For the majority of the New Eden cluster, the philosophical implications of what a soul represents was never truly considered until the advance of Cloning Technology. There are three obvious and ancient exceptions to this, the Amarr with their doctrine of Sacred Flesh, my race, the Intaki, who believe in the immortality of the soul and its infinite rebirth and finally the Sleeper society, as explained by the Jove, with their “one mind, one body” tenet.
Such are the similarities and links between all three concepts that I contend that all are in fact the same belief, seen through the distorted lens that time provides, potentially from a time before the destruction of the Eve Gate and the dark ages thereafter.
My people have always contended that the soul and the body are separate but linked entities. As a body dies, its soul is released and reborn as another host enters into this world through birth. In very exceptional/legendary circumstances, our people have managed identify a rebirthed soul through the habits, patterns and behaviour of the new host (and the fact that soul was rebirthed on Intaki – A tiny chance when you consider the potential number of populated planets the new body could be birthed upon!). Given the sheer numbers of humans present throughout the cluster and the constant cycle of life and death, the chance of noticing the same soul “rebirthing” within a lifetime is infinitesimally small.
The rise of capsuleer technology has raised an interesting philosophical point for the Intaki. Does the destruction of the original capsuleers body release the soul, or does the Jovian gifted technology effectively capture the soul to transfer into the new clone host?
If the former is still true, what is being implanted into a new clone upon death is but an electronic copy of that soul, not the original soul itself. The original soul would still be released and rebirthed in the normal way, meaning that regardless of the consciousness in the new clone, this is not a true human but a copy of one – In a way this would offer direct support for the Sacred Flesh doctrine of the Amarr, but naturally any understanding of where this doctrine evolved from has been lost to time. The appearance of the Drifters and the contention that they are birthed of something that never lived, seems to suggest that the soul is released upon the death of a capsuleer and that an electronic copy of the capsuleer is transferred into the new body.
If the latter is true and the actual soul is captured by the capsule technology, then we arguably have a greater problem for the future. Souls will no longer regenerate/rebirth as more and more people turn to cloning technology to prevent the “natural” cycle – What long term effect does this have on the soul/consciousness and how long might this take to manifest in that capsuleer as it’s soul passes through more and more hosts? Is the copying process perfect? Does it slowly decay over time, like DNA replicating with age? Capsuleer technology has been with us such a short time that it’s impossible to tell what the long-term effects of constant erosion of the soul through copying might be. What does this conjecture also imply about the Drifters and their nature? Are their variants really soulless automata and if not what is the origin of their soul?
My worry is could the gradual decay of the soul of a capsuleer lead to something like the Jovian Disease? My personal observation of capsuleers over the relatively short time the technology has been widespread suggests this is already happening. For example how many times have you witnessed a passionate new capsuleer slowly becoming more and more disillusioned and bitter with life, as death after death is experienced and clone after clone is destroyed? The ultimate step and one we’ve seen with many capsuleers is withdrawl from society followed ultimately by voluntary biomassing. To me that’s literally the description of the Jovian disease, yet no-one else is calling it by that name. The pattern repeats and repeats with all but the strongest willed capsuleers succumbing eventually.
We understand so little of the “gift” of capsuleer technology at present and yet all empires push onward with refining and pushing the limits of our understanding from a scientific point of view. Perhaps some more philosophical exploration is due – Have we already damned our races to exactly the same fate as the Jove, by accepting their Gifts? Were the Jove aware of this potential repercussion when supplying the Gift and if so, what does this imply for their intentions?
Is it finally time to admit that our cloning technology, far from being the new step of evolution for New Eden, might have sown the seeds for humanities demise?