One of the more problematic things to consider in our studies of Jedi Realism is trying to work out exactly what the 'Force' is. While we obviously established that it is life energy, I don’t quite think this serves as a definition – after all, we must also ascertain the ways in which we can apply that belief in the Force to make it a practical belief, and thus, the definition needs to be expanded.
Firstly, let us consider the Force as being an incorporeal manifestation of life energy – in this, it is not so much the chemical energy which serves to bond the various compounds within the body of an organism, but that which, in agreement with the proposal of Bergson, creates life by animating those molecules of material into fully living structures, which creates a living organism.
All organisms are simply formed from basic atoms and protein sequencing, even down to the smallest of nucleotides. And yet you can create these compounds within a laboratory. Do they live as they do within an organism? Modern science suggests not. This therefore insinuates the existence of something that acts as a trigger which set these complicated sequences working, forming life. In this, we find that which we call the Force – the collective sum of these ‘sparks’ of energy, that which makes us more than just a collection of atoms and compounds, that which makes us alive.
All life possesses the natural instinct of self-preservation and often, the preservation of the species, so it is therefore logical to suggest that the energy that creates life also possesses a similar instinct, though I believe that is probably the wrong term, considering that we refer to energy and not a single object or organism. This is given further discussion in one of the following sections.
As to the fact that the Force requires life by which to exist, this perhaps requires greater elaboration. Consider radio waves – to travel long distances, they need to be given a signal boost to give them enough power to travel to their destination without degrading beyond illegibility. In this way, without the boosters, the signal cannot reach the intended destination before dissipating. Thus we find the Force – though it can create life, natural processes (procreation) are required for this, and without organisms existing by which the cycle of life can be further continued, the Force has no ‘booster relays’ by which to ensure that it survives.
Following on from this, the function of the Force, in that it creates life, or at least creates the ‘spark’ that confers life upon an otherwise inanimate being, would seem to suggest that it in itself has no further purpose, but according to the general rules of biology, and indeed any science, to create life requires life in order to procreate, so it would hence suggest that the Force requires life in order to create further life, and were life to cease to exist, so then would the Force, primarily due to the fact that things without purpose tend to cease in their own existence, or so it would seem.
Now, while I suggest that the Force perhaps possesses some of the typical characteristics possessed by living things, it would probably be hubris to suggest that it possesses all the normal attributes. According to modern scientific definition, anything defined as a life form must possess all of the following seven criteria: the ability to respire, to excrete waste products, to move, to be able to sense changes in the environment, to be able to consume and digest nutrient products, to grow and develop, and finally, to be able to reproduce, either in order to ensure the survival of genetic traits or for the preservation of the species.
By these defining traits, the Force could not be considered as being alive in itself, nor would it be considered as possessing any of the characteristics with which it would, if you will, associate with life, the two things sharing a bond in this way. However, given broader definition, the Force does classify accordingly.
Firstly, we have the ability to respire, generally considered as being the combustion of food nutrients in order to produce energy needed by an organism (their cells, at least) to survive. By this criteria, the Force would not be considered either alive nor related to life as a result of that fact that, being constituted by energy, it has no need to convert one form of energy into another (chemical to kinetic) in order to survive. However, if indeed the Force does operate on this suggested interdependent relationship with life, this respiratory conversion would not constitute energy converting from chemical energy into kinetic energy, but instead would be of Force Particles (life energy) into the ‘starting point’ energy by which an organism first begins to actively function. This therefore could allow the Force to classify under this category.
Secondly, we have the need to excrete waste products. With organisms, this can be as simple as gaseous exchange of Carbon Dioxide (a toxic product) with Oxygen, a vital respiratory reagent, down to the more complex conversion of Ammonia into Urea, which is in turn excreted via the usual pathways. Now, considering that the Force has little need of nutrient uptake, primarily as the result of being complex energy, there would therefore be little need to exchange or excrete waste particles with the surrounding environment. Therefore, the Force cannot classify according to this criteria.
Thirdly, we have the most unusual of the seven categories – the ability to move. Now, all systems of energy are considered as being able to move, though due to the fact that energy can only be viewed indirectly i.e. as the result of usage of that energy, we can never know for certain. However, if an object or an organism can move, as a result of energy usage, the conclusion that energy particles themselves can move would be logical, and hence, the Force would therefore share this particular characteristic of life.
