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    A thought regarding the dynamic duo releasing FH's notes

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    Re: A thought regarding the dynamic duo releasing FH's notes

    Postby georgiedenbro » 18 Oct 2016 15:49

    The proscriptions don't seem to be limited to thinking machines. The basis for the BJ was that men should not be allowed to create a society for themselves wherein they, themselves, essentially become thinking machines. If you want to think of it in moral terms, it could be construed that the proscriptions were against anything that would make men into either tools or even that life itself should become obsolete in favor of 'things.' I can't look for quotes right now but I recall mention in the series that genetic engineering is banned along with AI.
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    Re: A thought regarding the dynamic duo releasing FH's notes

    Postby AnEhforanEh » 18 Oct 2016 16:30

    By that reasoning, shouldn't mentats also be outlawed?
    In many cases we see them being used as tools... "Function for me, mentat."
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    Re: A thought regarding the dynamic duo releasing FH's notes

    Postby georgiedenbro » 18 Oct 2016 16:48

    Mentats are in one sense the pinnacle of what the jihad wanted as a result: humans using their own brains to think for themselves. However, almost right at the beginning of Dune, Mohiam shows contempt for mentat thinking, which does imply to me that something about their particular method of thinking was machine-like. I don't think it was merely the fact that they could do complex calculations, but something about the actual logic employed that seems to make mentats the human counterparts to computers. Even so, that mental 'likeness' isn't a physical reality, and so there would be nothing proscribing thinking patterns that happened to use machine-logic.

    However you may be referring to the fact that mentats in the story tend to be employed as servants. But in that sense they are no different from most humans in the empire, especially given the feudal system in place. The tenets of the jihad don't forbid humans ruling other humans, just constructing culture around non-human elements that take over life. In this sense you could well argue the jihad was a 'failure' - one which Leto II corrected and did properly this time.
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    Re: A thought regarding the dynamic duo releasing FH's notes

    Postby Omphalos » 19 Oct 2016 10:32

    georgiedenbro wrote:The basis for the BJ was that men should not be allowed to create a society for themselves wherein they, themselves, essentially become thinking machines.


    I do not think that is the case. Men becoming "like" thinking machines is pretty much what they have, and that is nto against the proscriptions of the Jihad. Its in tune with it, because an artificial device is not used.

    The end result of the BJ (ignoring the "basis" comment) was to prevent mankind becoming dependent on things other than its own skills and abilities. For example, adding a desktop computer into the mix certainly helps things get done, but it also atrophies natural abilities of men, because a "labor-saving" device is employed. Thus, a mentat, who has well defined and sharp abilities to help navigate through the universe.

    FH's BJ was actually men fighting over which paradyme/approach they would use to manage life in the universe. Use a mainframe computer? Or train men to be the best that they can be by learning and employing mentat skills? The latter, dude. It's the latter.

    I think Georgiedenbro that you are reading way too much into it to say that Mohiam showed contempt, likely for the way the mentat's logic worked, suggesting it was because he was computer-like. Isn't it just a lot simpler to assume that its because the mentat is just different? Like the way some Christians hate Muslims because they are different, or some Serbs hate Croats?
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    Re: A thought regarding the dynamic duo releasing FH's notes

    Postby Freakzilla » 19 Oct 2016 12:51

    Not only did they eliminate the thinking machines because they increased the number of things people could do without thinking, but also because they conditioned people to treat other people like machines.
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    Re: A thought regarding the dynamic duo releasing FH's notes

    Postby georgiedenbro » 19 Oct 2016 20:34

    Freakzilla wrote:Not only did they eliminate the thinking machines because they increased the number of things people could do without thinking, but also because they conditioned people to treat other people like machines.


    Omph, this is basically what I was getting at. While on a practical basis there may have been a social anxiety of men ruling other men through the use of machines, which would create resentment or outrage, on a philosophical basis this kind of society still could have 'functioned', even if it meant humans degraded their capabilities. My comment above was meant to address the philosophical reason behind the jihad, if we can call it that; "men should not live like this", which is different from and perhaps in addition to "we will not tolerate living like this."

    Regarding Mohiam, this is why I think what I think:

    Dune wrote:" 'Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a man's mind,' " Paul quoted.
    "Right out of the Butlerian Jihad and the Orange Catholic Bible," she said.
    "But what the O.C. Bible should've said is: 'Thou shalt not make a machine to counterfeit a human mind.' Have you studied the Mentat in your service?"
    "I've studied with Thufir Hawat."


