The Existential Star Wars: Sartre Meets Darth Vader

A few weeks ago we directed you to a wonderful three-part BBC documentary about modern philosophy called Human, All Too Human, adding that we considered the chapter on Jean-Paul Sartre the most satisfying of the three.

Now we give you a light-hearted chaser for that documentary’s strong spirits: The French philosopher’s teachings as interpreted by the science fiction overlord Darth Vader. Perhaps more than any other 20th century supervillain, the disgraced Jedi knight tragically and perfectly embodies the Sartrian notion that “Freedom is what you do with what has been done to you.”

For those who might consider the Joker a better candidate, we humbly submit that with the Joker, it’s more of a Nietzschean thing.

Related Content:

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Walter Kaufmann’s Lectures on Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and Sartre (1960)

via Roger Ebert’s Journal

Sheerly Avni is a San Francisco-based arts and culture writer. Her work has appeared in Salon, LA Weekly, Mother Jones, and many other publications. You can follow her on twitter at @sheerly



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  1. reader says . . . | May 10, 2011 / 1:28 pm

    I don’t get it. The French subtitles haver nothing to do with the English dialog

  2. James says . . . | November 26, 2011 / 10:20 pm

    Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker perfectly embodies the liberal archetype of the White Male as Serial Killer And Mass Murderer. He undoubtedly has the highest body count(destruction of Dantoine by Death Star) of any fictional character. He certainly fit the supposed “profile”: single white male, high I.Q., in “The Phantom Menace”, the beginning of the saga. However, Chairman Mao, Pol Pot, numerous English queens(Saddam Hussains with vaginas), certainly don’t. Jack the Ripper might have been a woman. The North American record for mass murders is held by a Mexican with part black ancestry. In “The Revenge of The Sith”, Anakin, after a duel with Obi-Won, lies smoldering on the ground on that infernal planet, presenting the most hellish, Lucerferian image of the White Male. I suppose this deserves some kind of liberal award for the best demonization of the White Male, cast as the villain in the “morality play” which the liberal “mentality ‘ has written to explain the world, and what’s wrong with it.

  3. Lawrence says . . . | June 22, 2013 / 9:53 pm

    Vader didn’t destroy Dantooine; the rebel base on Dantooine was deserted.

    Grand Moff Tarkin blew up Alderaan, killing billions; I think that outdoes anything Vader managed.

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