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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cupidity

In Adam Seaborn's Symzonia there is a mention of the "fatal sin of cupidity, which drove our first parents out of Paradise is almost wholly unknown to the pure and uncontaminated Internals."

This statement is a comparison of two utopias: Paradise (The Garden of Eden) and the native inhabitants of the island Symzonia.

I want to unpack this sentence for the sake of discourse.  The sentence is seemingly straightforward on the surface level but it hides its true meaning.

Cupidity, defined by the O.E.D., is "greed for money or possessions."  While greed or avarice is one of the 7 Deadly Sins, I wouldn't argue that it is the sin responsible for the fall of man.  The fall of man described in the Bible occurs due to Adam and Eve disobeying God's command to avoid the Tree of Knowledge and its fruit.  You could call it greed to eat the fruit, but I would call it curiosity or at worst, a hubristic longing for knowledge.

The sin, however, did not result in immediate death, but one could argue that it introduced mortality to humanity as a result of man's expulsion from immortal paradise.

The language gets trickier following this part.  "is almost wholly unknown."  Once again, we are dealing with knowledge both as knowledge of sin and as sin.  The word "wholly" signifies that the sin of cupidity is not known at all.  The natives apparently have absolutely no knowledge of cupidity, and yet, the author proceeds "wholly" with "almost." Almost means not entirely, not wholly.  There is a paradox how can something be wholly unknown and almost unknown at the same time? This exception suggests that the natives of Symzonia DO know the sin of cupidity, even if only a little bit.

My suspicions are confirmed by the last part of the initial quotation in which the author uses two different words with identical meaning: "pure" and "uncontaminated." The redundancy of this assertion suggests doubt of the notion that the natives are indeed wholly pure, but perhaps just almost pure.

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