Why were the Atreides such a threat?

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Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Postby Outis » 06 Jul 2012 18:45

jakoye wrote:Another thing... I don't understand what you mean by "un-natural selection"? Are the Bene Gesserit not part of nature?

That's a standard "western" objection to Daoism. You might say everything is part of nature (this would actually be a statement about the supernatural) but I'm talking about the sense in which an English garden is more natural than a French garden. It's about trying not to impose on the world machine-like strictures originating from the human mind and its simplistic and partial understanding of nature. I don't want to write an essay so please start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daoism
Going by the rumors*, Herbert might well have gotten his notions about Daoism (and some other stuff referenced in the Dune books) from this guy which might therefore be a better starting point: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Watts
*for instance: http://henrycorbinproject.blogspot.ch/2 ... -dune.html

jakoye wrote:since the Bene Gesserit are part of nature, what they're doing is surely PART of natural selection. Removing humanity or its effects on nature from the equation doesn't make natural selection any more natural.

Natural selection has a specific meaning (natural doesn't mean non-supernatural): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_selection
It's un-natural to select individuals for breeding according to artifical tests and it wouldn't work in the long run. I guess the BG are much smarter than that and Herbert obviously wasn't about to explain a realistic program in a novel. But you can get an idea of the kind of approach they're using (how mechanical it is, how they deal with individuals instead of populations and how they exclude the environment). And you contrast that with Leto II's way who claims drive evolution by being a predator. He's emulating natural selection and therefore conducting his program according to the principles of nature.

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Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Postby jakoye » 06 Jul 2012 20:20

Thank you for explaining it and for the linkage.

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Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Postby georgiedenbro » 16 Sep 2014 15:40

It's like two threads in one...

I think the BG were quite happy to have a stagnant gene pool, because it would permit them to calculate details of current bloodlines cleanly and to do their calculation in a position of relative order. If the bloodlines were mixing crazily across the galaxy then it would be very hard for them to make long-term calculations about breeding. I don't know if the BG specifically encouraged stagnation, but I definitely think they enjoyed those conditions for at least 90 generations. Their little breeding programs wouldn't have amounted to squat in terms of a galactic scale of gene mixing; they were just trying to produce one specific result (maybe more than one result, but we're only told about the KH program).

Mohaim and the BG knew that a storm was coming, though, that he race consciousness was just on the verge of exploding out to mix the genes. From the way Mohiam speaks it's not clear whether the BG merely observe that it's happening, or whether they edged it along a little so that the timing would coincide nicely with the coming of the KH. Either way, their KH leading a jihad across the galaxy is just what they needed to solidify their rule in the Empire, and so that does provide motive for encouraging stagnation previously. Mechanically it seems that the main forces that could serve to prevent the gene pool mixing were the trifecta Guild/Emperor/Landsraad system at standstill with each other. The BG could always veer things one way or another subtly, but they had nothing to do with whether people travelled a lot or could afford to have wars.