Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

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Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-08-21 07:53pm

Though there does seem to be scattered statements about Vulcan philosophy throughout the canon, it seems to be rather scattershot and limited. Is there any sort of resources about the philosophy made by Surak?

Failing that, what can we hypothesize about Vulcan philosophy, and their real world equivalents?
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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by Gandalf » 2018-08-21 09:35pm

I don't think there's a central resource. But from what I gather, the teachings of Surak (or at least later interpretations of them) are around taking a dispassionate view of the universe. They clearly feel emotions, but try to keep that out of decision making and much of day to day life.

I imagine that this was caused by some massive societal trauma, like in the film Equilibrium. The Church of Surak afterwards came to prominence, offering Vulcans a way past it to rebuild their society.
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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-08-22 01:11pm

Ahem. There's no book covering all of what they're into, obviously. Not even some "Principles of IDIC" or whatever as far as I know.

That said: I'm a bit surprised Gandalf isn't more familiar with the in-universe history. Vulcans used to have a rather violent time of it until Surak emerged and introduced his philosophy. Details of said time have never been particularly elaborated upon. The faction that became the Romulans disagreed, and found their way off-planet, allowing the Surakian faction to spread its philosophy across the planet. Effectively it's a mix of both a highly rational, logic-based philosophy and extremely stringent physical and emotional discipline.

The closest real-world equivalent may be Stoicism. They are similar in that both tend to accept whatever comes their way, and trying to use logic to determine the most ideal course of action. Utilitarianism is also applicable as well.
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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by bilateralrope » 2018-08-23 12:13am

Was it ever explained why the Vulcans are telepathic but the Romulans aren't ?

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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by Master Six » 2018-08-23 01:21pm

I don't believe so. My best guess is that both species had the innate potential to be telepathic, but the Vulcans were only able to harness it because of the change in philosophy and the rigorous mental discipline they subjected themselves to. The Romulans had no interest in following Surak's teachings or the changes in Vulcan culture, so the ability was lost to them. I don't know if it's ever been claimed that the Vulcans had telepathy in their more savage years.

It is very strange, though, that the Romulans never attempted to harness that power for their own purposes, even if only amongst a specific psy-ops group. It's more evidence of how they kind of botched the fleshing out of the Romulans. In TOS they were clearly meant to be the same species as Vulcans, only with a very different culture -- the outcasts of a revolution, forgotten over time, only to emerge as a great power. The Romulans can't have reasonably evolved over less than 2000 years to the point that they should be genetically more similar to the Klingons than Vulcans in any aspect. I see no reason why Romulans would not have the same innate abilities as Vulcans, nor why they were not smart enough to exploit them.
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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-08-23 01:42pm

Master Six wrote:
2018-08-23 01:21pm
I don't believe so. My best guess is that both species had the innate potential to be telepathic, but the Vulcans were only able to harness it because of the change in philosophy and the rigorous mental discipline they subjected themselves to. The Romulans had no interest in following Surak's teachings or the changes in Vulcan culture, so the ability was lost to them. I don't know if it's ever been claimed that the Vulcans had telepathy in their more savage years.
Pretty much this, plus a couple millennia or so of breeding. Given how logical they are they might well be selecting for certain genetic qualities, or removing themselves from the breeding pool if they decide their own genes are not going to further the species. (One now pictures Vulcan establishments for people who have pon farr at an inconvenient time...)

Speaking of pon farr, that's another part of the equation. What species deliberately and voluntarily chooses to only mate once every few years? To the point that it's either a part of their genetic makeup or a major, devastating to their health build-up of accumulated hormones? That Surakian discipline must be some hot stuff.
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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by Master Six » 2018-08-23 03:45pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-08-23 01:42pm
Speaking of pon farr, that's another part of the equation. What species deliberately and voluntarily chooses to only mate once every few years? To the point that it's either a part of their genetic makeup or a major, devastating to their health build-up of accumulated hormones? That Surakian discipline must be some hot stuff.
In spite of what later Trek writers had to say, I have a very different view of the pon farr, more in line with what I think D.C. Fontana had in mind. Here's what we know:
1. To sustain the species' population, even that of a very long-lived species, reproduction would have to occur more than every seven years. I suppose there are methods by which the Vulcans could work with this biological limitation, such as having a polygamous society in which many males mated with many females. That would be in line with the Vulcans' logical approach, but without working out the numbers I still feel like this would be unlikely. We haven't seen any evidence of this behavior, anyway, and in fact we have at least one bit of evidence suggesting that Vulcans do treat marriage and sexuality in somewhat of a similar fashion to humans. When Tuvok went through his pon farr, he found the idea of mating with a woman who wasn't his wife untenable. If the Vulcans were so dedicated to logic and reason that the marital bond had less meaning than it does for human culture, why would this be an issue? Either Tuvok is an outlier or the Vulcans do believe in marital fidelity.

