"Star Wars" and Philosophy (Popular Culture and Philosophy) (Popular Culture & Philosophy) Paperback – 25 Nov 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
- spotted a few spelling mistakes, but never mind
- Chapters are not too long
- Explains philosophical issues quite entertainingly by means of comparisons to the Star Wars universe
I would definitely recommend this book for amateur - philosophers and fans of the Star Wars saga!!!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Essays in this book cover everything from environmental philosophy right through to Buddhism, technology and causation. More so than the Matrix books, "Star Wars and Philosophy" truly presents a myriad of philosophical issues to read about. My personal favourites were essays on the personhood and rights of droids, and the truth and lies told by tyhe Jedi and Sith. However, other essays really had a high standard, as well.
In terms of presenting aspects of Star Wars in a new light and giving a deeper appreciation of the movies, "Star Wars and Philosophy" is a great exposition. I have looked at the movies in a new light since reading it, and this is especially so for the more recent prequels to the original trilogy.
Especially for Star Wars fans, but also for anyone who just digs science fiction, this is a great addition to the collection of books. Inspiring and thought provoking certainly describe this one. I loved every essay in it, and was fixated until the end.
My wife and I went on a trip for our anniversary to a Bed and Breakfast in Thomasville, GA. We just stayed in the room and read the whole time. I read this book in about 1 day.
I have to say that I was more than a little surprised at how good a book it was. I've read other books in the Philosophy and Popular Culture series, but was expecting this one to be kind of lame. Star Wars is my favorite movie series of all time, and I find that it's easy for someone commenting on or writing about the series to provoke my ire. (Dorks hate it when other people get their life's obsession wrong.)
I am by no means a great mind. But I do enjoy the notion that Plato put forth that one cannot avoid popular culture, and it is better to teach by popular examples than by those examples that no one will understand. As a result, I say that this series is a good one if you want to get acquainted with philosophy in a "friendlier" setting than a classroom, though the average reader will still have to think more deeply than they usually do.
Which is why this is a good book. It's an introduction to critical thinking about philosophy. It causes you to question the nature of good and evil. (ie..The notion of Lying Jedi and Truthful Sith). And again, all of it is heavier thinking than the average movie watching TV viewer is used to doing, but it's worth it. It can open your eyes to philosophical notions that you hadn't really fathomed before. (ie...There is a wonderful article on Stoicism as represented by Yoda. I had no idea that stoicism was a philosophical movement, I just thought it described a certain quality. And even that was the vaguest of notions.)
There were certain aspects (philosophical not stylistic) of the book that I didn't really care for, understand fully, or agree with. But to be fair, the editor also put a note in the introduction saying that he didn't really agree with everything in it either. It does, after all, cover a wide berth of philosophical issues. No one can possibly agree with all philosophies.
So if you are like me, and probably watch too much TV, but occasionally let slip the surly bonds of your couch and reach out to learn something new, this is the book for you.
Contrary to many philosophy books, they won't bore you with long winded prefaces where they detach themselves from the material to keep their cred as serious philosophers. They take the material seriously, they love, they hate but they never ignore it. And like in other reviews of this series I'll reiterate that this is a book, a perfect book to immerse to non-initiated into the world of philosophy using popular culture as a conduit, thus making philosophy interesting to those who fear it. Most people fear philosophy and declare it boring; for the simple reason that it's perceived as much too cerebral.
It's supposed to be cerebral. Etymologically "philosophy" translates to "love of knowledge". But here you get to do it with the force as your ally. If you dig Star Wars and love philosophy or want to take your first steps into it, this is the book for you. William Irwin, the series' editor, goes for impartiality by choosing writers that may irk him by their one sidedness or stubbornness, not only the writers who praise the subject of his books. Thus you get a great amalgamation of diverse views, positive or negative, on all sides of potential issues stemming from the Star Wars universe... or should I say galaxy?
There are a few chapters where the philosopher is not making the reader think, but rather preaching - or it feels like preaching. They chastise George Lucas (but don't we all?) for glorifying technology over nature.
