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The Social Contract

Why do we always end up feeling sorry for John Locke? Does his naivity make him weak? Does his faith simply allow others to take advantage of him and constantly set him back or are things more complicated than that?

His character takes his name from the famous 17th Century English philosopher whose voice was influential in defining the differences of "social contract" vs. "state of nature" ideas. To summarize, Locke seems to hold a basic assumption that all members within a given society naturally agree to the terms of some sort of social contract. Any violation of his assumed contract would signify a problematic attempt to return to the state of nature where he would be unsure of his ability to survive. No matter how strong Locke's beliefs, individuals in his life continually violate the perceived social contract.

Is it fear or wisdom that doesn't allow Locke to deny this philosophy? Although we always see Locke getting burned, isn't there something noble about his ability to subordinate his individual liberty for the general will of the community? What is happening on the island to bring clarity & redemption to the life of John Locke?

In the real world that we live in...What are the pros and cons of living under a "social contract" and living in a "state of nature"? Which best describes your philosophy on life within society?


Blogger Dark Angel said...

OK, so first comment. I think Locke always looks for the best in people which is a noble charachteristic but his downfall is his niavity. Whilst we should all look for the best in people we also need to be aware that not everyone shares our values, not everyone is what they seem and that they may be a predator out to take advantage of the weak.

I really empathise John Lockes position, I am one of lifes optimists and the nicest complement anyone has ever paid me is that I always see the best in people, however I am also a cynic, I work in a job where a balance of empathy and cynacism are essential and I think it is that balance that Locke lacks.

I think Locke is right in a certain sense that Social Contracts are vital to society, that society only operates if certain rules and a certain level of altruism is applied. However what Locke fails to realise that some individuals can gain advantage if they break this social contract. If the percentage is too high society falls apart but there is always room for a small percentage of a given popluation to break the rules, to gain the advantage of both living within the society but by also breaking the rules. It is not by any means something defined to humans and it is a major theme explored by Richard Dawkins in The Blind Watchmaker

Locke's faith in people not only extends to others but also to himself. He needs to feel that his life has some meaning, that it is a quest and that is why he becomes so obseessed with the Hatch and the Numbers and why he falls apart when he thinks they are all a lie, that once again he has been conned and that there is a real possibility that his life is meaningless. To a degree we all need a purpose in life but Locke fails to see his and mistakenly chases a fantasy purpose.

In the real world that we live in...What are the pros and cons of living under a "social contract" and living in a "state of nature"? Which best describes your philosophy on life within society?

Okay so this is a biggie and I could probably write all day on this, however I think as humans we are social animals and as such we live in a complex web of unwritten rules and agreements with hold or society together and allow us to intreract with those around us. The nature of the social contract varies depending on our culture, age and status as well as our locus at work, on the net, with friends, in bed with our lover, on a train with strangers etc. We constantly have to adjust our behaviour depending on our interactions and locus and we can opearte better when we are able to not only adjust our own behaviour but recognise those who either follow different social norms to our own or to step outside the social norms. Sawyer is someone who can clearly step outside of the Social Contract whilst appearing to remain in it, in otherwords he can gain the trust of others and con them by making them believe he is obeying the social norm while steping outside it. They say that there is a sucker born every minute and unfortunately Locke was one of them, his niave belief means he his easy prey for the likes of Sawyer.

Apologies that this post is going on for ever but to get back to the conflict of a "State of Nature" versus "Social Contract" as someone that specialised in Animal Behaviour in my degree I think that a social contract is actually a natural state among all social animals and specifically humans and that the distinction made by the Original John Locke was a false distinction made on the predominant ideas of the time that mankind held a distinct and seperate position in the universe.

OK I could go on all day about this allthough it is easier to discuss in person rather than type, also I am at work and finally I have gone on for far to long already...

10/19/2006 7:02 AM  
Blogger Love Pirate 77 said...

Wow, that's a hard one to follow up. First off I just want to say that I'm sorry I haven't posted in a couple weeks. My parents were visiting for a week, and things have just been kinda crazy around here. I've read all your posts and I think the discussions and the sharing are great.

