Monday, June 30, 2008

Re-watch: Tabula Rasa


This, the third episode of season 1, really doesn't have much island-important material in it, at least to my eyes. The main "mystery" it deals with is Kate's background, and the fate of the marshal on the island. Sawyer attempts to kill him with the only remaining bullet in his gun, but somehow misses his heart, leaving Jack to clean up the mass and presumably euthanize the marshal.

The one exchange that seems to me somehow to speak to the nature of the island and the deeper questions of Lost is Jack's line to Kate: "Three days ago we all died. We should all be able to start over." Except they didn't really die. Did they? Unless you buy the "purgatory" idea for the show (which has been shot down again and again by tptb). To the outside world they died three days ago. And maybe, maybe, in some alternate timeline of a weird plot twist another version of 815 crashed into the Sunda Trench three days earlier. But all that stuff we won't know anything about until the last season of Lost imo.

Also, the name of the ep "Tabula Rasa" hints at a connection with the philosopher John Locke (yeah, name does sound familiar...):

Tabula rasa (Latin: blank slate) refers to the epistemological thesis that individual human beings are born with no innate or built-in mental content, in a word, "blank", and that their entire resource of knowledge is built up gradually from their experiences and sensory perceptions of the outside world.

Generally proponents of the tabula rasa thesis favor the "nurture" side of the nature versus nurture debate, when it comes to aspects of one's personality, social and emotional behavior, and intelligence.

And here's the reference to John Locke:

In fact, our modern idea of the theory is mostly attributed to John Locke's expression of the idea in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding in the 17th century. In Locke's philosophy, tabula rasa was the theory that the (human) mind is at birth a "blank slate" without rules for processing data, and that data is added and rules for processing are formed solely by one's sensory experiences. The notion is central to Lockean empiricism. As understood by Locke, tabula rasa meant that the mind of the individual was born "blank", and it also emphasized the individual's freedom to author his or her own soul. Each individual was free to define the content of his or her character - but his or her basic identity as a member of the human species cannot be so altered. It is from this presumption of a free, self-authored mind combined with an immutable human nature that the Lockean doctrine of "natural" rights derives.

And if you want to compare and contrast John Locke and, say, Jeremy Bentham:

Bentham's attack on Blackstone targeted more than the latter's use of tradition however. Against Blackstone and a number of earlier thinkers (including Locke), Bentham repudiated many of the concepts underlying their political philosophies, such as natural right, state of nature, and "social contract." Bentham then attempted to outline positive alternatives to the preceding "traditionalisms." Not only did he work to reform and restructure existing institutions, but he promoted broader suffrage and self (i.e., representative) government.

Just more things that make you go "hmmm". And make you think that the writers of Lost use Google a lot.

Screencaps thanks to Lostpedia and lost-media.

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