Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

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Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby Cocoa » Tue Aug 19, 2008 11:25 am

This thread has a long standing tradition of discussion intermingled with debate on the more complex sub plots of the series. As the thread was first created by Tennyo and then carried on by December they showed us that every book can be exampined beyond the surface. So in that great tradition we give you the new TUGPM thread.
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philisophical Musings

Postby December » Tue Oct 14, 2008 1:18 pm

Welcome, everyone, to the latest incarnation of TUGMP -- with apologies for the long delay in bringing this thread back on line!

A reminder to everyone that this is a serious discussion thread, and one with a distinguished past. Post thoughtfully and TREAT OTHERS WITH RESPECT. There are no right and wrong views here, just different perspectives. And remember: we're not here to change each other's views. We're here to understand them -- and explain our own. Please keep that in mind as you write.

Above all...go the extra mile to express your views tactfully. If you think certain views are asinine DO NOT SAY SO. Find a non-confrontational way to tell us what you think. This thread only works if everyone makes an effort to be nice to each other.

I hope we’ll see some old posters back, but newcomers should feel welcome here as well: there’s always room for fresh perspectives! If you want to get a feel for the discussion, check out one of the previous incarnations of the thread: TUGPM#1, TUGPM#2, TUGPM#3 -- apart from anything else, it’s interesting reading.

For the rest, I thought I'd just repost Tennyo's introduction to the old thread:


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This thread is here to explore philosophical thoughts and implications in the Twilight Universe. The original thread began with a question about how the Cullens atone for all the lives they have taken. Then it sort of took off and became one gigantic, deep debate over every philosophical thing we could think of (vengeance, souls, empathy, the nature of love etc.)!

So just a few rules:

1. This is a given, and I’m proud to say it was never problem on the earlier threads, but it should be stated anyway: Be respectful of others, and especially their beliefs. Many of our debates are religious in nature, and our beliefs sometimes clash. That doesn’t mean anyone is wrong. Ever.

2. When we burn out on a topic, you can ask a new one. Try to make sure no one has posted for a few days before asking a new question-otherwise we end up with 6 different debates going on at once.

3. Bold your main question.

4. Since we are in Quench Your Thirst and not Flight to Phoenix, make sure your question is framed in terms of the Twilight series- ie “Edward believes that he doesn’t have a soul. Why is that?” and not “Do we have souls?" It's ok to let us know how your own beliefs affect the way you see things, but we're not here to argue with each other about our core convictions!

5. Despite the fact that there are limitless philosophical questions, most of them do fall into a limited number of categories. It stands to reason that we may start recycling former questions. Let’s try for new material, but sometimes the good stuff is worth taking another look at!

6. This is very important: there are no answers to any of these philosophical questions. Even if Stephenie Meyer herself posts (as she has been known to do-the entire PC#12 is from the original thread) her take on things, that doesn’t mean the debate’s over. It means we got another very good opinion to add to it!
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So to start us off, here's a question from Cullengirl:

Cullengirl wrote:

We know how many people the Cullens have killed over their lifetimes. We also know that Carlisle created most of his coven and has never tasted human blood. So a couple of questions:

a) Is preying on humans a choice that Carlisle gave to his coven as a kind of recompense for changing them (Esme, Edward, Rosalie, and Emmett) on their deathbeds?

b) Is this why Carlisle is so lenient and understanding when one of them slips?

c) Carlisle the creator is the only one (apart from Rosalie) who has not fed on human blood - is this less a lifestyle than a way of atoning for his sins in changing his family members?
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philisophical Musings

Postby Shakespeare » Tue Oct 14, 2008 7:51 pm

a) Is preying on humans a choice that Carlisle gave to his coven as a kind of recompense for changing them (Esme, Edward, Rosalie, and Emmett) on their deathbeds?
I think that, if Carlisle could really control them, he would have stopped them before they killed people. In fact, I think that it is extremely out of character that he does let them commit murders. One of my many complaints about the Cullens is that they do not contribute to society and, for the most part, are hugely disdainful of humans. Why do they even bother sparing them? Carlisle is the exception to this. He alone interacts with humans and appreciates that they are other beings. For this reason, I found it unnerving that he would just let the other Cullens kill people. After all, as the creator, wouldn't he feel some amount of guilt for the deaths he has indirectly caused? He acts noble since talks about how he only turns people who are almost dead, but then he doesn't seem to think about the people who are killed as a result of his new creation. It goes against his kind, caring nature.
So no, I don;t think it is any kind of recompense. Why should he act like Edward, Esme, Rosalie, and Emmet are more important than they many people they killed? I can only imagine that he did his best to stop the murders but ultimately failed. It isn't his position to deal out forgiveness and Carlisle doesn't seem like someone who would justify his own actions by allowing others to be murdered. It goes against everything that he is.