You summed up a lot of my feelings about the social contract. I think when you choose to live in a society, you choose to abide by certain rules, both written and unwritten. For me, though, I think the social contract extends further than most people. I've grown up around a lot of hatred. Not with myself or my family or friends, but the people at my schools or at work. For me, part of our social contract includes treating everyone with respect, something that many people do not do. There is too much racism, sexism, and prejudice out there, all of which I think violates the social contract. Maybe the two are unrelated, but in my mind they aren't.

As for what makes Locke so trusting and easy to burn, I can easily relate to that. I am an eternal optimist (though it took me years and much suffering to get there). As Kevin Kline said in Silverado "The way I see it, you can go through life thinking everyone's your friend or no one is, doesn't make much difference either way". I certainly approach life and my interactions by acting under the assumption that I can be friends with anyone I meet. I always look for the best in people, though that doesn't mean I don't see the bad. I have been burned in relationships many times, because I've been too trusting. However, I'm not going to change my outlook because of that. I think that the good it has brought me far outweighs the bad. For Locke, however, we have yet to see a time when someone he trusts hasn't let him down. Starting with Helen in his first flashback, he has always been let down, finally extending to the button. However, his trust was redeemed when the button turned out to have a purpose, and just when he felt like all his trust had been in vain, he has been given reason to continue with it.

Wow, so that last bit had nothing to do with social contract or state of nature, unless you count having faith in the social contract to protect you from betrayal. Sorry, I guess I've been rambling. I just want to say that it's good (for me at least) to be back posting on Stories of the Lost, and I've missed being a part of this the last two weeks.


10/19/2006 8:49 AM  
Blogger coley said...

I think the hook with a social contract is assuming the other particpants in one's social group subscribe to the exact same precepts. My idea of communication and the others in my group must match for it to actually intermesh. Locke seems to always be getting the short end of the stick when he finds the other party in his contract is lying, hiding something or just plain NOT playing by the same rules. I can relate to that, having been the "trusting soul" in many friendships, only to be maniuplated and taken advantage of later. The more that happens, the more one moves away from the self that "wants to believe" the self that wants to trust first. It's that childlike faith in the good of human beings, or perhaps truly wanting to be part of a greater community, perhaps that keeps Locke (and I) coming back to try again.

I think that's what he did. He got tired of being let down. He admits when he's wrong, though, and always comes back to the belief. He always comes back to himself, his nature. But now the contract has changed, and he has a new purpose, which he seems to thrive on and embrace.

I think it's in the nature of human beings to assemble a contract, an order, a group hierarchy and follow it, live by it. I think it was Will Rogers who said, sure we need the heroes to be in the parade, but we also need the spectators to cheer them on.

10/19/2006 10:15 AM  
Blogger capcom said...

You all have said a great many fantastic things, of which I agree completely. :-) I see Locke as a totally trusting person, who thinks that everyone else is as honest and forthright as he is, as you have said. Unfortunately, people like that get burned sometimes, but it is difficult to stop that behavior when it is all that you are. Sure you become cynical, but it doesn't last long and there you go trusting again.

In Locke's flashbacks I see a lot of what happened to me working at IBM, and perhaps it is cathartic in a way. IBM is a totally chauvenistic place to work, no matter what the company claims are. Unless you are a double minority (i.e., female and foreign, gay, etc.), a major kiss-*ss, or have 99 college degrees, as a female you are nothing, nada, zip, zilch. For 32 years I trusted and believed that if I just played the game (the IBM Social Contract on the surface) honestly the way they told me to play it, I would get what I deserved for my hard work. To make a long story short, a lot of what happened to Locke happened to me...burn, after burn, after burn. I can totally relate to his confusion and contempt with himself for feeling like his trusting nature is his fault and that nothing good comes of his honest efforts. But you have to look far down the road when things like that happen, and keep ahold of your santity and true nature.

