The Ideal(s) of an Ethos is how it defines its role(s), in game terms. Think of these as the practical tenets by which it leads its followers. These are:
[Mutually exclusive with Knowledge]
Those who follow this ideal disdain technology, which they see as creating an artificial world that distracts us from whatís real and important. They also have little fondness for theoretical science, which encourages the development of new technologies. The pressures of maintaining a low-tech way of life in a generally high-tech environment tend to deter all but the most committed from pursuing this ideal.
[Mutually exclusive with Anti-Technology]
Those who accept this ideal place a high value on ětruth.î While they respect intellectual achievement in every field of endeavor, they are especially interested in discoveries that yield insight into how the universe works. As they see things, a government that fails to consult with experts in order to take advantage of such insight, or that stifles the dissemination of information, is doomed. Likewise, a government that keeps secrets, military or otherwise. Their relentless pursuit of knowledge makes them excellent scientists, but their bluntness and unwillingness to dissemble also means that they are less than ideally suited for diplomacy. Moreover, their aversion to concealing the truth renders them vulnerable to spies.
[Mutually exclusive with Populism]
Aristocrats believe that the common people are not qualified to govern themselves. Often, on the theory that political skills and public-spiritedness are inheritable (due to nature, nurture, or a combination of both), they favor government by those whose ancestry includes eminent political figures, typically a hereditary nobility. Others believe in an aristocracy based on merit rather than birth, and support allowing only those who have distinguished themselves through service to the empire, or great achievements in military, economic, or scientific endeavors, to participate in government.
[Mutually exclusive with Aristocracy]
Populists see the well being of the common people as the true measure of a societyís success. To prevent members of the elite from using their power to enhance their own position at the expense of the majority, populists support universal suffrage, so that all will be able to make their voices heard in the halls of government. They also advocate aggressive measures to improve the lot of the most vulnerable members of society, which they see as essential to realizing their ideal of a society in which all are truly equal.
This ideal places a high value on creating beauty and expressing oneself. It sees the production of artistic masterpieces as the acme of achievement for individuals and societies. For those who lack significant aesthetic talents, this ideal holds that the best life is one devoted to cultivating an appreciation for works of genius that others have crafted. Regions where many pursue this ideal produce an abundance of beautiful and entertaining works, making them both pleasant to inhabit and rich sources of exports. The export of expressive works also helps promulgate the viewpoint of those living in such regions, generating sympathy for them abroad.
[Mutually exclusive with Terraforming/Perfect Order]
Ascetics believe that comfort breeds complacency and self-indulgence. They seek out hostile environments, in the hopes that facing the challenges of surviving in dangerous and uncomfortable surroundings will make them tough, disciplined, and self-reliant.
4b. Natural Order
[Mutually exclusive with Terraforming/Perfect Order]
Those who pursue this ideal are committed to preserving the integrity of the natural world. They believe that those who know how to live in harmony with nature can meet their needs without upsetting the delicate natural balance. They strongly oppose terraforming, arguing that intelligent beings are only one small part of nature, and have no right to distort the whole natural order just to enhance their own comfort and convenience. The one point on which they agree with advocates of terraforming, usually their most bitter rivals, is in their abhorrence of ecosystem-destroying weapons.
4c. Terraforming/Perfect Order
[Mutually exclusive with Natural Order and Ascetic]
Those who pursue this ideal see a natural distribution of flora, fauna, and geographic features as random and haphazard. Why leave planets as we find them, they say, when it is possible to create earthly paradises where everything is arranged in a rational order? Thus, they devote their efforts to molding planets into as comfortable and beautiful a form as their talent and ingenuity can devise. They vehemently oppose the use of weapons that deface planets they have improved, or hope to improve in the future.
5. The Chosen
The Chosen believe they have been selected to play a role of cosmic significance. Their certainty that destiny is on their side makes them especially passionate about their ethos. This fervor leads them to initiate ideological disputes with others. Therefore, the Chosen typically provoke a strong reaction; many see the Chosenís stridency as a threat and feel themselves compelled to respond with a vigorous statement of their own beliefs.
NEXT IN RELIGION: "Ideals: Parts 6 to 10"
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