wishiwasstormblessed

Let's Discuss the Skybreakers.

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I titled this with the OB because I assume discussion will veer strongly towards events in that book.

So, I'm relatively new here, but I'm absolutely loving the culture of polite debate and just the feeling of belonging to a group. 

That being said, I took the Knights Radiant order quiz in one of the discussion threads below (an amazing quiz and thread, by the way.) I got the order of the Skybreakers, which at first I didn't know a lot about. So of course, I did some research on the Coppermind (also amazing), and just became even more confused with the order in general. 

The Coppermind (and the books) explain that Skybreakers would rather follow the law rather than what is truly right. As a bit of a philosophy/morality nerd, I'm having a hard time understanding this concept. How could someone look at a situation and decide to follow the law, even if the law is morally wrong? 

Obviously, I'm having a mild Order of the Knights Radiant Identity crisis. 

I'm excited to hear any and all opinions!

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The Skybreakers believe that human judgement is inherently flawed, and so in order to be truly Just, they must devote themselves to something external- some set of rules that they place above their own conscience, since that can't be relied upon as an objective measure. 

Now, of course, The Law is hardly flawless either- and indeed, some Skybreakers might very well feel that there's a better measure than that, and choose to obey something other than the law- but they all choose to follow something that they feel is better representation of morality than their own flawed judgement. 

In other words, when confronted with a law that appears to morally wrong, a Skybreaker would sooner question his own moral compass than the law. The default rationale would be 'I must be letting my emotions blind me; there's a larger context to this situation I'm not seeing. Even if there's not, my attempts to might make things worse in the long run.' 

Or stuff like that.

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I think in case of some of the skybreakers they have had trouble picking what is right, so instead of choosing what is right and wrong for themselves. They choose to go to an outside source and follow it to the absolute without question. This way they absolve themselves of responsibility, even if the law is wrong. 

Now my own theory on this is that not every skybreaker is that way and that a possible fifth ideal is about accepting responsibility and knowing when to not follow the law to a tee. 

I also like to have a little fun with skybreakers and think of what could be the most silly law for them to swear an oath to. Like a skybreaker who swears an oath to traffic law and brings down wrath on j-walkers. 

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One important thing to understand here is that "law" can mean lots of different things for the Skybreakers. It's not that they would rather follow the law than what's right; they try to have an external perspective on what defines right and wrong. Many Skybreakers, like Nale, tend to follow the law of the land, but others, like Szeth choose stuff that's much different. The only requirement that the third ideal seems to have is that it needs to be external. I suspect that they could very well pledge themselves to the teachings of Vorinism if they wanted to.

48 minutes ago, wishiwasstormblessed said:

How could someone look at a situation and decide to follow the law, even if the law is morally wrong? 

So, in answer to this question, Skybreakers will choose to follow the law that they believe is morally correct, so their law is the same as their morals.

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I'm actually removing the [OB] tag as that was an artifact of the Oathbringer spoiler period, which we aren't in anymore :) New topics don't need that anymore. 

Thanks for posting :D 

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The Skybreakers are one of my favorite orders. They have a cool name, a great Herald, one of the most badass of powersets, and are incredibly interesting from a morality standpoint too.

If you want to understand Skybreakers better, I would recommen rereading Szeth in OB. I feel like the Skybreakers is, in a way, the most diverse order, since they can theoretically follow Odium or Kaladin, and still be true to their oaths. I think that they are a commentary on following others, especially laws, and how that might not at all times be the best thing to do. 

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9 hours ago, wishiwasstormblessed said:

As a bit of a philosophy/morality nerd, I'm having a hard time understanding this concept. How could someone look at a situation and decide to follow the law, even if the law is morally wrong? 

Skybreakers value consistency, impartiality and fairness(much like any good legal system).  They acknowledge that law is flawed but they still follow it because the alternative is society without a rule of law.

8 hours ago, Gilphon said:

In other words, when confronted with a law that appears to morally wrong, a Skybreaker would sooner question his own moral compass than the law

This is perhaps unfair.  Skybreakers do their best just like everyone else and are just as prone to questioning their beliefs as anyone else.  However can you imagine a legal system in which any individual can make their own judgements about any topic at any time?  I don't think any sane person would like the result.

