When it comes to philosophy and stoicism, we can find many connections deeply woven through the Star Wars saga. In this theme one can see the large role the Jedi play in the transformation of Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader by forcing upon him stoic ideas and making him go against his human nature. Before we can get to the root of Anakin’s transformation, one must have a good understanding of what Stoicism is. There are many elements that tie into the stoic idea. Living in agreement with nature. You must only consume what you need. To live in agreement with nature requires embracing and making good use of all events that unfold in this rationally structured universe” (Stephens, 20). Using fate well and understanding that whatever conditions one finds them in are meant to be are vital to the stoic lifestyle. Other Stoic elements are concentrating on what one can control, not dwelling on what one cannot control, living in agreement with virtue, having self-discipline and freeing oneself from passions and extreme emotions. Yoda is the embodiment of stoicism for the Star Wars series.
He has trained himself to be timeless, patient, serious, and even tempered. It’s easy to wonder why Yoda didn’t get turned to the dark side while training himself to be stoic, unlike Anakin who while acting against his nature transformed into Darth Vader. One of the main differences is that Yoda have several lifetimes to practice and become a master Jedi. Anakin being human only had one lifetime to accomplish such a hard task. Anakin’s one lifetime can’t be the only thing to blame for his terrible turn to the dark side.
Another main factor of his transformation can be blamed on his attempt to unnaturally block emotion and, most importantly, anger. In chapter seven of book one in Seneca’s “On Anger” he states, “Some think that the best course is to control anger, not to banish it, and by removing its excesses to confine it within beneficial bounds, keeping, however, that part without which, action will be inert and the mind’s force and energy broken. ” Seneca believes that it is easier to conquer anger than to control it.
The Jedi went wrong by not training Anakin Aristotle’s Nicomachaean Ethics or the Golden Mean. The Nicomachaean Ethics describes how all things are good in moderation and helps us to understand what a moderate emotion is. If the Jedi had used this then Anakin’s anger would have had a lower chance of building up the way that it did by blocking it out and not dealing with it. It is unnatural to completely block out anger. It is okay to be angry as long as it doesn’t get in the way of your judgment or control you.
Emotion is part of being a human and going against Anakin’s human nature was a downfall. Another failure of the Jedi was not teaching Skywalker to focus on the present. Anakin was so wrapped up in the fear of the death of his loved ones that it blinded him from focusing on reality. As wise Yoda says, “fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. ” Which is exactly where is lead Anakin. He was so upset when his mother died at a young age that when he saw a vision of Padme dying, his fear came pouring in and he lost sight in the present.
The Jedi learn from this years later when Yoda criticizes Anakin’s son saying, “All his life he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. ” Anakin did whatever it took to save the one he loved, even if that meant a transformation of himself. This also ties into the Jedi not properly training Anakin to focus on what he can control. Anakin had could not come to terms with the fact that death is inevitable. He watched his mother die in his arms and he feared to see Padme have the same fate.
His extreme and uncontrollable desire to save his love made it impossible to turn down the Dark Side of the force that made an offer to teach Skywalker how to cheat death. Through the Star Wars saga, you can see how Stoicism is an ideal way of living but not always realistic. Different people respond in different ways to emotions and the ways of controlling it. The Jedi’s stoic ideals can go the positive way as they did with Yoda, or they can go completely downhill as it did with Anakin Skywalker.