3

It's pretty clear that Anakin has precognitive abilities. Qui-gon says as much as the only explanation for how Anakin is able to be the only human capable of racing. He also very clearly saw his mother suffering before she actually was suffering, which intensified once her suffering actually began.

It seems that the dream and eventual and unstoppable death of Shmi was foreshadowing of Padme's, literally linked for the audience via Anakin's dream. Side-by-side, they are almost identical, except Anakin turns to the dark side to prevent Padme's death, whereas he actually goes to save Shmi, though he was too late.

What doesn't make sense is that a long series of events unfold that lead to Padme's death, only because Anakin has a dream about her death. This is a paradox. And when it finally comes to pass, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Anakin would have never turned to the dark side if he never had the dreams. And Padme would never have died if she did not witness Anakin turn evil.

How can Anakin's dream have been prophetic, in light of the paradoxical nature of the events that unfold because of it? I only see a few options:

  • The dreams were not prophetic. This doesn't make sense however, as Anakin himself describes them as "like the ones [he] used to have about his mother."
  • The dreams only appeared prophetic and were a deception to produce a desired outcome. One theory is that Sideous planted the dreams to lead Anakin closer to the dark side. Padme actually dying was a coincidence.
  • The dreams were prophetic, and intentionally self-fulfilling. Some unknown force (midiclorians maybe) produced the dreams to affect the future.

Considering I think the argument is strong that the the dreams were prophetic, how is their paradoxical nature explained?

Related questions:

  • 2
    Solution: bad writing. – Liesmith Jan 13 '16 at 21:42
  • 11
    Doesn't Yoda clear answer this in Empire? - Yoda: It is the future you see. Luke: The future? Luke: Will they die? Yoda: [closes his eyes for a moment] Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future. – Zoredache Jan 13 '16 at 21:42
  • 7
    “a long series of events unfold that lead to Padme's death, only because Anakin has a dream about her death. This is a paradox.” How is it a paradox? Isn’t it just a self-fulfilling prophecy? – Paul D. Waite Jan 13 '16 at 22:14
  • 4
    It may be a "paradox" in the sense of being highly counter-intuitive, but not in the sense of being logically paradoxical. See my answer here about a similar paradox in the movie Predestination, along with my answer here about a "predestination paradox" in Interstellar and how its model of time travel was grounded in real theoretical physics models. – Hypnosifl Jan 13 '16 at 23:43
  • 1
    @fredsbend Anakin walked the path of the dark side when he rescued Shmi as well; when he killed every Sandperson in the village, women and children included. – TylerH Jan 14 '16 at 14:55
5

Precognition is a limited form of time travel, in which only information travels through time. The Wikipedia page for temporal paradox defines a useful term for the result:

A causal loop is a paradox of time travel that occurs when a future event is the cause of a past event, which in turn is the cause of the future event. Both events then exist in spacetime, but their origin cannot be determined.

Padmé's death is a causal loop. Foreknowledge of her death motivates Anakin's actions, which eventually cause her death, just as he foresaw.

This assumes Anakin was really foretelling the future. If the visions were a trick by Sidious, then no time travel takes place and Padmé's death is simply an unfortunate coincidence, not a causal loop. However, we know Jedi precognition can provide real information -- for example Luke's vision in Episode V, which tells him the location of his friends. So it is plausible that Anakin's visions provided genuine knowledge of the future.

  • I like the definition you provided, but the rest of the answer doesn't really say any more than my question already did. – fredsbend Jan 14 '16 at 15:42
  • Maybe it would help if you make your question more specific. What exactly do you want to know? – Royal Canadian Bandit Jan 14 '16 at 15:48
  • "Considering I think the argument is strong that the the dreams were prophetic, how is their paradoxical nature explained?" In a typical time travel story with a Causal Loop, someone finds out he's his own grandfather or something like that. It's easy to see how that paradox works. But with a prophetic dream, there is no subject doing anything and there is no time travel. Where did the dream come from? There has to be action some where. Someone or something had to send Anakin the dream. – fredsbend Jan 14 '16 at 15:57
  • 2
    Effectively, there is time travel. Information from the future is travelling to the past. Whether that information arrives in a prophetic dream, or in a sports almanac in the back of a DeLorean, makes no difference to whether a temporal paradox occurs. – Royal Canadian Bandit Jan 14 '16 at 16:27
  • 3
    "Someone or something had to send Anakin the dream." Why? Yoda tells Luke that visions will spontaneously appear to a trained Jedi during meditation: "Through the Force, things you will see. Other places. The future, the past. Old friends long gone." There is no indication that anything is deliberately "sending" them. – Royal Canadian Bandit Jan 14 '16 at 16:27
4

I would argue that what's being described in the case of Anakin's fall to the dark side is actually tragic irony (@DVK also points this out)...

"... the audience is aware that a character's words or actions will bring about a tragic or fatal result, while the character himself is not."

... and isn't a paradox. At least, in the Ship of Thesus sense of the term. In other words, there's nothing plausible, yet contradictory about "knowledge" of a potential future event causing that event to occur, even despite best efforts to prevent it from happening.

I think of it as similar to real life examples such as: Changing a typical travel route because of a traffic report just to get stuck behind an accident. Or, spilling a full glass of water because you're so focused on not spilling it. Ironic, and maybe tragic, but not a paradox.

It's a stretch to call Anakin's dreams true precognition also, given the Star Wars universe as we know it. The comment from @Zoredache quoting Yoda points this out:

"Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future."

We're meant to understand that these visions are a glimpse into what could be not what necessarily is. And, as @Royal Canadian Bandit alluded to, in order for there to be a paradox, it's important that the visions and Padme's death be necessarily causally connected - not just possibly (or coincidentally.) I think there's good reason to believe that Anakin himself viewed the dreams only as possibilities and not absolutes as well -otherwise, why would he try to prevent them from happening?

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.