but be incapable of doing it on the small scale?

 

(Note: this assumes that he'd fail to convince people through his 'brilliant' arguments. Could he actually have persuaded them, perhaps?)

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As he gets smarter he gets more sociopathic and out of touch and egomaniacal. No, I don't think his brilliant arguments would persuade them. He is suffering delusions. He is crazy like a fox.

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Remember, the smarter he is the less empathy he has. He knows his solution is best for the city, but he can't understand that people just aren't going to kill themselves.

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As he gets smarter he gets more sociopathic and out of touch and egomaniacal. No, I don't think his brilliant arguments would persuade them. He is suffering delusions. He is crazy like a fox.

 

Remember, the smarter he is the less empathy he has. He knows his solution is best for the city, but he can't understand that people just aren't going to kill themselves.

 

This fails to explain how he was right about what would happen in Jah Keved. He was only off by a smidgeon in his prediction of how many factions would be involved in the civil war. Delusional people, as a rule, tend to be wrong.

 

He might be crazy, but he was right about something that he could not have guessed. His other predictions have been of startling accuracy. This is at odds with how he was obviously wrong with the suicide. I cannot comprehend how someone could manipulate global politics (showing a keen understanding of human behavior) and be incapable of understanding human behavior enough to not realize no one would commit suicide on his say-so.

 

This really seems like an error in WoR. I wish there was a signing near me to go to so I could ask Brandon. Maybe Peter could show some mercy and explain this.

Edited by Moogle
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I don't think it is an error. Predicting things could be accurate when not dealing with things that require empathy. Politics doesn't always require empathy - infact you could argue that often it requires lack of empathy!  ;) Not understanding why people wouldn't want to kill themselves and just thinking that they should and would be convinced by the power of his argument is classic sociopathic megalomania.   There is no conflict between being brilliant and being detached.

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Perhaps the key is that the Diagram was written in his most brilliant moment, whereas the suggestion you're referring to was merely on a very good day. We know he loses more and more of his compassion, but I wonder if at his highest point, the intelligence compensates for the lack of insight provided by compassion. 

 

He asked for the capacity to save the world, not to fashion the perfect society. Perhaps that's a part of the catch? His brilliance just isn't practical when applied to other matters. However he does fail to anticipate Kaladin's actions right at the end - it's another instance where he fails to grasp the human element.

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I dont know, I think of it a little like the DS9 Episode Statistical Probability. If you are smart enough then you can predict what actions people will take based on trends and what you know of them.

 

Taravangian seems to have been most people'd best buds in the worldwide nobility, he wouldnt need to be massively intelligent to predict how they would react. its the whole on a widescale thing which would need the intelligence as well as to fill in the cracks on how to take control.

 

Cant see how it is out of the realms of possibility that he could not on his best figure out all the little details, even if they do take a lot to decypher them

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Yeah, it does make sense to me. It's never stated that he's infallible, just incredibly smart and equally limited. I think zandi makes a really good point that politics (responding to people's natures as they are) and social engineering (attempting to change those natures) are very different spheres, and one is demonstrably harder than the other.

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Perhaps the key is that the Diagram was written in his most brilliant moment, whereas the suggestion you're referring to was merely on a very good day. We know he loses more and more of his compassion, but I wonder if at his highest point, the intelligence compensates for the lack of insight provided by compassion.

 

This is a satisfying explanation, and makes perfect sense. I'd like a WoB on it, but for now it makes a good amount of sense. I'd give you an upvote, but the forums seem broken. I clicked the button anyways.

 

 

However he does fail to anticipate Kaladin's actions right at the end - it's another instance where he fails to grasp the human element.

 

He actually does predict Kaladin's actions in a way - the Diagram specifically warns that people should not be put in situations of high stress, lest things like Kaladin happen.

 

 

One danger in deploying such a potent weapon will be the potential encouragement of those exploring the Nahel bond. Care must be taken to avoid placing these subjects in situations of powerful stress unless you accept the consequences of their potential Investiture. —From the Diagram, Floorboard 27: paragraph 6

 

It's not his fault that his followers failed to understand this particular bit, and in any case another part of the Diagram says that the Surgebinders returning is inevitable.

 

I don't think it is an error. Predicting things could be accurate when not dealing with things that require empathy. Politics doesn't always require empathy - infact you could argue that often it requires lack of empathy!  ;) Not understanding why people wouldn't want to kill themselves and just thinking that they should and would be convinced by the power of his argument is classic sociopathic megalomania.   There is no conflict between being brilliant and being detached.

