[ by Charles Cameron — on a mostly overlooked possible asymmetry ]
Michael Peck posted a piece at the game site Kotaku yesterday, titled The Immense Pleasure of Huge War Games, and his opening quote startled me – it’s not one I’d heard before. Here’s Peck’s first para:
“Quantity has a quality all its own,” said Josef Stalin, as he relentlessly flung waves of Soviet tanks and troops against Hitler’s elite but outnumbered panzers. Comrade Stalin might not have believed in a deity, but even a Communist warlord would surely have agreed with Napoleon’s dictum that God is on the side of the bigger battalions.
That interests me deeply, because I regard the relationship between quantity and quality as one phrasing of the knot at the heart of consciousness — the “hard problem” as science terms it — equivalent to the question of how our subjectivity and objective reality mutually arise.
And so to Napoleon’s dictum that God is on the side of the bigger battalions — I imagine he means real, flesh and blood battalions — which “even a Communist warlord would surely have agreed with”.
Not so the Qur’an, which reminded the Prophet of the battle of Badr (Quran 8.9-10):
Remember ye implored the assistance of your Lord, and He answered you: “I will assist you with a thousand of the angels, ranks on ranks.” Allah made it but a message of hope, and an assurance to your hearts: (in any case) there is no help except from Allah: and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.
Durer‘s angels of the Apocalypse, likewise, are militant angels, though like ourselves (Ephesians 6.12) they:
wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high (celestial) places.
And so I would ask you: is there even the possibility of a higher asymmetry at work here — or are we speaking only of a matter of brute force versus high morale?