2. It has been suggested that the Vulcans have particularly volatile emotions. The way they speak of their savagery in the past could be due to their being an enlightened people looking back on their less-enlightened ways, but it still seems as if there was something particularly violent about their past culture that exceeds the conflicts and warfare we know from our past. It may very well be that there is something unique about their emotions and severity, owing to hormones or their particular neuro-chemistry.

3. Suppression of emotions, particularly the most volatile ones, can only work for so long -- at some point everyone has to unleash their passions in some form or another.

Because of this, I don't believe that the pon farr is directly tied to their sexual capacity. I think Vulcans can have sex and have children whenever they wish to; it is merely a part of their culture that they put less of a priority on recreational sex than we do. Instead, I think the pon farr represents the point where Vulcans are forced to unleash the emotions that they've kept pent up over time. It explains why Vulcans become so aggressive and emotional when the pon farr happens, rather than just being horny or becoming ill. It also explains why there are alternatives to sex to overcome the pon farr; if the pon farr was only about the drive to mate, why would combat be an acceptable remedy (physically or culturally)? If they had to mate every seven years for their own health or the survival of the species, I imagine they would be mandated by law to have sex. For that matter, if the pon farr was connected to the propagation of the species, I find it unlikely that a Vulcan could ever entertain the idea of mating with a non-Vulcan, and we have at least two examples where a non-Vulcan mate was deemed a viable option. What sex and combat (to the death or otherwise) have in common is that they are tied to our most basic and volatile emotional impulses. Once those activities are completed, they've "gotten it out of their system", and can return to their normal life for another seven years. The only other option is to meditate the passions away, which would only delay the issue, not solve it (and that would explain why meditation never seems to work to overcome the pon farr).

Why such a logical race would choose to wait until the umpteenth hour to let loose their feelings is a wee bit bizarre, but workable. The sacrifices and efforts the species made obviously benefited them in the long run, as they were able to focus their energies on obtaining knowledge and developing their society, until they were one of the most advanced humanoid races in the quadrant. Spock was focused on embracing his Vulcan heritage due to the discrimination he faced as a childhood, so he may have consciously decided to test his limitations, including by eschewing sex or violent outbursts until he had no choice but to deal with them. Tuvok was devoted to his wife and perhaps some part of him held out in hope of getting home before the pon farr hit him. It's possible that the pon farr is less of a problem for Vulcans who are in active romantic relationships, as their partner is generally close at hand and they are able to have sex more often with less of a cultural stigma.
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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by Broomstick » 2018-08-23 07:15pm

Pon farr doesn't have to "make sense" if it was a result of natural selection. It could be a vestige of a previous sort of mating practice. Maybe the predecessor species to Vulcans were highly territorial, maybe the males battled for access to females, and as long as it wasn't detrimental enough to impair species survival it could survive indefinitely. It might be somewhat like musth in bull elephants - we don't quite know why Vulcan males have periodic episodes of increased aggression/lust/whatever but they do. It could be that suppression of emotions otherwise in life might intensify this in Vulcans. We don't know how Romulans deal with pon farr, but being essentially Vulcans they presumably also are subject to it and presumably their culture also has ways of dealing with it.

I always had the impression that Vulcans could have sex and kids whenever they wanted but culturally they valued abstinence outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage. They do seem to be largely monogamous, perhaps more so than Humans.