b) Is this why Carlisle is so lenient and understanding when one of them slips?
Same complaint as above, mostly. Carlisle should realize that the murder aren't affecting him, they're affecting the families and friends of the murdered. I would have thought that Carlisle would want the other Cullens to make amends to these families.
However, I suppose that there is the possibility that, had he been more strict, the family may have disbanded. Edward's return, for example, must have been trying for the family. If he hadn't welcomed Edward back so fully, Edward, might have reverted back to being a murder. That wouldn't have helped at all.
That's the only logical conclusion I can come up with.

c) Carlisle the creator is the only one (apart from Rosalie) who has not fed on human blood - is this less a lifestyle than a way of atoning for his sins in changing his family members? Well, considering that he chose this lifestyle before he changed Edward, I'd say no.
I'm actually an anti. I don't like the Twilight series at all.

I'm here because I enjoy discussing literature and I think it's often much more interesting to talk to people who disagree with you.

And yes, I have read the books. ;)
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby debussygirl » Tue Oct 14, 2008 11:00 pm

Shakespeare, I would read this:
http://www.twilightlexiconblog.com/?p=360
I think SM makes her point pretty well.

a) Is preying on humans a choice that Carlisle gave to his coven as a kind of recompense for changing them (Esme, Edward, Rosalie, and Emmett) on their deathbeds? I don't think that the choice is a recompense, mostly it is him giving them choice. He can guide them in their early years, but it why would he stop them from doing as he wished? He isn't a controlling person. He would rather guide them and hope he made his point than making them an enemy. He is truly like a father--raising them, but then making them make their own decisions, and finally, welcoming them back (or for Edward's case at least.)
b) Is this why Carlisle is so lenient and understanding when one of them slips? I think he is lenient because he knows they didn't do it on purpose. Why make them feel even more guilty? He is a kind, comforting father-figure and while I'm sure they get a talking-to, he knows that there's no point in overbearing them.
c) Carlisle the creator is the only one (apart from Rosalie) who has not fed on human blood - is this less a lifestyle than a way of atoning for his sins in changing his family members? I don't think Carlisle believes he really did anything wrong, so he wouldn't need to atone for anything.
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby Ouisa » Tue Oct 14, 2008 11:35 pm

I don't think that Carlisle is giving them the choice to partake in the REV (red eyed vampire) lifestyle per se. I think it's an inevitability of life. One that has many parallels with the life we all live every day. It seems to me that the role that Carlisle plays in the lives of his created wife and children has many parallels to the beliefs of those that are Christian. Which makes sense as I have often said that the major theme of these books is temptation (and choice). That's why the apple, that's why the quote from Genesis.

Carlisle created them each of the Cullen family members into a life where they would daily be tempted to commit murder. In fact tempted is probably too mild a term for what the vampires in Stephenie's universe endure on a daily basis as this temptation they face is a craving for the very thing that continues their life. Carlisle himself seems to be above this temptation and thus can be seen as "perfect" or "without sin." Although he himself is removed from the temptation, he never seems to fault those who falter but continues to love them, guide them, and encourage them to do what is right from this moment on.

Those that believe in Christianity believe that all humans were created by one who is perfect and above temptation. While this creator expects his creations to also be without sin, the fall is in fact inevitable. Still those that fall are not shunned; they are not loved any less. They are instead encouraged to recognize their mistakes, make restitution and recommit to living and doing what is right. They are ever accepted and forgiven by their creator and always welcome in his family.

Given the centrality of these beliefs in Stephenie's own life, it makes sense to see them reflected in her characters.

