Thinking about Star Wars

Posted on Posted in Film, Philosophy, Science

“I find your lack of faith disturbing.” – Darth Vader

The Star Wars series is great, and not just for the action and special effects, but also for the philosophical concepts. What is the nature of the Force? What are good and evil? Do droids think? Do they dream? Do they have any rights?

I am particularly interested in how the Force is portrayed from one episode to the next. Sometimes it seems very Taoist, and other times more Hindu. Sometimes it is a Force of life in general, and sometimes it seems like it is hereditary, or even genetic. I wonder if there will be final sense of a unified philosophy of the Force when all of the episodes are complete.

Two great books explore some of the philosophical ideas from the series: Star Wars and Philosophy (Open Court Culture and Philosophy, 2005), and The Ultimate Star Wars and Philosophy (Blackwell Philosophy and Culture, 2015).

Topics include: destiny, Stoicism, virtue, morality, moral ambiguity, the problem of evil, environmental ethics, technology, cloning, droid slavery, droid thought, feminism, lying, honesty, loyalty, betrayal, redemption, nihilism, religion, tyranny, and democracy.


And there is even The Philosophy of J. J. Abrams (University Press of Kentucky, 2014) covering ideas that arise in TV shows Felicity, Alias, Lost, and Fringe; and films Cloverfield, Super 8, Mission Impossible, and Star Treck.

What philosophical questions come to your mind when watching Star Wars?





The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the force. – Darth Vader



Co-Creator at Sedona Philosophy
Matthew is co-creator and guide at SPEX in Sedona, Arizona and teaches philosophy at Northern Arizona University. He teaches environmental ethics, aesthetics, and phenomenology. In his spare time he is either reading, hiking, or restoring a classic car.

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