Keep in mind that marriage/mating in Vulcans seems to have a telepathic/empathic competent, which in the past might have served to keep parents united and contribute to greater survival of offspring in a violent and dangerous world. This might be where they get their telepathic abilities, and given that they seem to need physical contact in order to read minds that makes some sense if it originated as part of mating. There seems to be some awareness at a distance of mated Vulcans, alluded to in the episode involving pon farr in the old series, but it's very limited. Possibly no more than just an awareness of whether the other party is alive or dead. The old series also has Spock aware of the death of a large number of Vulcans during one episode, so there might be an "emergency channel" aspect to Vulcan telepathy that also aids species survival when it warns others of a deadly threat. That might also be why it's not used very often - it doesn't have to be used strictly in the context of mating and reproduction but that's where it originally comes from and it's a form of very intimate contact, or the communication of someone's last moments of terror for the "emergency channel". As pointed out, rigorous mental discipline might make this trait more available to Vulcans in other contexts. Romulans are presumably just as telepathic as Vulcans, but they don't practice the same mental disciplines and it may only occur (normally) between spouses or other intimates in their culture. This might also contribute to Vulcan monogamy - a lot of mental intimacy with more than one other person might not be a lot of fun, or very difficult to maintain especially in people who do not purposely develop this talent.

Don't know if being in a married relationship would do anything to moderate a Vulcan male's pon farr - maybe it would. While we know about pon farr the cannon doesn't elaborate on it very much, and does not discuss it in relation to the Romulans at all.

Since the Romulans supposedly branched off from the Vulcans about 2000 Earth years prior to the events in the old series and subsequent series, and were founded by a subset of the Vulcan population as a whole, there hasn't been enough time for them to become a separate species, or even subspecies. It is long enough for "founder effect" traits to spread through the population. Thus, their forehead ridges could be seen as basically an ethnic trait, like the epicanthal folds seen in Humans in Asia. Clearly, post Voyager, it is apparent that Vulcans vary quite a bit in appearance with Tuvok being considerably darker skinned than most of the other Vulcans we've seen. Just as likely that a group of Vulcans had forehead V's and there might even be some still on Vulcan.
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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-08-23 07:41pm

IIRC, there are some aliens in a TNG episode who are cited as being proto-Romulan, but they might as well be proto-Vulcan. They have the distinctive bulgy TNG-era Romulan forehead going on. Presumably they're descended from a splinter of the original Romulan migration from Vulcan. I suspect that out-of-universe, their looks were borrowed to a certain degree from Mark Lenard, and exaggerated a wee bit for effect.

No expert on biology here, but off the cuff, I'd call pon farr a deliberate safety-valve for Vulcans, allowing them a regular means of working off built-up emotions and aggression. The Romulans don't engage in pon farr because they don't bother holding back all that shit, so it's not a biological necessity for them. Perhaps a high level of certain hormones such as testosterone, and if it builds too far, there are biological feedbacks which harm the body?

IIRC, Saavik herself wasn't experiencing pon farr in ST3, but she obligated the rapidly-aging Spock as he passed through that point. So yeah, sex is definitely possible outside pon farr for Vulcans, it's just not common due to social conditioning. Never watched Voyager so I don't recall how Tuvok handled pon farr without sex, if he did, but it's an obvious logical (heh) conclusion that can be drawn that at least some Vulcans are trained/prepared to deal with pon farr where expressing it via physical intimacy isn't an option. At the very least, it would be reasonable given that one cannot always expect to be with their partner, though the regular timing allows them to schedule it to some extent.
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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by Broomstick » 2018-08-23 07:45pm

Master Six wrote:
2018-08-23 03:45pm
Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-08-23 01:42pm
Speaking of pon farr, that's another part of the equation. What species deliberately and voluntarily chooses to only mate once every few years? To the point that it's either a part of their genetic makeup or a major, devastating to their health build-up of accumulated hormones? That Surakian discipline must be some hot stuff.
In spite of what later Trek writers had to say, I have a very different view of the pon farr, more in line with what I think D.C. Fontana had in mind. Here's what we know:
1. To sustain the species' population, even that of a very long-lived species, reproduction would have to occur more than every seven years. I suppose there are methods by which the Vulcans could work with this biological limitation, such as having a polygamous society in which many males mated with many females. That would be in line with the Vulcans' logical approach, but without working out the numbers I still feel like this would be unlikely. We haven't seen any evidence of this behavior, anyway, and in fact we have at least one bit of evidence suggesting that Vulcans do treat marriage and sexuality in somewhat of a similar fashion to humans. When Tuvok went through his pon farr, he found the idea of mating with a woman who wasn't his wife untenable. If the Vulcans were so dedicated to logic and reason that the marital bond had less meaning than it does for human culture, why would this be an issue? Either Tuvok is an outlier or the Vulcans do believe in marital fidelity.
If anything, Vulcans seem more monogamous than Humans. As I noted earlier, if there's a telepathic/empathetic bond involved they might in fact be almost strictly monogamous (cheating on one's spouse would be very difficult to impossible if said spouse can read your mind/emotions).

