"Only a Sith deals in Absolutes"

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18 Mar 2015 17:18 #184694 by
Do you remember when in Revenge of the Sith Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin are about to duel, and Anakin says "If you are not with me, you are my enemy." Obi-Wan replies by saying "Only a Sith deals in Absolutes". This statement has created a huge amount of confusion and controversy because it is itself an absolute statement. This debate is entirely unnecessary. Apparently no one thought to do a Lore Check.
Well I did one.
In the context of Star Wars an absolute and an absolute statement are related not the same thing. An Absolute means
a. Unqualified in extent or degree; total or Not limited by restrictions or exception

However in Star Wars an absolute is a tactic used primarily by the Sith and never by the Jedi. The tactic involved making a statement that was so absolute and all encompassing that it leaves either the Sith himself, another Sith, or there enemy/enemies no moral alternative to combat. In other words there is no way to to avoid combat and still have a clear conscience.
In the case of this scene the Absolute Obi-Wan was referring to was "If you are not with me, you are my enemy."

Rant/Explanation/Lore Lesson over

Tell me what you guys think of this mini lore essay.

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18 Mar 2015 17:58 #184701 by OB1Shinobi
its a real tactic used by real people

"if youre not with us youre against us"

sounds familiar

thanks for sharing!

People are complicated.

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18 Mar 2015 18:14 #184706 by Gisteron
The movie has been out for just about a decade now. I don't know if people were confused about it then, but it sure didn't last long because I've never met a person who was genuinely confused over this. It is one thing if you have, say, a Iron Man movie making references to characters typically associated with the Incredible Hulk or the X-Men, because a movie about Iron Man is a window to the Marvel world which is one large interconnected world. That is not true of Star Wars. Spider-Man is as canon to the Marvel universe as the Human Torch, but there is no comparing of even somebody as iconic as Revan to Grand Moff Tarkin.
We thusly expect something different from a Star Wars movie than we would from Captain America. It must be self-sufficient or at least be dependant exclusively on prior or posterior Star Wars movies. It must be enough to have seen them to understand them and the expanded universe must serve only to expand, or, rather, warp that understanding such as to account for said expanded universe and no longer for the movies. No amount of novels, games or comics should be required to understand it and no understanding stemming from those media should be prioritized over one that is spawned directly by the films because ultimately Star Wars remains mainly a movie franchise, whereas Marvel remains a comic book brand.

Of course I can also entertain this alternate view. So to deal in Absolutes would mean to provoke a confrontation where one can be avoided. Did Obi-Wan have to call Darth Vader out on this? Could he not have said "Farewell, Anakin!" and walked away? Remember, he drew his lightsaber first, and even ignited it, before Darth Vader even touched his. By this time he could sense the Dark Side in Vader and Obi-Wan had seen the unconscious Padme, so Vader had nothing to hide. Walking off would not have been a risk, because Obi-Wan was alert enough to react if Vader chose to seize the opportunity. Instead he called Vader by the name of an enemy, giving in to the absolute choice Vader presented him with. Was Obi-Wan doing his utmost to avoid combat? I don't think so. Was Vader using a tactic Jedi never employ? I think this Jedi just did.

So even considering the expanded Lore elaboration, we are still exactly where we were before, only now we are accusing Obi-Wan not only of a purely semantic failure but indeed of also betraying the Jedi ways he lived to uphold.

Better to leave questions unanswered than answers unquestioned

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18 Mar 2015 18:23 #184707 by
Replied by on topic "Only a Sith deals in Absolutes"
I mostly chalked it up as yet another writing faliure of the prequel trilogy. I did enjoy the insight though.

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18 Mar 2015 18:28 - 18 Mar 2015 18:34 #184708 by OB1Shinobi

Gisteron wrote: The movie has been out for just about a decade now. I don't know if people were confused about it then, but it sure didn't last long because I've never met a person who was genuinely confused over this. It is one thing if you have, say, a Iron Man movie making references to characters typically associated with the Incredible Hulk or the X-Men, because a movie about Iron Man is a window to the Marvel world which is one large interconnected world. That is not true of Star Wars. Spider-Man is as canon to the Marvel universe as the Human Torch, but there is no comparing of even somebody as iconic as Revan to Grand Moff Tarkin.
We thusly expect something different from a Star Wars movie than we would from Captain America. It must be self-sufficient or at least be dependant exclusively on prior or posterior Star Wars movies. It must be enough to have seen them to understand them and the expanded universe must serve only to expand, or, rather, warp that understanding such as to account for said expanded universe and no longer for the movies. No amount of novels, games or comics should be required to understand it and no understanding stemming from those media should be prioritized over one that is spawned directly by the films because ultimately Star Wars remains mainly a movie franchise, whereas Marvel remains a comic book brand.

