Saga Jedi Philosophy Was Pretty Messed Up...

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by Moviefan2k4, Dec 21, 2013.

  1. Moviefan2k4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 29, 2009
    star 4
    After seeing all six films many, many times, I've come to realize some of their principles were really distorted. This is probably most evident at two points in Episode III: Yoda counseling Anakin on his visions, and Obi-Wan's response to Vader's ultimatum on Mustafar.

    In the first example, Yoda tells Anakin not to mourn the deaths of those he loves, or even miss them at all. He even insist that Anakin should train himself to detach from everything and everyone he's afraid of losing. Such ideas don't work because grief is a necessary part of life, and demanding detachment only results in people suppressing what their deepest emotions.

    I never understood why Lucas drafted this ideology, for a group that's supposed to be protecting people across the board. It reminds me of the alien Elders from the "Green Lantern" movie, who were so afraid of even admitting their fears they were almost destroyed by one of their own.

    As I've noted before, the second scene's also extremely problematic. I understand Lucas envisioned Anakin as a reversed Christ figure, so the "with or against me" line's appropriate. However, Kenobi's response about moral absolutes defeats itself. The Jedi were completely determined to eradicate the Sith, because their desire for power at any cost made them a huge threat...but strong emotions don't always lead to disaster.

    That's why I love the scene Matthew Stover included in the "Revenge of the Sith" novel, where Yoda meditates on the decisions he personally made, which kept the Jedi stagnant instead of letting them grow. At one point, he mentions having trained Padawans to be like the old Masters from centuries ago, not realizing new problems (including the reborn Sith) required a very different approach. Yoda remarks, "Change the Jedi Order did not, because let it change I did not."

    What do all of you think?
  2. Darth_Nub Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2009
    star 4
    I think he drafted this ideology for the very purpose of making the Jedi dogmatic and flawed. So yes, I do agree with you that the Jedi philosophy was "pretty messed up" - deliberately so.
  3. The_Archivist Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 2013
    Well, the exact words of Yoda are, "Let go of everything you fear to lose." He's making a reference to his other segway as well: "Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering." Anakin, from his dreams alone, feared losing Padme because he was in love with her, which Jedi are forbidden to "love" in a sexual sense, and yes, Anakin tries to persuade Padme by having her see 'love' in a different sense--unconditional love. From that fear, he became angry he wasn't going to save her. He hated that idea, and suffered from it. He thought the way to alleviate this suffering was to learn the powers from the Sith, which, at the time, the Jedi Council did not know it was Palpatine. If you ever had a girlfriend / boyfriend, especially being so young where the world seems so big and relationships are a "big thing" (which you realize later that that 2 weeks of your sophomore year of high school was the most "emotional time of your life," you'll laugh about it years later. What would help getting rid of thinking of her/him and that you believed you "loved" them would be getting rid of their pictures, number, friends from Facebook, WHATEVER! The point I'm trying to make is no, I stand with Yoda's philosophy because it's personally helped me see clearly the flaws of the other person (as cruel as it sounds) but helps me REFOCUS in what's really important in the here-and-now in life, which was school, friends, not being whipped, etc. etc.
  4. Kenneth Morgan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 27, 1999
    star 4
    I'd say part of the problem was that the Jedi, in trying to be detatched and above the Dark Side, forgot that people, by definition, are emotional. It's part of their basic design concept. Behaving as though the death of a loved one is no big deal is not a good sign, and condemning those who are upset at such a loss is equally bad. While Yoda may have been trying to give Anakin good advice (like, "Don't go so far trying to save someone that you end up destroying both of you."), it sounded like he was going, "Dying, she is? Good. Decrease the surplus population, it will." (Or, to paraphrase Jim Kirk, "Die. Let. Her.") If Yoda had tried to be more understanding, Ani might've responded differently. And that goes double for Kenobi.

    Another problem is that the Jedi didn't practice what they preached. They spoke against mourning the dead, yet Yoda seemed very upset over the murder of Jedi. They spoke about serving the Republic, yet planned to take over after Palpatine's arrest (until the situation was resolved, of course). They accused the Sith of being absolutists, while holding absolute views of their own.

