Book 3 - Page 21

Book 3 - Page 21
Comic - Book 3 - Page 21
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DVL wrote:
Signamancy has several usages:
1) A Caster discipline, a field of study for Casters
2) Anything related to physical appearance and what they might portend
3) The belief that there is some natural first principle that governs all instances of #1 and #2

#1 inarguably exists.
I find #2 problematic because we have words to describe that already without assuming the truth of #3.

For the sake of argument, if I say "physics exists" what do I mean?
Do I mean there's a field of science referred of physics? That's inarguably true. Am I also saying that there are descriptions in physics of the natural world that also exist? Also technically true.

Is Physics some Grand Cosmic Platonic Principle?
Uhhhh. Wow. That's hugely problematic. Philosophically, having an abstract idea doesn't mean it neatly correlates one-to-one to some real object into itself. It's simply category of things.

If I say that lightning is Shockamancy or is Physics, is that actually a meaningful statement?


I didn't mean to get so metaphysical. ;) What I was getting at was that I had initially misunderstood your criticism of Slately's behavior and I defended it on the basis that, unlike in Stupidworld, in Erfworld appearances are actually very significant (see what I did there?) and that his problem was biases about what constituted a good leader or ruler. But if we take a step back and question my underlying assumption we get into a different, and as I said, interesting, argument which you have already introduced in the wiki talk page that someone linked to.

DVL wrote:
Here let me go through my exercise with you:
They're not completely wrong but they were lazy or biased in other ways. Slately's main mistake with respect to Trammenis was thinking you need to be a great and powerful warrior to be a great leader. As has been pointed out, we don't actually know what Trammenis's raw combat powers are, but his appearance does not point to powerful at least. I don't know exactly how strong Rob intends personal appearance to be, but I suspect that this will be borne out if we ever get to see. So here the problem wasn't trusting appearances too much but a false assumption about the nature of character and leadership.

1st instance: True.

2nd instance: Equivalent to a statement like, "We don't know how significant appearances are in Erf." But in any case, there is such a thing as being shallow in Erfworld. Stanley is extremely shallow when it comes to how he used to promote warlords. It's demonstrably a crappy management of his Side. Slately lived in crippling fear that he wasn't the real deal Royally because of his stature and felt that the fatherly approval he gave Tramennis to improve his morale was essentially meaningless because he felt that his authority was unearned.

3rd instance: Actually trusting appearances is exactly the problem. He made a snap prejudgment. Whether or not Changemancy is a real thing in of itself in nature is sort of irrelevant.

Ultimately it boils down to:
"We know a whole lot of nothing about Changemancy."


I had already done the exercise, at your request, although I did not type it out. Of course the argument is ridiculous if you apply Stupidworld rules, but that's sort of my whole point. I've taken the explanations of Signamancy by various characters at face value and am arguing in that context. I still think that's the way Rob meant it, but maybe he's working at a different level and I've been played. Interestingly, the wiki page for Signamancy has this unattested quote:

Quote:
Author and creator Rob Balder has said about Signamancy, "Signamancy. Like the Peace sign, man. Like the protest sign, man. Signs, signs, everywhere a sign. Far out."


He may well be playing us. ;)

I'm not sure where Changemancy comes into it, but I might have missed something.
ManaCaster wrote:
DVL wrote:

Again, I can say phrenology is supported by the laws of nature. It doesn't make me right no matter how much I insist on capitalizing "Nature." Sure, nature exists and has a vaguely defined relationship to physical appearance. That's not much help as an explanation though.

I can also say that signs of physical age in Stupidworld are symbolic. It's strictly untrue, since symbols are things that subjective minds assign meaning or tokens created so that meaning can be conveyed.

"Manliness" is entirely an abstract social concept. And by your own admission, isn't as culturally relevant in Erf. And of course, there's simply no one-to-one shorthand for manliness. There isn't a Manliness stat and Slately has made it look like he was simply wrong about whatever he thought appearances are supposed portend.