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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby kaitlyncullen » Wed Oct 15, 2008 1:53 am

a) Is preying on humans a choice that Carlisle gave to his coven as a kind of recompense for changing them (Esme, Edward, Rosalie, and Emmett) on their deathbeds?

i think to a certain extent, yes. carlisle never wanted to be a vampire in the first place, he was born into a time when he was meant to hunt them. he only took those that were about to die, but i'm sure he must have felt bad. most of them say they don't want to be a vampire and carlisle is very compassionate. i'm sure that him being able to show them a different way of life is a way to kind of make up for what they are in the first place.

b) Is this why Carlisle is so lenient and understanding when one of them slips?

he's lenient and understanding because he is in most ways their father. that is how he should be to them. he loves them, faults and all. he also understands that it is just the vampire's nature.

c) Carlisle the creator is the only one (apart from Rosalie) who has not fed on human blood - is this less a lifestyle than a way of atoning for his sins in changing his family members?

i just think that carlisle chooses not to feed on humans because that's what he believes in. he doesn't want to kill and he doesnt want to be a monster. he wants to do the good thing which is very admirable.
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby Destani » Wed Oct 15, 2008 10:24 am

a) Is preying on humans a choice that Carlisle gave to his coven as a kind of recompense for changing them (Esme, Edward, Rosalie, and Emmett) on their deathbeds?
I don't believe it works that way. I think that Carlisle explains his views to them, perhaps guides them in that direction during their newborn years in the same way a parent would guide a child, and hopes that they will believe in his values. But like all parents, his "children" reach a point of maturity where they must be allowed to make their own life choices. I think that when Edward wanted to strike off on his own, Carlisle probably had a long discussion with him, but ultimately the decision was in Edward's hands and Carlisle respected that. Note that when Edward made that decision, he actually left the family for a while. He returned when he realized that preying on humans, even the bad ones, was not the lifestyle for him. Because of the way Carlisle lives, he cannot abide vampires killing humans too close to his home, thus he asks the nomads to refrain from hunting in the area. So in making a conscious decision to prey on humans, Edward was excluding himself from the family. Mistakes are treated differently because they are not premeditated and the vampire that slipped does still want to continue the "vegetarian" lifestyle.

b) Is this why Carlisle is so lenient and understanding when one of them slips?
I think it's in Carlisle's nature to be forgiving. Everyone makes mistakes and he understands that. I agree with Ouisa here because I also noticed a resemblance to the Christian God in Carlisle's character.

c) Carlisle the creator is the only one (apart from Rosalie) who has not fed on human blood - is this less a lifestyle than a way of atoning for his sins in changing his family members?
No. Carlisle managed to control his thirst during his newborn stage, when he was completely alone. He stuck to his beliefs when he was living with the Volturi. He has been living the "vegetarian" lifestyle since day one of being a vampire, long before he changed any of his family members. He is living this way because of his faith and because he believes it is right.
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby cullengirl » Wed Oct 15, 2008 11:19 am

Thank you, December! I’m glad to have this thread back and get a chance to discuss things with you all.

I’d like to preface this post by saying that I apologize for it being so long. I also would like to add that Carlisle is my second favorite character from the saga. I find him extremely fascinating considering his background and the choices he has made. I do not see him as the perfect vampire. In my opinion, he does have his flaws and those lay in his choices to change others as well his reasons behind them, hence my question.

As we all know, Edward, Esme, Rosalie, and Emmett were on their deathbeds when they were created by Carlisle. Carlisle, with his own volition, created them. There was no discussion between the other party whether or not he/she would like to join him. In fact, Carlisle has justified each transformation. For the sake of this topic, I will focus on Edward, Esme and Rosalie’s transformations.

For Edward, Carlisle states: “It’s was Edward’s mother who made up my decision” (NM, 39). At this moment, Edward’s mother demanded that Carlisle ‘save’ Edward. We know that Carlisle has been by himself for about 250 years and has contemplated whether or not to create a partner, as Edward describes in TW: “He wasn’t absolutely sure how his own transformation had occurred, so he was hesitant. And he was loath to steal anyone’s life the way his had been stolen” (340) . Carlisle was never the given the choice to be changed, however, he didn’t give his own coven a choice either, as he tells Bella in NM: “After all those years of indecision, I simply acted on a whim” (NM, 41). As we later learn from Stephenie’s personal correspondence, Carlisle acted out of loneliness when he created Edward. Edward should have filled Carlisle’s void. He has gotten exactly what he needed and wanted: a companion who understood who he is, sharing his ideas and frustrations, et al. So why did he then continue changing people afterwards?

