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In S1E8, SG-1 meet the Nox, a race of pacifist eco-hippies (a term I use endearingly) who admonish humans for their violent relationship with the Goa'uld. They can resurrect the dead and build invisible floating cities.

Their methods make it easy for them to avoid conflict. They can simply hide. Their technology is what makes their idealism viable.

It's a luxury we lack. The Goa'uld pose an existential threat to us, and because they disdain the very thought of diplomacy, our only recourse is to fight fire with fire. If we practiced pure pacifism, we'd be dominated and perhaps never discover the advanced knowledge the Nox enjoy.

Also witness the Gadmeer, an example of how a peaceful disposition can backfire. They died out because they didn't develop their military.

Furthermore, we have a selfless tendency to help others in need. Enlightened self-interest is a factor, but we genuinely care about the welfare of others, categorically abhor subjugation, and campaign against the Goa'uld on principle. The Nox don't care to help us but will assist the Tollan despite their willingness to use powerful weaponry. Just like humans, they don't enjoy using it, but aren't above building it in order to maintain peace by threat of force. The only difference is their might is enough to stay the Goa-uld's hand. One might think it's a double standard.

I assume the Nox have a consistent standard of ethics that can account for their apparent capriciousness. If so, what is it?

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    You don't develop resurrection and invisibility tech without having dead people and things you'd rather be invisible... unfortunately, their past is rather mysterious. – Slacklord the Terrible Aug 21 '17 at 22:02
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    I'm not sure how this question can be answered. Is their attitude unfair? Sounds like it, but why would that be unusual? – Blackwood Aug 21 '17 at 22:21
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    While this question may offer a greater aspect of opinion in its answer it can be answered within the confines of the show and its writing. I can explain this primarily based on the comparisons of the Nox, the Tollan, the Goa'uld, the Asgard, and the interactions that have happened between them and Earth. In addition, I would also reference the Aschen, the Eurondan, and the similarities between the Nox and the Alterans. I do not know how to remove the hold status of this question or temporarily table the decision for it to be placed on hold. – Odin1806 Aug 24 '17 at 19:32
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    I suspect the Nox would say that it's irrelevant whether a species can survive through pacifism or not. They can (usually), others can't. Tough luck. lf an individual of that species had a choice between non-violence and survival, one is to assume they'd choose non-violence. – Adamant Aug 25 '17 at 7:41
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    @Odin1806 It's been reopened now - have at it! :-) – Rand al'Thor Aug 25 '17 at 17:41
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TLDR

  • The Asgard and the Tollan acknowledge that violence is sometimes necessary
  • The Nox have no problem with them ^
  • The Nox also acknowledge that it is morally understandable that a given action will lead to violence, and that it is sometimes ok
  • The Nox are not Anteaus, but I think his frustration was appropriate
  • At the end of the episode the Nox they are less dismissive and more enlightening in their last conversation
  • SG-1 has also forced some pretty heavy morals on other people too

So I feel the primary comparison here is of course the Nox and the Asgard. This should be clear, given that they are two of the famous four races. Both of these are a great deal more advanced than the G-men. We never really get a good idea of how advanced the Nox are in comparison to the Asgard, but to be one of the four they must have some really fast internet.

In contrast to the Asgard obviously, the Nox are pure pacifists. The Asgard will defend themselves if provoked with whatever means they deem necessary, clear from both open war with the Replicators and the few times they attacked the G-men. The Nox on the other hand have evolved to use purely non-violent measures. Their primary means of defense is their advanced invisibility abilities and they have even used their abilities to bring the G-men back from the dead and chosen not to retaliate after one of their own was killed.

The closest that we see the Nox come to violence is twice in the episode "Pretense." The first time to consider is after hiding the cannon that was used to destroy the vessel in orbit, which Sam later addresses.

CARTER (to Lya) - I thought the Nox were pacifists.

LYA - I only hid the weapon. I did not fire it.

CARTER - Pretty fine line you didn't cross.

LYA - Yes it is.

The next comparison I feel is important is between the Nox and the Tollan. Slightly more complicated than the previous example, as we have already determined that the Nox are accepting to violent measures, the Nox agree to be the unbias party during the Triad of Skaara. This in a way points to the fact that the Nox will put morality above someone's well being as well. This is the second example we see the Nox coming close to 'violence' in that episode.

LYA - After careful consideration, I believe that both Klorel and Skaara have the right to live. But living as a host with no will of one's own is not life, therefore only one may remain in the body. To that end, I award priority to the original owner of the body. Skaara.

Lya has made the deciding vote against Klorel's fate. Previously in the episode we learned that Tollan law does not permit a death penalty and no matter how you look at it, force-ably removing Klorel could result in his death. Lya decided that it is morally wrong for one to live as a slave and Klorel should be force-ably removed.

Again, Lya is not the one committing the act, but twice she has demonstrated that she is totally ok with someone else committing violence for the greater good... and possibly on her behalf?