Next, we find the ability to consume and digest nutrients, by which an organism gains the necessary energy and atomic sequences required for protein synthesis and such similar processes, all of which enables the organism to regenerate damaged tissues, create new cells and ultimately, to reproduce. Sufficed to say, the Force does not, being energy, require nutrients in order to exist, and thus does not classify as a life form under this definition.
The next criterion is probably the most interesting of the group – the ability to grow and develop. With organisms, this includes the ability to evolve into a more environmentally-suited organism, or in more general terms, simply to grow, to develop new characteristics and to adapt to environmental factors such as gaining a cellular immunity to an airborne pathogen, for example. The Force, sufficed to say, has no need to adapt to such things, primarily because it cannot be affected by pathogens and the like, but I would suggest that the general concept of evolution, which applying to organisms, is something used as, if you will, a self-preservation mechanism by the Force itself. By ensuring that all organisms, regardless of their genetic traits, have the ability to adapt to such environmental changes, we find that the Force preserves life, intentionally strengthening itself, while benefiting life into the bargain.
So, evolution therefore classifies beyond just general science – it is a feature of the Force itself. Next, we find that the ability to grow, which also features in this criteria, could also be found within the Force. As life develops and reproduces, thus is the Force further strengthened, again creating that interdependent system that exists between life and the Force.
An interesting piece of thinking for you to consider, on the same wavelength, is the concept of natural instinct and intuition. Now, according to scientific reasoning, all living creatures possess the same instincts – the instincts to survive (the so-called ‘Fight or Flight’ instinct), the instinct to procreate, the instinct to seek out nutrients and also to seek out shelter, protection and what have you. This in itself would seem logically to be that which some have called the ‘Will of the Force’.
Allow me to expand upon this. Consider your instincts, your intuitions - your most basic instinctual drives exist in the form of self-preservation through the 'fight-or-flight' mechanism, and the drive to create further life through procreation. That being the case, and noting that this is the same for all living creatures (yes, I am including plants here), it therefore must be suggested that these are not merely something established by consciousness in a varying degree, but something naturally imbued into living things. Therefore, by the Force.
Finally, I shall move onto the last aspect of the seven criteria – the ability to procreate. Now, due to the fact that it consists of energy, the Force is not able to reproduce per se, especially in consideration of the laws of Thermodynamics, the first of which states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, but may be converted from one form into another. This hence suggests that the Force cannot procreate, simply because energy cannot be newly created, but can be converted into another form.
However, the mechanisms by which the Force is propagated are found within the instinctual behaviours endowed into organisms by the Force, which ensures that organisms procreate (hence strengthening the Force, as already suggested), while the survival mechanisms that are found alongside these instincts ensure that life is perpetuated further.
Now, given that I’ve already stated that the Force requires life to exist, and that life requires the Force to exist, you have to consider the question of which came first, correct? It’s a curious question, and like many such creational ideas, one would have to suggest that both were created by something to which these forces did not apply. But for our purposes, I would prefer to suggest that both were created around the same time. Why?
Well, consider the Earth a few millions of years ago, during the emergence of life. Now, obviously, we do not know what caused the first organism, by all accounts a unicellular prokaryote, to come into being. A simple collection of molecules interacting together to form the basic proteins sequences of DNA and then on to forming the rest of what would eventually become the organism? We cannot say, but were this the case, it is possible to suggest that the very moment those molecules bonded together, the first ‘particles’ of life energy were created, bringing the Force into being.
Were life to cease existing, an unlikely scenario, to be sure, the Force, as energy in an unusual form, would be converted into another form of energy, simply because there would no longer be any use for life energy, for there would be no life from which further life could stem, and hence life energy could not be used to imbue any new organisms with the requisite life energy. Hence, neither we nor the Force would exist, simply being converted into some other form of energy.
So, we’ve established the basis for the nature of the Force, so let us move onto why the Force is central to Jedi and the philosophies upon which the Community is based.
I have oft questioned, at times, why we would devote ourselves to the Force, not due to my personal disagreement of this point, but simply to ask what it is that causes us to dedicate ourselves to the Jedi cause. Thinking on it, I noted the situation upon which life sits now: we humans constantly fight, argue and kill each other over what can only logically be considered foolish and petty disputes. Life is destroyed as a result of human concepts of value, and in this I refer primarily to the hunting of animals for fur, ivory and such attributes as possessed by other organisms. Thus, we continue to destroy that which we could so easily live alongside, peacefully.
