Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) advocated a form of virtue ethics that was very different from that of Aristotle. Nietzsche believed that power was the ultimate virtue, and that we all must express power if we are powerful. Society consists of domineering master-slave relationships. Some people have the kind of character that causes them to be attracted to being in control; others are prone to being controlled. For example, the character of Cloud in Final Fantasy VIII is attracted to being in control, whereas his nemesis, Seifer, is prone to being controlled. Cloud enjoys dictating his own destiny, and sometimes this brings him into conflict with the authorities. Seifer, on the other hand, seeks power at any cost, even allowing himself to be controlled by a sorceress in an attempt to secure power for himself.
Robert Arp and Sarah Fisk, Virtue Ethics: Aristotle, Aeris and Sephiroth, Final Fantasy and Philosophy: The Ultimate Walkthrough
So ‘Cloud’ should be ‘Squall’ right? Is this even an accurate description of Squall’s character arc in Final Fantasy VIII? I don’t think so.
In this same chapter, the authors get Yuna’s arc wrong:
The Final Fantasy series abounds with examples of actions justified by utilitarian-type reasons. The female character Yuna, of Final Fantasy X and X-2, is in fact best characterized by her sacrificial actions as Summoner for the people of her world, Spira. At the conclusion of Final Fantasy X, her love interest, Tidus, disappears due to the status of his physical being. We discover, in Final Fantasy X-2, that rather than pursue Tidus or try to bring him back, Yuna has gone back to her home in Besaid to sever her people. She is finally convinced to pursue him when she feels as though her people can carry on successfully without her constant supervision. Most of Yuna’s decisions in the game revolve around doing what is best for her people and for the planet, not what is in her own best interest.
Robert Arp and Sarah Fisk, A Utilitarian Moral Stalemate: Sacrificing Party Members, Final Fantasy and Philosophy: The Ultimate Walkthrough
Two years later, Yuna has led a quiet life back in Besaid, frequented by Rikku and people from all over Spira, including members of the Youth League and New Yevon, two factions that have risen to support Spirans after Yevon’s collapse. Both wish for Yuna to join their causes, but she remains neutral. She is being pressured to marry and settle down, and when Wakka tells her about an arrangement being made between her and the son of New Yevon’s chairman, Yuna turns it down, knowing that New Yevon would only use her.
I guess it’s debatable.
I’ll cut them some slack; they aren’t Final Fantasy nerds like I am.
And I still appreciate the scope of this book.