Marxism and the Philosophy of Ideology, pt. III

See Part II of this series here.

Historical consciousness develops along with the material forces of history, and not through abstract rationality, as Hegel thought. Today, the mass of rational human subjects discovers their environment not as something self-alienated – that is, produced both by themselves and for themselves, as Hegel’s conservativism led him to regard in his own Enlightenment culture – but rather as an environment imposed with the hegemony of capitalism’s cultural, political, social, scientific and economic spaces. This point, of course, does not disprove the dialectical synthesis of Hegel’s view – it only adds to it a necessary material dimension. The mass of human subjects is entirely subordinated to the hegemonic rationality of the bourgeoisie, in the logical space carved out by capitalism. The reality of this logic is based entirely on abstractions, fictions drawn from the material forces of history and distorted in order to perpetuate the cultural authority and political power of the bourgeoisie.

Because the social existence of the proletariat is not at the same time its existence within a proletarian culture, ideology is driven into the working class, rather than revealed, in the last, to be something of themselves and for themselves. Althusser calls this driving force “interpellation”, which also means ‘hailing’ or ‘calling-forth’. Ideology calls us forth in the same way that police officers do when they hail you (‘Hey, you there!’). In the eyes of the Repressive State Apparatus, your existence is only as an abstract quantity, until so hailed, at which point said existence is qualitatively transformed, in this case, into that of a suspect.[1] It is the same with ideology.

This is, perhaps, the trickiest part to grasp of the philosophical puzzle concerning the functioning of ideology. Ideology hails us from the very instant we are born, at which moment we take on the label of being a son or a daughter, hence starting us towards developing a consciousness of ourselves as within the bourgeois family unit. Althusser makes some rather paradoxical comments at this stage about the nature of ideology: first, claiming that “ideology has no outside,”[2] meaning simply that the illusion of ideology is ever present, the task of science (specifically, of historical materialism) being to shatter this illusion; and second, that ideology “has no history,”[3] which makes sense if we consider that history belongs to the material processes which, in the last instance, determine particular ideologies, and are beyond them. If there is an outside of ideology, it is in the material processes of history. The history of ideology, because imaginary, is necessary immaterial.

Marxist science studies material processes and the most general dialectical laws that govern them. It does not deal in abstractions or imaginaries. However, it is necessary to understand the expression of the general laws in the imaginaries as well, in order to fully grasp the functioning of ideology. Individuals hailed by ideology are hailed as individual subjects. What does it mean to be a subject? Althusser offers an instructive example, in the case of Christian religious ideology:

… there can only be … a multitude of possible religious subjects on the absolute condition that there is a Unique, Absolute, Other Subject, i.e. God… God thus defines himself as the Subject par excellence, he who is through himself and for himself (‘I am that I am’), and he who interpellates his subject, the individual subjected to him… i.e. the individual named Moses. And Moses, interpellated-called by his Name, having recognized that it ‘really’ was he who was called by God, recognizes that he is a subject, a subject of God, a subject subjected to God, a subject through the subject and subjected to the Subject. The proof: he obeys him, and makes his people obey God’s Commandments.[4]

The God of the market is a many-faced God, but the general laws of ideology are the same. Ideology mirrors itself in its subjects, and individual subjects mirror themselves in ideology. Xenophanes of Colophon once remarked that, if oxen and horses had a religion, their gods would be painted with hooves[5] –Althusser adds that the oxen and horses would recognize themselves as real oxen and horses only on the condition of their semblance with their behooved gods. This generally holds true in the case of commodity fetishism under capitalism. The forces of capitalist production become fetishized, inscribed with a certain commodity value, and this recognition is doubled by that of the workers, who recognize themselves as commodities – that is, they recognize their embodied labour as obeying the logic of the commodity value-form. They recognize their labour power as a quantity of money, which can be exchanged with other commodities.

Fetishization occurs when the concrete or use-value of a product is invested entirely with abstract and imaginary quantities, detached from the actual processes of production that created the product in question, as in the transformation of productive processes by capitalism into commodity-production. Ideology overflows with the logic of fetishization, producing facts and formal logics completely separated from the material processes that gave rise to them. Religious iconography provides an overwhelming wealth of examples, but we may also observe this in the case of scientific revolutions, where old hardened dogmatists have often struggled not to give up belief in some entities, once thought real, which came to be thoroughly disproved in the face of new evidence; such was the case in Antoine Lavoisier’s discovery of oxygen in the 18th-century, having first observed the process of oxidization, against which one Joseph Priestley defended the old theory of dephlogisticated air to the bitter end.