    Basically, from a combination of things, the Jedi had become self-contained and lacked perspective on what they were saying and doing. And Palpatine took advantage of those faults.
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  5. darth-sinister Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2001
    star 9
    Death is always a big deal, but living in a constant state of fear does you no good. Which is what Anakin's problem was. He was afraid to be alone which is why he did what he did. He was also afraid to sacrifice Padme in order to stop Palpatine which is why he sided with him. Being more understanding isn't want Anakin wanted. He wanted action and if the Jedi weren't going to take it, he was going to go somewhere else. We've all loved someone important to us and when we've known that death was a possibility, we had to adapt to it. When my step father was sick with cancer, I was upset when he was diagnosed the first time and then when it came back. But I didn't live in a constant state of fear and anger. I had to focus on my life, just like everyone else did. Even my mom who had to endure it worse than my siblings or myself. If you start to dwell too much on the fear of loss, then you will miss out on life. That's what Anakin did. And it was worse because he was willing to compromise everything if it meant holding on to Padme, which you cannot do. You hurt yourself and others.

    Ask yourself this, would you kill to save the person that you love? I'm not talking about a physical attack. I'm talking about if one person could die so that the one you love would live, would you do it? That's what Anakin did and that's what the Jedi had tried to prevent.

    As to Obi-wan on Mustafar, he was right. Anakin did this to Padme. Not him. Not the Jedi. He had thrown away everything that he once stood for and cared about because he was selfish. He thought only of himself and how it affected him, and not those around him. It was always, "I need" and I cannot", which is a selfish line of thinking.

    Key difference is that the children were dead. Padme wasn't dead yet and Anakin was wanting to fight nature to get what he wanted.

    YODA: "Twilight is upon me and soon, night must fall. That is the way of things. The way of the Force."

    They were going to run things until a new Chancellor was elected and then the power would be returned to both the Senate and the Chancellor.

    It is ironic, but not in the way you think. A Sith sees things as all or nothing. A Jedi focuses possibilities and uncertainties.
  6. Moviefan2k4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 29, 2009
    star 4
    Precisely!

    True, but complete detachment isn't the answer either.

    I certainly hope I'd never resort to murder or genocide, but I'd do all I could to save someone I love.

    Selfishness has many forms; Anakin's problem was putting himself over everyone else at the end, even Padme. The novel puts it wonderfully as "in the end, your self is all you will ever have".

    Not when it came to love, they didn't. By denying Jedi warriors constant companionship, they made them more vulnerable to emotional temptations that having a spouse would've helped them resist.
  7. Alexrd Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 7, 2009
    star 5
    Detachment is somewhat necessary for the Jedi way of life. It doesn't mean not caring, it means not dwelling on something you can't change and instead focus on your duties. As he said at the end: "The shadow of greed that is." And the movie proves his point.

    Grief is necessary? Since when?

    If people want to live through their "deepest emotions", they shouldn't live as a Jedi. The Jedi abdicate of many things in order to follow the ways of the Force and dedicate their lives as guardians of peace and justice. Emotions cloud your judgement and attachments can be used against you.
  8. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    The Jedi may have been a bit dogmatic, and they had gotten complacent, which is why they believed that the Sith could not have possibly returned without them knowing about it.

    But their basic philosophy of emotional control and putting the greater good of society above one's own personal desires, is a good one.

    Also, they are not against grief and they don't expect people not to grieve. They expect people not to dwell on it, especially not to the point of not being able to function.

    And what Yoda told Anakin is no different than what has been said in churches about rejoicing over a loved one who is in heaven.
  9. Alexrd Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 7, 2009
    star 5
    "Attachment is forbidden; possession is forbidden. Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi's life." - Anakin Skywalker
  10. Moviefan2k4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 29, 2009
    star 4
    Everyone battles with greed in their lives, no matter how detached they try to live. We all face times where we crave something someone else rightfully has; there's no exceptions.

    Its how we process our emotions over tragedy. The alternative is bottling things up and denying such emotions exist until they explode. We're not strong enough to maintain constant control over everything we feel alone.

    Strong emotions can twist someone's judgment toward the negative, but that's not always the case. For example, being angry towards a crime can foster a strong desire in that witness' heart, to do something positive about it.
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  11. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    Not even sure what you're trying to say here. The Jedi Order was absolutely correct in making its members strive for both selflessness and emotional control. Those goals are good for people in our world.

    The ability to "do something positive about it" requires suppressing the outrage and replacing it with enough logic and rational thought to even brainstorm positive solutions.

    I can't think of a single real world instance in which a state of strong emotion is a better option than self-control and rational thought.
  12. Moviefan2k4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 29, 2009
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    I'm saying that no human being is capable of doing it all the time without failing, all by themselves...which is what many aspects of the Jedi Code were all about.

    Overcoming negative impulses is very different from suppressing all of them, or pretending the extreme ones don't exist.

