The Philosophy of Star Wars

The Philosophy of Star Wars

A Long Time Ago, In A Land Far Far Away…

2 Distinguished Philosophers, Teacher and Pupil to one another, for although they come from 2 different generations, fate intertwines them together, to create a conflict between scholars, for nearly 2000 years after their passing. On one side, we have Plato, believing that humans are beings with innate gift to think, and everything we have in our world are just a shadow of true knowledge and our ideals. On the other side we have Aristotle, believing that knowledge comes from experience, and only after receiving experience does a human have capabilities of comprehending something.

Neither of them are good and evil, but the both of them are equally strong, and equally smart, until then, both sides, of the Rationalists and the Empiricists, must fight, arguing every article, maintaining the balance of the Thought, until one true Rationalist or Empiricist shall win the war for them, finishing a conflict that has went on for eternities.

Well, yes, this quarrel between Innate Knowledge versus Experience has went on and on and on for 2 millenniums. Today I’m going to explain the relation between the 2 and Star Wars, because trust me, if I put Empiricism or Rationalism onto the title, no one will click it. But if you add the Star Wars brand onto the title, and then BAM! Fanboys will march and click it… Probably the Star Wars tag is what dragged you here, anyways read on, this philosophy article is gift wrapped with Star Wars, and I hope this article could help you comprehend Rationalism and Empiricism more.

Like Stormtroopers marching to war, we shall march onto the article!

MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS BEWARE WHEN READING… I’M SERIOUS

Rationalism and Empiricism

What on Earth does Rationalism and Empiricism even mean? I’m here to read about Star Wars!

Patience young Philosopher, we shall get there. Just not now… Though you can skip this part if you would like to, but I really hope you don’t (Just so you know, I’d make a terrible Yoda)

Still here? Good, don’t skip to the Star Wars part just yet…

If you think the war between the Republic and the Empire (or First Order, Resistance, just, insert whatever name you want here, especially Millennials who haven’t watched Episode IV-VI yet) has been going on and on for a long time, this is probably the longest quarrel ever. Like I said previously, it has went on for nearly 2000 years, until a hero solved the problem and brought peace to the galaxy of philosophy.

Of course, we know it is a conflict, you don’t need to watch Star Wars to know the Jedi and the Sith are on 2 different sides. Well, let’s put it onto perspective…

Rationalists…

Rationalists are people who believe in Innate knowledge, they believe in Reason as the reason we could comprehend things in real life. Humans are born with basic skills to reason with reality. They are the followers of Plato, who once said that everything is but a shadow of earthly knowledge. Plato was the original Jedi… or Sith… I don’t know, I won’t pick sides by saying the Rationalists are the Sith or the Jedi, that’s not fair.

A famous Rationalist was René Descartes (he’s the Skywalker, or Vader of the Rationalists). Descartes uttered the quote “I think, therefore I am”. A simple, meaningful, and memorable quote, basically saying that we exist, purely by thinking, and no matter what devils (or Descartes’ definition of The Dark Side) do to distort our belief, the devils cannot distort our beliefs if we do not exist in the first place.

Descartes said that no matter what the world tries to do to distort our beliefs, or distort us from the truth, we humans will come back to our original reasoning, and we would know whether or not our beliefs are true or not. Any sane man will never actually doubt these things, but he once devised some form of test, making a man question everything, from the existence of god, to whether or not this world is an illusion. He basically became the Evil Demon who distorts humans from the truth.

Through this experiment (I can’t call it an experiment with the standard of experiments we have today, but it should be considered as one), Descartes “proved” that through innate reason of a sane man, any doubt caused by whatever it may be, will always lead us back to truth. I have no Star Wars analogies at this point, but I shall move on to Empiricism.

Empiricists…

No, they’re not the Empire, they are the followers of Aristotle, the original Empiricist. Empiricists believes in knowledge coming through experience, and after dealing with something of past experience, we would remember it, whilst also being capable to not step in the same hole twice.

Anyways, The term Empiricist comes from the term Empirical, which means Solid Evidence (in a nutshell it is). Since according to Aristotle the Truth is obtained from the world around us, Empiricists believe evidence is gained through experience.

Truth is something you gain from observation, you can’t get the truth without experiencing something, that’s a pretty common belief among Empiricists.

Empiricists believe in Aristotle’s syllogism, which is a form of logic Aristotle devised, it’s a form of logic used to this day. 

Syllogism started with Aristotle’s uttering the phrase “Socrates Is Mortal”. He obtained this logic from 2 thoughts that connect with each other.

  • Men Are Mortal
  • Socrates Is A Man
  • Therefore Socrates is Mortal

Back then, since Socrates was so brave to drink some lethal concoction which instantly killed him, people thought he was immortal, and thanks to Aristotle, he somehow disproved it.

Syllogism is simple? Indeed it is… But back then this invention of logic was like the invention of the Light Bulb . Because it enabled people who aren’t quite as smart as Aristotle to question and answer some of the simpler questions in life.

Another form of Syllogism is Aristotle sorting animals based on some categories he devised.