Under the general logic of fetishization, what-there-is is completely detached from how what-there-is is produced. The chemical dispute of Lavoisier and Priestley was but a trite example compared with the more devious ways in which ideology and fetishism combine in capitalist society to carve out imaginary divisions between concrete individuals. We often hear of the fetishization of gender, and race. The history of the western fetishization of Asian women, for example, extends back to the 15th-century, taking an upturn in the 18th, at the dawn of industrial capitalism, when European – mainly British – trade with Japan and China sharply increased. The sexual stereotype of Asian women as exotic and submissive is directly tied to the colonial history of western imperialist powers; this is an example of fetishization, because it leads to a valuation and, fundamentally, a misrecognition of individuals, having nothing to do with their material reality. Naturally, elements of the ideological apparatus combine in various ways. The fetishization of Asian women in the early days of British imperialism combines with the existing bourgeois ideology of the family, which envisions women as an extension of private property.

Fetishization becomes particularly dangerous in the era of capitalist globalization. The façade of multiculturalism is paraded before the material reality of capitalism’s cultural hegemony. As capitalism conquers the cultural sphere, the logic of the fetish becomes a way not only to misrecognize others in an imaginary way, but also to misrecognize oneself. Consider the self-experience of a transgendered person. At a certain point, their material reality as an embodied subject breaks with the ideological categories of gender imposed by capitalism and the rise of the state in institutions extending property rights into persons, which are typically identified as the structures of patriarchy.[6] Similarly, the proletariat exists for the most part under the stupor of bourgeois ideology driven by the culture industry; fetishization is driven by consumption, and it often takes some earth-shattering material event, such as a general strike or a steep and prolonged economic crisis, to shake workers from the consumption of their own manufactured submissiveness to exploitation. Both are conditions for the reproduction of capitalism’s productive forces.

The only way to break definitively with ideology and the logic of fetishization is with a scientific view consistently grounded in material reality. This is precisely the project of dialectical materialism. Just as with the example I gave of the transgendered individual, the revolutionary proletariat has the potential break with ideology by discovering its material reality. The science that aims at this is inherently revolutionary, because the material reality of the proletariat as a class is one and the same with the motor force of history, which is a real material force. The material reality of the transgendered person is as an individual; the material reality of the working class is as a collective. This thesis underlies the science of historical materialism.

As was seen in the case of the Christian religious ideology, the condition of the unity of individual subjects was external, subjected to and imagined to be of God’s will. With the working class, this condition of unity is intrinsic to their very material reality. The functioning of ideology disrupts the ability of the proletariat to recognize its own material reality, by carving up relations between individuals with imaginary divisions and distortions. Fetishization serves both to multiply and crystallize these divisions.

This misrecognition is at the heart of the functioning of ideology, which aims to root the building class consciousness of the proletariat out like a weed. But weeds will drive through every crack, and so too with the revolutionary will of the workers.

We have only to take on the additional task, as builders of the subjective factor of the revolution, i.e., of the revolutionary party, to attack ideology wherever it exists. This can be done only by subjecting ideology and ISAs to a consistent material critique, revealing the productive forces and reproductive dynamics underlying them.


Postscript – on the subjective factor, the revolutionary vanguard party.

Some of you might be asking, what of the subjective factor of the revolution – the need for a revolutionary vanguard party, to combine with the objective, material factor of the mass of workers and their incipient class consciousness? Is this Subject another form of Absolute, like God, unique to a particular form of ideology? Any worker who believes this will have gravely misrecognized their material reality. Hegel says,

Self-consciousness is in itself and for itself when and because it is in itself and for itself for another; that is, that it is recognized as such.[7]

This recognition is accomplished when the subjective and objective factors enter into a unity – when the mass of workers definitively combines with the theoretical understanding and advanced consciousness of the revolutionary vanguard. This recognition is possible because it accords with the material reality of the proletariat; it is historical because this material reality is also the motor force of history. Thus, articulating the Marxist philosophy of ideology does not force us to abandon the subjective/objective factor distinction, but rather reminds us that the relation of these two factors is dialectical in nature, with each pole interpenetrating with the other.

[1] Althusser (2009), 48.

[2] Ibid., 49.

