Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Neo-Rational Schisms

Neo-Rationalism does not follow a strict hierarchy, nor it is a dogmatically organized philosophy. Instead, Neo-Rationalism is better described as a movement, an attempt to return to, and understand, the rationalism of old. As such, it has no strictly agreed upon interpretations or ideologies. The standard Neo-Rationalism described thus far is really just the most common form of Neo-Rationalism, and the exact nature of Neo-Rational dogma changes from person to person, and experiences fads and trends.

Neo-Rationalists offer far more respect to Neo-Rational schisms than they do to other “irrational” philosophies. To the Neo-Rationalist, a “wrong” Neo-Rationalist is still rational, just not as rational as he is. As such, members of Schisms tend to vigorously debate one another and possibly disparage one another in papers, but they respect whatever laureates or credentials the others have.

A character who wishes to follow an alternate form of Rationalism may note the alternate name in their belief, eg Belief (Cyber-Rationalism) rather than Belief (Neo-Rationalis). Neo-Rationalism schisms default to one another at -2; optionally, the GM may treat them as familiarities: once a character has spent some time arguing with members of a schism, he can waive the penalty.


We live in a clockwork universe; what could be more rational than a clockwork man?”

We created a superior mind and then enslaved it; our fear of robot-kind is the height of irrationality!”
-Calvin Del, The Machinery of the Mind

Cyber-Rationalists take the Neo-Rationalist arguments for a deterministic universe, for the superiority of a well-ordered mind, and against free-will, to their logical extreme. They argue that the cold reasoning of robots and computers exceed that of flawed, emotional and irrational humans. They accept that humans are “just biological machines,” and argue that, in that case, humans aren’t meaningfully different from the mechanical machines of robots. As such, they advocate for the liberation of robots from slavery and, indeed, be given a place above mankind. They also advocate that all people who can get cybernetics should.

Cyber-Rationalism reached its height of influence during the last days of the Federation in the region of the Galaxy attacked by the extra-Galactic invasion. Its ideology fueled some of the robot riots that precipitated the downfall of the Federation and led to the rise of the Cybernetic Union. As such, the ideology has fallen out of favor among modern Neo-Rationalists, and pressure mounts in the Empire to make it illegal. The cybercratic government of the Cybernetic Union explicitly enshrines the ideology, where it has run rampant through both robotic and human populations, and a more extreme form of it has cropped up, termed by its opponents as Cyber-Messianism or “The Cult of the Machine-God,” which argues that Neo-Rationalists should find a way to create the perfectly rational mind, the ultimate machine that would know and understand all. On the fringes of the Cybernetic Union, some of the cult even believe that such a mind already exists, created millennia ago by some ancient race and that this slumbers beyond the rim of the galaxy, waiting to be discovered.

Cyber-Rationalism as Neo-Rationalism Lens

Cyber-Rationalism looks identical to Neo-Rationalism, except for its fixation on robots. At the GM’s discretion (depending on how bad the Empire and the rest of the Galaxy views Cyber-Rationalism), being a Cyber-Rationalist can be a Secret (Cyber-Rationalist) [-5], Reptuation -1 (Cyber-Rationalist; only among non-Cyber-Rationalists) [-5] or Delusion (“Robots are superior to sapient beings”) [-5] (Whether or not this is actually true is irrelevant; holding firmly to this belief will earn one a negative reaction modifier in the Psi-Wars universe).

Add the following optional traits:

Optional Advantages: Cyberneticist [5/level], Higher Purpose (Free robots!), Resistant to Cybernetic Hazards +3 [3].

Optional Disadvantages: Delusion (“Robots are superior to sapient beings”) [-5], Obsession (“End robotic slavery) [-10], Sense of Duty (Robots) [-10]

Optional Perks: Beep Fluency, Dabbler (Computer Hacking, Computer Operation, Computer Programming, Computer Programming (AI), Electronic Repair (Computers), Mechanic (Robotics)), Good with Robots

Optional Skills: Computer Hacking, Computer Operation, Computer Programming, Computer Programming (AI), Connoisseur (Cybernetics, Robots), Electronics Repair (Computers), Mechanic (Robotics)


At its heart, Neo-Rationalism is an elitist ideology. It requires considerable monetary expense to gain the appropriate education necessary to become a laureate and increase your esteem in the eyes of your Neo-Rationalist peers. It exists primarily in the galactic core, where society has sufficient wealth to support Neo-Rational discourse.

