Monday, July 2, 2012

Discord: The Most Dangerous MLP Villain?

[I'll definitely need to expand on these thoughts, but here's a quick and rough post on the villains of FiM.]

As I 've mentioned before, DGD regards the villains of MLP:FiM as pushovers compared to G1 antagonists. However, I've been wondering if the villains of FiM can be considered formidable threats from a different point of view, I mean, as threatening the heroes in a different manner than simply being satanically wicked both in look and act like Tirek. Since the main theme of FiM is friendship perhaps what Lauren Faust intended to do is  have the villains try a new approach: fomenting internal conflict between the Mane 6 and indeed all of Equestria, instead of simply going around destroying everything and enslaving everypony.

Trixie: master of BS

Who is the greatest villain we've encountered so far in two seasons of MLP: FiM? Princess Luna? Well, she did threaten to stop the sun from rising on two occasions, but she only does so out of a misguided desire for love; she didn't exactly set out to destroy Equestria. Besides, as DGD pointed out to me, the most dastardly thing she does in the first two episodes is cut off one half of a dandy dragon's mustache. Gilda? She's a jerk. Trixie? Well, besides her "Great and Powerful" traveling show BS, she didn't exactly pose too much of a threat to peace. Oh, yeah, she can sometimes inspire overzealous fans, such as Snips and Snails, from inadvertently bringing on a Ursa Minor attack. Queen Chrysalis? Well, she did come close to taking over Equestria and emptying it out of all love. But let's face it; Chrysalis only made it that far due to Princess Luna choosing a bad time to oversleep.

Discord: Enemy of friendship and sower of conflict 

Discord, on the other hoof, seems to be the biggest threat to the harmony of Equestria in "The Return of Harmony" episodes, for he seeks nothing more than to bring chaos, discord between the ponies. Instead of directly fighting the Mane 6, he turns the ponies against each other. The Elements of Harmony begin to break up before our very eyes, while Discord simply kicks back on a lawn chair watching the fireworks fly. Even Twilight, the element of friendship, briefly considers never seeing her friends again. Discord wants, in other words, the complete opposite of friendship, enmity, to prevail throughout the ponyland.

The Elements of Disharmony

As the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre tells us, for Aristotle (and his teacher Plato), the greatest evil than can befall any society, whether Athens or Equestria, is conflict:

Aristotle's belief in the unity of the virtues is one of the few parts of his moral philosophy which he inherits directly from Plato. As with Plato, the belief is one aspect of an hostility to and denial of conflict either within the life of the individual good man or in that of the good city. Both Plato and Aristotle treat conflict as an evil and Aristotle treats it as an eliminable evil. The virtues are all in harmony with each other and the harmony of individuals is reproduced in the harmony of the state. Civil war is the worst of evils. -- Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, 3rd ed., 157

I should add that Aristotle considers friendship to be one of most, if the not the most, important virtues for the harmony of society, for a society united in the pursuit of the common good. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that Equestria, once free of Discord, fits the good society as envisioned by the Philosopher, assuming he could get past the whole talking horse thing. Or as the Ponysopher Twilight Sparkle tells us, "I'll tell you what we've learned Discord. We've learned that friendship isn't always easy. But there's no doubt it's worth fighting for."

The harmonius society as it might appear to Plato and Aristotle

The harmonious society ponified


  1. You could say villains like Tirek sought simply to do evil. But Discord's strength lies in the fact that he doesn't do those things. He ideologically distabilizes Equestria and causes others to do evil for him. Far from just doing evil on the scale of Tirek, Discord actually creates evil (if we believe Aristotle [which we do]). He is the children's show version of the Joker from The Dark Knight. "Some men just want to watch the world burn."

    Come to think of it, you've helped me realize that this is one of the most Aristotelian shows ever made. Magic can only come about to defeat evil as a result of the positive intimacies of friendship. The characters are friends because they are essentially the Virtues incarnate. Elements of harmony and all that.

  2. That’s an interesting comparison between Discord and the Joker. It's like what MacIntyre said about the choice between Aristotle and Nietzsche. Equestria has clearly sided with Aristotle while Discord represents Nietzsche.

    I failed to mention this before, but it seems Discord is not simply looking to upset the social order of Equestria, but also the natural order (such as there is). And so we have soap roads, wacky laws of gravity, and pink clouds that rain chocolate milk!

    Looking at the matter from an A-T perspective, Discord seems to be an opponent of any kind of law, from the natural law all the way up to the eternal law. Consider what another A-T philosopher, David Oderberg, says about the importance of the cosmic order to the social order in his essay “The Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Law.”

  3. I believe there is some argument as to whether or not discord represents chaos though. Chaos is not necessarily the absence of harmony, but the deliberate absence of harmony. Chaos is definitely a pattern in its own right; specifically the pattern of no repetition. Pi is a very chaotic number, as it has no repeats. It is 'chaotic', but not evil. Same as the 'golden mean'. The Universe is composed of hidden fractals, direct representations of chaos. Discord does represent the removal of natural and absolute law. No matter what we do, numbers will always act the same, as that is their principle purpose. Their function. Discord is the removal of such things, and this is not chaos. In fact, this is the removal of 'chaos' as well as other necessary patterns which are composed out of what the underlying numbers of the universe allow. Discord is chaotic in his effort to remove all order, but in return is then removing chaos (the order of no repetition). He is a manipulator of the fundamental number principles of the Universe. Something even more dangerous than a follower of chaos. This is very true evil, as converting the fundamental numbers deteriorates the ability for this Universe to be what it is. Harmonious: obeying of the fundamental number allowances/functions. Disharmony: disobeying or purposeful manipulation of the fundamental number allowances/functions. Chaos is a component of harmony, as it is a natural number function. Therefor, Discord is not chaotic.