Modern (in the sense of contemporaneous with the Trek series and movies) Vulcans might be severely limiting their reproduction as a form of population control. Given their level of technology infant and child mortality is probably quite rare. We don't see Vulcans with large families (although that might change in the reboot universe what with so much of the species being wiped out with the destruction of Vulcan). So I wouldn't take modern Vulcan reproductive rates to be indicative of what they did in the past.

Given that Sarek had not one but two long-term marriages with Human women, and knowing what I do of Human women (being one myself) I am guessing that Vulcan males are capable of sex outside of pon farr because I don't think very many human women are going to be happy in a marriage with sex only once every seven years (possible, but such women are outliers and the odds of Sarek finding two such are not terribly high). Sarek is, after all, very aware that his wife is Human, being ambassador to Earth is no doubt familiar with both Earth/Human culture and biology (especially after having a hybrid son), and it's only logical that he keep his Human wife happy - those two are getting jiggy often enough to keep Mrs. Sarek (either one) happy.

Although lets be honest here - we have zero knowledge of what Vulcan genitals look like or how they function. It may be that rishathra between Vulcans and Humans involves oral and manual stimulation rather than engaging possibly incompatible genitals, which doesn't rule out a happy sex life. For the Humans of the Federation, cross species sex might often involve techniques outside of trying to fit together genitals that never evolved to be matched sets.
It has been suggested that the Vulcans have particularly volatile emotions. The way they speak of their savagery in the past could be due to their being an enlightened people looking back on their less-enlightened ways, but it still seems as if there was something particularly violent about their past culture that exceeds the conflicts and warfare we know from our past. It may very well be that there is something unique about their emotions and severity, owing to hormones or their particular neuro-chemistry.
If strong emotions were ever a survival trait then they could indeed have very volatile ones. Vulcan doesn't seem particularly hospitable even to Vulcans, most of what we see is desert, there doesn't seem to be a lot of growing things (and modern Vulcans are vegetarians, so where are the farms?). There are strong hints of devastating wars in the past, so maybe in the past the ecosystem was more productive and lush, but if their world has always been relatively resource poor then a great deal of tribalism, territoriality, aggression, and strong bonds between mates and other relatives might have been survival traits and those that had an abundance of such left more descendants.
Instead, I think the pon farr represents the point where Vulcans are forced to unleash the emotions that they've kept pent up over time. It explains why Vulcans become so aggressive and emotional when the pon farr happens, rather than just being horny or becoming ill. It also explains why there are alternatives to sex to overcome the pon farr; if the pon farr was only about the drive to mate, why would combat be an acceptable remedy (physically or culturally)?
That's why I think it's more like musth in elephants than necessarily a mating urge. Pon farr might hit Vulcan males due to male hormones. Vulcan males might need an outlet to reduce the stress and any strong expression of emotion might do - which explains why either sex or fighting works.
Why such a logical race would choose to wait until the umpteenth hour to let loose their feelings is a wee bit bizarre, but workable.
That's what Vulcans do. We don't know what Romulans do - maybe they have gladiatorial combat for their men while in pon farr Maybe they have orgies. Maybe they play a cut-throat version of golf. That was never explored.
It's possible that the pon farr is less of a problem for Vulcans who are in active romantic relationships, as their partner is generally close at hand and they are able to have sex more often with less of a cultural stigma.
Or just having a long-term mate means there's no stress in finding someone to have a lot of sex with - I can't imagine Vulcan society would be tolerant of rape. It could be that a telepathic mating bond might help moderate some of the more intense aspects of pon farr.

Would have been fascinating to ask Amanda about that, don't you think? If she would talk about it - she was with Sarek long enough to see him through pon farr multiple times, clearly she has more than average knowledge of it, but I always had the impression she wouldn't be willing to talk about things so intimate. For a married Vulcan couple (perhaps also Vulcan/other species couples) pon farr might even be something to look forward to, a time when they can express emotions normally suppressed (because there is no choice and it's necessary) and be intimate rather than a potentially frightening or even lethal ordeal.
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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-08-23 07:56pm

*thinks*

You know. How many Vulcan females have had speaking roles on Trek onscreen, to any particular extent? There's Saavik (half Romulan IIRC though that was never elaborated upon) and Lt. Valeris from TUC. There's Spock's girlfriend in the classic episode (which I can't remember the name of now). But I honestly can't recall any other speaking Vulcan females other than the High Priestess. Of course, my experience with Trek is largely TNG with a sprinkling of DS9 and the movies.