    After mentioning her suggested correction to the phrasing, in which she says machines must not be made to counterfeit a human mind, she straight-away asks whether Paul has studied "the mentat" in his service. There are two things here that I detect: the first is that she may be playing on the phrasing of her correction here, and implying that a mentat is an attempt for a human mind to counterfeit a machine. The second is that she refers to Thufir, whose name she surely knows since he is supposedly famous as a mentat, as "the mentat", the designation of an object. So in two different ways she is comparing Thufir to a thing or suggesting that he thinks like a thing. Paul immediately asserts his full name, as if to defend Thufir's humanity to her. Also, by asking Paul whether he studied Thufir, rather than asking whether Paul has studied with Thufir, we again seem to hear her objectifying Thufir's participation in Paul's education. Thufir's role in this phrasing is passive; she perhaps suggests that his chief utility to Paul is as an object of study.

    Then we get this exchange:

    "The Great Revolt took away a crutch," she said. "It forced human minds to develop. Schools were started to train human talents. "
    "Bene Gesserit schools?"
    She nodded. "We have two chief survivors of those ancient schools: the Bene Gesserit and the Spacing Guild. The Guild, so we think, emphasizes almost pure mathematics. Bene Gesserit performs another function."


    We might think here that by bringing up Thufir she was implying that a mentat is a good example of those human talents. And yet mentats belong to neither school she then mentions, and so this could almost be construed as a backhanded comment about how the mentats don't even belong to a legitimate school like the Guild and BG do. They are lower than that, somehow. Since there are still mentats, and they obviously are trained, my answer to why she doesn't include the mentat school in her list must be because she doesn't consider it to be a legitimate school in that sense.

    From this exchange my takeaway, at any rate, is that Mohiam is casting a negative light on mentat training as compared to BG or Guild training, and is suggesting that a mentat is little better than a tool; a thing to be employed and no more. In lieu of the fact that she's about to test Paul as a human, it's also noteworthy that she designates Thufir by an inhuman term.
    Last edited by georgiedenbro on 20 Oct 2016 22:35, edited 3 times in total.
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    Re: A thought regarding the dynamic duo releasing FH's notes

    Postby AnEhforanEh » 20 Oct 2016 16:56

    I understand what you are saying but I'm not sure if its a correct interpretation of Mohiam's (or any BG'S) view of mentats. After all, the KH was intended to be a mentat. Referring to Thufir as "the mentat" might be no different than referring to Bob as "the builder." Its simply differing to his profession, possibly as a effort to direct her question: not the man, Thufir, but his function in the Household.

    As for her thinking of mentats as "less than" because she didnt include them amongst the ancient schools of thought, it might just be that mentat training didnt come about until much later, thus not "ancient." Its reasonable to assume that immediately following the Revolt people would be reluctant to start "thinking like a machine."

    And lastly, if we're to accept retcon from books later in the series, the BG have secretly been using computers to store the details of their breeding program possibly from its genesis, 90 generations ago. It could shed a new light on why GHM offered an alternate quotation. As if to say, "machines have their uses, just as long as they don't 'counterfeit' a human mind" (i.e., gain autonomy).
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    Re: A thought regarding the dynamic duo releasing FH's notes

    Postby georgiedenbro » 20 Oct 2016 22:54

    AnEhforanEh wrote:I understand what you are saying but I'm not sure if its a correct interpretation of Mohiam's (or any BG'S) view of mentats. After all, the KH was intended to be a mentat.


    The appendix isn't clear on that point. It says the KH was meant to be a 'super mentat', which doesn't exactly imply he was meant to receive standard mentat training. My best guess is that they did not intend the KH to be a mentat, because without the ability to categorize all of the visions the KH would be much easier to control and use as a BG puppet. I don't think they ever intended to cede their power over to some male; rather I think they intended to use a male of a certain type to their ends, as they later did with Teg. If the KH was a mentat he'd have too much power at his disposal.

    Referring to Thufir as "the mentat" might be no different than referring to Bob as "the builder." Its simply differing to his profession, possibly as a effort to direct her question: not the man, Thufir, but his function in the Household.


