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Wednesday, 27 August 2008

STAR WARS AND PHILOSOPHY:DISCUSSION #1- The Force (part 1)

Well people, here's a new thing on my blog: a series. I've decided to start this particular one because I've always been a huge Star Wars fan and I've wanted to show tell people how its not 'just another Sci-Fi movie series' by getting them to look at it from the philosophical perspective. Star Wars is actually quite a fascinating amalgamation of philosophy and technology and LOTS more.

So, lets start with the 1st in the series. The Force. The Force is, well the crux of Star Wars. All the events in the whole series of movies took place because of The Force: The Sith(about whom there will be detailed discussions later) plan the blockade on Naboo, the Jedi(also to be discussed about) end up discovering Anakin Skywalker who has been prophecized to bring about 'The Balance' in The Force and who in turn breaks the code of conduct by falling in love and starting a war- a war that nearly wipes out the Jedi and turna Anakin over to the Dark Side, Anakin's son then learns the ways of The Force to triumph over the Sith in the end and restore peace. All of it revolves around The Force. So what is The Force? Well in 'Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope',Obi-Wan Kenobi describes it as 'energy created by all living things that surrounds the galaxy and binds it'. In the same movie though, Han Solo describes it as a 'hokey religion', but that's hardly important. Now, this sounds like a 'ridiculous concept'.Or is it? Well actually, examples similar to the concept of The Force exist on this very planet itself. Sages in India claim to have tapped some mystical energy that ensures that they don't spill their guts when using their bodies as pincushions for swords; Japanese martial artists believe that every living being possesses energy called Chi and martial arts is one way to tap it; the whole concept of Feng Shui revolves around 'positive and negative eneries and vibes'. The Force is not very different from these examples. In Star Wars, not ALL people can tap into The Force. It is only creatures (yes, creatures, because Humans are not the only sentient species in Star Wars) that possess cells known a Midichlorians that can tap into it. But that's not where it ends.

Just like there are positive and negative sides to either Chi or the energies in Feng Shui, so too does The Force have a 'Dark Side' and a 'Light Side'. Those who CAN use The Force make a choice between the 2 sides. Force users (as they are called) who use the powers of The Force to maintain peace and justice in the galaxy are on the Light Side and are called The Jedi. These beings are generally considered the 'heroes' in Star Wars. On the other hand, beings that use The Force for destructive and selfish purposes and to quench their thirst for power are on the Dark Side and are called The Sith. But its not as simple as that. When George Lucas introduced such a concept to the world, he conveniently created lots of complexities through its portrayal. Let me explain with the help of the example of 'day and night'. To a 5-year old kid, 'daytime' is when the sun is visible in the sky, and 'nighttime' is when the moon is. But as he grows older, he learns that there is more to this. He learns about the sunrise and sunset, about how the sun 'travels the sky' with every passing hour and finally 'gives way to the moon'. Hence, he learns about those hours when its not exactly 'daytime' but not 'nighttime' either. This is exactly how the concept of The Force works. To an untrained mind, The Force would basically just consist of the Dark and Light Sides i.e the 'good' and 'bad' sides. But people who have seen the movies and read the books will know that there is no real good or bad. Its all just a point of view. 'One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter'.

This fact glares most brightly in Star Wars:Episode III-Revenge of the Sith during Anakin's conversation with Chancellor Palpatine (who eventually turns out to be the Sith Lord Darth Sidious himself and is the reason for Anakin's defection). Palpatine tells Anakin how 'the Dark Side is a window to powers many consider unnatural'. Which is true. They are not powers that The Jedi can tap. But that doesn't necessarily mean they are evil. To elaborate, he tells Anakin 'the tragic tale of Darth Plageuis the Wise', a Sith Lord who could use the Dark Side to save people from dying. According to that tale though, Plageuis taught everything he knew to his apprentice (whose identity is still unkown but going by the smug look on Palpatine's face as he told this part,he seems to be the most likely candidate) who one day killed Plageuis in his sleep. 'Ironic, isn't it?' Palpatine continues, 'he could save others from dying but he could not save himself'. Why is that?Well it because Plageuis taught his apprentice EVERYTHING. He did not leave himself the upper hand. And that is where the separation between The Jedi and The Sith is apparent. While The Jedi follow the path of selflessness, The Sith follow the path to power. Plageuis's apprentice capitalised on Plageuis's blunder, because he seeked to be more powerful than his master.

So, that about wraps up an introduction to The Force. I hope this was interesting. Watch this space for part of The Force where the focus is on the Light Side.

May the Force be with you.

8 comments:

ki said...

That WAS interesting. I'm surprised because I've never been into Star Wars, at all!

Alok said...

Yeah, Star Wars as a story is based heavily on philosophy. And I loved it. Most importantly, I loved Yoda's advice. :D

About the Force: I like the idea, it's very powerful and believable. However, what I don't like about its portrayal is that it's shown to be something "outside". I've always believed in an "internal" power. Probably this is why Luke Skywalker is the hero of the movie.

metal-militant said...

Well Alok,its always been stated as external because thought I've drawn comparisons to it with Chi,unlike Chi,its not existent within everyone.Only a being with midichlorians can tap into The Force.Luke Skywalker was the offspring of a Jedi,so he COULD tap into it,he just didnt know that.

@ ki: thank you love,i hope this gave you SOME insight into it.

Express said...

Hey, awesome read.

I second ki :-P , not at all :-P

2 questions, might sound stupid considering the fact tht alok is 'thinking' about it [we all know that calamities happen when alok thinks :-P]
well,
1. why are the names so complicated? :-?
2. when u say, may the force be with u, it includes 'dark side' also nah?

:-D :-D :-D

P.S. Yayy!! I finally know what "may the force be with you" is....hehe...

metal-militant said...

answers:

1. Ask Lucas moshaai
2. Only the Jedi say 'May the Force be with you' so figure it out.

ki said...

it did :)
part two likho.

Lucid Darkness said...

Aye! The fact remains that apart from the Force itself, the series deals with choices and how these affect sentient beings. The Force and how it is being tapped, is to an extent a representation of that choice that separates one individual from the other. As you mentioned, the Sith aim at channeling a different aspect of the Force and it is here that they are in conflict with the Jedi who believe it prudent not to do so.

As with any philosophy that put forth in the Star Wars saga also throws different choices against each other.

Nice post! :) And thanks for stopping by my blog.

metal-militant said...

@ lucid:Thank you.

And the philosophy is what makes Star Wars so special.Its just sad that meople REFUSE to look beyond the space theme.