Every post in response to me always seems to boil down to:
Appearances are significant . . . except when they're not. My judgments about what I see are correct . . . except when they're not. And this thing called Changemancy is involved somehow. There are things we don't know about its relationship to physical appearances!

Ugh.

So if I'm understanding you right, your problem is that you view Erfworld as functioning on the philosophy of Physicalism, while everyone else is viewing it through the lenses of Dualism or Idealism, which you consider pointless. Is that correct?


I guess?
More that Erfworlders have their own varieties of Dualism and Idealism perhaps and that Physicalism isn't a thing culturally.

The problem is that Dualism assumes the mind is nonphysical in its origin without evidence for theological reasons. But no, my problem isn't strictly whether or not minds are immaterial in Erf or not. (I'm of a view that while their equivalent of a brain may not necessarily be physically explicable, that hardly makes it supernatural or impossible. Has Wanda ever mentioned a brain?)

Idealism always struck me as immensely inarticulate and incomprehensible, nevermind that it's also impossible falsify in any way. Is it even meaningful to speak of an idea as inherently dissociated from a human observer? It's not like we can walk out and find Love or Changemancy floating out in the aether either.

Perhaps Erfworlders lack existentialism really. The willingness to use language descriptively because it's demonstrably useful to them and not just assume that the things they're describing are real. (I can describe unicorns, but unicorns are not real.)
Seriously. Why do you keep talking about Changemancy? We've seen Changemancy. Digdoug used Changemancy.
Davre wrote:
What I was getting at was that I had initially misunderstood your criticism of Slately's behavior and I defended it on the basis that, unlike in Stupidworld, in Erfworld appearances are actually very significant (see what I did there?) and that his problem was biases about what constituted a good leader or ruler.


Okay fair enough, but the metaphysical stuff is what's annoying me.
Again, when you have Sizemore criticizing the state of Erf philosophy, Parson comparing the "magic system" unfavorably to Aristotle and Jack talking about the psychology of deception (and his disrespect for Banhammer's philosophy sessions) it becomes very very hard to see Erfworlders as anything other than intellectually medieval.

When you say appearances are significant in Erf, well, I don't really know what you mean.
I can say the same things about Earth.

Beauty counts for a lot socially. Observation counts for a lot scientifically.
The real question is what are the differences on Erf?

P.S.
We can talk about this over PM if you'd prefer, since I feel like I'm derailing the thread somewhat.
Lipkin wrote:
Seriously. Why do you keep talking about Changemancy? We've seen Changemancy. Digdoug used Changemancy.


Why do you refuse to read critically?
DVL wrote:
Lipkin wrote:
Seriously. Why do you keep talking about Changemancy? We've seen Changemancy. Digdoug used Changemancy.


Why do you refuse to read critically?

Welcome to my foe list.
ManaCaster wrote:
You know, I've been kind of wondering. Does Signamancy have any impact on the mechanics beyond displaying information? For example, gender may be mostly signamancy, but female units are still more likely to have longer hair. It doesn't matter for casters, but I would think that would be a disadvantage for any other combat unit. And what about Slately? His Signamancy shrunk him to represent his shortcomings. Does that put him at a disadvantage against a Royal warlord of the same level with average height, or does something balance it out? These details don't matter in a real computer game, but Erfworld is a lot more detailed than that.

During one of the text updates, there was a regular infantry unit that had highlights in her hair. When one of her siblings mocked her about it, she cut them off, but then they grew back the next day. Since any physical changes that someone might make to a body revert on the next turn, maybe a Signamancer could give someone a haircut, or plastic surgery? Not sure what effect it would have, but since Slately took the time to have Signamancy applied to him when he was standing on top of an actively collapsing tower, it must do something important. Same with Stanley's war paint.
DVL wrote:
Davre wrote:
What I was getting at was that I had initially misunderstood your criticism of Slately's behavior and I defended it on the basis that, unlike in Stupidworld, in Erfworld appearances are actually very significant (see what I did there?) and that his problem was biases about what constituted a good leader or ruler.


