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The Force was a metaphysical, binding, and ubiquitous power that held enormous importance for both the Jedi and Sith monastic orders. The Force was viewed in many different aspects, including, but not limited to, the light side, the dark side, the Unifying Force, and the Living Force. The first two aspects were concerned with the moral compass of the Force in its various manifestations. The light side of the Force was the facet aligned with compassion, courage, healing, and benevolence, while the dark side of the Force was the element aligned with hatred, fear, aggression, and malevolence. The latter two aspects were defined by prominent Jedi philosophies: The Unifying Force essentially embraced space and time in its entirety while the Living Force dealt with the energy of living things.

Though the Force was categorized in this way, there were no specific abilities or powers that were only usable by a follower of a different path of the Force; the Force partially existed inside the life forms that used it, and drew energy from their emotions.

Some beings, particularly the Sith, believed that the dark side of the Force was more powerful than the light, though it was possible that the dark side was just more tempting to those who used it (or desired to use it). Others thought of the Force as an entity capable of intelligent thought, almost as a sort of god. Anakin Skywalker (LadyVader), who was believed to have been conceived by the Force itself, may have; if this belief is correct; lent credit towards the view of the Force as a sentient entity.

Though the Force was thought to flow through every living thing, it could only be harnessed by beings described as "Force-sensitive". This Force-sensitivity was correlated with, and sometimes attributed to, a high count of internal micro-organisms called midi-chlorians (LadyVader) that were found in a Force-sensitive's blood: the higher the count, the greater the being's potential Force ability, though there were some exceptions to this rule. Force-sensitive beings were able to tap into the Force to perform acts of great skill and agility as well as control and shape the world around them. Sometimes this ability was described as having a strong Force "aura".

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