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Encyclopedia > Philosophy and religion in Star Wars
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George Lucas' creation of the Star Wars saga was influenced by mythology, philosophy, and religion and the popularity of the film series' inevitably led to even more comparisons being made. Image File history File links Circle-question. ... George Walton Lucas, Jr. ...

Contents

Mythology in Star Wars

Many of the themes within Star Wars reflect elements of Greek tragedy (Oedipus, House of Atreus), Arthurian Legend, Roman mythology, and Japanese chambara such as the prominence of prophecy and the inability to control one's destiny. For example, Luke's relationship with his father is very reminiscent of Greek tragedy, while the original film contained elements which were interpreted by some as analogous of the Arthurian myths: Luke's lightsaber (a "magic sword") was inherited from his father, just as Excalibur once belonged to Arthur's father; the wise mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, can be seen as a Merlin figure; and a "round table" appears aboard the Millennium Falcon. Oedipus with the Sphinx, from an Attic red-figure cylix from the Vatican Museum, ca. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Atreus. ... King Arthur is an important figure in the mythology of Britain. ... Roman mythology, the mythological beliefs of the people of Ancient Rome, can be considered as having two parts. ... Jidaigeki (時代劇) is a genre of television in Japan. ... How Sir Bedivere Cast the Sword Excalibur into the Water. ... Merlin Ambrosius (Welsh: Myrddin Emrys (Merlin the Wise); also known as Myrddin Wyllt (Merlin the Wild), Merlin Caledonensis (Scottish Merlin), Merlinus, and Merlyn) is the personage best known as the mighty wizard featured in Arthurian legends, starting with Geoffrey of Monmouths Historia Regum Britanniae. ... The Millennium Falcon is a fictional starship that first appeared in the original Star Wars film, A New Hope. ...


The Star Wars films also show considerable similarity to Asian Wuxia "Kung Fu" films. In films of this genre, the protagonist almost always begins with a clear objective to avenge the death of someone dear (an old master, his father, or his entire family). Starting as an apprentice, he grows to become the most powerful Master of his art in Kung Fu and rightfully settles old scores inflicted to his loved ones. The influence of Japanese pathos is obvious in the technique of the lightsaber being similar to the use of the Japanese Samurai swords, and the etiquette-conscious Jedi humility to the Japanese bows in greetings (the word Jedi comes from the Japanese term "Jidai Geki", which translates as "period drama"[citation needed]). The Jedi also live by a code of conduct and battle similar to the Samurai Code (or Bushido) as well as providing protection without being soldiers for a particular Nation or Government. Wǔxiá (Traditional Chinese: 武俠, Simplified Chinese: 武侠) literally meaning martial arts chivalry, is a distinct genre in Chinese literature and cinema. ... Alternative meaning: Kung Fu (TV series) Kung fu or gongfu (功夫, Pinyin: gōngfu) is a well-known Chinese term used in the West to designate Chinese martial arts. ... This article does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Japanese samurai in armour, 1860s. ... Japanese samurai in armor, 1860s. ...


Philosophy and religion

Main article: Force (Star Wars)

The essential trademark of Star Wars' philosophy is its reliance on the Force. The Force is a binding, ubiquitous power that is the object of the Jedi and Sith monastic orders in the Star Wars universe. ...


The Essence of the Sith/Jedi Moral Dichotomy

In Episode IV Obi-wan first explains the dichotomy of good and evil encompassed in the Force. He tells Luke that "For over a thousand generations the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic." Then moments later he contrasts the jedi with the actions of Darth Vader: "He betrayed and murdered your father. Now the Jedi are all but extinct. Vader was seduced by the dark side of the Force." Little other doctrine is expounded on in Episode IV, nevertheless, the violent nature of Darth Vader is viewed in contrast with the mostly passive behavior of Obi-wan Kenobi. Darth Vader is a fictional character in the Star Wars universe. ...


Above all of the films, Episode V contains the most thorough explanations of the nature of the Force during Luke's training on Dagobah. Yoda states, "A Jedi's strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger...fear...aggression. The dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan's apprentice." Luke then asks, "Vader. Is the dark side stronger?" to which Yoda replies "No...no...no. Quicker, easier, more seductive." And Luke again asks "But how am I to know the good side from the bad?" and Yoda replies "You will know. When you are calm, at peace. Passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack." (Yet, inexplicably, Lucas states in the commentary for Episode II: Attack of the Clones, that the dark side is more powerful. "We're cementing [Anakin's] determination to become the most powerful Jedi. The only way you can really do that is to go to the dark side because the dark side is more powerful. If you want the ultimate power, you really have to go to the stronger side, which is the dark side." This can perhaps be attributed to be a verbalization of Anakin's rationalizations and motives.)