Unfortunately, whatever rules that we play life by, are not necessarily the rules that everyone else plays. And there are as many different Social Contracts to interpret as there are people in the world. It's a Social Contract jungle out there! And all one can really do is live life as honestly as possible and hope and pray for the best. Of course, one should stick up for oneself when dishonest people come around the bend into the picture, but the only way to live a good life is to keep on trying to do that right thing, as Locke tries to do. I like the way TPTB make him dust himself off after every "failure" keep on trying to do what's right, and keep on working towards the higher goal of the moment.

10/19/2006 11:55 AM  
Blogger Twinkle said...

Haven't watched the episode yet or brushed up on John Locke's philosophies. A thought crossed my mind as I was reading your posts. There are people who choose to trust even when they know it could burn them. I'm thinking of the Amish and the story from last week. Instead of reacting to defend themselves or prevent someone shooting up their children again, they forgave and are helping the widow and children of the man who killed theirs. Is that naivite? Some would say so. Somehow people who are able to not grow cynical even though they know it will burn them but they are prepared to make that sacrifice, those who allow someone to take their coat and offer their shirt as well, have an inner strength that I admire and long to possess.

10/19/2006 5:55 PM  
Blogger Een said...

I have to agree with Dark Angel, as another zoology professional, that social contracts ARE the natural state. There are some interesting links between John Locke the Lostie and JL the philosopher, such as:

Philosopher JL said: "Parents wonder why the streams are bitter when they themselves have poisoned the fountains." There have been several times Lostie JL has been shot down, but the defining one is the humiliation and pain from the father-kidney episode.

Philo-JL said "If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly." Aside from the obvious point on he who would not use his legs (like disabled Lostie JL), it is a statement on faith, and we all know Lostie JL is a man of faith.

"Where there is no property, there is no injustice." Lostie JL is a minimalist, basically keeping that which is needed and leaving everything else behind. Also, in "Further Instructions", he is shown working and living essentially in a commune, where property is shared.

Just a few thoughts.

10/19/2006 7:03 PM  
Blogger Twinkle said...

P.S. We've taken away the baby's pacie tonight. She's actually not a baby, 20 months, and there are some strong indications that now is a good time. She's gone to sleep without much trouble but I expect her to wake up a lot the next few nights. Thanks ahead for kind thoughts or prayers for us. We could use them tonight!

10/19/2006 7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In regard to Twinkle's post about the forgiveness and naivity...you are so right. I was told recently that it is a sad world we live in and that these poor Amish people are so DUMB to just turn the other cheek. As it was put to me, they should have abandoned their absurd faith in viewing what the REAL world is like.

I prayed for this man because he obviously needs it. My response is, without social order we get Ana Lucia's mind set on the otherside of the island. Stick them in a whole till we find out how BAD they are. Shut up or I'll shoot you. I would rather be hurt many times (as it has happened) than to not have empathy or pity for others.

If that makes me naive, then so be it. (I was actually told this recently, naive and closed minded because of my faith) I prefer it over cynic (and wishy washy) anyday.

PS...just found this blog today...I like the discussions here. Very thought provoking and insightful.

wv: poatni...was that what John ate in the sweat lodge? :)

10/19/2006 10:55 PM  
Blogger Dark Angel said...

Hi Guys,

Welcome to all the new faces here good to have you on board. Love Pirate good to have you back. I agree with you completely about intolerance and discrimination and general lack of respect - Sounds like that would sum up IBM pretty well Capcom. Are you still with them, or have you escape?

Coley and Een I agree that a social contract is an integral part of the human condition. It is one of the things that allowed us to act as a cohesive group and allowed a bright bipedal homnid to outwit all those big nasty predators.

Twinkle I like your Amish comparison, I think their reactions to the tragic murder is a sign of strength not weakness, any idiot can round up a posse and seak revenge but it take wisdom to see the incident for what it was and to stick with your principals.

Good luck with the pacifier removal, neither of our have ever used one but I know how attached littlies can get to things like that.

