A Technological Galaxy:
Heidegger and the
Philosophy of Technology
in Star Wars
JEROLD J. ABRAMS
In the Dark Age of the Empire the light of the Force has all but gone out of the world, and the few remaining Jedi look to misty ages of an ancient past for guidance in their struggle against the forces of evil. Obi-Wan refers to the lightsaber as "an elegant weapon for a more civilized age" and describes the Jedi Knights as "guardians of peace and justice in the old Republic. Before the dark times, before the Empire."
The same view of history is echoed in the writings of the twentieth-century German philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889– 1976): rather than making progress, our greatest days are, in fact, behind us; and history is actually getting worse.1 A corruption has set in, like the Fall in the Garden of Eden; only here, in Heidegger and Star Wars, our sin is technology, or, more specifically, what Heidegger calls "enframing."2 This is the process of reorganizing all the various elements of nature, trees and rocks, rivers and animals, carving them up and placing them into so many artificial "frames," all to be used up as "resources."
1 See Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, translated by Joan Staumbaugh (New
York: SUNY Press, 1996).
2 For an excellent study of Heidegger's philosophy of technology, see George
Pattison, The Later Heidegger (New York: Routledge, 2000). For an analysis of
Heidegger's general philosophy, see Magda King, A Guide to Heidegger's Being
and Time (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001); and George
Steiner, Martin Heidegger (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978, 1989).