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woozle comments on The Hero With A Thousand Chances - Less Wrong

63 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 31 July 2009 04:25AM

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Comment author: woozle 01 August 2009 02:16:38PM 5 points [-]

The question of "what gender is", when you strip away the purely anatomical, is a topic of great interest to me.

It seems to me that while Aerhien's gender wasn't essential to the story, there were certain aspects of her personality that hinted at it (and I'm not talking about the eyelashes) -- but I wouldn't go beyond that; if she had been written as male, I don't think I would have sensed any incongruity.

Without further biasing the discussion by mentioning what I think those personality aspects might be, I'm curious to find out what attributes other people thought made her essentially female -- among those who hold this position, that is.

Comment author: lucidfox 30 November 2010 12:04:42PM 1 point [-]

"Essential" in what sense?

Are we arguing about some Platonic "essentials", in that fictional characters "actually exist somewhere"? I believe that the fictional characters were formed in Eliezer's brain as representations of certain archetypes (such as, as he noted, the "wise female council leader") that he felt best represented the characterization he was intending to give them.

It doesn't mean the story wouldn't work if the characters were given different genders or other different characteristics. It means that the author would find it unfitting to his semi-conscious concept of the story and its fictional setting, which is unknown to us except for what's revealed in the text, and is necessarily richer than the text. Or at least, I generously assume that this is what Eliezer was arguing - that "she had to be female" meant "I believe she worked best as female as the representation of my character role concept", not a postulation of some fictional Platonism.