The pursuit of end goals is a recurring theme in Aristotle’s philosophy. Aristotle held the view that all humans are driven towards a certain goal or purpose that underlies their existence. Humans mainly pursue their end goals and purpose through choice. The basic gist of Aristotelian ethics is the attainment of the ultimate good from cultivating a proper set of virtues. Book 3 of the Nicomachean Ethics explores the relationship between choice and moral virtues. We pursue our end goals and purpose through choice because it is a voluntary action. Voluntary action is a self-conscious action of which we are aware of the consequences. Actions according to Aristotle is what ultimately shapes our character. The better we can cultivate our character the more easily we can attain the ultimate good. Actions that aren’t voluntary are the result of force and ignorance. If actions are the products of ignorance and force can’t be moral, then it implies moral actions must be in some way intentional or voluntary. Also, it is only when we’re aware of actions that we can be aware of a particular end of an action. So, Aristotle’s views on ethical behavior demands a sense of agency involved in the action. Choice is the ultimate form of agency since it is when we best exercise our will. Desire can’t be choices for the reason, desires occur on an instinctual level. Nor can wishes be a choice since wishing doesn’t necessitate action while choice is acting within your power, or you can wish for something that is simply not possible. Choice requires deliberation. It is only when choice consist of deliberation that choices become truly ”choices”. Deliberation forces us to contemplate the means to achieve a certain end. Since our choices lead to actions that shape our character, deliberation serves as a way to engage in self-reflection to correct one’s character flaws, and improve them.
These ideas should serve as the basis for my analysis. My analysis will be in essence a character study. The analysis will be an examination of a character’s actions over the course of the narrative. The character’s actions will be examined through the lens of Aristotelianism. The actions will be judged on the merits of Aristotle’s views on choice. The film will be the Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise. Although the film is obviously far from a household name, it is infused deeply with a philosophical insightfulness to its core. The film’s philosophical insightfulness arises out of its thematic exploration of mankind’s place in the universe. So, this film is a great choice for examination.
The world of the Wings of Honnêamise is a striking one. It is an alternate Earth where human history and technology has developed differently from our own. Its world echoes retro futurism in its designs and embodies the tensions of the space race within our own world. It is a parallel world in which humanity hasn’t made it to the stars, so space remains a completely unknown territory for the human race. The plot is about a lazy young man named Shiro that leads an aimless existence takes up the challenge to become the first astronaut in space. The space program has largely failed in all of its attempts. Shiro’s journey from a nobody to the first man in space creates a firestorm of controversy that could shake up Shiro’s society and engulf his world in a new war. I chose Shiro to study because he is driven by a search for purpose in his life and purpose underlies Aristotelian philosophy, so it’s a natural match.
In the prologue, a young Shiro looks head long into the horizon contemplating his dreams of becoming an air force pilot. A dream is akin to a purpose or the ultimate good that propels us to act. In order for any dream to be realized, it requires commitment. Shiro’s dreams of becoming an air force pilot fail since his grades were lacking. Shiro merely wished for his dreams , so, Shiro wasn’t able to realize his dreams. A dream cannot be built on wishing since wishing doesn’t require to think about the means through which we can make our dreams come true. Since wishing doesn’t facilitate thought in our actions, or else we don’t tend to consider the needs of our aspirations. Once we consider the needs of our aspirations then we start to consider the means of those aspirations. It’s a cycle of thought that leads to action. Deliberation is the force that can stir up this cycle. Deliberation is in a way that cycle encompassed. When Shiro’s various opportunities to make his dreams come true passed him, without deliberation, he wasn’t able to take advantage of them. Although, Shiro’s dream still lingers within him waiting to be awakened as Shiro joins the Space Force. The Space Force considered a place only for rejects and considered as a joke by mainstream society but its adherence to the goal of sending a man to space gives it a sense of purpose in a society marred by hardship and widespread cynicism.
A lack of deliberation dedicated towards his dream has made Shiro an aimless young man that has no clear goal. He leads an aimless life where he shows no care for his job nor his superiors. Even a death of a colleague isn’t enough to snap him out of his lethargic mindset and habits as Shiro come to his colleague’s funeral… late. One day Shiro bumps into a young religious woman named Riquinni. His encounters with her and her idealism for the space project sparks an idealism in Shiro as well. Shiro shares the hope that man’s journey to space can end war so humanity can live peacefully and harmoniously. A newly energized Shiro listens to his
commander’s lecture, and this time, the commander’s statement about the space project being for the betterment of humanity resonates with him. Shiro sees a commonality between his commander’s message and Riquinni’s message.So, once the opportunity arises for a new volunteer for the new space project, Shiro volunteers despite every volunteer before him dying. In a direct contrast with before, Shiro displays a sense of deliberation due to the fact once a means is available to him needed for his goal, he jumps on the opportunity unlike the last time. Now, Shiro doesn’t simply have a desire or wish for a certain dream but Shiro comprehends the sheer impact that his new founded dream can have on the world. A person that applies deliberation to their dreams are able to see the effects that their dream can have on the world which encourages action. Deliberations urges us to deal with the external factors of our goals or dreams since it is always considering the means. It is only after the realization of the means that we’re able to make a choice. Shiro is no different as he makes the choice to volunteer. Choices that are result of deliberations are able to find the means, and so did, Shiro in this case.
