Trope-a-Day: Romanticism Versus Enlightenment

Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: Go, Team Enlightenment!

(Were you expecting something else?)

Of course, just phrasing it that way is to greatly understate the influence, even dominance, of technepraxic philosophy in the Worlds in general and the Empire in particular, which riffs on the general theme of science and reason and progress with fluency, fervor, and zeal, with other social forces including – which would be unlikely in an Earth context – religion happily backing it up.

(And which, concomitantly, tends to look at *there’s* approaches to romanticism as a dubious cult of naturalistic fallaciousness and unthought, nihilism as a straight-up Entropy cult, and existentialism and postmodernism as Eupraxic-Collegium-certified examples of good ways to go non-metaphorically insane by the book, and should probably have a “Warning: Contains Toxic Memes” sticker slapped on them.)

To link to and brief comment on various other relevant tropes mentioned on the R v E trope page, starting with the Enlightenment-flavored ones:

  • Art Deco, Crystal Spires and Togas, Raygun Gothic: Ah, yes, the architecture of civilization!
  • Black and White Insanity: Averted, despite being generally considered an Enlightenment trope; the Imperials are pretty damn certain that reason draws some pretty indisputable ethical bright-lines.
  • Creating Life Is Awesome: If we weren’t supposed to play God, why did he leave his toolbox lying around?
  • Doing In the Wizard: Ineffable just means we haven’t effed hard enough yet.
  • Emotions Versus Stoicism
  • Enlightened Self-Interest: Makes the universe go round.
  • Evil Luddite: A stock villain, a stereotypical sinner…
  • For Happiness: In a sense… although technepraxic isn’t particular fond of utilitarianism, either. Slaver philosophy, that, at least once you start applying it non-locally.
  • For Science!
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: Averted, obviously.
  • Hard on Soft Science: In a manner of speaking. Specifically, the manner in which the soft sciences tend to use hard methods.
  • Hanlon’s Razor: Any well-studied technepract or Flamic theologian will cut right through the argument and tell you that stupidity, incompetence and ignorance actually are evil, Entropy manifest. Granted, certain kinds of stupidity aren’t strictly speaking your fault, and yet…
  • Harmony Versus Discipline
  • Living Forever is Awesome
  • Order Versus Chaos
  • Nature is Not Nice: Indeed. So we’re gonna fix that.
  • The Needs of the Many: See above comments on utilitarianism. It’s only acceptable to believe this if you are the Few. And in any case, always inferior to Take a Third Option.
  • Science Fiction Versus Fantasy: Well, yes…
  • Science Hero: Hell, yes!
  • Shining City: They compete for the title. And given the aesthetic standards listed up above, it’s literal as well as metaphorical.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: By intent, swings very hard to the idealistic end in a more cynical universe. Then punches grimdark in the face with a space-magic fist of doom. As is right and proper.
  • The Future Will Be Better: Said in future simple certain tense and incorporated right into the Imperial anthem in the segment that sounds like this.

And then the Romantic-flavored ones:

  • Black and White MoralityAs opposed to Black and White Insanity, above. Also note reference to fist of doom.
  • Democracy Is Bad: This one is also played straight, especially by the potential voters. (Who wouldn’t be impressed by the notion of putting a committee of untrained amateurs busy with other things in charge in their own fields, and aren’t impressed with it in this one, either. And that’s even before you get to their opinions on the -cracy bit.)
  • Don’t Think, Feel
  • Honor Before Reason: Fools! Honor is Reason! (It’s what puts the enlightened in enlightened self-interest.)
  • Mad Scientist: One man’s mad scientist is another’s Science Hero.
  • Measuring the Marigolds: Lots of people assume/accuse this with regards to the Imperial/technepractic approach to life. The Imperials, however, have great difficulty understanding how anyone can possibly think that way. How can understanding, seeing more of, the beauties of the universe possibly diminish your sense of wonder?
  • Noble Savage: Ain’t no such thing.

Technepraxic #3

Of course social problems have technological solutions. All problems have technological solutions.

“Social problems, specifically, are problems arising directly from flaws in the interacting sophont entities that make up society. Imperfect actors generate imperfect acts. Corruption, bigotry, xenophobia, cognitive bias, irrational emotivations… whatever you care to name, these are merely the emergent consequences of broken machines, the sludge of meat-instincts accumulated from a million years of design by random kluging. And machines can be repaired – redesigned, even. Anyone who tells you otherwise is, at best, an adherent to the naturalistic fallacy and archaic morality, and at worst a purveyor of ulath-urlar self-deception that cannot bear to see itself as anything but the capstone of creation.

“All you need to solve these problems forever is the courage to, first, admit your flaws and weaknesses, and then second, to take up reason-forged technology’s scalpel and cut yourself free.”

– Polygnostic Ianthe Claves-ith-Claves Elinaeth
& Academician Excellence Seledíë Cíëlle,
“Against the Ghost in the Machine: A Techneprax Approach to Sophont-Centered Solutions”,
Worlds’ Journal of Sociodynamics, 4801

Technepraxic #2

“Only the smallest, least enlightened minds accept the limits of the currently possible. Indeed, only small minds accept the limits of the possible, where greater minds strive to expand its reach. Some apologist philosophers would advance the claim that a finite mind is inherently limited in its ability to comprehend greater possibilities; to them, I say that only small minds indeed choose to remain bound by their own limitations. The strength of flesh is limited in itself, but the strengths of tools, wealth, and contracts unbind it. How, then, should we accept that the wisdom of flesh is limited?”

– ch. 2, Eternal Progress, Ianthe Claves-ith-Claves Elinaeth