[3] Ibid., 34.

[4] Ibid., 52-3.

[5] Ref. in Alan Woods & Ted Grant, Reason in Revolt, 2nd ed. (London: Wellred Books, 2012), 42.

[6] Engels, Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State (1884), especially Ch. 2-4.

[7] Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), §178. My translation and emphasis.

Advertisements

Marxism and the Philosophy of Ideology, pt. II

See Part I of this series here.

We need only think of Wal-Mart’s notorious anti-union propaganda ‘training’ videos to see the force of ideology in action. Unions are a counterbalance to the unbridled anarchy of capitalist production. They’re also a threat to the power of the capitalist class. Producing an anti-union consciousness is a particularly effective, and pernicious way of reproducing capitalist power and production.

Now, most instances of ideology in action aren’t as obvious as the Wal-Mart example. Capitalism is not only an economic system – it is a cultural force. Capitalism is able to reproduce its relations of production in countless ways, both on the factory floors and beyond them. This insight takes us from ideology as it exists in concrete relations of capitalist production, to ideology as it exists as a state apparatus under capitalism. It is this which leads Althusser to turn our attention from ideology in general, to the historical development of Ideological State Apparatuses, in general.

An Ideological State Apparatus (ISA) is a special breed of Repressive State Apparatus, the latter of which secures through the direct use of force the political conditions for the functioning of the former. The Repressive State Apparatus is the direct arm of state power: police, the military, etc. Thus, a division of labour exists between the two kinds of state apparatuses. Althusser does suggest that a particular state apparatus is not likely to operate wholly either by ideology or by direct repression, but rather holds that “the (Repressive) State Apparatus functions massively and predominantly by repression, whereas the Ideological State Apparatuses function massively and predominantly by ideology.”[1]

For much of humankind’s social development during the pre-capitalist historical period, the Church was the singular, dominant ISA in society.[2] During the French Revolution of the 18th-century, it was absolutely essential that the burgeoning capitalist class challenged not only the absolute right to property and ownership of the means of production of the feudal aristocracy, but also the intellectual authority of the Church, as the main ideological support of monarchial power and land right throughout Europe, and beyond.

In the modern period of capitalist development, the central authority of the Church ISA becomes fractured and dispersed through a plurality of new institutions. Education becomes largely the responsibility of a professional class of teachers, rather than priests, in institutions owned and operated either by the state, or privately (which is increasingly the case in the current period of capitalist crisis). In school, we learn bourgeois history, thoroughly revised and “purified” of any revolutionary content; we also learn all of the basic skills required for us to become productive members of capitalist society. Today, even kindergarteners are learning computer programming in school. Just as yesterday, when we trained today’s civil and industrial engineers in the best available physical and social sciences. The basic education one is entitled to receive under capitalism is entirely at the sway of the productive forces in society.

There are other ISAs in the modern period. The parliamentary-political ISA combines universal suffrage with rhetoric and a smattering of reformist policies to produce a basic false consciousness – recently touted quite fervently by Rex Murphy in one of his vacillating centrist CBC rants – that voters possess the ultimate power under bourgeois democracy. Scientific institutions have long produced an understanding of the natural world that consummates the authority of bourgeois rule, for example, through Charles Darwin’s vulgar theory of natural adaptation, which continues to inform much research in evolutionary developmental biology, leading to a view of capitalist society as a social ecology in which the bourgeoisie thrive and survive as a class not off of the backs of exploited workers, but simply because they are the “fittest”. Lastly, broadcast-media ISAs, which create an additional layer of representation atop any experience of material reality, represent not our real conditions of existence as such, but only their imaginary distortion, biased by corporate owners or state sponsors in support of the aims of the capitalist class.

We can see that ISAs exist not only in order to reproduce the forces of capitalist production, but also to reproduce the value-framework of capital, which, in the last instance, amounts to the same thing.

Countless beliefs and representations, signifiers of the capitalist order and the bourgeois imaginary, circulate through the ideological superstructure of society. Now, there is one more element of the functioning of ideology that we have not yet considered. If ideology in ISAs is at its core the totality of beliefs and representations that exist in the bourgeois imaginary about capitalist society, and ideology in general functions to reproduce capitalist productive forces by bringing workers over to belief in the bourgeois worldview, then ideology must, in its functioning, make it so that the working class takes the thought of the bourgeoisie immediately to be its own. If this was not the case, then the mass of workers would quite easily witness the reality of their alienation in the struggle between frameworks of ideas – proletarian and bourgeois, revolutionary or reformist – on the factory floors themselves. The proletariat is not consciously convinced of the bourgeois worldview; rather, no other worldview seems to exist, from the perspective of the individual effectively subdued by the spell of the ISAs.