Star Wars stresses the self-destructive nature of fear, anger, hate, selfishness, and lust for power. In Episode I, Yoda summarizes stating, "Fear is the path to the dark side: fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering." Patience, discipline, humility, monasticism, respect for one's elders, peace with one's self, trust in things spiritual over things physical, and self-sacrifice are extolled as virtues. However, a stoic position of setting aside personal feelings for others in order to bring about a greater good is also emphasized. For example, Luke Skywalker is told to remain on Dagobah to complete his training rather than rescue his friends from Cloud City, because doing so will "destroy all for which they have fought and suffered." Fear is a powerful, unpleasant feeling of risk or danger, either real or imagined. ... This article is about the emotion. ... Look up hate in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Yoda is a fictional character from the Star Wars universe, who appears in all of the franchises films except for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. ... Monasticism (from Greek: monachos — a solitary person) is the religious practice in which one renounces worldly pursuits in order to devote ones life fully to spiritual work. ... Stoicism is a school of philosophy commonly associated with such Greek philosophers as Zeno of Citium, Cleanthes, or Chrysippus and with such later Romans as Cicero, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and Epictetus. ... Luke Skywalker is a fictional character in the Star Wars universe, portrayed by Mark Hamill in the films Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. ... Dagobah is both a planet and the system in which it resides, in the fictional Star Wars universe. ... Cloud City is a fictional floating city on Bespin, a planet in the Star Wars universe which appears in the film The Empire Strikes Back. ...


Similarities to Various Religions

This aligns with the philosophy of many religions, which emphasize rational thought and meditation as the path to enlightenment, as opposed to the "Dark Side", of violent passion and emotion. It also aligns with secular Enlightenment thought, based in reason (the light side) and passionate and often violent pre-WWI romanticism (the dark side). . It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Spiritual enlightenment. ...


Undoubtedly, however, the strongest influence is primarily Taoist philosophy and secondarily Zen Buddhism, which inherited much from Taoism. The Force is also very similar to Qi. The practitioners of Qi according to the Taoist annals can live upwards of 200 years. Many true Taoist masters eventually became "san" or spirit-like beings, immortals who could partake and interact in the day-to-day earthly activities, not unlike what Obi-Wan and Yoda became after their passing, in their tutorials with Luke. Taoism emphasizes smooth flow of the Qi being the balance of the Yin and Yang forces to all manifestations including the human anatomy and the environment, again not unlike the duality of the Sith and Jedi being the dark and light extremes of the Force. For other uses of the words tao and dao, see Dao (disambiguation). ... Zen is a school of Buddhism in Japan that claims to transmit the spirit or essence of Buddhism, which consists in experiencing the enlightenment (bodhi) achieved by Gautama the Buddha. ... QI, standing for Quite Interesting and a play on IQ, is a comedy panel game television show hosted by Stephen Fry and shown on BBC Two and BBC Four. ...


There are also similarities between the Jedi and ordained religious instructors. The Jedi council determines who can be trained. Then through both group studies and a mentor-protégé relationship they learn the mysteries of the Force (which are not disseminated to the general population) and how to use it. Finally upon the completion of their training the student is tested by the Jedi council through a series of trials, after which the Jedi council confers upon them the rank of Jedi Knight through a special ceremony. Numerous parallels can be drawn to monastic orders, theological seminaries, and rabbinical schools. The manner by which Jedi fight evil using the Force may also be said to compare to the Christian idea of clergy calling on the power of God to exorcise demons. This perception is reinforced by Han Solo's description of the Force in Episode IV as "all-powerful," which it most certainly is not. It is apparent, however, that Jedi rely on their own mastery of the impersonal Force to exert power, while the Christian traditionally relies only on the mercy of a personal God, and not on any innate ability or "skill" as Force use requires. Look up Mentor in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... This page is a candidate to be copied to Wiktionary. ... A seminary is a specialised university-like institution for the purpose of training candidates for positions within a religious context. ... A Rabbi (Classical Hebrew רִבִּי ribbī; modern Ashkenazi and Israeli רַבִּי rabbī) is a religious Jewish scholar who is an expert in Jewish law. ... Exorcism is the practice of evicting or destroying demons or other evil spiritual entities which are supposed to have possessed (taken control of) a person or a building. ...


