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Gorean Philosophy in a Nutshell

What is Gor?
Well, the short version is that Gor is a fictional planet located directly opposite Earth on the other side of the sun in a series of Sci-Fi novels by Professor John Lange, writing as John Norman.

But if you're here reading, you're probably looking for the longer version. The best way to find that, of course, would be to go and read the books, but I will provide a summary here for those who are interested, but perhaps not quite ready to take the plunge and read all the books.

The story lines in the books are actually a platform for the presentation of a set of philosophical ideals. Professor Lange, after having his ideas highly criticized by his colleagues (remember, this was the mid to late 60s, when the feminist movement was just getting into full swing), went the route of others, such as Heinlein, Hubbard and Rynd, and turned to fiction to propagate his ideas.

The common themes that stand out in the books are ideas of casting off false societal teachings, living in cooperation and harmony with one's environment, being true to one's nature, understanding and embracing the differences between the sexes and people in general, personal accountability, honour, civic duty and respect.

Nature and Natural Order / Order of Nature
Goreans revere nature and do not try to subvert or deny it.
This is true both in regard to having respect and care for the natural environment and ecosystem, wildlife, land, etc, and in regard to respecting the order of nature, or biological/evolutionary truths about ourselves, and humans in general.

Casting off False "Equality"
Related to the above, much of the philosophy revolves around the idea that everyone is not equal to one another, but that we are all different, most especially males and females. Within the books, these differences are not suppressed, concealed or reviled, but rather, celebrated.
It is understood and accepted that a warrior is not necessarily a poet, a scribe is not a metalworker, and woman is not a man, nor should they be expected to be. Each individual has their own place within society based on their innate abilities, talents, personality and nature.
It is recognized that men, on the whole, tend to be the naturally more dominant, logical, larger and physically stronger of the human species and that women generally tend to be more submissive, nurturing, emotional, smaller and physically weaker. With that in mind, gender roles within the Gorean construct are that of men as the leaders and women as the followers, for the most part.

Contrary to many people's beliefs, the philosophies DO support the idea that, while these are the norms, they are not absolutes any more than the misguided idea that all are the same.
For instance, some women are natural leaders, physically strong (even stronger than most men), have a good grasp of logic, or other traits most often considered male traits, just as there are men who are truly submissive in nature and just don't have it in them to lead and men who would much rather be caregivers than fighters or hunters. They are the exceptions that prove the rule. Regardless of whether one falls within the expected norms or not, Gorean philosophy indicates that one should embrace what and who one truly is.

That DOESN'T mean that one should use the excuse of "this is just my nature", to avoid serious introspection and self improvement!

The majority of those who seem to fall outside the natural norms actually do not, but rather, have subscribed too long to societal teachings that encourage the stifling of natural behaviors and thinking in favor of simulated equality and have developed habits and views that suppress and circumvent our true natures. Gorean thought requires one to constantly evaluate oneself and strive for personal betterment and truth.

Honour is, perhaps, the most frequently touted Gorean trait in the books, and in discussions amongst Goreans. Obviously, the term and its meaning can be subjective, however, there are some fairly universal understandings about what is and is not honourable. Honesty, integrity, responsibility, personal accountability, and doing the right thing, the right way, for the right reasons, no matter who is or isn't looking, are widely accepted as honourable behaviour among most Goreans - and people in general, for that matter.
Personal codes of ethics/morals will differ, and each must, of course, follow their own beliefs, ethics, codes, etc. As long as those ethics/beliefs/etc aren't actually incompatible with Gorean philosophies, then personally defined honour does not preclude being Gorean.

In Summary...
This is by no means an exhaustive study of what is Gorean, and it is only one person's take on the matter. There is absolutely no substitute for reading the books, to discover for yourself what they have to say. Remember, the philosophical points are woven within and against the backdrop of the story lines and allegorical scenarios. Just because "It is a common Gorean saying", or "Many Goreans contend" something does not mean it is an absolute. You have to read comprehensively, in context, and objectively in order to get the full picture. Or, at least the most full picture possible, to date.

© Khaos WolfKat 2006 ~ present


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