Heather's Brain I agree with you that turning the other cheek is not a sign of weakness quite the oposite. To paraphase Isaac Asimov "violence is the last refuge of the incompetent" it's a shame that Mr Bush and Mr Blair have never understood that, but hey it's easier to bomb the poor than deal with real problems (and it sooo good for the economy)

10/20/2006 1:45 AM  
Blogger Twinkle said...

Welcome, Newbies! My DD is doing fine although definitely not happy with the transition. We're praying for a second night where she doesn't wake up crying.

I looked at the links Admin provided in the post and it led me on a search regarding "natural rights." Wiki said this, "Natural rights are universal rights that are seen as inherent in the nature of the world, and not contingent on human actions or beliefs. ... A natural right is one that is claimed to exist even when it is not enforced by the government or society as a whole, while a legal right is a right specifically created by the government or society, for the benefit of its members. The question of which rights are natural and which are legal is an important one in philosophy and politics. Critics of the concept of natural rights argue that all rights are legal rights."

The concept of natural rights was developed only at the time of the enlightenment. Is there evidence for them in ancient cultures? Do natural rights exist? If they do where do they come from? Our culture is very focused on "rights" (natural and legal) and making sure we get the ones due us. What if this concept is largely of our own making?

10/20/2006 7:24 PM  
Blogger Twinkle said...

Ok, so thinking more about this. Where do these feelings come from?
- "I have the right to be happy."
- "I have the right to do what I want." (Another way of wording Locke's "Don't tell me what I can't do.")

I don't have answers that I'm fishing for or anything. Just pondering where we get these ideas. Learning that the idea of inalienable natural rights first was thought up around the time of the enlightenment is making me question why I believe I have rights.

10/21/2006 8:19 AM  
Blogger capcom said...

Twinkle; the awesome words that we live by in America, that give us certain personal rights are:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

A good webpage on the sub is:http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/whatsdem/whatdm3.htm

The website also says: "In their formulation by the Enlightenment philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries, inalienable rights are God-given natural rights. These rights are not destroyed when civil society is created, and neither society nor government can remove or "alienate" them."

As far as historical evidence shows us, these words were pretty original to the world when they were concieved. The plight of mankind before this left them subject to all forms of ownership of their human rights via tribal rule, or local warlords, kingdoms, and empires. Just look at what was done to Galileo. And there were not many human rights under the Roman Empire, for example. Nor does there seem to be in Othertown. And if Locke gets there, and he stays true to character, I don't see him appreciating their uncozy little dictatorship setup at all.

DA, I did escape IBM this year, I finally got fed up. But I have a kind of "survivor guilt" for my friends who are still stuck there. :-( I am also pondering what I learned from the experience, analyzing how to do it better in my next job, and planning to not let the same things happen again. God willing.

10/21/2006 9:46 AM  
Blogger Twinkle said...

I'm an IBM wife. I'm sorry to hear that it was a bad experience for you. Being an IBM *wife* has great rewards and that's why I can stay home with my kids. My husband is friends with several women who work at IBM and hasn't mentioned the injustices but has mentioned that they aren't paid much. I just thought it was the type of jobs they had. He's helping one or two of them who have ideas to actually go through the patent application process.

That's a neat link. Raise your hand if you had to memorize those words in school? Being that they are in the U.S. Declaration of Independence, it could be argued that these rights have been granted as legal rights in the US (and other countries whose constitutions are based on the principles of the enlightenment).

What I wonder is where we got the idea that these rights, particularly the right to pursue happiness was given by God? I haven't found it in the Bible. Am I missing something? And even if we have the right to pursue happiness, how did that get translated into the "right to *be* happy" that so many people operate by today? Don't we have a cultural agreement that when we're unhappy it's better to change what we're doing than stick it out and be unhappy?

And what about if there is no God? Where would these unalienable rights come from then? Do we have certain rights only because our current "social contract" includes them? What happens when that social contract changes due to crisis? Current events illustrate this. The Amish didn't enforce their right to due justice and forgave. Bush and Blair are proactively defending our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness but at the expense of those same rights in others.