We should note here that the very crux of Hegel’s early dialectical method, from the Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), proceeds by the overcoming of media (mediations/representations), to a point where consciousness becomes increasingly certain both of itself and the concepts of its understanding; that is, certain of them, immediately. This process iterates itself in each case that the knower – a rational human subject – discovers some part of their environment as self-alienated.

To be continued…

[1] Althusser (2009), 23. My emphasis.

[2] Ibid., 25.

Infection and the Death of Reason

It’s been some time since I’ve updated my Academia.edu profile with any of my more recent work. Along with some notes for a recent conference presentation, I’ve uploaded a draft paper on self-sacrifice, authenticity, death and the infection structure in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. 

Infection [Ansteckung], for Hegel, has to do with the communicability or speaking-out of the subject, its interpenetration with the other, and its subsequent self-realization as Spirit.

A select excerpt from the paper follows – the full paper is available online here.

Reason in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit binds the ‘I’ to its body. Reason is bound to the individuality of the ‘I’; through each movement of self-consciousness as Reason, the ‘I’ attempts to escape itself, willing, as it were, that the maxim of its action would become universal law (to paraphrase Kant). As such, the individual embarks out onto the world first carrying the law of the heart (the law of his own heart, presupposed as the law of all hearts insofar as they are beating) whose claim to the world is then thwarted by competing claims made by the many other hearts. Beginning with this movement, self-consciousness as Reason learns the self-defeatingness of its individualism. Every movement of Reason is a movement of self-negation; every movement is a death for self-consciousness. This need to transcend itself through its own individual death is a necessary step towards the self-certainty through which Spirit first appears in its actuality. Otherwise than Reason’s deference and anxiety over its own death, Georges Bataille rightly says that Spirit “assumes death and lives with it.”[1] Death shapes Spirit’s universal actuality, imparted in part by Reason. Hegel’s phenomenological self-consciousness needs to watch itself die, in order to self-actualize as Spirit.

[1] Georges Bataille, “Hegel, Death and Sacrifice” in Yale French Studies, No. 78, On Bataille, 14.

The Force (and the Understanding) Awakens: A Philosophical Review of the New Star Wars

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has captivated audiences for a little over a week in box offices now, working our natural favourite of sci-fi franchises once again into all of our holiday magic – especially with the record-smashing litany of product tie-ins, which I must admit had me, even as an avid Star Wars fan, feeling cynical. Even so, it didn’t take me long to settle back into the sheer nostalgia of the fantasy. Some critics have felt that The Force Awakens plays up the nostalgia a little too much, perhaps verging on being a little more like A New Hope 2.0. I disagree with this view. Repetition is a comedic device, and Star Wars story arcs are typically tragicomic (as in the distinct movement from tragedy to comedy between Episodes V and VI).

Furthermore, repetition is philosophically interesting. It provides a greater wealth of examples by which to argue for consistent and telling themes. And Star Wars films don’t often come with a shortage of themes to dissect. Just in time for the holidays, this philosophical review should drive home the spirit of what we hope in all earnestness that this time of year is all about. Take a break from the HP Star Wars branded laptops, Darth Vader Apples and Yoda Grapes – Star Wars: The Force Awakens is all about the family.

(Warning: significant spoilers ahead).

 

The Force (and the Understanding) Awakens

The film’s first act focuses heavily on the theme of running away. Finn, traumatized by the savage killing of villagers on Jakku by The First Order, defects and helps captured Resistance pilot Poe Dameron escape in a stolen TIE Fighter from a Star Destroyer; the two return to Jakku after a crash-landing despite Finn’s protesting his desire to run away. Later – after some actual running away, as Finn and the young scavenger Rey evade capture by First Order Stormtroopers along with Poe’s highly sought-after droid, BB-8, on the surface of Jakku – Rey and Finn run away again, in a stolen Millennium Falcon. Both will attempt to flee their apparent fate at several more points during the film, only to crash headfirst back into it.

