I’ll now touch on the three philosophies that we chose to form the three axes of the index. This was a subject that we discussed at length, starting with our first iteration of the three as: Empathy, Hedonism, and Wisdom. Empathy meaning the ability to understand the feelings of others, Hedonism being the pursuit of self-indulgence, and Wisdom being the exemplar of good judgement, knowledge, and experience. While those worked well in the beginning, I began running into problems in writing them into the world, especially when we are writing for a singular character whose actions reflect how an entire faction will be viewed.
That line of questioning eventually led to the shift from Personality to Philosophy. It’s a schematic difference, but one that allowed me to write in a plausible reason as to how the player’s actions will impact his faction as a whole. Tavias – the player character – is in essence the face of the crown to the world while his brother Leivan secrets himself away to find other solutions to the conflict at hand and any hidden knowledge that might save his family line. Therefore, the PPP of player/Tavias that we plot on the Tri-Axis Philosophical Index is a reflection of the world’s view on his actions in accordance to the three philosophies.
Using the three Personalities as a base, we finally went with Altruism, Hedonism, and Rationalism. As a whole, the three words actually fit better. As we see it: Rationalism is a more neutral version of Wisdom, and Altruism is a more detached form of Empathy. Hedonism had always been the challenge as it has some inherent connotations to it, but in principle is still all about finding the option that benefits the self the most. When put into the three axes, each philosophy works out to be the direct opposite of a combination of the other two.
For example: Altruism – selflessness, concern for others – is both characteristically the opposite of hedonism and not very rational. Hedonism – pursuit of self-indulgence – is both the opposite of altruism and is actually rather rational if you think about it. While Rationalism, is a direct counter to both Altruism and Hedonism as it is all about reason over emotion,
At the risk the drawing you into a full blown debate, I will give a cursory explanation of the definitions we set for these and the reasoning behind them. So let’s start by defining Rationalism and certain priorities that we might agree can be defined as the practice of Rationalism. Self-preservation is a biologically rational line of thought, as is the sacrifice of something small for a larger purpose, that’s just math and basic sense of self. Now, when we add in the complexities of human emotion and societal morals, we can see some shortcomings in pure and cold rationalism. So in that regard we can also measure the other two philosophies. Altruism is the practice of selflessness, and in the contemporary moral compass, is perhaps the highest ideal in which we can aspire to. However, if we were to measure it against Rationalism, it is inherently counter to the idea of self-preservation and we start to have some moral grey areas when it comes to sacrifice for the greater good. Hedonism on the other hand is the pursuit of self-indulgence, while this goes well with self-preservation, hedonism will inherently clash with the idea of the greater good and working for the benefit of others.