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:

Down­load 90 Free Phi­los­o­phy Cours­es and Start Liv­ing the Exam­ined Life

The Phi­los­o­phy of Kierkegaard, the First Exis­ten­tial­ist Philoso­pher, Revis­it­ed in 1984 Doc­u­men­tary

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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Comments (2)
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  • reader says:

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

  • James says:

    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.

  • Lawrence says:

    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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