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The Sith and other users of the Dark Side of the Force are unambiguously portrayed as evil (at least in the movies). It's taken as axiomatic that even if someone resorts to the Dark Side for good motivations, they will become corrupted and evil before long. The Dark Side doesn't seem to have any redeeming qualities or situations where it can be embraced.

On the other hand, there is also the concept of "balance" in the force which suggests that the Dark and Light sides are necessary and complementary. Maybe the Light Side can't meaningfully exist except in distinction to the Dark Side. Which would mean it wouldn't make sense to consider it inherently evil.

So, my question: is the Dark Side of the Force evil, or not?

By evil I mean: inherently negative, in every possible context, with no value to any being that is not malevolent.

EDIT: To clarify the above, some things, such as death, can be thought evil in the sense nobody wants to experience them but they are also recognized as necessary. Biological life as we know it wouldn't be possible if there was no death. The cells in our body are programmed to die, and hence death has a positive role in the life of organisms. It's not inherently evil.

On the other hand, other things, such as cancer, don't seem to play any positive role in biological life. Cells don't have programming to turn cancerous, they only do so when their internal processes are disrupted or go wrong in some way. Conceivably, a cell that "worked perfectly" might die but it would not turn cancerous.

So: is the Dark Side of the Force, as imagined in the Star Wars universe, more like death or more like cancer?

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  • From my point of view the Jedi are evil! Feb 1, 2020 at 4:40
  • In all seriousness go look into Kreia if you want an answer Feb 1, 2020 at 4:41
  • @DJ Spicy Deluxe: if I'm understanding Wookiepedia correctly, Kreia came to the conclusion that all aspects of the Force were inherently evil.
    – Batperson
    Feb 5, 2020 at 3:56

4 Answers 4

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In (Knights of) The Old Republic there were also "light side" Sith and "dark side" Jedi. Revan is considered one of the greatest Sith to have ever lived due to the fact that he wielded both light and dark. So if the light isn't per definition good, then why is the dark per definition evil?

Some Sith and even Jedi theorized that the Force is always neutral, and it's not the difference between light and dark that define it but discipline and emotion. If you look at the Jedi Code what represents the light you will see that it is all about being disciplined and pretty much a robot (there is no passion, there is no emotion). While the Sith Code on the other hand embraces those concepts.

It resembles LaVeyan Satanism, they don't believe in an actual Satan but that it's a representation of freedom while seeing the Christian faith as a group that denies their emotions and buries their desires.

And freedom isn't inherently bad, but it is chaotic (imagine a world without laws). And that's what the dark side pretty much is (Sith killing Sith to advance their position, for example, nearly destroyed them, while the Jedi's denial of their emotions caused many of them to fall to the darkness because they weren't able to handle their emotions after denying them for so long).

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  • While I like this overall answer, Knights of the Old Republic is a terrible example because dark side Jedi were by definition evil and light side Sith were by definition good. They were alignment changes that were pretty blatant, save the orphanage for light side points or burn it down and kick a puppy while you're at it for the dark side points.
    – Theik
    Jan 31, 2020 at 8:54
  • @Theik was talking about the (old)canon lore, not the player made decisions. There Revan turned back to the light but still used the darkside was a weapon. Also if i am not mistaking, Force fire was also consider a darkside ability but Leia was able to use it in the lore after Episode 6 (but this is no longer canon sadly)
    – A.bakker
    Jan 31, 2020 at 9:33
  • 2
    The old (now Legends) New Jedi Order founded by Luke swept away much of the old detachment requirements - his Jedi were allowed (and in some sense, encouraged) to get married and have children, but remain on the "light" side while doing so. In a way, that parallels contemporary arguments for and against clerical celibacy in our own world. Jan 31, 2020 at 14:15
  • 2
    KOTOR is not canon.
    – Null
    Jan 31, 2020 at 15:29
  • @Null bite your tongue! Feb 1, 2020 at 4:42
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While I believe it is frequently connected with evil, the source of the dark side is actually power. In the Clone Wars episode "Ghosts of Mortis", the trio of spiritual deities of the force are introduced (in canon at least) as the Father, the Son, and the Daughter. From Wookieepedia:

The Ones initially lived in peace and harmony in the home they made for themselves near the site of the geyser. The Father warned his children to never drink from the Font of Power, or bathe in the Pool of Knowledge; however, they eventually disobeyed his orders, with the Son drinking from the Font, giving him the power of the dark side, while the Daughter bathed in the Pool, bestowing on her the power of the light side. The siblings then claimed areas of the jungle for themselves and started to fight each other, while the Father tried to keep the peace between them.

What is more described as evil is Abeloth (the Mother) who came to them and then drank from the Font of Power, and also bathed in the Pool of Knowledge, although I'm not sure how much of her story is canon vs. legends.

Edit: Legends talks about Darth Vectivus, who became a Sith Lord and powerful dark side user that mostly hung out with his family and friends, and didn't do evil things.

The Ones: https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/The_Ones Darth Vivectus: https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Darth_Vectivus

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The dark side of the living force, as I understand it, is mainly about the vitality that lies in negative emotions - ie. those leading to potentially destructive behaviour - like anger, hatred, and so on.

If this is vaguely true, there is one example which comes into mind which contradicts the dark side = evil interpretation: Jedi Master Mace Windu's fighting style, Vapaad.

This style is about channeling your 'dark side' emotions into your strength. In other words: this is not about the dark side being inherently evil, but about it requiring a lot of control in order not to lead to evil. This is the same as all the narratives around Palpatine nurturing negative emotions in both Anakin Skywalker and Ben Solo so that they lose control and fall to the dark side, ie. becoming evil. It only works because they are confused, unstable personalities and played well.

Another point which strengthens this interpretation is that Rey is (similar to Luke) shown to partially giving in to the dark side without losing control, thus becoming another kind of Jedi, a kind that does not neglect or suppress the dark side, but accepts and harnishes it. As you can see by Yoda's reactions in both the prequels and the original trilogy, the Jedi Order of The Great Republic is not exactly fond of any kind of meddling with the dark side.

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  • It can be argued that negative emotions (hate, fear etc) are obviously adaptive behaviours that help keep living beings alive in dangerous circumstances, hence they have their place and can't be called inherently evil. If the Dark Side of the Force is simply that part of the Force associated with those emotions then it would seem that there could be contexts where channeling the Dark Side could be positive.
    – Batperson
    Feb 5, 2020 at 4:08
  • However there are also circumstances where negative emotions are obviously "wrong": anger towards the innocent or non-threatening for example. Perhaps the Sith deliberately cultivate negative mental states outside their proper context, in an unnatural fashion. This could be why Darth Vader was described as "twisted and evil".
    – Batperson
    Feb 5, 2020 at 4:17
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In Episode V, Yoda called the cave "strong with the dark side" and "a domain of evil." Since this is a location rather than a sentient user, it could be argued that Yoda meant the dark side itself is inherently evil. On the other hand, we're shown that the cave brings out the anxieties and aggression in Luke as illusions, so the actual evil can still be argued to stem from the Force-sensitive in the cave, not the cave itself. After all, we see Luke act out that aggression in Episodes V and VI with no magical cave needed, just Vader's taunts. We see similar phenomena with Rey in Episodes VIII and IX.

However, the fact remains that there are actual locations that bring out the evil in a Force-sensitive individual in a special way, and the wildlife in these locations are visually dark and twisted despite usually lacking any sentient beings that could conceivably be malicious. You COULD call this property evil as Yoda seems to.

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