I'm not having a crisis of faith and I do believe in social justice and human rights. Don't want to scare anyone. :-) This current post just made me think how valuable it is to look at the idea of rights and the conflicts that result because of differing understandings.

10/21/2006 11:45 AM  
Blogger capcom said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/21/2006 12:47 PM  
Blogger capcom said...

Twinkle, I wish that you could attend one of my Pastor's Monday night classes! He has Masters and PHDs in history, economics, and ministry and is always weaving those three things together in his sermons and classes, in which he lays out the way civilization as we know it got where it is today via the past and the Bible.

We can thank Martin Luther's Reformation for the beginnings of the separation of church and state, and his 95 Theses for also outlining some of the essenses of human rights (i.e., the right of all souls not to be "owned" by the Roman Catholic church that existed at that time).

For example, "#37. Every true Christian, whether living or dead, has part in all the blessings of Christ and the Church; and this is granted him by God, even without letters of pardon." **Sounds like inalienable rights!

Or "#46. Christians are to be taught that unless they have more than they need, they are bound to keep back what is necessary for their own families, and by no means to squander it on pardons." **The right of an individual to pursue one's own well-being for themselves and for their family first and foremost. Also sounds familiar. :-)

Pretty modern and enlightened thinking for those times. I also think that the 10 Commandments are as much an instruction of what we can do (human rights) as it is on what we shouldn't do. That is to say, we have the right to work for and own our possessions without having to worry about our neighbor coveting and stealing them. In telling us that we should not kill, we are also given the right to live out our lives naturally, without someone killing us.

I just moved and wish that I could find my notes from Pastor Mark's classes so I could say it much better than I am...or rather I wish that I had a photographic memory to remember what I heard him say. And sorry that I'm not presenting my thoughts more eloquently, I hope that it makes some sense. :-\

P.S. it is better to be an IBM wife than to work there as a woman...and yes, women do make less than men working the same job in all cases, where I worked. Good for your hubby for helping people out! That's very nice of him!

10/21/2006 1:41 PM  
Blogger kvonhard said...

Something I haven't seen here but think is important about Locke and agreeing to a social contract - his emotional neediness.

First, I don't see him as a trusting person in the way that it seems a lot of people do. Locke has a deep seated urge to belong to a family that he feels he's never had. His search is to be accepted within a family, as opposed to a socio-political social contract. I see his need as an emotional need, as opposed to a need to be encased within a non-anarchic society or to seek order. As such, I believe that he perhaps joins the social contract, but not for the same reasons as the others within the contract. Maybe the answer is that he never seems to understand the purpose of the contract, and therefore enters into it without "mutual assent" to use a legal contract term. According to the legal dictionary at www.west.net, "A contract is an agreement to do or not to do a certain thing. (Cal.Civil Code § 1549) An essential prerequisite to the formation of a contract is an agreement, i.e., mutual assent to the same terms. Consent is not mutual, unless the parties all agree upon the same thing in the same sense. The consent of the parties to a contract must be:
1. Free, 2. Mutual, and 3. communicated by each to the other."

In other words, I saw I'll sell the cow to you, you think it's the white one while I think it's the brown one. Even if there's been money exchanged, there's no contract formed b/c we did not agree at the outset as to which cow.

OK, so, I get that "social contract" is not the same thing as a legal contract signed by parties. However, I think that you can apply this concept to the social contract between parties within a social group. You can only be a member of the group and be part of the agreement if all members agree to the same terms/conditions.

At no time in his dealings with others does Locke ever have clear mutual assent with those in the contract. His purpose is almost inevitably to be a part of a family. With his father, he does not know the full purpose and so cannot be a part of a social "contract". With the pot growing crowd, he again is seeking family but they seek community and a business arrangement. White cow, brown cow. No mutual assent.

The more I think about it, the more I believe that Locke's problem is not trust and naivete, but that he is never fully a participant in the contract. His involvement in the social contract can never be fulfilled b/c he is constantly in violation of the contract by not understanding the basic terms of the individual community.