Anyway, if pon farr is exclusive to males, that would make sense as a hormonal/species survival thing. Saavik, as mentioned, certainly didn't seem to have any particular issue with obligating Spock, outside of the awkwardness of the situation they were in. Valeris... I'm not sure if anything can be drawn from that character, but she may have been flirting with Spock when she was in his chambers. Certainly we've never seen a Vulcan female in that whole "ugh SO MUCH EMOTION must do SOMETHING" condition *as far as I know.*
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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by Gandalf » 2018-08-23 07:59pm

Didn't T'pol go through Pon Farr at some point?
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That we dying younger hiding from the police man over there
Just for breathing in the air they wanna leave me in the chair
Electric shocking body rocking beat streeting me to death"

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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-08-23 08:01pm

Gandalf wrote:
2018-08-23 07:59pm
Didn't T'pol go through Pon Farr at some point?
Ah! T'pol. Go figure, I always forget about Enterprise...

I don't know, so hopefully someone else does. Carry on!
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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by Broomstick » 2018-08-23 08:33pm

T'pol did not herself experience pon farr but was bonded to a Vulcan named Koss whom she married for complex reasons involving her mother's reputation and Vulcan reasoning/tradition even though at the time she was actually much more interested in Trip (with whom she had had at least one sexual encounter and with whom she had established a telepathic bond).

Pon farr is a male trait in Vulcans. The women experience it only vicariously, through their mates.

Note that in the Next Generation episode involving Sarek having "Bendi syndrome", a neurological disorder related to age that caused him to lose emotional control, a mind-meld with Picard enabled Sarek to re-establish emotional control - while leaving Picard temporarily a sobbing mess. Which is another reason I think the telepathic bond between Vulcan mates helps moderate the pon farr and the male to deal with the emotional and probably hormonal upheaval involved.
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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-08-23 08:56pm

T'pol showed that Vulcans can go through pon farr, and there is reference that Vulcan females do go through it in the Mirror Universe. Though this was a bit of a retcon, as it was intended for only Vulcan males to go through pon farr. She also showed that Vulcans can mate recreationally, as she did so with Trip when it wasn't during a time of pon farr in season 3 when she showed romantic interest in Trip.
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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by Master Six » 2018-08-23 10:16pm

I haven't finished ENT yet (I'm in early S3), but I saw the episode where T'Pol undergoes pon farr ("Bounty" I think). Had that terrible episode not happened, I would have thought pon farr was exclusively a male phenomenon -- it definitely seems like its oriented towards releasing testosterone (or the equivalent). I'd guess that the experience may be more severe for males because of that. The comparison to must is a good one.
Broomstick wrote:
2018-08-23 07:45pm
Or just having a long-term mate means there's no stress in finding someone to have a lot of sex with - I can't imagine Vulcan society would be tolerant of rape. It could be that a telepathic mating bond might help moderate some of the more intense aspects of pon farr.
Agreed. To be clear, I'm not suggesting rape is condoned. I simply meant that in a marriage recreational sex and some kind of emotional bonding is more likely to occur than with random strangers, Vulcan or otherwise. The more regular emotional releases may temper the strength of the pon farr. I think a telepathic marital bond between Vulcan spouses is very likely -- we know something similar can exist for the Betazoids.
Would have been fascinating to ask Amanda about that, don't you think? If she would talk about it - she was with Sarek long enough to see him through pon farr multiple times, clearly she has more than average knowledge of it, but I always had the impression she wouldn't be willing to talk about things so intimate. For a married Vulcan couple (perhaps also Vulcan/other species couples) pon farr might even be something to look forward to, a time when they can express emotions normally suppressed (because there is no choice and it's necessary) and be intimate rather than a potentially frightening or even lethal ordeal.
A very interesting question. A marriage, or at least some kind of romantic bond, would make pon farr an experience that they can experience rather than be dominated by. Amanda probably had special lingerie for the occasion when they were younger!