 

Humans do not suddenly become different creatures when politics are involved. As much fun as it is to claim that politicians are all greedy blood sucking parasites without any empathy, emotions are still involved. Taravangian played to the emotions of the various leaders of the factions of Jah Keved, forcing them to not unite and instead fight each other to the death.

 

I cannot believe that someone with "sociopathic megalomania" (I'm not sure how this applies to Taravangian when he clearly would prefer not to have to be world leader) is incapable of recognizing that most people will not commit suicide via persuasive argument, particularly when you want the less-intelligent people to be swayed by said argument (and they're less likely to listen to it thanks to being of lower intelligence). I'm not even sure how the heck Taravangian planned on testing people's intelligence, given that intelligence isn't really a measurable thing.

Edited by Moogle
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He didn't play to the emotions, he played to the political landscape.

 

He considered, alliances, fueds, family ties, power bases and a whole lot more and made an educated guess that cutting of Jah Keved's head would result in multiple powerful factions that would destroy each other in vying for the throne.

Edited by Lugonn
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As much fun as it is to claim that politicians are all greedy blood sucking parasites without any empathy, emotions are still involved.

 

I was implying that to strategize politically that it is best often to not let your emotions get in the way not that politicians are greedy bloodsuckers. 

 

Effective strategizeing often requires a cool unemotional state.

 

Anyway, megalomania is: "psychopathological disorder characterized by delusional fantasies of power, relevance, or omnipotence. "Megalomania is characterized by an inflated sense of self-esteem and overestimation by persons of their powers and beliefs."[1] 

wikipedia

 

Not the desire to be a world leader.

 

In anycase - someone can be devoid of empathy towards a group they (wrongly) perceive as inferior and not understand why they would not want to do something  because that person can not relate to that group. 

 

You can effectively plan strategies that are manipulative without relating to everyone. You can better understand some people and not others. Especially if you believe them beneath you.  

 

As Talyra said - there are different spheres of intelligence. You can have one and not the other. Since his compassion/empathy decreases with intelligence. It makes perfect sense that a group he has no empathy for he would not be able to relate to their desire to continue living - in his mind they serve no purpose so their existence is useless so why do they want to continue - it seems illogical to him. Even though he is smart he cannot understand this. There is no conflict here in T's mind. Rather I think BS has rather expertly (brilliantly- haha) drawn this type of twisted thinking.  T is not completely in his right mind when he is at his most brilliant as this demonstrates.  It is likely to cause him to miscalculate some things - but still accurately calculate most things.

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There is also the suggestion that when he's in one of his more brilliant states, his ideas flow fast and at times incoherently. When writing the Diagram he digresses, thinks out loud (well, on desk drawers) and babbles. Why could we not suppose that he simply doesn't have time to think all of his ideas through? It seems to me that his intelligence comes with commensurate pride, so he may not consider the weaknesses of a throwaway idea which only tangentially relates to his real goal.

 

(And Moogle, thanks for the thought, even if the button doesn't work!)

Edited by Talyra
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I still attribute the diagram to Odium.

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 It seems to me that his intelligence comes with commensurate pride, so he may not consider the weaknesses of a throwaway idea which only tangentially relates to his real goal.

exactly. bound to trip him up at some point.

 

 

 

He didn't play to the emotions, he played to the political landscape.

good way of stating it

Edited by zandi
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I saw the same thing as the OP. Lack of empathy by itself does not explain not understanding a basic need of human nature, which is to survive no matter what. I personally feel that it undermines the characterization of Taravangian, but since it exists in the book I will try to explain it in universe. Taravangian has an overwhelming self-confidence and hubris when he is at his highest intelligence, this blinds him to obvious truths about his own limitations. He probably knows that humans will not choose to kill themselves, but his hubris on his own abilities makes him think that he can do anything, even the illogical and impossible.

 

When I say it undermines Taravangian, I mean that it undermines his threat to our protagonists. He has such a obvious flaw it reduces the tension his character should have in the plot. Appeal to his hubris and beat him.

Edited by dionysus
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For me, at least from a thematic point of view, it was a humorous throwaway comment designed to illustrate the dangers of pure rationality used alone. That, instead of inviting contradiction, suggests to me that his master plan is flawed. Brilliant, and right on many/all points so far, but as I've said above, not infallible. The way BS is exploring principles and values tells me that the separation of intellect and compassion is vital for understanding the thematic goals of the series. I don't think we should be reading Taravangian as perfect at all. I think this is a clue pointing to the opposite conclusion.

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Lack of empathy by itself does not explain not understanding a basic need of human nature, which is to survive no matter what.