    How about situations where you don't have much time to think, like an intruder breaking into your home? You better fight that person off right away, because they'll destroy you otherwise. Reflection on the consequences can happen after you've stopped the threat.
  13. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    The Jedi Code was absolutely not about doing anything "all the time without failing, all by themselves." I never saw any indication that they were perfectionists, and they were certainly supportive of each other. The only reason Anakin thought they were unsupportive is because they didn't tell him exactly what he wanted to hear.

    They also were not about "suppressing" emotions, unless you equate control with suppression, which I don't. Control also does not mean pretending those emotions don't exist.

    The Jedi were in situations all the time where they had to react quickly and fight off a threat. They did not use their emotions to do so.
  14. Komodo9Joe Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 1, 2013
    star 1
    It's not quite their principles that were the problem, but the unbending, stubborn, complacent outlook that the Jedi had adopted due to prolonged peace time. Nothing can stand forever without accustoming to newer times/situations nor should the most devoutly held beliefs be touted as absolute. Every so often, people should recognize changing times and/or inspect certain methodologies; otherwise dogmatism, stagnation, and narrow-mindedness quickly take over as can be seen with the Jedi Order.

    What you have to understand here is that the unspoken descriptor of Yoda, his wisdom, is deceptive: Yoda is not a great, all-wise, omnipotent sage; Qui-Gon Jinn would in fact fit that title much more so than Yoda. Yoda does not give Anakin good advice because he has been molded into not knowing any better: he has become too jaded, too arrogant, in Jedi doctrine to deal with issues that do not arise from standard Jedi lifestyle. Anakin's question is likely unheard of to the Jedi; it is a question borne out of life outside of selfless Jedi-ism, out of grappling with very real and very sensitive problems. Yoda, arrogantly and mistakenly believing that the tenure of the Jedi Order equates into all of its doctrines being absolute or the greatest policy, falls back on dishing out the same unhelpful, dismissive, and deferential advice that he is shown to give to Anakin. This is more a problem of Yoda's insistence on a core dogma of the Jedi to Anakin than of actual flaws within the Jedi's beliefs. Again, what you have to understand is that Yoda is nowhere near as wise as he is made out to be and his rigid handling of Jedi tenets is an example of that.

    Common misconception is that Obi-Wan's line, "Only a Sith deals in absolutes," is self-contradicting. If Obi-Wan used the word "speaks" instead of deals in his sentence, then his line would be untrue. But Obi-Wan uses the word "deals" which is something that the Sith specialize in , dealing in black and white mindsets. The error in that last line you wrote is that you are forgetting that the Jedi are determined "to eradicate the Sith" not to sermonize on "strong emotions." The Jedi are trying to get rid of the Sith because the Sith are evil, not because they harbor strong emotions so your last sentence isn't truly making a point: it's incorrectly trying to tie together two different things.
    Yup, I think Stover is spot-on with Yoda's self-reflection. I bet the 800 year-old Jedi even bought some of his own reputation as the all-knowing sage. He even failed with his own apprentice, Dooku, so one would have thought he would be a bit more conscious of Anakin's turmoil. Even in TESB, Yoda is again a bit of a charlatan; Yoda certainly seems to come across as very wise, but beyond that aura and knowledge of the Force lies a very ignorant and pompous individual. Fitting that Qui-Gon Jinn became his mentor.
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  15. only one kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 2012
    star 4
    The idea that the advice given by Yoda to Anakin is "messed up" is a pretty odd one when one remembers that it is the very same that Luke comes to understand in ROTJ that resolves the story. He learns to let go of what he fears to lose.
    In the OP a great deal of Yoda's advice is missing, and therefore is not understood. Yoda says that the fear of loss is a path to the darkside. He later builds upon this. Attachment leads to jealousy (the shadow of greed that is). What he is saying is the the grief and mourning is for what you have lost - that is the danger of attachment; it is close to possession. And...its all very well to say that it isn't possible for people not to suffer these things but...first of all this is about stepping away from one's own desires, that is what it takes to be a Jedi. Anakin has given an oath to that effect and has betrayed that oath.

    To be a Jedi involves making certain sacrifices. It is not an easy life. Anakin decided to go against all of the oaths he made and sacrifice nothing himself. It would make little sense to give Yoda's advice to some guy off the street and expect him to instantly comprehend, here Yoda's advice is to a Jedi Knight who ought to already know this, who ought to be remaining true to his oaths to the Jedi (he is clearly not a man who holds his word as his bond - he is not honourable)

    It is Anakin who is messed up, not the Jedi philosophy.
  16. Darth_Nub Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2009
    star 4
    That's not entirely fair. Yes, Anakin is 'messed up', but as someone established with a massive amount of Force potential and potentially the Chosen One of prophecy, his training under the Jedi should have taken his background into account - as opposed to the standard training/conditioning from birth given to the usual Force potentials brought into the Order.