It occurs to me that Trek has a lot more to explore as far as the mechanics in inter-species mating and relationships go. The bridges and canyons between species are best illustrated in how lovers/spouses have to adjust to each other's cultural and biological needs. Were Keyhler and B'Elanna's parents constantly going to the infirmary after sex or was that a Worf/Dax quirk? Do Human and Cardassian spouses fight over the thermostat? How does a couple view their relationship when their species have varying lifespans (like Sarek and Amanda)?
That's what Vulcans do. We don't know what Romulans do - maybe they have gladiatorial combat for their men while in pon farr Maybe they have orgies. Maybe they play a cut-throat version of golf. That was never explored.
Sadly, more evidence that the Romulans had untapped potential. Give the fans what they really want -- naked tennis matches with that commander from "Nemesis" all oiled up!
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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by bilateralrope » 2018-08-24 12:34am

Master Six wrote:
2018-08-23 01:21pm
I don't believe so. My best guess is that both species had the innate potential to be telepathic, but the Vulcans were only able to harness it because of the change in philosophy and the rigorous mental discipline they subjected themselves to. The Romulans had no interest in following Surak's teachings or the changes in Vulcan culture, so the ability was lost to them. I don't know if it's ever been claimed that the Vulcans had telepathy in their more savage years.
Another possibility is that part of the reason Vulcan culture was so bad was because of the telepathy (remember the species on Voyager that banned violent thought because it was contagious). The Vulcans dealt with that through discipline. The Romulans removed the telepathy, maybe through genetic engineering.

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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by Broomstick » 2018-08-24 05:55am

Master Six wrote:
2018-08-23 10:16pm
A very interesting question. A marriage, or at least some kind of romantic bond, would make pon farr an experience that they can experience rather than be dominated by. Amanda probably had special lingerie for the occasion when they were younger!
That's assuming that lingerie would be likely to be a turn on for a male Vulcan - we really don't know what they'd find sexy. In Enterprise it's asserted that Vulcans have a keener sense of smell than Humans, maybe Amanda had an array of perfumes for sexy times?
It occurs to me that Trek has a lot more to explore as far as the mechanics in inter-species mating and relationships go.
Our own cultural hangups about sex and the fact Trek has mostly been on TV probably has impaired the ability of storytellers to illustrate that.
The bridges and canyons between species are best illustrated in how lovers/spouses have to adjust to each other's cultural and biological needs. Were Keyhler and B'Elanna's parents constantly going to the infirmary after sex or was that a Worf/Dax quirk? Do Human and Cardassian spouses fight over the thermostat? How does a couple view their relationship when their species have varying lifespans (like Sarek and Amanda)?
As always, having just Humans to look at, we go back to Human variations:

Baseline sexuality for Klingons seems to be a LOT rougher than that of Humans, but some Humans do like it rough. There's probably a correlation between Human who enjoy rough sex and Humans who have a Klingon lover. (Substitute any other species for "Human" as you desire in any part of this post, by the way). On the flip side, there are probably Klingons who prefer more gentle sex, and again, there's probably an overlap between such Klingons and the Klingons who have lovers outside their species. It has also been demonstrated that Klingon can care very deeply about things, are willing to make sacrifices to achieve a goal, and are aware of the differences between their species and others. Most likely, in such Klingon/non-Klingon pairings the Klingon partner is going to take some care not to hurt the other party. Probably not always perfect, but good enough most of the time. It's analogous to Humans whose partner has some sort of physical limitation that imposes constraints on what is and is not safe to do during sex - if you give a damn about the other party you figure out a way to accommodate their needs and limitations. Is that going to be frustrating at times? Yes, it will. But as I said, if you care about the other person you find a way to deal with it.

Of course in a Human/Cardassian pairing there are going to be arguments about the thermostat. Human couples argue about that! But with a Cardassian in the mix it's going to be really problematic given that what they probably find comfortable is at the upper range of Human tolerance (Vulcan/Cardassian pairings might be more practical in that regard, given that Vulcans have a higher heat tolerance than a lot of other species, but not sure about the emotional compatibility there). Also, Humans are probably cold to the touch for Cardassians. What sort of compromise gets worked out would be interesting.