    This is, of course, possible, but even so to refer to a human being by his job title is still a belittling of the person, one way or the other. Consider if there was a painter working in your house, and you referred to him in his presence as "the painter." "Does the painter want a drink?" It would be pretty insulting. I don't think there's any way around the fact that calling a person by his job in this way is a disparaging thing, especially when the person in question has the reputation for having a great mind. Can you imagine Stephen Hawking being next to you, and you referring to him obliquely as "the scientist"? It would be pretty damn condescending as far as I can tell.

    As for her thinking of mentats as "less than" because she didnt include them amongst the ancient schools of thought, it might just be that mentat training didnt come about until much later, thus not "ancient." Its reasonable to assume that immediately following the Revolt people would be reluctant to start "thinking like a machine."


    Well, that's an assumption on your part. I can think of why it's impossible, but likewise nothing in the text indicates the mentats came much later than BG. Appendix II seems to say that all kinds of mental advances began at around that time, so I think it's a bit of a leap to suggest that mentats weren't one of them. Consider that without mentats and without computers certain kinds of tasks would literally be impossible to do. Cross-checking large quantities of data, for instance, even for business, would be totally unfeasible without mentats. If we think of the ecology of an empire suddenly without computers, I don't think much time would pass before at least something like a mentat would be developed.

    And lastly, if we're to accept retcon from books later in the series, the BG have secretly been using computers to store the details of their breeding program possibly from its genesis, 90 generations ago. It could shed a new light on why GHM offered an alternate quotation. As if to say, "machines have their uses, just as long as they don't 'counterfeit' a human mind" (i.e., gain autonomy).


    I agree with your assessment that the BG using computers indicates they are not totally against using machines as mere tools. My contention is that they think mentats are borderline in this category. That wouldn't mean the BG have any problem using them, per se, but it would mean they think of them as tools.

    Even in the later books, when we look at Bellonda, there is some sense that mentats are not entirely hailed amongst the BG. It could be that Bell's particular failings had nothing to do with being a mentat, but I don't think Frank writes sloppily like that. I think he wrote her that way for a reason. If being a mentat was so good then we could ask why the leader of the BG shouldn't be one; it's certainly a power to have. I get the sense that they view it as a useful but limiting ability, almost like a necessary evil. Now, for someone like Teg it's a different story, because there was no illusion that he was merely their tool, even if Odrade in particular cared about him. You'd think that once Leto II died and the ban on mentats went away the BG would rush to become mentats again; but in the last two books it's still apparently a rarity. We could even ask why Leto II banned mentats in the first place. The simple answer could be that he didn't want anyone smart enough to deduce and foil his plans. But I think the deeper answer is that he was trying to maximally pressurize humanity in order to teach them how to crave the essentials of being human and go crazy at the thought of another tyrant like him. To be a mentat is to be a passive vessel, a tool to be turned on and used; this is described repeatedly in how mentats must switch off their personal desires in order to use their talent. What Leto II wanted was for people to be forced to completely confront their personal desires and not ever tolerate being a passive tool again. At least, this is my take on it.
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    Re: A thought regarding the dynamic duo releasing FH's notes

    Postby AnEhforanEh » 21 Oct 2016 06:08

    georgiedenbro wrote:The appendix isn't clear on that point. It says the KH was meant to be a 'super mentat', which doesn't exactly imply he was meant to receive standard mentat training. My best guess is that they did not intend the KH to be a mentat, because without the ability to categorize all of the visions the KH would be much easier to control and use as a BG puppet. I don't think they ever intended to cede their power over to some male; rather I think they intended to use a male of a certain type to their ends, as they later did with Teg. If the KH was a mentat he'd have too much power at his disposal.

    "They were breeding for a super-mentat, a human computer with some of the prescient abilities found in Guild navigators."
    It pretty clear exactly what they wanted. As for the KH being a tool, I agree that is what the BG were expecting, but we (the audience) are told it would never happen. The KH would always break away. Even the Tleilaxu made a KH and it chose to kill itself rather than bend to others. And I'd argue that Teg allowed himself to be used as a tool. Look at the way he treated Taraza... like an equal. He wasn't cowed by her presence like other Sisters were; he was very comfortable around her. And he was enough of a mentat to certainly be aware of their design for him. His mother likely knew this as well and so gave him the deep training, bolstering him against Voice and other BG wiles (there's a memory-scene were 9yo Teg deflects the probing questions of a acolyte).