    Being initiated at such an age meant that there would already be a certain amount of anger and attachment in Anakin's character, so the usual Jedi training wasn't necessarily going to work as it should. The Jedi, however, were so dogmatic at the point Anakin was taken in that they refused to acknowledge that they could be creating a potential timebomb. It was a mistake on their part - and that's the point. It's not a fault on GL's part, it was a fault he wrote in deliberately. The Jedi Order's refusal to bend in Anakin's case led to their very downfall. Taking him on in the first place might have been a mistake - but leaving him alone to be recruited by the Sith (or perhaps some other organisation) was hardly any better.

    Mace Windu is probably the best example of a stubborn, unbending Jedi Master (his response to Anakin in ROTS that Palps is a Sith Lord was downright arrogant and careless) - while Yoda, although sticking to the Jedi doctrine, seems to be portrayed as troubled throughout the PT with the philosophy he's lived his life by, when faced with a threat he doesn't completely understand.
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  17. only one kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 2012
    star 4
    But, what was more important in what I said was that Anakin has sworn himself to the life of a Jedi - and he is not living to his oaths. He is not a man who holds his word as his bond. He is lying to everyone. The point I was making was with regard to the Jedi philosophy making sense within the context of being a Jedi and having made the sacrifices necessary for that. And.... am I truly to believe that this Jedi Knight has managed not to comprehend the nature of his training and this has gone unnoticed within his training?

    In other words, in answer to the OP, the Jedi philosophy is not messed up. Now, if we're into a discussion about whether it was messed up for Anakin....it amounts to the same thing. In the context of the Jedi, it was only with regards to Anakin that it appears messed up - and that because he is lying to them and is not prepared to make the sacrifices necessary.
  18. Darth_Nub Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2009
    star 4
    In terms of Anakin's actual behaviour, all true, but couldn't it be the case that Anakin was incapable of living by the Jedi standards to begin with, due to his background and age? Which would point to a flaw in the Jedi philosophy, being unable to deal with such a student, simply because he was "too old to begin the training", as Yoda put it in ESB?
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  19. only one kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 2012
    star 4

    Where to begin? The line as used by Yoda is as misleading as his line in ESB. It is the very specific circumstances of Anakin that Yoda (and the Council) recognise. His attachment etc. Luke was older, so it is not (as I am sure you are aware) that he is too old.

    So...in terms of Anakin, yes, it could be argued that the jedi philosophy is messed up. But let us understand what that actually requires. That a young boy is born of a virgin, replete with great almost deistic powers into the life of a slave. That said boy is detached from his mother, with whom he has a great attachment at just such an age as that which he enters the Jedi at. That said boy is taken under the wing of a Sith Lord who feeds him poisonous ideas and detaches him from the Jedi order such that he cannot fully comprehend their teachings. Given that set of circumstabces then, yes, that philosophy might appear too constrained. But...is that really a critique of the philosophy itself?

    Responding to the OP, and in particular to the idea that it is impossible (and wrong) to learn to let go of all that one fears to lose, as a path to being able to act without self-interest, is such a philosophy messed up?
  20. Moviefan2k4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 29, 2009
    star 4
    Not true; Luke kept fighting for his father's salvation, even begging Anakin to save him from Palpatine's lightning. Detaching from his desire to see Anakin freed would've meant staying away, accepting his father's continued bondage as simply "the Force's will".

    Keeping a promise is very noble, and Anakin's choice to embrace the Dark Side was horrible...but there's far worse crimes than breaking an oath. Its not like he did it arbitrarily.

    Anakin kept having repeated dreams about his mother, but stayed away from her because of his duty to the Jedi. It was only a matter of days before her death (if that), when Anakin broke Obi-Wan's order and returned to Tattooine. He tried his best to ignore his desires for Padme after their reunion, but couldn't protect her without that stress building any further. The Jedi treated romantic love as a distraction to be condemned, instead of something worth protecting...and that was one of their bigger mistakes.
  21. only one kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 2012
    star 4
    If there is one thing that can be said about Luke in the final scenes it is that he stops fighting. He throws down his lightsabre. He recognises that he is being pushed along a path, and the choice he makes is not to strike down Vader. Luke throws down his lightsabre and declares that he is a Jedi, that he will not go down the path of his father. He acknowledges at the same time that it is Anakin Skywalker, the Jedi, who was his father - that Vader is not. His desire at this time is to punish Vader for the threat to his sister - I think it should be self-evident that, as he rains blows down upon Vader his desire is not his father's salvation.