Next, we have the state of our planet in general. Acknowledging my obvious debt to the scientific world for my evidence, we have such problems as the Greenhouse effect, the gradual destruction of our Ozone layer, and the general pollution of our world. Then, of course, we destroy vegetation, which indeed classifies as life, in order to build houses and other facilities, usually only because of petty expense and the wish for profit, which in turn causes such destructive expansion. Agreeably, we also harvest vegetation in order to feed ourselves, but this is a necessary point which allows life to further itself more – after all, plants reproduce much quicker than humans do, so the maintenance of populations of both is continued and maintained within an equilibratic relationship.
And, as ever, we have our constant divisions – racial divisions, political divisions and even our philosophical divisions. Society as a whole seems to embrace discrimination and apathy towards others, which is ironic considering the generalization among many that discriminations are morally wrong. Look at your media – does this help to nurture good feelings and thoughts of peace and prosperity for all, while considering the environment and our fellow living creatures in their turn? Likely the direct answer is no.
So, why do we follow the Force? If all Jedi believe that the Force is the energy from which all life stems, that therefore suggests that our allegiance to the Force hence requires that we preserve, nurture and protect life at all costs in order to protect both the existence of most, if not all species of the world and, more importantly, the existence of the Force itself. I suppose you could say that Jedi stand as the ultimate symbiosis between life and the Force – we preserve life to preserve the Force, and in turn the Force continues to create new life, allowing all life, humans included, to continue to exist.
Before you go on reading, I want you to consider why it is you joined the Order, and henceforth move to follow and adhere to the same goals we all possess as Jedi – students and graduates alike – and how this might be related to the Force itself. Do you seek to join for prestige, perhaps? Or to further growing ethical and moral thoughts, turning them into actions? It’s important for you to consider your aim as a member of the Order – but be honest at this point.
The constant struggle faced by those that seek to preserve life, who are not yet good, and those who seek either to destroy it or ignore it for their own purposes, and who are not yet evil seems to be an ongoing one, and though it can never be stopped, I believe the duty of the Jedi is to change the attitudes of the people around us to try and create understanding and tolerance, both of other people, other organisms and of our precious planet at the same time.
The next aspect by which Jedi Philosophy is shaped by the Force is by the more indirect ethical applications that we utilize. Modern society tends to exist on the basis of many ethical codes, and by our direct choice to protect and preserve life, including that of humans, the Order also therefore applies an ethical code, though this in itself is an entirely different lecture.
I would like to just return to the earlier point regarding the Force as imbuing living organisms with basic instinctual drives. Give this some very basic consideration. If we are given drives towards self-preservation and the move towards procreation, we are protecting not only ourselves and the Force, but each other, as well. If you take into account many forms of animal life, humans included, you’ll notice that the drive to survive often draws them to gather into groups, by which they are able to protect themselves and each other, and therefore their chance of survival increases dramatically.
Now, because humans have been driven to live as you find us now – where the very basic elements of survival are far more trivial than they are for most organisms, what you find is that the drive to survive has now turned into the drive to prosper – to better yourself as a person, to gain material wealth by which your living standards may therefore improve. So, given this, where do ethics come in?
Well, if you take this prospering drive, in order to thrive, you have to be certain that your most basic needs are provided for – you have to survive. As a result of this, the system of ethics we have in place in modern society is there as a result of this drive – your rights to life are protected by the military and the police, while the state (ideally) provides you with benefits if you are out of employment by which you can earn what you need to provide food, clothing and housing etc.
With Jedi ethics, what you find is that we seek to emphasise the drive towards prosperity – by protecting life, we allow it to grow; by nurturing life, we help it to grow, and by preventing anything from hindering that progress where possible, we achieve the same ends. So our sense of ethics is a form of developed instinctual drive, again granted by the Force – this is where we can consider the Force as being directly responsible for our ethical conduct.
It is also from the Force that we learn the full essence of compassion – if loss of life diminishes the Force, then preserving life seeks to strengthen it and maintain it. Therefore, by showing compassion, we can better understand those of particular circumstances with the aim towards improving the quality of life for those people and hence strengthening their own will to live, which in turn preserves the essence of the Force.