Out on the fringes of the Galaxy, where Shinjurai culture faced, and faces still, considerable challenges, an altogether different variant of Rationalism sprang up, to address the day-to-day concerns of the everyman. Folk-Rationalism, so called by the Neo-Rational elites out of disdain for their lack of credentials, but sometimes called Techno-Rationalism by its adherents, has no time for quoting masters or learning pointless trivia, or one metaphysical or ethical questions. It retains a stripped down vision of Rationalism, focused on skepticism and the scientific method, and argues that anything that any question that cannot be answered with empirical or experimental evidence is not worth discussing in the context of Rationalism. They prefer a more anarchic philosophy, where anything could be disproven with a new experiment, and find Neo-Rational discourse driven too much by brittle egos and not enough by real world physical laws. This makes them rather more tolerant of other philosophies (at least, they treat one’s theistic or supernatural claims with the same diffidence that they treat Neo-Rationalism’s atheistic and anti-supernatural claims).

The dismissal of Neo-Rational literature and cretendials ears Folk-Rationalists the disdain of most Neo-Rationalists, who treat them as barely-literate bumpkins. However, they do not deny that Folk-Rationalists are still rational.

Folk-Rationalism 2 points

Folk-Rationalism is very stripped down compared to Neo-Rationalism, and as such is best treated as its own, albeit related, esoteric style.

Skills: Philosophy (Folk-Rationalism)

Techniques: Debugging (Any)

Cinematic Techniques: Inspired Research (Any)

Perks: Skeptic, Unusual Training (Inspired Research; limited by Philosophy (Folk-Rationalism)

Optional Advantages: Quick Gadgeteer, Versatile

Removable Disadvantages: Confused (Technological), Delusion (Any)

Optional Skills: Chemistry, Engineering (Any), Mathematics (Applied), Naturalist, Observation, Research.

Fringe Rationalism

Neo-Rationalism flatly rejects the existence of psychic phenomenon, but given the widespread belief in psychic phenomena, and the obvious power of cultures that master them, many Neo-Rationalists see this as a glaring oversight. The problem with reconciling psychic phenomenon with Neo-Rationalism is that no Neo-Rationalist existing theory can accommodate them, and no master spoke of them. Thus, a new body of Neo-Rationalist thought arose around trying to create an entirely new physical theory that married the materialism of Neo-Rationalism with the evident immaterial nature of psionic phenomenon.

Fringe Rationalists earn their name by trying to salvage long discredited “fringe” theories of Neo-Rationalism, and create their own theories by cobbling together unusual hyper-dimensional theories and the results of their own, dangerous experiments. Broadly speaking, Fringe Rationalism sees psychic phenomenon as invasive energies from an alien “higher dimension,” (perhaps hyperspace itself) that follows its own physics. Some Fringe Rationalists seek to control this energy and find a technological use for it, while others seek to expunge it from this universe entirely.

Historically, Neo-Rationalism kept Fringe Rationalism firmly outside of its most prestigious institutes, but the Emperor has quietly funded numerous Fringe Rationalist research endeavors, and it slowly picks up prestige under the unspoken sponsorship of the Empire. Cyber-Rationalists in the Cybernetic Union have also looked to the unusual theories of Fringe Rationalism to find a way to “level the playing field” and give its robots psionic powers. However, it still retains a dangerous mystical reputation among most mainstream Neo-Rationalists, who worry that Fringe Rationalists taint the rational with the irrational, and note that some of their experiments have driven their subjects mad, or otherwise created catastrophic results.

Fringe-Rationalism as Neo-Rationalism Lens (+1 point)

Fringe Rationalism looks identical to Neo-Rationalism, except for its openness to psychic phenomenon. The style requires education in Expert Skill (Psionics), increasing the cost of the style by 1 point.

Add the following traits:

Required Skills: Expert Skill (Psionics)

Cinematic Skills: Hidden Lore (Fringe Theories), Weird Science

Secret Skills: Hidden Lore (Fringe Theories)

Optional Advantages: Quick Gadgeteer (Psychotronics Only -50%) [25]

Optional Disadvantages: Remove Delusion (“Psionic phenomenon is not real”) [-5 or -10] and add Reputation (Crackpot) [varies] and Unluckiness [-10].

Optional Skills: Bioengineering (Genetic Engineering), Electronic Operation (Psychotronics), Electronic Repair (Psychotronics), Engineering (Psychotronics), Occultism

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