I think he understands this - what he doesn't understand is since they are inferior (to him) why do they not want to sacrifice themselves for what he believes is the greater good. He thinks that everyone should want what is for the greater good even to the point of self sacrifice. Since he believes himself to be infallible it makes no sense to him that others would not see his clarity of thought and believe the same way. Yes, it is crazy.

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I don't think we should be reading Taravangian as perfect at all. I think this is a clue pointing to the opposite conclusion.

Exactly!

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He didn't play to the emotions, he played to the political landscape.

 

He considered, alliances, fueds, family ties, power bases and a whole lot more and made an educated guess that cutting of Jah Keved's head would result in multiple powerful factions that would destroy each other in vying for the throne.

 

But this shows an understanding of human nature. He understands that people are selfish and will want the throne. And yet, he can't normally understand that people would not selflessly want to commit suicide for the greater good? This is my entire issue (though Talyra has helped me with it).

 

Anyway, megalomania is: "psychopathological disorder characterized by delusional fantasies of power, relevance, or omnipotence. "Megalomania is characterized by an inflated sense of self-esteem and overestimation by persons of their powers and beliefs."[1] 

wikipedia

 

Not the desire to be a world leader.

 

But that doesn't apply to Taravangian at all. His Diagram has been stunningly accurate. No matter how arrogant he gets (and I don't find him arrogant at all - why do people find him arrogant? Where is this hubris everyone sees?), it is difficult to say he has overestimated his abilities. He in fact seems to have a very good handle of his abilities - so much so that he's set up a system to make him a prisoner if it is detected he is incapable of making reasonable decisions. He acknowledges that he can wrong, so he's not a narcissist.

 

I can't see any overestimation of his abilities, given they acknowledge that the Diagram is flawed and needs to be corrected as events move along. There can't be hubris when you're basically correct about what you're capable of. Arrogance implies an overestimation of what you can do, and so far, Taravangian's plan has been working quite decently. I'd be willing to see the arrogance of Taravangian if his plan to become world emperor was not working out, but he just grabbed Jah Keved (probably the second most important nation combat-wise), and Alethkar may very well be next, given the riots.

 

As Talyra said - there are different spheres of intelligence. You can have one and not the other. Since his compassion/empathy decreases with intelligence. It makes perfect sense that a group he has no empathy for he would not be able to relate to their desire to continue living - in his mind they serve no purpose so their existence is useless so why do they want to continue - it seems illogical to him. Even though he is smart he cannot understand this. There is no conflict here in T's mind. Rather I think BS has rather expertly (brilliantly- haha) drawn this type of twisted thinking.  T is not completely in his right mind when he is at his most brilliant as this demonstrates.  It is likely to cause him to miscalculate some things - but still accurately calculate most things.

 

You can't be accurate about "most" things if you're completely missing some spheres of intelligence. If he can't understand basic human motivations (ie. don't commit suicide), then that misunderstanding should propagate and spiral into his entire plan for Roshar and make most of his predictions of what will happen wrong (except for things disconnected from human behavior... so his highstorm dates should still be correct). Instead of sending Szeth, he would have sent Dalinar a brilliantly written letter pleading with him to commit suicide, and fully expected Dalinar to listen to the brilliance. Instead, his plans specifically say to assassinate Dalinar. This is at odds with his lower-intelligence belief that people would commit suicide from a well-argued speech.

 

If I am incapable of adding numbers (or, to go more abstract, being incapable of basic category theory), then most of the field of mathematics is barred to me. So, I don't find this argument about him missing spheres of intelligence convincing at all.

 

That said, Talyra's theory about him being capable of understanding human motivations when he's in supergenius mode and not merely verysmart mode works here (there does seem to be a difference between supergenius and verysmart, now that I think about it), and I think I'm becoming a broken record in this regard, so I'll stop here and apologize for bringing this up over and over again.

Edited by Moogle
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A painter might not be good at sculpting but they (painters and sculptors)  can both be brilliant artists. Different spheres.

 

Anyway his hubris is demonstrated by his not understanding why people don't want to kill themselves. Clearly he is not brilliant at everything. Such as understanding everyone's motivations. His safeguards are to protect from less brilliant days. Not from mistakes on brilliant days. Which he can still make.

 

 

 

You can't be accurate about "most" things if you're completely missing some spheres of intelligence.

Sure you can. 

Edited by zandi
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Perhaps the key is that the Diagram was written in his most brilliant moment, whereas the suggestion you're referring to was merely on a very good day. 

 

I think this is the best explanation so far.