Independence is important to these characters, even though it doesn’t work out too well them during the first act, and accepting their being brought together by the Force involves some overcoming of this (this is symbolized in part by Rey’s rejections of Finn trying to take her hand). In the Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel describes something like this movement as the essential movement of Force;

… the ‘matters’ posited as independent directly pass over into their unity, and their unity directly unfolds into its diversity, and this once again reduces itself to unity. But this movement is what is called Force. One of its moments … is the expression of Force; but Force, taken as that in which they have disappeared, is Force proper, Force which has been driven back into itself from its expression.[1]

The Force is literally what brings our main characters together. Finn and Rey demonstrate some level of sensitivity to the Force as they intuitively combine in the pilot and gunner’s seats of the Millennium Falcon for the first time while escaping from Jakku. Their sheer giddiness after pulling off such a fantastic escape further illustrates a deep connection. Moments like these are part of a building up of their awakening to the reality of the Force, as something actually existing. We need to remember that the Force, the Jedi and the Sith all enjoy a mythical status in the Star Wars universe. A vast majority of the populous would believe them to be nothing more than stories. Han Solo himself was once such character, making him an effective mouthpiece through which to suggest to our new protagonists that the Force is, indeed, very real.

Just as the Force disperses its independent moments throughout the galaxy before bringing them into a unity, Force for Hegel divides itself into two opposing forces in actuality. “In this, there is immediately present both the repression within itself of Force, or its being-for-self, as well as its expression.”[2] Here, I believe that we can interpret the repressed being-for-self of the Force as the Resistance, traditionally the Rebel Alliance, against the direct expression of power that has manifested variously through the Republic, the Empire, and The First Order.

The Force is everywhere. It opposes itself within itself, and divides itself into balance and the Dark Side of the Force. In this interplay, the self-consciousness of Hegel’s Phenomenology appears as the Understanding of a Force sensitive being. The Hegelian Sage in the Star Wars universe is an Understanding consciousness that “looks through this mediating play of Forces into the true background of Things.[3] The Jedi and the Sith take the interplay of opposing Forces to have the shape of Law, and posit this world of lawfulness in the beyond of the world they inhabit as actual.

Expressed in determinate moments, this means that what in the law of the first world is sweet, in this inverted in-itself is sour, what in the former is black is, in the other, white… The punishment which under the law of the first world disgraces and destroys a man, is transformed in its inverted world into the pardon which preserves his essential being and brings him to honour.[4]

This bipolar lawfulness of the interplay of Force is perfectly demonstrated when Kylo Ren kills his father, Han Solo, in a First Order castle on a snowy planet (whose name is hitherto unknown). Ren plunges himself into the inverted world of the Dark Side of the Force. Patricide is an obvious recurring theme in the Star Wars universe. Ren himself expresses feeling torn before he drives his lightsaber through Han’s gut, despite knowing precisely what he has to do to. He is torn between two worlds, with some serious daddy issues.

Rey’s awakening is the awakening of an Understanding of Force, in exactly the sense that Hegel describes. She is only able to best Kylo Ren in lightsaber combat after accepting Luke and Anakin’s lightsaber from Finn – a gesture in which she at once accepts her fate, and the unifying nature of Force. The bipolar law of Force in the actual world shines forth with an exclamation point as, at the moment that Rey has bested Ren, the earth cracks between them, leaving a gaping chasm and allowing, once again, the possibility of escape.

 

Human and Divine Law: The Dark Side and the Jedi; or, government against the Family.

In the Phenomenology, there stands opposed the human and Divine spheres of law, whose respective ethical orders are constituted by government and the Family. Interpreting the opposition between the Dark and ‘Light’ Sides of the Force in this way can be telling. What more, I’m skeptical for simple fanboy reasons about the existence of a ‘Light Side’ of the Force; Terrance MacMullan points out in a recent paper on “The Platonic Paradox of Darth Plageuis” that a ‘Light Side’ is never mentioned in any of the original films.[5]

The Force isn’t a quasi-Zoroastrian religious duality of the triumph of Good over Evil. What we would expect to be called the ‘Good’ is more often referred to as balance, or moderation (hallmarks of virtue in both Socratic and Aristotelian conceptions of ethics). The two opposing spheres of law hold each other in balance, with moderation between them taking the form of a social and political virtue against the totalitarianism of either faith or empire. The antithesis of these spheres makes up the inner movement of something that Hegel calls Spirit – a term which at its best should evoke both the inner spirit so often associated with the personal soul, and what we might call the spirit of a nation, of a sports team, or of a nigh blasphemously famous science fiction franchise.