So, yet despite this difference in morality the Nox consider the Tollan friends. In addition, they have not only interacted with the Asgard, but they had also been in an alliance with them. This tells us that they do not shun violent ways in total, only that they wish to remain abstinent from such measures themselves.

With the SG-1 and Nox only interacting a handful of times there are limited impressions that the Nox have of 'us.' Unfortunately the first impressions the Nox made of us was us hunting (which they do not like) and getting into a shootout with the G-men on their planet (which they really do not like)... all in a short timeframe. After the shootout these are the primary dismissive statements directed toward the members of SG-1:

ANTEAUS: Rest now, you will leave soon. Take your ways with you.

ANTEAUS: You protect his body after poisoning his mind.

ANTEAUS: Our ways have served us for as long as our people have lived.

ANTEAUS: I told you the same. The very young do not always do what they are told

Through the episode Anteaus is still upset about the firefight and dismissive to SG-1 and their violent ways. However, toward the end of the episode his attitude has, somewhat, shifted. I would argue that this is due to the fact that even without their weapons SG-1 was attempting to defend the Nox so that they can finish their ritual (that we have also learned is time sensitive) and as opposed to just leaving them to their fate they are still actively doing what they believe is right. Anteaus respects this as he has been doing the same in his own way through the entire episode.

In their last conversation Anteaus is much more accepting of SG-1 given the day's events and even smiles while showing them their main(?) city. (Pretty sure he smiles when he says "there is something that we would have you see")

ANTEAUS: Before you go, O'Neill, there is something we would have you see. (Anteaus waves his hand at the sky behind SG-1, a VERY large ship appears in the sky. )

O'NEILL: Oh my God.

ANTEAUS: Fear not. (A bright burst of light flashes behind them. They turn to see the open Stargate.) Maybe one day you will learn, that your way is not the only way. (He and Nafrayu disappears.)

O'NEILL: (Looks back at city.) Why didn't he tell us about this before?

DANIEL: I think, in their way, they did.

Two other points to note from that episode.

First, given the discussion above, and assuming the Nox are not lying, "Our ways have served us for as long as our people have lived" and "Your way is not the only way" could point to the fact that the Nox have been pacifists through their entire existence. As difficult as it may be to understand, maybe they haven't really been in a situation that has caused them to question their ways.

This is where I thought to compare the Nox and the Ancients/Alterans, given that the Alterans have chosen to not act on our plane of existence, but they however chose to fight (or confront) the Ori and keep them from coming to our galaxy and that maybe the Nox would see things differently if found in such a situation... but that is primarily speculation.

And second, Anteaus is the only Nox we really have to base any decision of moral superiority off of - 1 of 4 we ever meet. The only other acknowledgement we receive of 'others' is when SG-1 asks to speak to the leaders and they are told that the leaders have no wish to speak to them. This is not surprising however given that I can not just call up the Queen if I visit England.

So really, I do not think that the Nox are morally unambiguous to the ways of others or see themselves as morally superior to humans in general. They have friends that both have guns and shoot them to kill others. They were just a little coarse that some strangers decided to shoot at their forest friends, try kill each other on their front yard, ruin the plan that had clearly worked to 'keep the peace' for years, almost see a child killed, and then justify their actions by telling them that they needed their protection.

The last point I will make is regarding the Eurondans from the episode "The Other Side" though it only kind of relates because I am forcing it to, in a way... After O'Neill learns that the Eurondans started a war based on the idea of genetic purity he believes it gives him the right to seal the fate of an entire people; a bunch of little Hitler people, raised to believe in genetic purity, but people none the less. We learn very early on in the episode that the "breeders" are very close to defeating the Eurondans and without our assistance they will undoubtedly lose their war. Arguably it would have been more humane to say, "We will provide you with heavy water to fuel your shield so long as you are in a cease fire and attempting to broker peace and if you refuse we are not going to answer your calls anymore and leave you to your fate." Instead, O'Neill forces his own personal morals onto Eurondans and removes all choice from them entirely. The Eurondans never got a chance to 'see the err of their ways' - thankfully the Nox gave us a chance.

  • Nicely done! It all makes more sense now. – MackTuesday Aug 27 '17 at 18:17
  • Glad to help. I thought to expand more, but I think that keeping it as short as possible would be better and then adding more details if you needed them... Glad you were able to get an answer as well; I feel like people jump that on hold button too quickly. – Odin1806 Aug 27 '17 at 18:22
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    A couple thoughts: (1) Perhaps Lya's belief in pacifism isn't as rigid as some of the other Nox, and while on Tollan she took advantage of being away from the others to push the boundaries a bit in the interest of saving lives. (2) Regarding your last quote, I always thought that the Eurondans may have lied about being on the brink of losing the war, in order to get SG-1's sympathy. – David Z Nov 15 '17 at 5:08

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