Esme failed her suicide attempt when she encountered Carlisle for the second time. She already decided, for herself, to not live yet her choice was not acknowledged. Carlisle had changed her because: he remembered her and “[felt] saddened by the turn her life had taken, Carlisle changed Esme to save her.” (Carlisle's character bio). Yet again, it was Carlisle’s choice: “He didn’t want her to die and so he saved her”. Esme’s transformation can be construed as Carlisle’s desire to have a mate out of physical love, but did Esme want to be his?

Like Esme, Rosalie also wanted to die. She even voiced her opinions aloud and was still denied: “I begged him to kill me. When Esme and Edward returned home, I begged them to kill me too” (EC, 161). When Carlisle, Edward and Esme found Rosalie, she had been brutally assaulted and left for dead. Carlisle took the initiation to change her. Rosalie recalls Carlisle saying, “It was too much waste. I couldn’t just leave her.” Carlisle’s intention for Rosalie was to provide Edward a companion, in essence, to repeat his actions with Esme and again without Rosalie’s decision. It is uncertain that Edward wanted a companion at that time or whether he voiced his desires to have one, yet, the key point here again is that Carlisle decided for Rosalie; to give her another life when she didn’t want one.

What strikes me is that after Rosalie’s transformation, Carlisle states that Rosalie isn’t obligated to stay with him but rather has a choice: “That’s up to her, of course, she may want to go her own way” (EC, 162). What is the purpose of this choice when her other choice was denied? Is her choice to feed on humans or animals that much more important than deciding on whether to live or die? In my opinion, the choice of what they eat does seem to be a higher value than their individual lives. This choice is a substitution for their existence. Each coven member has to decide how to spend their second ‘saved life’. They have been instilled a new kind of conscience, which dictates that killing humans is wrong. Yet why does Carlisle’s decision seen as a saving a person inside of robbing them of their destined path: death? But have they been saved or more importantly, did they need saving? When asked by Bella why he chooses to continue his medical duties, Carlisle states: “What I enjoy the very most is when my enhanced abilities let me save someone who would otherwise have been lost. It’s pleasant knowing that, thanks to what I can do, some people’s lives are better because I exist” (NM, 34). Aside from treating people who are injured in the human sense, how does this transgress to creation? What gives Carlisle the right to create others? Who is he to decide that someone should or should not be changed?

It is arguable whether or not the second ‘life’ of a vampire is a blessing or a curse. Carlisle is still struggling with this concept: “That’s the one part that I’ve done the best I could with what I had to work with. But was it right to doom others to this life? I can’t decide.” (NM, 38). It seems for Edward that it is both. If he wasn’t changed, he would never have found Bella but he would have been rest assured that he had a soul. For Rosalie, it is only seen as a curse, a reminder of things she will never possess. Perhaps for Carlisle, he may see his family members as people who have been taken too soon and he already came to terms what his vampirism meant for him. I just find it hard to believe that after remaining ‘clean’ and alone for 2 centuries that Carlisle had acted on a whim to create others and continued to do so. Maybe he is so lenient to their slips because he realizes how easy it is to give into temptation. However the temptation here is not feeding, but the temptation of creating, which he stopped right after Emmett.
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby SparklingDiamond » Wed Oct 15, 2008 6:46 pm

a) Is preying on humans a choice that Carlisle gave to his coven as a kind of recompense for changing them (Esme, Edward, Rosalie, and Emmett) on their deathbeds?
b) Is this why Carlisle is so lenient and understanding when one of them slips?

I don't think so. Carlisle knows that this is the true nature of his family. He knows how hard they have to rise above this nature to choose the veggie vamp path. I agree with the others who said, those who slip up will most likely punish themselves enough. Plus, add in the guilt of causing the family to move. Why add any more torment? Carlisle is a compassionate and understanding person. With compassion as his gift, he must possess a great deal of empathy. He would never do anything to make his family feel any more guilty than they already do. He loves them too much for that. As Ouisa said, he loves them in an almost godly fasion.

c) Carlisle the creator is the only one (apart from Rosalie) who has not fed on human blood - is this less a lifestyle than a way of atoning for his sins in changing his family members?

