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Old 12-11-2004, 02:24 PM   #1
Boromir88
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1420! Is manipulation evil?

When we think of manipulation, we think of brainwashing, a person forcing his or her own beliefs on another. Also, when we first think of manipulation we automatically associate it with evil.

To forms of evil manipulation from LOTR, the Ring, and Saruman. Both try to persuade someone to "join" them for their own destructive purposes. Saruman offers allegiance to Gandalf, and we slightly hear of his ability to give a good pep talk to his men. That is how he is able to get the dunlanders to join him. The Ring, offers you what one desires, wealth, power, total domination, and will lull you into a false sense of security. In fact both Saruman, and the Ring, persuade you, by offering you what you desire, but really it's just trying to use you for their own reasons. They offer you these false hopes in order to attract you.

But is manipulation necessarily evil? If we look at Gandalf he does his own form of manipulation. He shows his maia self to Bilbo and Theoden in order to get them to do what he wants, give up the Ring, and to get Theoden to be the great king he becomes. Now, manipulation, maybe a too strong of a word, but when you think about it, it is manipulation. Gandalf is forcing his beliefs onto anothers. In order to get what he wants. However, it's for a good reason.

The final point is. Is manipulation sort of like pride, their's a good form and a bad form? Does it take "good" manipulation (Gandalf) to counter the "bad" manipulation (Saruman and the Ring)? Is that the only way to undo "bad" manipulation?
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Old 12-11-2004, 05:01 PM   #2
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I would hesitate to compare or to put manipulation on par with brainwashing...as they are, in fact, different. Whereas brainwashing is indoctrination, manipulation is managing and influencing something. So, I cannot really agree with you when you say that manipulation is a person forcing his or her own beliefs on another.. Please forgive me if I have misunderstood you...

I am bit confused by your post -- one moment it seems as if you are saying that the Ring and Gandalf (to an extent) and Saruman are forcing their beliefs upon people, then the next moment you say that the Ring and Saruman offer people what they most desire (and, in so doing, they play upon those desires)...which is it? Because these two things that you describe are hardly synonymous of each other, for how could appealing to the wishes and desires of one's heart compare to indoctrination?
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Old 12-11-2004, 09:11 PM   #3
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Manipulation is evil if you listen to what people tell you. In the long run, it probably is, but manipulation and other forms of influence is something that makes us human, and makes us suckers sometimes.

When you look at the manipulation used in fantasy stories like The Lord of the Rings, then yes, you can definitely, concretely say that it is evil. However, in daily life it is my belief that if society, government and whoever else you want to blame didn't use many insanely, evil-y genius forms of mass manipulation and everyone was to use their own minds to make decisions, this would be one messed up world. That is purely how I perceive it, and yes, I may be a little pessimistic, but seriously, can you imagine a world without the media telling you what to do? Who would you vote for (if you live in a democratic society), who would you dress like, and for goodness sake what shampoo would you use!? If ignorance is bliss, then yes...manipulation is bad.
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Old 12-11-2004, 09:27 PM   #4
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1420!

Imladris I would have to say that they are interchangeable. A form of Saruman's chance of manipulation is what he tried to do with Gandalf. Trying to have Gandalf join him, that is trying to manipulate him. The Ring, yes it offers what the person wishes, or desires, but think of this scenario.

Boromir, can be argued as a good person, a strong leader, and in heart he is a good person, he means to do good. The Ring appeals to him, shows him able to gain power, prestige...etc. That is also how I would define manipulation, where Boromir, a person who means to do the right thing, is persuaded, and falls to the Ring's will.

I will agree with you, that brainwashing and manipulation are totally different, that was a bad choice of words by me. However, I think if the Ring offers what a person want, that could still be manipulation. Boromir wants power, he tries to resist the Ring, but can't do it, he was persuaded to do otherwise.

Or maybe, manipulation is too strong a word, maybe "persuaded" will fit better. I hope that cleared some things up .
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Old 12-11-2004, 09:32 PM   #5
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1420!

Boneheaded me forgot to post the rest I ment to post.

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However, in daily life it is my belief that if society, government and whoever else you want to blame didn't use many insanely, evil-y genius forms of mass manipulation and everyone was to use their own minds to make decisions, this would be one messed up world.
Nice point, it has been written (as well as proven) that our human self is not good at decision making. We are always looking for an opinion of the person who is higher above then us. Even the president consults his own cabinet members, we just quite frankly, aren't good at making our own decisions. Even some people who are better decision makers, then others, doesn't necessarily mean they are the "right" decisions either.
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Old 12-11-2004, 09:44 PM   #6
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My dad the conspiricy theorist believes that there is someone out there who is good at decision making, and according to him, they're American. (Due to my boycott of smilies, this last sentence is meant to have a suprised expression to it)

Manipulation is another form of control and anyone who wants to control people is instantly tagged "EVIL". I don't usually say this in polite company (feel special posters) but I like to control people, does that make me evil? (I even have my own harem, it has two members)

Is there a difference between wanting to control people or just wanting to control the world (like evil bad-guys Morgoth/Sauron/Saruman). We all want things our way, does that make us all evil? Perhaps this is a question of action vs. emotion.
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Old 12-11-2004, 09:49 PM   #7
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1420!