For Hegel, Spirit as government exists as a concrete power in actuality, while the power of the ethical order of the Family emanates from a spiritual beyond. This is roughly what we have in mind when we picture the Dark Side as supported by truly terrifying imperialistic Nazi-styled regimes, while our heroes – for the most part – gain their power from faith, either in their own powers or in their friends (the entire assault on The First Order’s definitely-not-a-Death-Star in TFA is gambled on Leia’s faith in Han, Finn’s ostensibly blind faith in the Force, etc.). Obviously there is also a militaristic regime supporting the Resistance in the form of the Republic, just as there are also familial and nepotistic power structures within the Dark Side’s war machine. But this is precisely what allows for the tragedy of the family of faith. When Kylo Ren kills Han Solo, he isn’t exactly committing patricide; his new father is the Dark Side sovereign (another familiar theme). Killing Han consummates a process that begins with Ren’s felt abandonment by Han and Leia. His turn to the Dark Side is an adoption, by a father whose son Ren cannot finally become until severing himself of the natural blood-relation as the son of Han Solo.

When Ren says he feels torn, presumably this is not just between achieving balance and falling towards the Dark Side. Hegel would say that he’s torn like the children of divorced parents feel torn. For Hegel, the relationship of husband and wife can be taken quite literally as two spirits coming together. The “objective reality” of these two spirits is actualized in their children. Bracketing his early 19th-century heteronormative ideas about families as mainly a historical interest, if we may,

… [the relationship] of parents towards their children is emotionally affected by the fact that the objective reality of the relationship does not exist in them, but in the children, and by their witnessing the development in the children of an independent existence which they are unable to take back again… That of children towards parents is emotionally affected, conversely, by the fact that they derive their existence from, or have their essential being in, what is other than themselves, and passes away, and by their attaining independence and a self-consciousness of their own only by being separated from their source – a separation in which the source dries up.[6]

When Rey in captivity bests Ren, through an intense force of will, and penetrates his spirit with Understanding, she discovers the latter’s fear that he will never be as powerful as Darth Vader. It would be easy to feel that way as long as you’re bearing the scars of old wounds related to abandonment, which paradoxically creates distance only in and through presence; and moreover, if power is something valued (a role prototypically attributable to Dark Lords in the Star Wars universe, and in TFA belonging to Supreme Leader Snoke, is the insinuation of power as a value). What this means is that Kylo Ren can only mend his wounds by killing Solo, which is to excise the power that his abandonment by the latter holds over him. To assert his independence, the source has to ‘dry up’.

Rey’s journey can already plainly be seen as an effort to find her father, whose figure she first makes of Solo, in order to reconcile herself with her own abandonment as a child on the surface of Jakku. The predominating prediction, which I can agree with on philosophical grounds, is that Luke Skywalker is Rey’s father; I also think that Luke abandoned Rey on the surface of Jakku. It works, because this theme is at one and the same time the theme of seeking balance in the Force. This is one of the strongest thematic currents in the Star Wars universe; the Force is simply all about the Family. The obvious next question is, who is Rey’s mother?

We should make a note here that Han and Leia explicitly contrive to bring out the ‘Light’ both are sure still remains in Kylo Ren’s heart. I’d like to think that either this misunderstanding of the Force partially contributes to their failure in accomplishing their goal, or that Disney has unwittingly bastardized a more complex tale of the presence of evil in favour of a more simple and marketable dichotomy. Moreover, Hegel would have some interesting things to say about the competing claims made on the individual by the Family and a government, which may explain some of the antipathy Ren seems to feel towards General Hux, among other things. We could explore these issues endlessly. The Star Wars universe is a philosophically rich text, which we can interpret and re-interpret time and again, with much to gain. I only hope to emphasize the philosophical products of the box office’s favourite sci-fi franchise, against the torrent of kitschy commodified junk products spewing out this holiday from every TV set, toy store shelf, cereal box (and Christmas Elf).

May the Force be with us, and us with all of our families.

[1] Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, §136.

[2] Ibid., §141.

[3] Ibid., §143.

[4] Ibid., §158.

[5] MacMullan, T. “The Platonic Paradox of Darth Plagueis: How could a Sith Lord be Wise?” in The Ultimate Star Wars and Philosophy (2015).

[6] Ibid., §456.