View Full Version : Charles Sanders Peirce and "The Fixation of Belief"

Drake Vhett
10-25-2010, 10:26 PM
I was reading some work of Charles Sanders Peirce and came across an interesting example in "The Fixation of Belief", one of Peirce's philosophical essays that was published in the 15th edition of Popular Science Monthly in 1877. Here is the example:

"The Assassins, or followers of the Old Man of the Mountain, used to rush into death at his least command, because they believed that obedience to him would insure everlasting felicity. Had they doubted this, they would not have acted as they did."

Correct me if I'm just over-analyzing a simple coincidence, but the Assassins are the Assassins of the Brotherhood. The Old Man is Al Mualim as he is referred to as "The Old Man" by Alta´r ibn La-Ahad in the Codex pages in AC2.

The Mountain is the Assassin's keep on top of the hill in Masyaf in which Al Mualim has an office towards the top with a pigeon coop. The part about how the followers "rush into death at his least command" is referring to how at Al Mualim's orders the Assassin's took a leap of faith into the hay, which to the Templar's looked like they had just jumped to their doom.

"They believed that obedience to him would insure everlasting felicity" is equatable to the belief held by the Assassin's that by following Al Mualim they would kill all those who opposed the peace in the Holy Land, since felicity is a feeling of happiness which could be taken as peace.

"Had they doubted this, they would not have acted as they did" is Alta´r's doubt that Al Mualim is correct, and if he had looked more closely at Al Mualim he would have discovered that Al Mualim was a Templar.

So, am I over-analyzing this or did this philosophical example influence the story?

10-25-2010, 10:52 PM
You are correct that the Assassins in AC are based on the Hashashin, the group described in the essay. If I'm not mistaken, the inspiration to make the game came after reading a book called "Alamut," which also centers on the Hashashin. Many details of the Assassin order, as described in AC, are taken directly from this book, such as the portrayal of assassins leaping from great heights at the command of their master (although the ones in the book didn't survive), and the phrase "nothing is true, everything is permitted."

Certain things about the assassins were altered for the game, however. The real Hashashin, from what I've heard, were brainwashed and indoctrinated by the old man of the mountain (Al Mualim wasn't his real name, but he flled a similar role). Recruits were drugged heavily with Hashish, and allowed to roam in a garden filled with beautiful women. (Like the back courtyard of Masyaf) Then, the Old man removed them from this paradise, telling them that the only way to get back was to obey him without question. In this vulnerable mental state, hashashin recruits were very susceptable to the old man's suggestions, causing them to trust his word completely.

Some of AC's dialogue references "the promise of paradise," a rumor that the assassins' enemies started in order to make them seem radical, mysterious, and dangerous. But for the AC assassins, this promise simply refers to the paradise that would be created if they were able to truly create "peace in all things."