Elizabeth F. Cook, in her chapter on Environmental Ethics, goes so far in her ideological exuberance about protecting nature that all those right wingers/cons who've accused me of being a tree-hugger will have to review their labeling of my person as a centrist because it seems that we shouldn't disturb nature at all, not even pick flowers. This level of preachyness really itches my disdain of extremist ideology on both sides of the spectrum of thought. Human non-interference on nature, even from the most primitive of human societies is simply impossible. We are manifestations of nature, not outside observers. And even in this ideologue's utopia, how does she reconcile her arguments with those of Heisenberg on observation?
Then we have a chapter where the ball is dropped because the writer accuses Yoda of being against the flesh - by saying "Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter" - and supporting his theory that Lucas upholds artificial life forms and technology above the living. The writer drops the ball by consistently suffering from selective memory and using the philosophical equivalent of sound bites to make his argument, completely disregarding the whole speech about the force being in every living thing, all around us and this living force being his ally. I found it disappointing and amateurish, considering that Star Wars fans of the rabid kind will be reading this book.
And that's as bad is it gets. There are some seriously delicious chapters like the one on Stoicism. This detachment from pleasure and pain that the Sith and the Jedi go through, reminds me a great deal of the Buddha's teachings but the difference is on compassion. Stoicism views compassion as a weakness of some sort, where as compassion is at the center of most schools of Buddhist thought. Also the chapter on Master-Slave relationships is priceless. It exposes how the slave has the better chances at a better life than does the master, using an elaborate "it's lonely at the top" argument. Only Vader could redeem himself and not the emperor. The emperor views all as below him, while Vader is in shackles despite having a great degree of power in the Empire. Only the shackled can free themselves.
They saved the best for last... ok the before-last. The chapter on why the Jedi seem to lie all the time and the Sith tell the truth all the time. It's one of the ethical questions I've had on the religious aspect of Star Wars. Obi-wan and Yoda keep lying to Luke, while Vader and the Emperor keep telling him the truth. But like the Oracle stipulates in The Matrix movies, just make up your own damn mind - and he does, by refusing what both Jedi and Sith tell him and believing in Vader's goodness. And that's not the only Oracle logic that can be found in the Star Wars galaxy. It's obvious that Mr. Impetuous Skywalker wasn't quite ready for the truth about his lineage. That kiddo couldn't handle the truth about Vader being Anakin Skywalker.
In some way Vader did kill Anakin, making Kenobi's earlier statement a truth. Just like Neo, Luke must know-thyself before understanding the deeper meaning of the truth. The truth can't be handed to you coldly, which is what the Sith do to control. They blurt out truths, hiding themselves in plain sight of all to see. Yes its true Vader is Luke's father. But didn't Vader take the most opportune moment to let his boy know the truth? This truth crippled him more than the cauterizing amputation of his hand he moments ago suffered.
The whole series is worth taking a look at and this book, for Star Wars fans, is a must read. I closed this booked re-assessing my opinion of Star Wars. I viewed Ep. 4-6 as a space cowboy movie with little thought put into it. I still worshiped the movies. I've seen Ep. 4 and 5 over 500 times each and Ep. 6 at least 200 times in the last 25 plus years.
What's not to love? Vader, Yoda, starships and space battles galore, light sabers and did I mention Vader? Even my blog's theme is jokingly Star Wars influenced. But I believed it was little more than a big expensive action movie that was just burned into my psyche since I was a child, and now I can see that this was just the surface. I realize that a lot more thinking went into these movies than I believed. I've even gained a bit more respect for those debacles... I mean prequels. I still think they suck to no end. Even Revenge of the Sith; I thought to myself before seeing the movie, that just having Vader in it, even for five minutes, would save the movie... and George screwed up that five minutes also. And yet after this read I can see the story's depth behind all those crappy rip-offs, so-so special effects and would-be jokes.
The force is strong with this one. Despite the fact that the book fails to explain how light can stop after three feet, this book gets a blinding 5 lightsabers out of 5.
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