The different lifespan question is an interesting one. Do Vulcans mature at the same rate as Humans, or do they not become mature in that sense until their 30's or 40's in Earth years? Always had the impression that Sarek was considerably older than Amanda (and definitely much older than his second Human wife, Perrin). Between Vulcans likely not marrying until their 40's or 50's, and Human life extension in the Federation era (when we last see McCoy he's around 120 and still mentally competent and walking on his own two feet) that will mitigate some of the problems. Even so - let's look again at Humans, since that's all we have. People do marry folks with significantly different life expectancies. You see couples where one partner is 20 years older than the other (even more on occasion). People marry folks who have health problems that will cut short their lives. In my case, I married someone with a very unpredictable life expectancy who had a high probability of dying young - the fact I outlived my spouse is not really a surprise . Yes, it's a sad thing but if you love someone you'll take whatever time you can have with them. Certainly, the Vulcan half of such a couple is going to accept that they'll most likely outlive the other. Whether Humans would be equally capable of dealing with such disparities (think Ocampa/Human, for example) is another question.

Certainly, in the Federation interspecies sex and marriage is tolerated. I think most folks will stick to their own kind for long term relationships (experimenting in college Starfleet Academy is likely common) and those making long-term commitments will tend to be outliers - Sarek, for example, may well have been more emotional, or more inclined to emotional displays, than other Vulcans. He would not indulge in public, but being married to a Human might have afforded him an outlet for that he would not otherwise have even if by Human standards he was still extremely reserved. What the Vulcans would consider a flaw might have well been an asset for Sarek when dealing with other specie. Keyhler and B'Elanna's Klingon parents may have been less violent/aggressive in the bedroom than typical Klingons, and their Human parents more so - or maybe not, as I don't think either of those relationships were particularly lengthy even if they did last long enough to produce a child. We don't see a lot of Troi's parents, but I"m guessing the fact Betazoids have little notion of privacy or tact would induce strains in a relationship with a Human, as well as the fact that from the Betazoid perspective Humans are lacking a major sense. But hey, deaf and blind people get married, too. It's heavily implied cross-species parings occur in the Federation but we don't see a lot of them. Thus, I assume that most stick to their own kind, but there's not a significant stigma to crossing species lines. No doubt some bigotry exists (we even see some of it - Spock was teased and bullied as a child, for example) but not legal or professional impairments.
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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by Gandalf » 2018-08-24 08:34am

I love threads on Vulcans, because it lets you play a game of "what do people think logic is?"
Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-08-22 01:11pm
Ahem. There's no book covering all of what they're into, obviously. Not even some "Principles of IDIC" or whatever as far as I know.

That said: I'm a bit surprised Gandalf isn't more familiar with the in-universe history. Vulcans used to have a rather violent time of it until Surak emerged and introduced his philosophy. Details of said time have never been particularly elaborated upon. The faction that became the Romulans disagreed, and found their way off-planet, allowing the Surakian faction to spread its philosophy across the planet. Effectively it's a mix of both a highly rational, logic-based philosophy and extremely stringent physical and emotional discipline.
Yeah, I remember that they really didn't elaborate on it too much, aside from the narrative that there was violence, Surak, and then the Vulcans we know. But that seems a bit simplistic. So I went all Braudel/world systems theory on it. :P For societal changes like those with which Surak is credited, I would think that there needed to be a bigger catalyst than just one person. What makes Surak the Vulcan logic Jesus as opposed to just some guy? My initial guess would be that their violent wars reached some sort of tipping point which caused not only his ideas to spread, but to be embraced. Vulcan is implied to be a barren place, so maybe an ecological disaster necessitating cessations of hostilities, after some sort of Mad Max period.
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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-08-24 12:59pm

"Vulcan logic Jesus"-- yeah, there are definitely quasi-religious overtones to how they regard their philosophy, at least in TOS/movie era.

In TOS, during the Pon Farr ceremony, we see a High Priestess and the proceedings have the flavor of perhaps an Eastern temple ceremony. Spock takes an extended break at the start of the TOS movie period in order to go deeper into Vulcan self-discipline, which he does by, more or less, becoming a monk temporarily. We see some more of those monks and priestesses (?) as well as another High Priestess in ST3 when they're putting Spock's katra back in.

Some ideas that can be drawn from this: most Vulcans don't devote their lives to logic, rather they just try to live by the basic principles and disciplines. Some select few see it as a higher calling and withdraw in order to focus more exclusively. IIRC Spock's break was because he felt his human, emotional half was becoming too assertive, and he couldn't tolerate that. Not quite sure what the whole priesthood thing is about. They do have separate scientific institutions, so it's not like these are universities or something like that. Or are they? We don't know.
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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by Khaat » 2018-08-24 01:12pm

It could be the priesthood were more focused on the side of the telepathic disciplines than merely the everyday discipline of logic. And it would make sense that only those utterly devoted to mental discipline in all aspects of life (resembling religious devotion) would be the cutting edge of telepathic science: cutting outside distraction to focus on the inner power of the mind.

