Star Wars and Philosophy: More Powerful Than You Can Possibly Imagine

Star Wars and Philosophy: More Powerful Than You Can Possibly Imagine

Star Wars and Philosophy: More Powerful Than You Can Possibly Imagine

Star Wars and Philosophy: More Powerful Than You Can Possibly Imagine


Sensed a disturbance in The Force lately? This is what’s been setting your midi-chlorians tingling. Seventeen Jedi adepts got together to probe the deeper reaches of the Star Wars epic. A hazardous quest—philosophy is more risky than not letting a Wookiee win. Now their wisdom has been imprinted on sheets of extruded wood pulp and conveyed across hyperspace into our galaxy.

Why do bad Sith nearly always tell the truth and good Jedi often tell lies? When is it justified to raise an army by breeding clones? If the Force must have a Dark Side, how can the Dark Side be evil? Why and how did the tyrannical Empire emerge from the free Republic? Are droids persons, entitled to civil rights? Is Yoda a Stoic or a Zen master?

This is the Jedi’s most precious possession. The answers are all here. You may want to go home and rethink your life.


Now this may shock you, but there's an arcane, little-known quotation, one rich in meaning, that appears in every Star Wars movie: "I've got a bad feeling about this." In each episode of George Lucas's "space opera," one of the main characters expresses this basic existential anxiety. It's an intuitive response to an undefined problem. Yet it has its root in the essentially philosophical thought that our relationship to the world is one of questioning. Questions sometimes emerge from wonder, sometimes from doubt. We stare up at the heavens, much as Luke did on Tatooine, and wonder about the extent of the universe, its origin, and its meaning. In a crisis of faith, much as Luke had when confronted by his parentage on Cloud City, we may doubt many of our firmly-held beliefs and preconceptions. We search our inner selves, as did Leia when Han was being lowered into the carbon-freezing chamber, and wonder about what it means to love or be virtuous. Sharing Han's skeptical worldly point of view, we may doubt that we have any existence as a mind or soul after our bodily processes are nullified by death. We comb through our junkyard, much as Watto constantly does, and wonder whether there are formulas describing the variances of the value character of the products of labor.

But philosophy doesn't have a monopoly on wonder or doubt. You could be in a state of wonder reflecting upon the birth of your twin children, or while viewing the new piece of art on your favorite Hutt's wall. Similarly, you could be in doubt whether the modifications to your podracer are sufficient to allow you to be competitive in the Boonta Eve Race. In these cases, no philosophical questioning needs to occur. Philosophy

Although known to only a few, even Chewbacca voices this sentiment in the
Boba Fett-driven cartoon segment of the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special.

Actually, this is a wonder entertained only by Marxists studying Das Kapital.
And so we doubt that it applies to many of you.

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