The monastic tradition from Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism religions is echoed in the strict code by which the Jedi live. The Jedi do not seek after material possessions. Both Obi-wan and Yoda spent considerable time living as hermits. The Jedi code also forbids romantic love of any kind - making it similar to Catholic vows of celibacy. Monasticism (from Greek: monachos—a solitary person) is the religious practice of renouncing all worldly pursuits in order to fully devote ones life to spiritual work. ... Christianity is a monotheistic[1] religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament. ... Hinduism (known as in some modern Indian languages[1]) is a religion that originated on the Indian subcontinent. ... Buddhism is a dharmic, non-theistic religion and a philosophy. ... A hermit, also known as an anchorite or anchoress, is a person living in voluntary seclusion, often for religious reasons. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...


Perspective on Death

Perspective on death also appears to differentiate the Sith from the Jedi. The Sith seek to prolong their own life regardless of the cost to those around them and themself. The Jedi, however, are accepting of death. And perhaps for this reason that Jedi that have passed on are able to commune with living Jedi (with whom they have had friendships) through a spiritual form of their bodies that seems to be manifest in the physical world. The Sith are never shown manifesting themselves to anyone in spiritual form, but perhaps this is due to their having no true friends in life. This article is about the Force-using organization in the fictional Star Wars universe. ... Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (right) with his padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi (left) from The Phantom Menace. ...


Governance

The Sith and the Jedi also greatly differ in how they govern. The Sith are portrayed as wanting absolute power and then ruling with an iron fist. If absolute power is not yet obtained the Sith will manipulate and deceive scores of people until they do obtain it. Once in control they will kill underlings that disappoint them and rule through fear. However, because of their desire for power (which is an intrinsic characteristic of the Sith), they are always plotting the demise of their master or apprentice, whatever their situation may be (this led to great internal strife among the Sith in pre-Republican history). Vader was never a true Sith - it is strongly hinted that although he wanted to overthrow Palpatine (consistent with the weak relationship between Sith master and apprentice), his motivation was originally a need to restore order rather than take power. However, it is made clear in both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith that he considers absolute power a legitimate means to achieve co-operation among all species and factions in the Galaxy. In Revenge of the Sith, he reveals his desire to rule the galaxy with his wife Padme, and thereby to bring order and peace to the Republic (later the Empire), perhaps becoming some sort of benevolent despot. In Return of the Jedi, Vader again expresses this desire, this time inviting his son, Luke, to rule with him. In both instances, there is no question that Vader himself would wield absolute power over the Republican/Imperial forces (and hence, the whole Galaxy). Intrinsic is used to describe a characteristic or property of some thing or action which is specific to that thing or action, and which is wholly independent of any other object, action or consequence. ... Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones is a 2002 science fantasy film directed by George Lucas. ... Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is the third episode of the Star Wars film series (but the sixth film to be produced), to be released on Thursday, May 19, 2005. ... Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is the third episode of the Star Wars film series (but the sixth film to be produced), to be released on Thursday, May 19, 2005. ... Movie poster Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, is a science fiction film that debuted in 1983, and re-released with changes in 1997 and 2004. ...


In contrast, the Jedi govern through a shared power structure with many "checks and balances". As Jedi they govern with a council based on merit and seniority. In the Republic they allowed themselves to be deployed on missions according to the wishes of the Chancellor and they did not seek to manipulate the activities of the Senate. The Jedi are almost completely devoid of jealousy and competitive ambition within their ranks.


Moral Ambiguity in Star Wars

There is, however, some sense of moral ambiguity associated with ethos of Star Wars. In Episode VI, Obi-Wan posthumously admits to deceiving Luke. Obi-wan asserts that "many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view." While Anakin's character changes dramatically when he transitions to Darth Vader - he is still Luke's father (contrary to Kenobi's assertion that Vader had killed Luke's father). Perhaps Obi-Wan lied for what he perceived to be "the greater good," so that Luke would continue his training (being motivated by his father's death) and not become curious about the Dark Side. Ethos (ἦθος) (plurals: ethe, ethea) is a Greek word originally meaning the place of living that can be translated into English in different ways. ...


Another recurring event is that a Jedi triumphing over a Sith in lightsaber combat usually occurs once the Jedi becomes sufficiently angry (see Luke's fight with Darth Vader in Episode VI). This raises an important question: if the Light Side and the Dark Side are equally powerful, then why does it help when a Jedi resorts to aggression to defeat his foes?


However, Yoda and Mace Windu both defeat Count Dooku and Darth Sidious respectfully while still maintaining control; although it should be noted that Mace's use of Vaapad (Form VII of lightsaber combat) required enjoyment in fighting, by definition a Dark Side concept. Also, Obi-wan Kenobi defeated Anakin Skywalker only when Anakin's judgement became impaired by an over-estimation of his own power, engendered by the Dark Side. In addition, Kenobi defeated Darth Maul by feeling the force and conquering his anger. It is also made plain in Episode V that Luke Skywalker is negatively influenced by a tendency towards impatience and anger during his confrontation with Darth Vader. From these cases it would seem that control is "good" and anger "bad". Due to these seemingly contradictory factors, it is difficult to understand exactly what kinds of Force use the Jedi consider legitimate. This unclear boundary between the Light and Dark sides (and hence, the ease of transition to evil) may or may not have some bearing on the fact that Jedi are sometimes tempted by the Dark Side as soon as they become sufficiently powerful. ...