To paraphrase, "logic and science were used to overcome the Vulcans' baser instincts that nearly led to their destruction." It was a dated metaphor in the 60's already, but is still topical today.
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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by Broomstick » 2018-08-24 05:29pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-08-24 12:59pm
In TOS, during the Pon Farr ceremony, we see a High Priestess and the proceedings have the flavor of perhaps an Eastern temple ceremony
It was pretty heavily implied that the pon farr ceremonies and rituals predated Surak.
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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-08-24 05:32pm

Well, we know from Enterprise that Surak died of radiation poisoning from a Vulcan nuclear war. Being one, if not the only, voice of reason and civilization after nuclear destruction probably made a lot of sense for people after the other way led to nearly destroying themselves with nuclear weapons. It could also be that it was a nuclear war between those who 'Followed the Raptor's wing' and Surak's followers. It's unclear what the war was about, after all.

We do know that the Vulcans have temples. Presumably only P'Jem was used as a listening post on their enemies, and wasn't standard. Funnily enough, their temples are actually places without technology:
TUCKER: They don't even know we're coming?
T'POL: It wasn't possible to hail them. The monks consider technology a distraction from their spiritual pursuits.
ARCHER: I don't like dropping in on people unannounced.
T'POL: It won't be a problem as long as we observe the proper protocols. When we arrive, we'll be greeted by a Vulcan Elder. You should not speak to him or any member of the order unless spoken to first. If they appear to be meditating, do not approach them or attempt to make conversation. Also, maintain quiet at all times and do not touch or disturb any artefacts, relics or ornamentation. If we arrive at their time of communal kolinahr it's likely we'll be turned away. At the conclusion of our visit we'll be offered the Stone of J'Kah as a gesture of salutation. Accept it, then bow slightly and observe a respectful silence for approximately five seconds.
Aside from getting a 'Stone of J'Kah', it reminds me a bit of Buddhist temples, in that there are Dob Dobs or whatever the Vulcan equivalent is who don't partake in the rituals of kolinahr so that they can deal with the outside world if visitors come. Or at least they stagger their rituals so that someone is at the entrance to receive visitors. It's also worth noting that P'Jem is a thousand years older than Surak, so it's possible that the temple was converted after the 'Time of Awakening' from whatever it was before. Or that Surak added onto whatever they beliefs or philosophies they had, and made a revision or addition to it that was considered the definitive version of their philosophy regarding logic.

At least to the point that when the original Kir'Shara is found, it revolutionizes Vulcan society and creates reforms.
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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-08-24 05:49pm

It's possible, I suppose, that there was some form of monasticism or other religious/philosophical tradition around before Surak, and Surak's role was more in bringing that tradition to the forefront of Vulcan culture, popularizing it and spreading it. However without the Kir'Shara (been doing a bit of reading up on ENT) it seems the adherence to their logical philosophy wasn't quite as sincere as Surak would have wanted, at least among elements of society and secular leadership. Essentially the Enterprise's crew's rediscovery of the Kir'Shara ignites a Vulcan version of the Reformation. Enterprise is, what? hundred years or so? before TOS... I suppose perhaps Spock was feeling a bit Vulcan-Calvinist by the time of the movies.
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Re: Any good sources on Vulcan philosophy?

Post by Gandalf » 2018-08-24 06:29pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-08-24 05:49pm
It's possible, I suppose, that there was some form of monasticism or other religious/philosophical tradition around before Surak, and Surak's role was more in bringing that tradition to the forefront of Vulcan culture, popularizing it and spreading it. However without the Kir'Shara (been doing a bit of reading up on ENT) it seems the adherence to their logical philosophy wasn't quite as sincere as Surak would have wanted, at least among elements of society and secular leadership. Essentially the Enterprise's crew's rediscovery of the Kir'Shara ignites a Vulcan version of the Reformation. Enterprise is, what? hundred years or so? before TOS... I suppose perhaps Spock was feeling a bit Vulcan-Calvinist by the time of the movies.
I took it to be Vulcan second coming, combined with the finding of the first biblical writings. After this, the society goes from a secular military government to something of a theocracy, or at least under a cult of personality. It's the Vulcan Revolution.
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