Reading ‘The Philosopher at the End of the Universe’ by Mark Rowlands I was curious about how this book would aid me in comprehending further philosophical concepts. I was surprised that chapter eight of the book entitled, ‘Star Wars – Good and Evil’ would link to my first post regarding the ‘Theory of Forms’ or the ‘Theory of Two Worlds’.
Within chapter eight, the author stated that George Lucas’ ‘Star Wars’ included the idea that “evil exists”. “It exists as the dark side to a force – sorry the Force…” This contradicted Plato’s ‘Theory of Forms’, where evil did not exist. However, evil was ‘the absence of good’ (“privatio boni”) as Plato’s the highest ‘Form’ was the ‘Form of Good’.
Plato’s idea was worked upon by Plotinus. Plotinus tried to merge some of Plato’s metaphysics into a religion. The movement later became known as ‘Neo-Platonism’. (Further details regarding a comparison between Plotinus and Plato are mentioned within my first post.)
St Augustine of Hippo – Christian metaphysics
A theist, St Augustine of Hippo, had taken the idea of a “privatio boni” and merged it into ‘Christian metaphysics’. Since then, Christianity has changed its approach towards evil and promoted the idea of destroying evil by any means necessary.
Friedrich Nietzsche – Evil can be ‘good’
Nevertheless, one philosopher disagreed with the Christian approach towards evil; his name was Friedrich Nietzsche. Within Nietzsche’s first book, ‘The Birth of Tragedy’, the philosopher posited that evil or ‘darkness’ could be useful. Nietzsche used the example of the celebration of ‘Dionysus’, the god of wine, in ‘Ancient Greece’. The philosopher argued that the savageness performed at the festival was terrifying, yet Greece was one of the most developed countries at the time. And Nietzsche posited that it was caused by ‘sublimation’, which enabled the Greeks to become an ‘overman’ as a population.
Star Wars and Darth Vader
George Lucas’ ‘Star Wars’ were a great series of films. However, in order to explain Nietzsche’s concepts of sublimation and the ‘overman’, the character of ‘Darth Vader’ needs to be used. ‘Darth Vader’ was a character possessed by a dark side of ‘the Force’.
Friedrich Nietzsche – Approaches towards evil
Nietzsche argued that there were three approaches towards evil. The first approach was chiefly promoted by ‘Christians’, that evil should be destroyed. The second approach was to give up fighting with ‘dark’ desires. This was ‘Darth Vader’s’ path. The third approach towards evil was to sublimate the desires. This was Nietzsche’s solution to evil and our primitive desires. A ‘sublimation of desires’ would be when one would use one’s primitive desires and transform them into another action; the action which would aid one to develop physically or mentally. Furthermore, an ‘overman’ (ubermensch) for Nietzsche would be one who would be able to sublimate one’s desires.
George Lucas’ ‘Star Wars’ proved that ‘philosophy’ is still commonly used. Also, ‘Star Wars’ proved that to comprehend philosophical debates or concepts or even contemporary cinematography, one has to have a basic knowledge regarding the philosophers of ‘Ancient Greece’ (Socrates, Plato or Aristotle). This knowledge would allow one to have a more profound comprehension regarding the world and its order.