Again, I realize that the term "social contract" is one of art. However, I think that to be in compliance with a social contract, the terms must be tacitly understood. When one party does not understand the social contract, he/she cannot subscribe to it and is thus in violation. Hence, he is never actually involved in these social contracts but does not realize it. His disappointment is not necessarily the breach of trust by others, but his inability to fully comprehend the social contract into which he tries to enter. Thus, he is always an outsider. The other individuals may be witholding information (such as his father, again, creating a lack of mutual assent) or he may be transferring his needs (the pot growers, again creating a lack of mutual assent). Therefore, he is equally at fault for the disappointments but not because of misplaced trust in others. His disappointment arises out of him being unable to become a full member of an individual society because he does not understand the society due to him being blinded by his own emotional needs.

I also don't view him as a man of "faith", per se. That term to me implies adherence to a strict doctrine. In other words, I would argue that Ecko is a man of faith (or has become one). I see Locke as more of a mystic. A man of faith is one, to me, who has a committed belief to a doctrine. Locke, however, has no doctrine to which he prescribes. He is a jumble of beliefs on a journey. He wants to go on a walkabout. He goes into a sweat lodge. He believes in the need to push the button to give his life meaning. All of these, while potentially if part of a single doctrine, would make him a man of faith. However, they all come from varied doctrinal systems. Eko, on the other hand, subscribes to a single set of doctrinal beliefs consolidated into a single dogma. Although I admit that I think Locke seeks faith, I think he is a man of mysticism as opposed to a man of faith.

These undercurrents make him extremely compelling as a character. I think that once Locke figures out both his belief system and learns that he does not need to seek family from social interactions, he will then be able to fully engage in a social contract and be a man of faith.

10/23/2006 6:25 PM  
Blogger Dark Angel said...

Sorry Guys have been offline for a bit so I'm glad to be back. I must say I find the whole thing about rights very interesting. In the US you obviously have the Bill of Rights, here in the UK it's very different we have no written constitution or bill or rights. There are a lot of assumed rights and certainly a you hear people say "It’s a free country" and "I have the right to do what I want", neither of which are true, there is no right to murder, steal, abuse, smoke or whatever. We are now signatories to the European Bill of Human Rights which is pretty basic (right to live, right to freedom of expression, right to freedom form persecution) which people who have never even read a summary of the bill try to use to justify everything.

Personally I do not believe in inalienable rights as such, in the same way that I don't believe that there are universal morals or some list of what's right or wrong. I believe that rights are a construct of society and culture and stronger for it. I think it is very lazy to say just let 'God, the Universe, or Whatever' define the rules. It is down to us both as individuals and as society to use our intellect and our experience to construct those rules which best enable us to live and create a better life for everyone. I think it is far more important to measure each or our actions carefully rather than just follow a list of commandments to the word, regardless of the situation or outcome for example the rape victims in Iran who get stoned to death for adultery.

There are a couple of very different quotes that I have always liked from two very different sources. The first was Voltaire who said "I have no morals therefore I am a very moral man" and the second is from a song by Nine Inch Nails "My moral standings lying down". For me what it means that I don't subscribe to a list of morals and simply follow the dictats of another but I decide on each action whether it falls in line with what I believe. Now I agree that it sounds like I could be a selfish anarchist but to the contrary I hope that I can constantly improve and update my behaviours in a way that progresses the future of the planet, I mean I'm basically a pacifist and a socialist. One guideline I try to follow is the Wiccan Rede which goes "Ain it harm none do what thou wilt". In other words as long as your actions harm none do what you want. It sounds like freedom to do what you want but it's actually incredibly restrictive in the sense that with every action you have to consider the impact on everyone else (and that doesn't necessarily just include us humans), taken to the extreme that means no driving, certainly no smoking and harm doesn't just mean physical harm it could be social, emotional or economic for example. On the other hand whilst for many sex outside marriage is a great sin for some, for me sex between for example two consenting single adults is great whether purely on a gratification level or due to a deeper loving bond.