Religious and Ideological Motifs

A shift from Eastern religion to Western religion, however, occurs between the original and the prequel trilogies. Old Republic Jedi appear to bear a stronger kinship to medieval knights, than Taoist monks. The prophecy of a chosen-one (which Anakin fulfills), born to a virgin, is very similar to the concept of the Christ. The final scenes of Episode III add a symbolic emphasis to this role. After Anakin is “killed” on Mustafar, a robed emperor mourns over his “dead” protégé, in a composition reminiscent of the Pieta. This would suggest that the “dead” Anakin will be resurrected. The hierarchy and role of the Jedi Knights also bears a strong resemblance to the Knights Templar of medieval Christendom. Christ is the English translation of the Greek word (Christós), which literally means The Anointed One. ... This article is about a form of art. ... The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (Latin: Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici), popularly known as the Knights Templar or the Order of the Temple, were among the most famous of the Christian military orders. ...


The sequel started in Episode IV with the obvious cliché — Darth Vader in matte and shiny black outfit, with Leia Organa in pristine white robes, alluding to the concepts of Good versus Evil. With the exception of Anakin in the teenage years in Episodes II and III (although one could arguably say that he was a bit "destined" for the Sith, so maybe this does not count as an exception to the rule) and Luke Skywalker in Episode VI, black costumes seem to be reserved exclusively for the darker Empire and its Emperor. Whether intentional or not, the use of language was dramatized — the Empire minions almost always spoke with British accents whilst most of the Rebels spoke unadulterated American English. Likewise, all Imperial officers were outfitted in tailor-cut Nazi-like uniforms, with the Rebels in looser and more ascetic overalls. It has been suggested as well that the Imperials/Rebels axis could also be a reference to real-world Reactionaries vs. Revolutionaries, but it's all speculation. Luke Skywalker is a fictional character in the Star Wars universe, portrayed by Mark Hamill in the films Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. ...


Technology

Technology, like the force, is represented as a double-edged sword, depending on the intentions and characters of those who wield it. Technology, like the force, is an unchanging and neutral aspect of life, but whoever is manipulating it will draw on its dark or light aspects depending on what kind of person they are. The movie shows the Empire as misusing technology to suit its own selfish agenda, at the cost of other people's freedoms; and it depicts most of the Rebels as utilizing more-or-less the same types of technology in order to fight the Empire and stand up for freedom and justice.


Furthermore, it is ingenuity, adaptation and diversity that largely dictate how effective or just the use of technology will be, rather than a particular piece of technology merely being powerful or technically advanced, or being possessed by the dominant culture. For example, the Ewoks are underestimated by the Empire because it regards them as little more than animals, but they are revealed to be intelligent beings that are adapted to their environment and are experts in utilizing their local technologies: they have a culture, and the ability to create a variety of traps and possess numerous weapons such as slings and bows and arrows. The Rebels have also adapted their gear with camouflage to blend into their surroundings, whereas the Empire's stormtroopers blunder through the forest in their usual synthetic, bright white armor, and pilot giant two-legged walkers that, although they possess superior firepower, seem ill-suited to irregular terrain and are easily tripped.


A certain dichotomy between technology and nature exists in the concept of droids. Although R2D2 and C3PO are prominent and beloved characters, it is stated that droids cannot actually "think". Lucas has said the creatively-thinking clone army was meant to contrast the droid army of the Trade Federation, which is inferior because droids are clumsy and can only follow their original programming. In this way technology is always regarded as nothing more than a tool to be used or misused by living beings. This stands in stark contrast to other science fiction such as The Matrix and Star Trek, in which the possibility of artificial intelligence being as aware and valid as natural intelligence is explored in depth. The Matrix is a science fiction / action film written and directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski and starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano and Hugo Weaving. ... The current Star Trek franchise logo Star Trek is an American science fiction franchise. ... Hondas humanoid robot AI redirects here. ...


  Results from FactBites:
 
Star Wars - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (3920 words)
Star Wars is an influential science fantasy saga and fictional universe created by writer/producer/director George Lucas in the early 1970s.
The saga began with the film Star Wars, which was released on May 25, 1977.
Star Wars began with a 13-page treatment for a space adventure movie which George Lucas drafted in 1973, inspired from multiple myths and classic stories.
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