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8 hours ago, ChickenLiberty said:

So, in answer to this question, Skybreakers will choose to follow the law that they believe is morally correct, so their law is the same as their morals.

I dont think this is really the case, at least not from what Ive seen of Nale's sect.  They follow the Laws of whatever Land they happen to be in, but they dont nessesarily internalize that as "moral" so much as...I dont know...necessary?  Recall how nobody had an issue with the idea of murdering a child just to prove your sincerity to hostages, but they did object to doing so without first filing the correct paperwork for the nation they happened to be standing in.

 

I agree with the major theme here, that the Skybreakers are all about embracing an External Authority, whatever form that may take.    Nale has embraced the Law of the Land and seems to have worked out a hierarchy that satisfies him for conflict resolution between Laws, but I dont think that would have to be the case.  Notice how Szeth's Crusade might well be completely incompatible with adherence to the idea of obeying the Law of the Land, since his goal is to overthrow the current authority there.  I strongly suspect that a different 5th Ideal Skybreaker might have a different take on the whole Law of the Land idea.  I especially @ChickenLiberty's suggestion that one might take to Vorinism as the Law that supercedes the local/secular Laws. It makes sense that Nale wouldnt take to that, as a literal Herald who was witnessed all the development and failings of the Vorin Church, but a more contemporary 5th Skybreaker who was raised to it might look at it differently.  

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2 minutes ago, Quantus said:

Notice how Szeth's Crusade might well be completely incompatible with adherence to the idea of obeying the Law of the Land, since his goal is to overthrow the current authority there

However the current authority is failing to obey its own laws. 

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4 minutes ago, Karger said:

However the current authority is failing to obey its own laws. 

Also entirely possible, good point.

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Seems to me it is more a personal code than specific laws. WoB for reference below:

 

IHeartMyKitten

Would Szeth still have been chosen to be a skybreaker if Nalan'Elin had known that Szeth was willing to kill Adolin "on his own time" unlawfully without being compelled by his oathstone? Or did Nalan'Elin know about that and still think he'd be a good fit?

Brandon Sanderson

Nobody is perfect, and Nale knows this--but he has worse days than others. It's not so much the law, as willingness to follow a personal code, that Nale is most interested in. He's also more harsh with people once they join the order than before.

So, he wouldn't have loved it, but it wouldn't have stopped him from offering.

Stormlight Three Update #5 (Nov. 19, 2016)
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The Skybreakers as we see them are inherently flawed. In my opinion, this is why few attain the fourth oath, and none have achieved the Fifth in centuries. 

The Skybreakers attributes are Just and Confident. Under Nale, they have been taught that they cannot be confident in their own judgment. 

The Skybreaker oaths present a clear progression. They vow to be just. They they vow to follow an external guide to teach them what justice is. They vow to take on a personal quest of their choice in order to become confident in their choices as to what justice means. And finally they become confident in their own judgment and "become the law." 

Szeth learn the hard way that simply following a code is a bad idea he did that perfectly and was used in monstrous ways. Because of this, he already questions the way the Skybreakers methods openly, and in the end chooses to follow Dalinar's judgment as a good man. 

Skybreakers should follow the law as a means to learn. Not as an end all be all. 

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Obeying an immortal crazy person is definitely not the best way to foster open dialogue, creative thinking and confidence in your own opinions. I'm actually beginning to be a little curious about those rare ones that attained the Fifth Ideal in the past. Did they have a break with Nale as well?

Will we see some of that in the future, maybe with Szeth at the forefront?

Edited by Mage of Lirigon
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3 minutes ago, Mage of Lirigon said:

Obeying an immortal crazy person is definitely not the best way to foster open dialogue, creative thinking and confidence in your own opinions. I'm actually beginning to be a little curious about those rare ones that attained the Fifth Ideal in the past. Did they have a break with Nale as well?

 

I'm of the opinion that 5th Oath SB were only around until Feverstone keep. IMO that was the reaction of the SB instead of renouncing all Oaths.

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Of course, there's the Fifth Ideal of the Skybreakers, wherein they've decided that they've progressed far enough in the matter of understanding the law that they can become the law. I think there, the Skybreaker will attempt to reconcile morals with law, and the Skybreaker can decide whether the law itself is fair or not. However, they will still be consistent with their own moral compass.