Okay fair enough, but the metaphysical stuff is what's annoying me.
Again, when you have Sizemore criticizing the state of Erf philosophy, Parson comparing the "magic system" unfavorably to Aristotle and Jack talking about the psychology of deception (and his disrespect for Banhammer's philosophy sessions) it becomes very very hard to see Erfworlders as anything other than intellectually medieval.

When you say appearances are significant in Erf, well, I don't really know what you mean.
I can say the same things about Earth.

Beauty counts for a lot socially. Observation counts for a lot scientifically.
The real question is what are the differences on Erf?

P.S.
We can talk about this over PM if you'd prefer, since I feel like I'm derailing the thread somewhat.


I may start a thread elsewhere if I feel inspired but I don't have the energy for it now.
DVL wrote:
Spruce wrote:
About the signamancy: As the units don't age in Erfworld, marks of old age (wrinkles) are considered marks of "personal decline" or atleast Wanda thinks like that in Book 0, page2 (http://archives.erfworld.com/Book%200/2). Nobody's blaming Wanda of thinking that old units (people) are morally inferior ones, as we know for sure that part of signamancy is symbolic. If marks of age can be symbolic, why marks of manliness couldn't be?

By the way, I chose "manliness" instead of "physical fittness" as gender has even less effect in Erfworld than age.


Again, I can say phrenology is supported by the laws of nature. It doesn't make me right no matter how much I insist on capitalizing "Nature." Sure, nature exists and has a vaguely defined relationship to physical appearance. That's not much help as an explanation though.

I can also say that signs of physical age in Stupidworld are symbolic. It's strictly untrue, since symbols are things that subjective minds assign meaning or tokens created so that meaning can be conveyed.

"Manliness" is entirely an abstract social concept. And by your own admission, isn't as culturally relevant in Erf. And of course, there's simply no one-to-one shorthand for manliness. There isn't a Manliness stat and Slately has made it look like he was simply wrong about whatever he thought appearances are supposed portend.

Every post in response to me always seems to boil down to:
Appearances are significant . . . except when they're not. My judgments about what I see are correct . . . except when they're not. And this thing called Changemancy is involved somehow. There are things we don't know about its relationship to physical appearances!

Ugh.


As we have no omniscient narrator and the Erfworld differs from our own so much we have to take some things narrated by the characters as face-value if we like to speculate at all. I enjoy it when the author plays with the reader's expectations and I don't have the need to be objectively right all the time when enjoying a piece of fiction. I have no problem if the natural signamancy is proven to just be the prejudices of units at some point, but I found the idea that Stanley's weird promoting policy had some logic behind it entertaining.

You know that I didn't mean subjective symbolism but that the Erfworld itself treats these things as representing some other quality.

Manliness as a type of behaviour is culturally dependant but some physical attributes are considered quite universally as manly. Ofcourse Slately was speaking of tallness and muscles and manly was the chosen word to make a point of Slately of slowly getting over his ignorance but I just tought it was fun to point out that a Erfworld unit (member of a species that don't even reproduce on their own) used that word.

I didn't give any examples of appearances not being significant so I'll do it now: Stanley is short and not handsome and he still is a capable warlord (maybe not so much as an overlord).
Lipkin wrote:
During one of the text updates, there was a regular infantry unit that had highlights in her hair. When one of her siblings mocked her about it, she cut them off, but then they grew back the next day. Since any physical changes that someone might make to a body revert on the next turn, maybe a Signamancer could give someone a haircut, or plastic surgery? Not sure what effect it would have, but since Slately took the time to have Signamancy applied to him when he was standing on top of an actively collapsing tower, it must do something important. Same with Stanley's war paint.


A twoll once commented on war paint as being "very intimidating". Characters dress up as musical figures, becuase they think there might be dancefighting.
Perhaps this form of Signamancy confers a bonus to some kinds of actions? (Other than being a fun reference to Stupidworld).

Maybe when the next period of more-or-less-peace comes, Parson should experiment with this.