 

Perhaps Taravangian fell into an intellectual trap: it was so clear to him that he couldn't understand why this wouldn't be obvious to everyone and how anyone would defy his logic. (Poor example ahead) Like an intelligent atheist who couldn't grasp how someone could deny evolution despite all scientific evidence.

Edited by Aleksiel
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This is sociology versus psychology...

You can be an excellant Sociologist while being a complete Sociopath. But once you take things down to a micro level it falls apart. Beyond that Vorinism creates an emotionally broken near sociopathic uppercrust to society, something a Sociopath like Ultrasmart Sherlockvangian can understand, so manipulating High society wouldn't be as difficult.

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This is sociology versus psychology...

You can be an excellant Sociologist while being a complete Sociopath. But once you take things down to a micro level it falls apart. 

Yep

Fatal error: Allowed memory size of 281018368 bytes exhausted (tried to allocate 481823024 bytes) in Unknown on line 0

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. No matter how arrogant he gets (and I don't find him arrogant at all - why do people find him arrogant? Where is this hubris everyone sees?), it is difficult to say he has overestimated his abilities. He in fact seems to have a very good handle of his abilities - so much so that he's set up a system to make him a prisoner if it is detected he is incapable of making reasonable decisions.

 

I can't see any overestimation of his abilities, given they acknowledge that the Diagram is flawed and needs to be corrected as events move along. There can't be hubris when you're basically correct about what you're capable of. Arrogance implies an overestimation of what you can do, and so far, Taravangian's plan has been working quite decently. I'd be willing to see the arrogance of Taravangian if his plan to become world emperor was not working out, but he just grabbed Jah Keved (probably the second most important nation combat-wise), and Alethkar may very well be next, given the riots.

 

 

I'll take a stab at it. I qualified my statement of hubris in talking about his overestimation of what he can personally do. He has been incredibly accurate in understanding hidden truths about the world (Shin have honorblades, surgebinders returning, powerful voidspren, etc.) and in political manipulation. It is not arrogant when it is the truth.

 

But when it comes to his own immediate effect on the world when he takes direct personal action, he seems to suffer from hubris. And the primary evidence of this is the discussion point at hand. He thinks just because he himself can make some speeches, he can overturn human nature.

 

Edit. Alternatively, if he was as smart as when he wrote the Diagram it would not be hubris. But he just doesn't realize how far away from that level of brilliance he is even on his smartest days. That would be hubris.

Edited by dionysus
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A painter might not be good at sculpting but they (painters and sculptors)  can both be brilliant artists. Different spheres.

 

I don't believe this analogy holds, as artistry is significantly different from manipulating world politics and regular people.

 

 

Anyway his hubris is demonstrated by his not understanding why people don't want to kill themselves. Clearly he is not brilliant at everything. Such as understanding everyone's motivations. His safeguards are to protect from less brilliant days. Not from mistakes on brilliant days. Which he can still make.

 

I think I communicated this poorly, but I'm willing to accept that he has some sort of weird hubris on his smart-but-not-genius days when he has his stupid ideas. However, following the Diagram does not seem to me to be hubris. His regular behavior, taking over the world, etc. does not seem arrogant to me. He understands just how stupid he is compared to his smartest days. He does understand everyone's motivations when he's a genius - the Diagram even says he has to act compassionate as he takes over Jah Keved.

 

There is an obvious understanding of human emotions when he's a genius, but not when he's just having a good day. Talyra's theory works perfect here: his intelligence takes over for his lost ability to understand humans past a certain point, and so long as Mr. T continues to keep himself as a prisoner when he's sufficiently smart, I think his plan should be very workable. I wasn't willing to accept that the Diagram was almost perfectly correct before (because of the mistakes he made when he was smart-but-not-genius), but I think I do now.

 

Thank you for the discussion, everyone. I think it's helped clear up a lot of my confusion on understanding Taravangian. I may be forced to throw my full support behind him now, though I'll need to reflect more on things. WoR changed a lot. (For example, I'm no longer willing to even bother defending Amaram. His motivations came out, as did what he did with the Blade, and the explanation was disappointing.)

 

One thing people in this thread brought up that I like:

 

He tried to do an imitation of himself when he was a little dumber. People accepted that man,

 

I almost wonder if this is related to Mistborn's Connection attribute in Feruchemy. Perhaps when Taravangian is dumber, he becomes incredibly persuasive. That's what Connection does, if I recall. When Taravangian hits ridiculously high levels of empathy, I almost wonder if he won't be able to convince everyone around him to stop following the Diagram. The evidence for this is weak, but people have brought this up in this thread and other threads. I'm curious to see how Taravangian's arc will unfold.

Edited by Moogle
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