The Skybreakers, currently, put too much faith in Nale, who himself admits that he is flawed and can no longer feel compassion. Where earlier, the Skybreakers were about maintaining order while doing what was right, now they have become about following a moral or social code to the letter. Where earlier, the law was of tantamount importance, but what was right still came second, now only the law matters and nothing else. The Skybreakers are supposed to be part of the law until they understand its purpose, then become the law itself - as even the lawmakers can be wrong - but instead, even once Nale becomes the law, he does not change it so that what maintains order is also morally right, but instead uses his power to manipulate the law for his own ends (such as hunting rogue Radiants.)

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I get behind @Calderis's explanation. I'll add that I see fully realized Windrunners and Skybreakers as really being not so different, which to me would aggravate the friction between them.

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5 hours ago, Calderis said:

Skybreakers should follow the law as a means to learn. Not as an end all be all. 

Close but not quite.  I think Skybreakers should learn the purpose of the law(to create a harmonious society) and use methods to achieve ends that are consistent with this.

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17 hours ago, wishiwasstormblessed said:

I titled this with the OB because I assume discussion will veer strongly towards events in that book.

So, I'm relatively new here, but I'm absolutely loving the culture of polite debate and just the feeling of belonging to a group. 

That being said, I took the Knights Radiant order quiz in one of the discussion threads below (an amazing quiz and thread, by the way.) I got the order of the Skybreakers, which at first I didn't know a lot about. So of course, I did some research on the Coppermind (also amazing), and just became even more confused with the order in general. 

The Coppermind (and the books) explain that Skybreakers would rather follow the law rather than what is truly right. As a bit of a philosophy/morality nerd, I'm having a hard time understanding this concept. How could someone look at a situation and decide to follow the law, even if the law is morally wrong? 

Obviously, I'm having a mild Order of the Knights Radiant Identity crisis. 

I'm excited to hear any and all opinions!

Well in my opinion, the Skybreakers question their judgement about whether they truly know what is right or wrong. Therefore they believe that the law of the land defines what is right or wrong. As a Skybreaker progresses through his ideals, I believe he slowly evolves, starting from letting another define the law or principles for him, i.e most Skybreakers follow Nale and Szeth follows Dalinar and as the series progress (note - now this part is my theory), I believe that they get to the fifth ideal where they believe that they are the law of the land. This is them finally understanding themselves and starting to trust their moral judgement regarding what is right or wrong. This is just my take on it. I do agree with quite a few of the intrepretations that others have posted though

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21 hours ago, Kaladin-Stormblessed said:

Well in my opinion, the Skybreakers question their judgement about whether they truly know what is right or wrong. Therefore they believe that the law of the land defines what is right or wrong. As a Skybreaker progresses through his ideals, I believe he slowly evolves, starting from letting another define the law or principles for him, i.e most Skybreakers follow Nale and Szeth follows Dalinar and as the series progress (note - now this part is my theory), I believe that they get to the fifth ideal where they believe that they are the law of the land. This is them finally understanding themselves and starting to trust their moral judgement regarding what is right or wrong. This is just my take on it. I do agree with quite a few of the intrepretations that others have posted though

That seems like the most positive way of interpreting it.  Nale's statement of the Fifth Ideal "I am the Law" seemed more ominous in the context of the order as we saw it in the books.  It struck me more like what a corrupt politician or police officer would say when someone confronts them.  "I'm breaking the law?  I AM the law."  If they reach the 5th Ideal, they are essentially saying they themselves are the law and therefore cannot be held to any standard by others.  There are probably skybreakers who lean both in the positive and negative direction.

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1 hour ago, agrabes said:

That seems like the most positive way of interpreting it.  Nale's statement of the Fifth Ideal "I am the Law" seemed more ominous in the context of the order as we saw it in the books.  It struck me more like what a corrupt politician or police officer would say when someone confronts them.  "I'm breaking the law?  I AM the law."  If they reach the 5th Ideal, they are essentially saying they themselves are the law and therefore cannot be held to any standard by others.  There are probably skybreakers who lean both in the positive and negative direction.

Which is interesting in light of the fact that Nale has begun to Doubt himself and his own judgement.  I wonder if he's on a path that will eventually run afoul of that 5th Ideal?

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