After Shiro makes his choice, then he find his means for his goal or dream, Shiro throws himself into the space project. Shiro works eagerly to complete his training as an astronaut. Shiro’s choice here works on Aristotelian terms since it prompted action. If choices are done consciously, it should reflect on our personal character as well. Shiro’s choice did change his character. As he no longer follows his lethargic habits, Shiro has become a more diligent person for the sake of his dream. Numerous challenges arise to threaten Shiro’s goals as the world around him doesn’t share his enthusiasm for the space project. Politicians want to use the entire project as a publicity stunt to incite a war. Some members of the public see this project as a waste of money which sparks protests. Riquinni rejects all of Shiro’s romantic advances. Shiro becomes the subject of constant media attention. And even the target of a political assassination. Yet, Shiro presses on towards his goal. As we change our character through conscious actions and decisions, we have a chance to improve our character. It is during moments of change that we have to wrestle with our flaws. The question of deliberation and choices entails the issue of virtues and vices due to the fact that certain actions and choices undertaken required a change in character. Shiro from staying firmly to his hopeful goal, it sparks change in him. Shiro ends up refining his character as a whole to stay true to that goal. Aristotle states that humans have a natural inclination for the ultimate good if we aim truthfully for self fulfillment. Self fulfillment is key to self-actualization which the ultimate good ensues. Becoming the first man in space represents the ultimate self-fulfillment for Shiro. So by aiming for that goal, Shiro is in the process of self-fulfillment.
In a scene where Shiro standing with his commander looking at a war memorial remarks that he would have been a historian if it wasn’t for the war. When he did eventually study history, he came to the realization that history was nothing but a constant struggle due to mankind’s inherent violent nature. Shiro’s commander wonders if it’s possible for humanity to escape its violent nature, or as he states ” Do we have any choice in the matter”. Even the narrative itself notices the significance of choice in deciding our destiny. It foreshadows a certain path that Shiro will take later on. Shiro’s commander appears to be channeling Aristotle through a recognition that we could with the power of choice escape our bad nature for further greatness.
In the breathtaking climax as the rocket is being prepared for launch. Shiro and his team are ordered to leave the site. The launch site is near the border of a hostile nation. So, the site of the launch site draws the neighboring nation into war with Shiro’s nation. The border clash that occurs is right near the launch pad. Shiro in a moment of truth refuses to leave the rocket. Shiro orders his team to stay by him to help him to launch the rocket. As Shiro proclaims ” I will do this!”, Shiro is self-aware he must rely on his willpower to face this dilemma. By relying on his willpower, Shiro is taking charge of his natural ability to perform voluntary actions to safeguard his goal. Willpower is one of the defining traits that is a reflection of a person’s ability to make choices or not to make choices, and more so stand by them. In essence, Shiro’s firm willpower is a testament to the choice he has undertaken.
This is a pivotal moment of Shiro’s character development. Shiro has found the means that will make his dream come true, thus he isn’t willing to let go of that means. Shiro’s choice to stay to marks the point in the narrative where Shiro used his deliberation to ultimately transform his character. The choice and deliberation are directed at the same immediate objective, so Shiro’s deliberation and choice are now going in hand to hand in producing an action that will make his goal of reaching space come true. Shiro has achieved his dreams of becoming the first man in space. Aristotle would praise Shiro for leading his actions with a careful inclusion of deliberation and choice. Fundamentally, Shiro’s choice to launch the rocket succeeds because the sheer spectacle of the rocket launch leaves the soldiers fighting standing in awe, so the battle draws to a close. From which Shiro proves it is possible for mankind to escape its violent nature and propensity for war. Space can be the frontier where mankind can be born anew. Shiro has been reborn by ascending into space.
Shiro’s character growth is at heart a search for purpose. All humans desire for purpose because is what ultimately fulfills them. The ultimate good is driven by a search for purpose. Aristotle believed attainting purpose was possible through a method of deliberation and choice. Shiro’s growth is a great example of this. Shiro ultimately perseveres to break free from a purposeless existence to become a symbol of hope to his world!
PS: I’ve initially written this for a class but I’ve decided to post it here.