I don't believe at all that Carlisle feels the need to atone for the creation of his family members, even though he altered their destiny in the process. That is, of course, if you assume their destiny was to die. Perhaps the Cullens were all destined to become vampires? Including Bella, we all saw in BD how much that life suited her. Who are we to say that their original destinies did not include this fate? Back to Carlisle. I do feel that a big reason for Carlisle changing Edward, Esme, Rose, and Emmett was to create a family for himself. He was tired of living alone, but not tired enough to change someone who had a chance at living. He gave a second chance to those who met an untimely end. I would have to believe that, if given the chance, Carlisle wouldn't have changed any of his previous actions. He would still have changed his family members, even Rose. Yes, Rose is bitter, but I don't think it has so much to do with her new life. I feel this is more of a carry over from her human life and of the violence of her human almost passing.

Carlisle chose this lifestyle before he had a family. That's a point that's been made clear. Why would he change his belief once he had a family? He has also seen first hand how different the REVs are from him. The choice for him is one of sacrifice. As Stephanie said in the correspondence that was noted, he believes that this is his way to the afterlife, or his way of keeping his soul intact. His goal is to model this for his family in hopes that they will make the same choice he has.
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Re: Twilight Universe General Philosophical Musings

Postby Li'lBit » Thu Oct 16, 2008 11:36 am

a) Is preying on humans a choice that Carlisle gave to his coven as a kind of recompense for changing them (Esme, Edward, Rosalie, and Emmett) on their deathbeds?

I don't think Carlisle gave them this choice - it's just a choice that exists for every Vampire. Carlisle is incurably hopeful. He has found a way to live as a vampire that is good, something that he never could have expected from his early upbringing. He has learned that vampirism does not rob one of goodness or the ability to make one's own decisions. He has found that while it does have huge challenges, it's not as much a prison as a new kind of existance with different strengths and weaknesses than the old one. He's eternal hope and optimism allows him to imagine this life for those he has created - and to be fair, aside from a few rebellious years in Edward's new life, his optimism has been perfectly well founded.

As far as saving lives despite the victim's desire to die - I think I've stated before that I can't hold Carlisle responsible for this. He's a doctor. Doctors in emergency situations are very often called upon to save the lives of people who have tried to take them. Carlisle is in this situation very often - saving lives against the wishes of the person he is saving. The question for me isn't whether he took away their right to choose death any more than I would fault a doctor in my local emergency room for saving the life of someone who had attempted suicide. The only question for me is whether he had the right to create a vampire life for anyone - no matter what their condition or state of mind at the time of change. He had the same question, but enough of that hope to make the attempt after years of contemplation when the opportunity presented itself in a way that preyed upon his desire to do something good ("on a whim" he says - because the final decision was made in a flash, not because it was a thoughtless decision). When the choice to change Esme came along he had only his very good experience with Edward to go on - his hope had been right and so it was easier to justify saving Esme. With Rosalie the decision was even easier - his hope was 2 for 2. If anything was a recompense for having changed someone it was Emmett being changed for Rosalie's sake. I still don't know if I agree with the choice - but it makes for a darn good story.

b) Is this why Carlisle is so lenient and understanding when one of them slips?

As someone else mentioned, it's just Carlisle's nature to be forgiving. He knows first hand the difficulty of the lifestyle that his family lives. He's never given in himself, but he's understanding of those who have because he knows that they're trying. Once again, Edward being the exception for those few years. When he is committed again to the lifestyle then Carlisle is able to embrace him and welcome him back. When Alice and Jasper slip up he is equally forgiving and understanding, though he had no hand at all in their creation.

It's an interesting question though - and makes me wonder if he does feel a twinge of guilt when a life is lost to these slips, knowing that he was in some ways the one who created the situation.

c) Carlisle the creator is the only one (apart from Rosalie) who has not fed on human blood - is this less a lifestyle than a way of atoning for his sins in changing his family members?

Carlisle doesn't feed on human blood from the moment he is created because he chooses from that very moment not to become the creature that he loathes. He's determined to die before he gives in to that - and it makes him who he is as a vampire (and eventually shapes his family and their lifestyle choice as well - though they came later).
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