Ok, then, is what Gandalf does (getting Bilbo to let go of the ring and helping out Theoden), is that "manipulating?" I have to agree that manipulation is termed for the more evil, so maybe this again would fall under "persuasion." And what Gandalf is doing is persuading, he's telling Bilbo to let the Ring go (the Ring is telling him different), and he's telling Theoden to get up, look at the sun, flip off Grima...etc. Since, Gandalf is doing this for "moral" reasons, I would agree that it is not manipulation.
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Old 12-11-2004, 09:50 PM   #8
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In and of itself, I would not say manipulation is evil. It is the motives of the person doing the manipulating and the way they do it that makes it evil or good. To go along with the Gandalf vs. Saruman example, Gandalf's motives were good. His ultimate goal was to unite the peoples of the West to defeat Sauron. His methods were also good. He did not force anyone to do anything. He used a great deal of persuading and convincing, but these are not bad things. Saruman, on the other hand, manipulated people so as to gain control of Middle-earth for himself. To do this he also used persuasion (which is still not a bad thing), but he also forced beings into doing his will (i.e. Orcs and 'brainwashing' Theoden), which is a bad thing.

Basically, if a person (object?) is manipulating for their own benefit (e.g. Saruman, the Ring), it is probably evil. If they are manipulating for the benefit of the people at large (e.g. Gandalf), it is probably good.

Cross-posting with the last two posts, which basically say the same thing. With those in mind, I do not think that control is necessarily bad. Otherwise there would be chaos. As was pointed out, it is a question of morals. What Gandalf is doing is still manipulation - it is just with a benevolent intent.

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Old 12-11-2004, 09:55 PM   #9
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1420!

Firefoot:
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In and of itself, I would not say manipulation is evil. It is the motives of the person doing the manipulating and the way they do it that makes it evil or good.
But is it something related to the argument about "Pride." (click)

Where there is a "good pride" (Confidence or Pleased), and there's a bad pride (Arrogance). In this case there's a good persuasion (persuasion-Gandalf), and a bad persuasion (manipulation-Saruman).
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Old 12-12-2004, 08:33 AM   #10
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The term 'manipulation' carries the connotation of controling by the use of unfair or insidious means, usually to the advantage of the one doing said manipulating.
The influence that Gandalf held over people and their subsequent self-chosen actions involved the use of truth. The persuasive ability that Gandalf utilized never involved manipulation. (In my never-to-be-humble opinion!) Gandalf's used his abilities to appeal to the good side of people, encouraging and showing them the truth so as to spark deeds of rightness, for the good of Middle Earth. What Gandalf did does not meet the defination of 'manipulation'.
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Old 12-12-2004, 08:48 AM   #11
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Arguably, Gandalf DID manipulate Bilbo into giving up the ring, but as was already stated, I think the motivation behind the manipulation is what makes it evil, not the action. Not very much is purely evil in itself.

Saruman trying to manipulate Gandalf into uniting with him was manipulation, and that WAS evil. Saruman did not have Gandalf's best interests in mind, he knew that the two of them could not share the ring. He simply wanted Gandalf's power in order to further his own ambitions. To me, that had evil motives, and so in that sense manipulation is evil. Good thing Gandalf is smarter than Saruman gave him credit for.

Whereas when Gandalf had Bilbo give up the ring, he wasn't taking it for himself, and he was doing it for the good of Bilbo and the good of Middle Earth.

It really does all come down to the motives, to simply say 'Manipulation is evil' is far too general.
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Old 12-12-2004, 10:18 AM   #12
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I don't think we can compare the Ring/Saruman's manipulation with that of Gandalf, and not only because of the intention.

The Ring and Saruman tries to force people to do what they(the Ring/Saruman) want them to do, regardless of their own will. On reflection, after the Ring/Saruman's influence has worn off, they wonder what came over them.

Not so with Gandalf. Indeed, Gandalf doesn't make Bilbo do anything. He just gets angry because Bilbo accuses him of trying to take the Ring from him. And for Theoden, he merely attacks Wormtongue in front of him. He doesn't threaten Theoden to do what he wants. In both cases, Gandalf leaves the decision up to them. He may try to prod them in the direction that he wants, but he doesn't try to take control of their minds to do what he wants. Bilbo and Theoden make up their own decision, without any sort of internal influence from Gandalf. They do not wonder whether they were bewitched or not on reflection.
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Old 12-12-2004, 01:58 PM   #13
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Well, thanks for linking Boro.

And if, as I see it, there is a one true manipulation, then I would also agree that it is not evil in itself. Gandalf's entire purpose was basically to manipulate. Into which purpose, he himself was manipulated.
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