Inspired by this question: The right mix of emotions for a civilization that is not concerned about reproducing but spreading itself throughout the universe?

We have a species of transcendent beings. They are incorporeal save when they choose. Immortal, they do not reproduce. Space and matter hold no mysteries for them. They cannot travel through time, as the Poet has forbidden it [1].

Given that, I'm making the assumption that emotions are driven by an organism's basic needs, hence the emotional makeup of these creatures will be as follows:

  • Jealousy is unknown among them. They want for nothing.

  • Rage is also unknown; as they have no realistic enemies, there is no need for a fight reaction.

  • They don't really suffer from shock or fear, again, because they face no threats.

  • Love ("eros") is right out, as they do not reproduce.

  • They can feel friendship ("agape") as discussion is one of their main passtimes.

  • They are relentless novelty seekers, as ennui is perhaps the sole danger to their lives. This is what drives their explorations, their meddling with young civilizations, and general busybody nature.

  • They are of necessity a bit ... not callous, but eerily serene and unmoved by horror, as they've seen so much. The harshest reaction you may get out of one of these, is frustrated irritation, as when an interesting race immolates itself, thus removing one of the few limited resources in their universe: someone to talk to.

  • They are incorrigibly social, as they are immortal and know their own thoughts all too well. They will talk to other immortals, random aliens, children, dogs, or anything which will listen and has a chance of surprising them.

So, the question ... Am I missing anything? Is this a realistic set of emotions for such a species, assuming the listed capabilities?

[1] From the Rubayyat:

The Moving Finger writes, and having writ

Moves on. Nor all thy Piety nor Wit

Shall call it back to cancel half a Line

Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it


2 Answers 2


You might want to consider whether they still hold to any concepts of morality. Given their considerable age and immortality, they probably take a much longer view of "good" than shorter lived beings might. A meteorite striking a planet and wiping out the current post-industrial civilization might be considered a good thing if it allows another species (which has the potential much greater creativity in social interactions) to evolve up to sentience.

You might also investigate if such creatures would limit themselves and their fellow immortals under any laws or social contracts. Is there any action which can be performed by one immortal which deserves punishment from the others?

Is their immortality an absolute constant in their lives, or can they, for the sake of adventure and variety, turn it off and thus actually experience and come to understand life as a mortal? In such cases, if they die, are they really dead or can other members of their immortal society restore them to life?

Finally, have the immortals found any long term projects to occupy their attentions and give their life meaning? What are they planning to do about the heat death of the universe since as it currently stands, every last one of them is going to face it eventually?


You might want to reconsider jealousy and rage. Anything that can make plans can have those plans frustrated. The more invested (emotionally or in time/wealth) the more frustrating a disturbed plan can be, up to the point of rage. Likewise, if they are social at all, they are exposed to the possibility that their feeling go unrequited - so they can have the creature or thing they admire, want to learn from, makes them laugh, thing prefer to spend it's time with someone else. Maybe someone less deserving.

They may be heirarchial and vying for dominance within their group (see Doctor Who and the Time Lords, think about how much effort Rassilon and his bunch put into staying always on top). Some of them may be insular, seeing only other immortals as worth their time. These insular immortals may consider the more broadly social ones to be eccentric, maybe even mad (listen to the Master/Missy complaining about the Doctors human companions, likening the Doctor's relationship to a former president of the species living in a beat up old car with a bunch of stray animals). Similarly, still relating to Doctor Who some members of the race (the Doctor) may consider their own species callousness towards life decadent and repulsive, and do their best to stay away from their own kind - while nevertheless missing home, and maybe some of the nicer things it had. Still borrowing, then I'll leave it, our immortals who just keep a farm or home, living in a happy community of their own kind with tiny community problems "look at Mrs. Knickers latest quilt!" and adventures "oh. Mrs. Rodgers son is home for a visit!". Your people could be a mix of all of these, instead of a singular personality.

Alternatively, they might be excellent, even aggressive information sharers within their peer group.

  • $\begingroup$ I agree with jealousy and envy. These things are novelty seekers. Maybe they are artists or creators. I can very much imagine one artist being jealous of another. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Nov 18, 2017 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ James, I may well have to reconsider jealousy and/or envy. Hadn't considered the attention and praise of peers, or the availability of charming civilizations to poke around with as limited resources. Hmm... $\endgroup$
    – akaioi
    Nov 20, 2017 at 21:28
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. I can't wait to see what you come up with. $\endgroup$ Nov 21, 2017 at 11:43

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