On Sat, 1 Aug 1998, Shane wrote:
> On 12 Jul 98, at 23:19, Tim Harford wrote:
> > I am told that it is by no means certain that the world is round. In
> > Khitai, "the world is known to be round", but this apparent certainty
> > stems from typical Khitan arrogance...
> The relevant passage refers to five small luminous objects in the night
> sky, believed by the peasants of Krarth to be spirits of powerful magi,
> and can be found on page 64 of Book Six: "Astronomers of Khitai or the
> Ta'ashim lands, where the world is known to be round, could possibly map
You're quite right that the books seem to imply a spherical world. Like
Paul, I'm slightly embarrassed to make an appeal to 'divine' authority,
but would point out that it was Saint Dave himself who observed that the
Khitans think they know the world is round, but this belief is fostered by
their tremendous arrogance.
But I'm cheating by making reference to a tongue in cheek remark the
author made over a beer, rather than to the texts themselves.
Of course, it's not really terribly interesting whether Legend is 'really'
flat or round: I doubt Dave has a ruling in mind, and even if he does
there's nothing to stop any of us changing that ruling in our own games.
What IS interesting is the fact that it's possible to have the discussion
at all, and the way in which the discussion happens.
In our own world there are very many good reasons to believe the world is
(almost) spherical, and no good reasons to believe it is flat. Arguments
can be supported by appeal to theory, photographs from space, observation
of the earth's curvature from aeroplanes, etc.
None of us are lucky enough to have visited Legend, and so we have been
unable to experiment on the matter. Instead, we carry out our little
discussion by appealing to:
a) Divine authority (beers with Dave Morris: Tim, Paul)
b) Textual authority (reading the books: Shane, Shaun)
c) Aesthetics/Ethics (what _should_ be true: Tim, Paul)
This is ridiculous, and exactly what a good medieval debate should be
like. I think that we should take these discussions not just as enjoyable
diversions but as fine examples of medieval metaphysical debate, and put
them in our games of Legend forthwith.
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