Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.
-The Sith Code
At best the Sith teachings found throughout various Star Wars fictions have been a watered down patchwork of Callicles, Nietzsche, and Ragnar Redbeard. There is no ‘official’ canon definition, and my attempt at stitching together pieces into a coherent whole is simply that, my own attempt. This isn’t meant to be particularly serious or pedantic, only a fun exploration of putting Sith teachings into a larger philosophical context. As myth, religion, and social constructions are intended to be pragmatic, perhaps this too can have pragmatic uses if one so chooses to apply it.
According to the Jedi and the Sith, as well as primitive tribes across the galaxy, there is an immanent and permeating element known simply as ‘the Force’. Plenty of speculation has likened this to the Tao, or Brahman from Eastern beliefs. George Lucas never intended this to have depth or be taken to the extent the fans have taken it. It was little more than a hodgepodge of Eastern mysticism mixed with common Good vs Evil dichotomy of Abrahamic religion. As with usual pop culture and philosophy, I believe one can derive much more value from this fiction than it was originally given.
The world is driven by the Force, the Force is panentheistic, and there are those whom are more sensitive to it than others. Schopenhauer presents similar through influence from the Upanishads. Permeating and driving the world is what Schopenhauer simply calls the Will, not an individual nor sentient Will, only a blind raw directionless impulse that furthers propagation. Be it the crass instinct of breeding and eating, or the major conflicts of war and greed. In Buddhist manner, Schopenhauer saw no remedy to the inevitable suffering which the unending Will to Live aside from absolute resignation or temporary resignation. If one uses the word Will and Force interchangably it places the Sith/Jedi teachings in a different light. Of course Schopenhauer did not have religious or supernatural sentiments, though there are undertones of mysticism.
The Jedi teach one is to calm ones passions, indeed calming the Force. A Jedi is to syncronize oneself with the ebb and flow of the Force, mentioned as harmony. A Jedi states there is no death, as there never was an egoistic individual Self, there was and always shall be only the Force. Applying this within a metaphysical voluntarist context, that is a Schopenhauer context of Will, of blind directionless and raw volition, the application is syonymous. It is unclear if the Jedi believe the Force is sentient, though fate or predestination is mentioned. Nonetheless perhaps they are projecting a narrative or comprehension onto the blind universal Will driving forth matter and events. I mention this brief overview of a Jedi approach based on the Jedi code for the sake of contrasting it with the Sith teachings to follow. Overall it is productive to see the Jedi/Sith/Force fiction within the context of aforementioned metaphysical voluntarism, as best put forth by Schopenhauer.
The Jedi may approach the Force in manner of negation, and the Sith approach with a manner of affirmation. Ones passions are not to be repressed or allowed to passively go by, the passions are to be affirmed and indulged in. A passion is a rift in calmness; be it the explosion of rage, heated pursuit of a goal, violent hatred for another, or fierce love making with an intimate other. The Sith teach to affirm and embrace these rifts in the Force. Turbulence is the natural state, and the Sith attempts to embody such turbulence. Often in Sith teachings there are superficial reflections of ‘might means right’, similar to what is found in Callicles or the satirical Ragnar Redbeard. Much of this is ‘chest pounding’ rhetoric and little more. What is important to note is that instead of negating the savagery of the Force, of the world around us, it is affirmed and utilized for ones own purposes. Other philosophers such as Hume or the romantic Rousseau are clear that the passions come before rational thought, and that rational thought will always be secondary to man’s passions. The Sith would agree wholeheartedly, and understand the passions to be essential utmost and primal to the Force, or again, the driving raw Will behind and within the world. Without passions, there is no volition, and without volition there is total stasis and non-being. What is becoming but the ever surging passions going forth, the Will developing onward. The same can be said of tragedy, and in reference to Nietzsche. Tragedy is an affirmation of existence, and thus why the Sith do not shy away from personal pain and suffering brought about by tragedy. It is also why a Sith Master will often inflict such a tragedy onto their apprentice purposely, to tap into that primal pain and for the Sith apprentice to affirm himself by it.
As passions becomes ones strengths, through power does one gain victory. Immediately Nietzsche comes to mind in his often quoted, “What is good? All that heightens the feeling of power in man, the will to power, power itself. What is bad? All that is born of weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power is growing, that resistance is overcome.” In the context of Sith fiction, the power is ones ability to embody and utilize the Force. The turbulent rifts of passion, the savage law of one being exploiting another being, and the affirmation of tragedy, or the cruelty of what is- as it is. Heraclitus states that war is the common condition, and all things emerge through conflict and strife. Peace and pacifism is stagnation, not becoming. The greatest accomplishments of civilizations came forth through conflict and strife, though not necessarily of the physically violent kind. At the same time I do not want to sound Hegelian, as if there is possibly a direction to this eventual synthesis. The Will is blind, terribly so, and there is no inherent justice aside from strife itself. The Sith teach to carve out order from the vastness of chaos, from the indifferent universe, to become deific architects.
The Sith knows there is no higher authority than oneself. Even the relationship between master and student is temporary. It ceases to be once they have outlived one anothers uses, which may or may not end in ones death. A Sith knows he is the sovereign of his own personal existence. He is both redeemer and tormentor. There is no ‘morality’ outside of ones own subjective existence. There are no laws aside from the ones a Sith chooses to adhere to. There is no obligation to others aside from whom a Sith freely chooses. A Sith is the sole arbiter of truth and validation within his own existence.
The endgoal of Sith teachings are vague, and the closest fiction has expressed is the lore of Valkorian whom attained immortality. In short, actual apotheosis is the end objective in Sith teachings. That is to not only attain godhood-in-the-flesh or deific-consciousness while in the flesh, but to become synonymous with the Force itself without losing ego-sentience or Selfhood, even after death of the flesh. In a strange twist of fiction it is depicted as a cross between Nirvikalpa Samadhi and cosmic Lovecraftian madness or the Nietzchean ‘Overman’.