Of course I can also entertain this alternate view. So to deal in Absolutes would mean to provoke a confrontation where one can be avoided. Did Obi-Wan have to call Darth Vader out on this? Could he not have said "Farewell, Anakin!" and walked away? Remember, he drew his lightsaber first, and even ignited it, before Darth Vader even touched his. By this time he could sense the Dark Side in Vader and Obi-Wan had seen the unconscious Padme, so Vader had nothing to hide. Walking off would not have been a risk, because Obi-Wan was alert enough to react if Vader chose to seize the opportunity. Instead he called Vader by the name of an enemy, giving in to the absolute choice Vader presented him with. Was Obi-Wan doing his utmost to avoid combat? I don't think so. Was Vader using a tactic Jedi never employ? I think this Jedi just did.

So even considering the expanded Lore elaboration, we are still exactly where we were before, only now we are accusing Obi-Wan not only of a purely semantic failure but indeed of also betraying the Jedi ways he lived to uphold.


except of course - he was right; dude had betrayed the galaxy, murdered a bunch of children, embraced the dark side, and was in fact a sith apprentice who was going on to cause more mayhem and because of that could not actually be walked away from


so...

People are complicated.
Last edit: 18 Mar 2015 18:34 by OB1Shinobi.

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18 Mar 2015 18:33 #184710 by
Hi all, are there any ways around combat if an "absolute" is used?

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18 Mar 2015 18:34 - 18 Mar 2015 18:35 #184711 by
Because I'd be leaning on the pacifict side
Last edit: 18 Mar 2015 18:35 by .

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18 Mar 2015 18:47 #184714 by Gisteron

OB1Shinobi wrote: except of course - he was right; dude had betrayed the galaxy, murdered a bunch of children, embraced the dark side, and was in fact a sith apprentice who was going on to cause more mayhem and because of that could not actually be walked away from


so...

So... what? We are talking about what Obi-Wan said/did in that scene and whether it was any less of an Absolute than what Vader said/did, also in that scene. If we presume that to deal in Absolutes means to force combat where it can be avoided, then Obi-Wan is just as guilty as he charged Vader of being, in that scene. Also, the audience obviously knows of Vader's later deeds, but Obi-Wan doesn't. With the original trilogy written at this point, we know what happens and why that scene is the way it is, but from the characters' perspective things might have went very differently if that scene was any different. This at best just goes to show that the movie was written only to set up A New Hope, and not as a coherent narrative in itself and that it also assumes that the audience has seen A New Hope by the time it gets to Revenge Of The Sith.

Better to leave questions unanswered than answers unquestioned

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18 Mar 2015 18:51 #184717 by
Replied by on topic "Only a Sith deals in Absolutes"
Yes people were confused.

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18 Mar 2015 19:29 #184727 by
Replied by on topic "Only a Sith deals in Absolutes"

Gisteron wrote: The movie has been out for just about a decade now. I don't know if people were confused about it then, but it sure didn't last long because I've never met a person who was genuinely confused over this. It is one thing if you have, say, a Iron Man movie making references to characters typically associated with the Incredible Hulk or the X-Men, because a movie about Iron Man is a window to the Marvel world which is one large interconnected world. That is not true of Star Wars. Spider-Man is as canon to the Marvel universe as the Human Torch, but there is no comparing of even somebody as iconic as Revan to Grand Moff Tarkin.
We thusly expect something different from a Star Wars movie than we would from Captain America. It must be self-sufficient or at least be dependant exclusively on prior or posterior Star Wars movies. It must be enough to have seen them to understand them and the expanded universe must serve only to expand, or, rather, warp that understanding such as to account for said expanded universe and no longer for the movies. No amount of novels, games or comics should be required to understand it and no understanding stemming from those media should be prioritized over one that is spawned directly by the films because ultimately Star Wars remains mainly a movie franchise, whereas Marvel remains a comic book brand.

Of course I can also entertain this alternate view. So to deal in Absolutes would mean to provoke a confrontation where one can be avoided. Did Obi-Wan have to call Darth Vader out on this? Could he not have said "Farewell, Anakin!" and walked away? Remember, he drew his lightsaber first, and even ignited it, before Darth Vader even touched his. By this time he could sense the Dark Side in Vader and Obi-Wan had seen the unconscious Padme, so Vader had nothing to hide. Walking off would not have been a risk, because Obi-Wan was alert enough to react if Vader chose to seize the opportunity. Instead he called Vader by the name of an enemy, giving in to the absolute choice Vader presented him with. Was Obi-Wan doing his utmost to avoid combat? I don't think so. Was Vader using a tactic Jedi never employ? I think this Jedi just did.

So even considering the expanded Lore elaboration, we are still exactly where we were before, only now we are accusing Obi-Wan not only of a purely semantic failure but indeed of also betraying the Jedi ways he lived to uphold.


I agree with you on the point that Obi-wan is a hypocrite. In fact I think most Jedi were, and all people are at least some of the time.
However that said with the expanded Lore Elaboration I don't think you can say Obi-Wan used the same tactic (unless you mean that by saying only the sith deal in absolutes, obi-wan was using one to force himself to fight. I don't think this is the case though.) However that does not mean Obi-Wan should have continued the fight. I personally think it was morally his responsibility, and if he hadn't attacked Darth Vader would have regardless.
Also I know that people were confused about it. Just Google the line "Only a Sith deals in Absolutes" and you will see all of the discussions on forums dedicated to that question.

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