    He may have hope that his father might respond as he is electrocuted, he might even have a level of faith but, begging is not the same as fighting.

    Not the worst crime? Would you consider that true of, for example, a court official willing to bargain for your freedom for payment? Our courts work on the basis of oaths, of bonding our honour to our words. Our laws work on the basis of bonding our words to our honour. The advice that Yoda gives to Anakin is given without knowledge that Anakin is talking of his wife. This is not just a lack of consideration on Yoda's part it is due to the oaths that Anakin has given to the Jedi Order. Yoda gives the advice that he does understanding that Anakin is a man of his word and that he should have no wife, and should not be bonded thus by such an obvious act of attachment.

    Don't you think that Yoda might have acted differently, given rather different advice, had he known what Anakin hid from him? His lies are what lead to his position, his deceit is central to his own fate and of those around him. In the case of Anakin his lies are crimes of very great import.

    See above. These are not separate propositions. If he wished to remain a Jedi he should have approached the Jedi about how to deal with his predicament, not simply ignored his promises to them and sneaked around behind their backs. If he was not willing to give up Padmé then he should have renounced those promises which he can no longer keep.
    Last edited by only one kenobi, Dec 23, 2013
  22. Alexrd Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 7, 2009
    star 5
    You can't claim that.

    Not everyone responds to tragedy the same way. And people have proven time and time again that it's possible to control your emotions during big tragedies.

    But it can be, and that's the point.
    Last edited by Alexrd, Dec 23, 2013
  23. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    Romantic love can and very often does make people illogical and irrational at best, completely bats at worst. The Jedi were correct to treat it as a distraction to be not "condemned" but avoided.

    If marrying Padme were that important to Anakin, he had the option of leaving the Jedi Order (and they would have allowed him to do so with no hard feelings) and doing so. He could have gotten a job as a pilot, probably on Naboo given his reputation there from the TPM battle, and they could have lived out their lives there.

    He chose to remain in the Order and keep the marriage a secret because he thought he was entitled to special rules. He wasn't.

    And if oaths aren't important, I'd say there's no point in making an oath ever.
  24. Kenneth Morgan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 27, 1999
    star 4
    I wasn't saying that Anakin wasn't responsible for his fate; he clearly was. What I'm saying is that Yoda & the Jedi didn't help matters by giving him poorly expressed advice. Yoda didn't seem to be telling him not to take a bad path and endanger himself and Padme. Yoda sounded like he didn't want Anakin to do anything to save her. It sounded like he wanted Anakin to stand back, let her die and then go along like she never existed. That's not what he meant, but that's how it sounded. It was exactly the wrong thing to say, especially since that same attitude led to him being too late to check on his mother.

    As for the Jedi taking over the government, of course they'd say it's only until a new Chancellor was elected. And if, say, wise and noble Bail Organa got the job, the Jedi would step aside with no problem. But what if a bad guy (not as evil as Palpatine, but bad) got the job? Or, worse, if a figurehead in the pocket of the Trade Federation or the Corporate Sector was elected? I'm sure at least some Jedi might say, "Let's stay in power a bit longer, until the people choose someone better." Besides, I'm sure the Senate would've had major problems with the Jedi taking over in the first place.

    And it's interesting that Luke also goes against Yoda & Kenobi's advice, but does so in a different way. He risks everything to help his friends, when he's told to let them die and focus on the mission. It costs him dearly, but he learns the truth, gets a healthy dose of humility, and decides to sacrifice himself, rather than his friends, in order to save the day. He's able to see both the big and small picture, which the Jedi (except for Qui-Gon) had trouble doing by the end of the Republic.
  25. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    Yoda was trying to encourage Anakin to reach an ideal, and Anakin was in no mood for ideals. That doesn't mean Yoda was wrong.

    Yoda could have said what I might have said--"Look, dude, she's 27 years old, in perfect health and has access to the best medical care in the galaxy. You may have dreamt about your mother and it happened, but your mother was kidnapped on a lawless planet. Not the same situation at all. So go back to her place, take an Ambien and try to get some real sleep, and work on getting over yourself."

    (All that in Yoda-speak instead of anakinfan-speak of course.)

    But Anakin still would not have listened. He only wanted to hear one thing: "Here is this magic solution for immortality. You can keep her alive."
    Last edited by anakinfansince1983, Dec 23, 2013