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IV - In the House of the Taisigi

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When it comes to atevi philosophy regarding leadership, an important pair of concepts to understand are eun and an’an.

Eun - the propensity to make decisions from one’s own center. Antonym an’an, the tendency to make decisions in response to external advice or opinions. Either could be a positive trait or a negative one. In the case of eun, if a person is a selfish, irrational, or vindictive personality, acting out of eun would not be good — one has only to think of the recent history of the Pretender Murini to understand a textbook example of the negative consequences of eun. However, when the personality is grounded in intelligence, farsightedness, and consideration for the needs of the collective, acting out of eun is strongly positive.

Likewise, acting out of an’an could be positive if those external advisors are good people and remain so, but generally the only persons who favor an’an are those who wish to manipulate and exploit a leader for their own ends while retaining some form of plausible deniability.

In general, atevi view eun as a necessary trait in a strong leader, while considering an'an as negative. This is largely to do with relative complexity: in order for an'an to work, there must be a solid and competent structure of support for the leader in question. The failure of such a structure — and determining its points of weaknesses — is more likely and more complicated the more persons are involved. With eun, however, there is a clear single point of failure.

Bren Cameron, Translator, Commentary: Dictionary Terms Related to Atevi Leader- and Followership, Field Commentary series #12, the University of Mospheira