Now whilst I understand the need for rules and rights they can cause problems if followed blindly. For example pork is forbidden to Muslims and Jews because they were nomadic people and you can't herd pigs and further more pork goes really bad really quickly in the heat, but people are stubborn so it’s easiest to tell people that it’s Gods Will and they're ok with that. Now there's no reason, what with the modern world not to eat pork but because the reasons for the ban are forgotten and no one is going to question 'the word of God'. It remains wrong to eat pork even if you are starving.

I think that each person needs to decide both among themselves and in conjunction with society what is the correct action, clearly all of us would agree that some things are 'wrong' but take killing. Killing someone to take their possessions is clearly wrong, but what about killing someone who is just about to detonate a bomb killing thousands, or conversely someone dying in excruciating agony. Do we still follow 'Thou Shalt Not Kill' or do we have to make a decision based on the particular circumstances? The same follows with rights. The right to life seems a pretty basic one, but do you loose that right when you kill someone, or when you disagree with the government, or when you loose you're mind or even more controversially with severe natal complications the right of the life of the mother versus the right of the life of the unborn child, if you can only save one who do you save. The mother who has other children dependent on her but has become pregnant knowing the risk or the unborn child who is an innocent and has not yet had a chance to live (I don’t know what the answer is here or even if there is one).

On the Island the Losties are in a new environment with no laws or society just the remnants of their past. They come from different cultures with different senses of what is right and wrong. Is it 'right' to use torture to save someone’s life? Is it right to kill a stranger to save your son? These are all decision that that Losties have had to make and how they answer is clearly going to shape the person they will become. Human nature is very fragile and we never really know how we are going to react given a completely novel environment; look at the war in Bosnia where neighbours murdered each other, or the Rwandan Genocide where there was wholesale slaughter, this wasn't just the army or criminals but there were school teachers, doctors, even Nuns (I kid you not) involved in the genocide.

I think what we saw of Locke was very positive, he could have shot Eddie, gone back and joined his family but he made a choice and realised that it wasn't worth killing to protect his 'family' and that did he really want a family that he had to kill for, to me Locke showed that despite his personality flaws, which I agree stems from a need to be loved, is basically a good guy (of course TPTB will go and completely overthrow this with his next Flashback). Anyway I’ll stop witterning on now….

10/24/2006 3:40 AM  
Blogger capcom said...

I agree DA, I see the fact that Locke didn't (so far as we know) shoot the kid as a very good thing. I was very fearful for a sec that TPTB were going to have him do it, thus proving the hunter-thing and all!

I do not though, think that it is lazy or easy to make the decision to follow the commands/rules of what one may feel is a Higher Being or God. It still requires a very difficult choice to make the decision to live one's life that way *forever* and to the letter, and to follow those dictates of the higher ground consistently, no matter what the world says or how much one is condemned or ridiculed for doing so. The difficulty in doing so, can unfortunately be illustrated in how many wrong things are done by people (who have supposedly made those moral commitments) in the name of their God or in secret, against their religious beliefs.

But DA, the "efforts" of trying to follow say, the 10 Commandments, to the best of one's ability, is no different -- or more lazy -- than your efforts in trying to follow a Wiccan construct. In both cases, a person is attempting to follow an idea of a moral code that they find to be fair, inspiring, or decent. Just because a person follows a set of morals that they believe to be of a Higher Being, it doesn't mean that the person has left it up to someone else to decide what their morals will be. As I said above, it's a lot easier said than done, and to do it right requires a lifetime of effort and struggle against the world and one's own constant weaknesses. And even if it turned out that there was no Higher Being or God of the universe, living a spiritual life can be very rewarding and fulfilling on it's own. (i.e., virtue being its own reward and all that) :-) It also requires much courage and commitment to study and understand why one follows the religious morals that they have chosen, and many people do actually attempt to learn this, and don't just follow the rules blindly (although admittedly, there are also many who do live like that, as you said).

BTW, there are a lot of things that I would *probably* definitely not eat even if I was starving, e.g, maggots, scorpions, grub worms, puppies, etc. :-)

10/24/2006 10:37 AM  
Blogger Dark Angel said...