    This is, of course, possible, but even so to refer to a human being by his job title is still a belittling of the person, one way or the other. Consider if there was a painter working in your house, and you referred to him in his presence as "the painter." "Does the painter want a drink?" It would be pretty insulting. I don't think there's any way around the fact that calling a person by his job in this way is a disparaging thing, especially when the person in question has the reputation for having a great mind. Can you imagine Stephen Hawking being next to you, and you referring to him obliquely as "the scientist"? It would be pretty damn condescending as far as I can tell.

    Of course... except that she isn't in Thufir's presence or directly addressing him. It's like if you were having work done to your house and you asked your significant other, "Did you call the contractor today?" It's a direct question and cuts to the chase without much room for confusion. In one word it describes who and in what context the call would have been about. "Have you studied the mentat..." or "Have you studied Thufir as he performs as a mentat?" are the same question, one is simply more succinct.

    And this is off the point, but some professions bestow honorifics and it would be "disrespectful" to refer to such a person as anything but. Calling a doctor by "Mr." for example. And emphasis has a lot to do with meaning as well. Sure, calling someone "the painter" might be rude, but calling them "the painter" carries praise. Nearly everyone called Teg "Bashar," even to his face.

    Well, that's an assumption on your part. I can think of why it's impossible, but likewise nothing in the text indicates the mentats came much later than BG. Appendix II seems to say that all kinds of mental advances began at around that time, so I think it's a bit of a leap to suggest that mentats weren't one of them. Consider that without mentats and without computers certain kinds of tasks would literally be impossible to do. Cross-checking large quantities of data, for instance, even for business, would be totally unfeasible without mentats. If we think of the ecology of an empire suddenly without computers, I don't think much time would pass before at least something like a mentat would be developed.

    True. But that's just an assumption on your part now. There is no textual evidence that mentat training did in fact start from the very onset. Without computers and calculaters people may have went back to crunching the numbers on pen-and-paper using complicated arithmetic before eventually saying "there has to be an easier way."

    I agree with your assessment that the BG using computers indicates they are not totally against using machines as mere tools. My contention is that they think mentats are borderline in this category. That wouldn't mean the BG have any problem using them, per se, but it would mean they think of them as tools.

    Yes, but the question is are they merely tools? Mentats serve a function in the same way a bus driver or electrician does. It's what they are good at. Thufir was obviously a dear friend to Leto, not just a tool kept because it was useful. Which is how the Baron treated Piter ("He has almost outlived his usefulness."), but that is also how the Baron treated everyone. Even his own family: Feyd was meant to be the "savior" of Arrakis just so the Baron can milk the populace more easily. It wasnt so that Feyd could advance politically (a fringe benefit) but so the Baron could rest easy without worrying about the Spice quota being met everyday.

    As for Bellonda, I don't think her flaw was being a mentat, it was relying too much on absolutes. Odrade seemed to have it in for all Archivists. Thinking dynamically, pushing the envelope, taking risks... that was what Odrade appreciated in a person, why she liked Duncan and admired Teg, even though both were also mentats.
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    Re: A thought regarding the dynamic duo releasing FH's notes

    Postby Serkanner » 21 Oct 2016 11:44

    Let us not forghet how "easy" it was for Jessica, not a Reverend Mother yet, to play Thufir Hawat, apparently one of the most renowned Mentats of his time. Perhaps mentats weren't much more than "simple" computers with all its flaws. I think we overestimate the qualities of mentats.
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    Re: A thought regarding the dynamic duo releasing FH's notes

    Postby georgiedenbro » 21 Oct 2016 11:49

    Serkanner wrote:Let us not forghet how "easy" it was for Jessica, not a Reverend Mother yet, to play Thufir Hawat, apparently one of the most renowned Mentats of his time. Perhaps mentats weren't much more than "simple" computers with all its flaws. I think we overestimate the qualities of mentats.


    This is my thought as well. What we later see from 'impressive' mentats may involve special additional training. Hayt, for example, was both a mentat and a Zensunni philosopher. Duncan in CH:D was something entirely different, in addition to being a mentat, and Teg was a mentat with BG training and special genetic traits that gave him a certain spontaneity.
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