  • A mammal suckles its young
  • Elephants suckle their young
  • Therefore elephants are mammals

And he goes on and on with some of the species in the animal kingdom. Aristotle’s observations and research are still used in some species to this day.

Star Wars Rationalism

Skip here if you’re a fanboy of Star Wars, who only came because of the title. This is the part where Star Wars analogies are being used the most.

The heroes of Star Wars are using rationalism. True, the Jedi does benefit from experience in using the Force. But without the bloodline of a Jedi, and without the reasoning of a proper Jedi, what you’ll have is a Sith. *Cough* Kylo Ren *Cough*

So, in terms of Rationalism versus Empiricism, Jedis rely more on their basic Reasoning rather than their Experience. 

The experience that they’d obtain, would differ from their basic reasoning. If they don’t have proper reasoning, then the Emperor or Supreme Leader would convert the Jedi onto the Dark Side.

Like Descartes said, through one’s reasoning, a human is certain of their existence, and through their reasoning and thinking, they would get back to their original beliefs, one that they are certain of. Regardless of whatever evil demons, the Dark Side, or whatever people do to distort their beliefs.

If one doesn’t have enough reasoning, then they’d be insane, thinking about their own existence, and reality. In Star Wars logic, they’d be converted to the Dark Side, receiving the training of a Sith. I wouldn’t mind if there are more Siths though, the Sith are cool. (Yes, they’re better than the Jedi… in my opinion… *Sticks tongue out*)

Of course, experience plays a part onto the strength of a Jedi. But the experience we use would still be affected by our basic reasoning more than our experience.

Why is that? You might ask…

Well let’s put it this way… A Jedi wouldn’t Force Choke people. A Sith would. What’s the reason you’re using the Force in the first place? A Jedi uses the force to protect people, or to… Well actually I’ve no idea, I still don’t completely understand the purpose of the Jedi and the Sith. But point is, A Jedi wouldn’t hurt people, A Sith wouldn’t mind hurting people. That’s their basic reasoning.

From then Experience plays some part, of course the more often you choke someone, the better the quality of your choking. But since a Jedi would never choke someone in the first place, then the basic reasoning affects the judgement of a Jedi or Sith more than experience.

If I recalled precisely the way a Jedi and a Sith utilizes the Force is different. The Jedi channels it with a peace of mind, and The Sith channels it with hate and anger. Therefore, reason affects the judgement of a Jedi more than experience.

You change the reasoning of a Jedi, he or she becomes a Sith. You change the reasoning of a Sith he or she becomes… I don’t think they’ll become a Jedi though… Maybe they’ll be a Sith with mercy? Like Vader did in the first movie.

Like I’ve said before, through reasoning, a sane man would go back to their original beliefs. A person would be insane, if they don’t hold strong beliefs. In terms of Star Wars logic, (again, like I’ve said before), if a Jedi doesn’t have strong reasoning, they would easily wane to the Dark Side

So, Luke, instead of reading the old Jedi texts, just read Descartes’s work. You wouldn’t have lost Ben if you did… I seriously pity you… 

I guess that’d be all in terms of Star Wars Philosophy.

A Heroic Ending

Fanboys are allowed to leave, this’ll be discussing Philosophy again.

Yes, a Heroic Ending to Rationalism versus Empiricism. About 2000 years after Plato’s death, the galaxy finally sent a hero wise enough ending the millennium long quarrel.

His name was Immanuel Kant. 

Immanuel Kant believes in Transcendental Idealism. An idea that unites both innate knowledge and reasoning with experience and ability to observe. Somehow, Kant found a method to unite two ideas that actually go against each other. If only the Galaxy sent a hero to end the quarrel between the Jedi and Sith, then Star Wars would not have anymore episodes to it and life would be boring.

His ideas in detail would be discussed in a new article I hope I could release this year, but I’ll keep it short and simple currently.

Immanuel Kant argues that to observe something and make a decision or process thought, we would need the ability to reason with the object in the first place. Of course I don’t literally mean Reason with the object, but Immanuel Kant points out that observations cannot be done without innate reason. 

After we use our reasoning and rationalized the object, putting it into our thoughts, then experience comes into play. We would have more experience to interact and remember the things to do or not to do when the same thing, or if a similar thing happens is again.

After 2000 years where philosophers have been arguing about where knowledge comes from, and how our mind interacts with things, this problem is solved, all thanks to Immanuel Kant.

Conclusion

Every quarrel has an ending. Sometimes even the simplest solutions can be unexpected, whether it’s Jedi vs Sith or Rationalists vs Empiricists whatever quarrel it may be, all conflicts will come to an end, however the way a conflict may end is the main question.

For 2000 years philosophers have argued what’s better or right, innate knowledge or experience. In the end both are needed equally, for our mind to process information.

Same goes for the Republic and Empire, there’ll be an ending to the conflict Disney version of Star Wars, we just don’t know how.

Meanwhile we’ll just do our stuff, waiting for Disney to whip up their movie magic and hopefully give us a satisfying ending. 

There goes my article for the day, hope you enjoy it and of course, have a nice day, and May The Force Be With You.

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