Hi Capcom, I agree with you that it is not easy following your convictions and I have probably not worded what I was trying to say very well. I am not trying to ay my way is better than anyone else. For me the Wiccan Rede is a good target, a guideline only and it is actually an impossible one to reach if taken literally. No action that you take can harm living thing (including yourself) in anyway.

The point I was trying to make is that whilst moral guidelines and rules are important it is dangerous to follow them blindly regardless of the consequences. Don't get me wrong I am no athiest, quite the oposite. I don not believe however that there is a God given / universal list of what is right or wrong (I know the Bible contradicts this with the Ten Commandments, but then I'm not a Christian. For me and I'm trying here not to sound arrogant or blasphemous hear, I am not going to follow God/Gods purely because he/she/they are all powerful omnipotent immortal superbeings, for me it is a friendship, a loving relationship with someone I respect and care for, anything else is to a degree irrelevant. I am still an individual senient being with sole responsibility for all my actions and for as long as that remains the case, whilst I will use whatever guidance is provided by my fellow (and wiser) humans and whatever direction is provided shall we say elsewhere the actions I take are still my decisions and not based on a set of rules. The flip side of this is I don not believe I have any intrinsic rights. Any rights I have are part of my social contract with my fellow humans, I have the right to live only because the majority of my fellow humans agree with me on that one. But of course I could be completely wrong and be really in the **** when it comes to kick the bucket. Saying that I hope that any God worth following judges individuals on their actions and not on what badge they wear. For me I just strive to be a better and wiser person.

Changing tack completely, I am with you on the eating front. My experince from survival training is that after 24 hours or so your stomach pretty much shuts down and the hunger fades, you just become more and more lethargic. I happt to try maggots and grubs (high in protein) or Scorpion (like Prawn) but would not eat dog. I have always had a very close relaionship with all my dogs and I have always considered that there are unwritten rules that bond man and dog. Vencent is safe at least :P

10/24/2006 3:09 PM  
Blogger kvonhard said...

I'm interested in the idea that religion, inalienable rights, and social contract appear to be mutually exclusive, if I understand the conversations correctly. Religion, in itself, is nothing more than a dogmatic social contract. A written one, if you will. In other words, if a social contract at its basest level is nothing more than a tacit agreement by a community to follow social rules, then religion appears to be a defined social contract. God/gods are merely a means to an end. Personally, the entire of idea of the 10 COmmandments is kind of brilliant. Scare the bejesus out of people into acknowledging that those actions which lead to social anarchy will send you to an eternity of misery. The concept of an anarchic society is a bit esoteric for a majority of people. Running amuck seems ever so much more enjoyable. However, give some kind of painful visual and scare the heck out of people? Oh yeah, you get a society that has some semblance of control.

Also, most judeo-christian religions were nothing more than socio-political rules in the first place. Orthodox judaism, as mentioned earlier, doesn't allow eating pork b/c it made people in ancient times sick easily. So, make it illegal religiously.

Now, once you get a group of people who all agree to subscribe to those morals/interactions, you get an actual religion. A social contract based on a hoax? That's not so hard to believe. But the fact that being religious implies blind faith, eh, I tend to disagree. I think that when you look at the purpose of most religions, they were intended to formalize laws/ethics to which people overall agreed to comply. Hence, a glorious story to go along with the social contract and, what the heck, make money on it to boot via tithing. :-) (NOte: I'm a lapsed Catholic but fairly spiritual in my own way ...)

The idea of inalienable rights... I think that what people forget is that "with great power (rights) comes great responsibility." In other, less attempting to be funny, words, inalienable rights do exist. I, being independent and perhaps a bit nasty, refuse to believe that I should only be allowed to live so long as the society in which I live thinks it's a good idea. I doubt I'd have made it out of high school if that were the case! (Highly unpopular kid, I was) Freedom/liberty are also, I think, inalienable rights to the extent that as long as you're not specifically targeting harm on others then you should be able to think/do/say/believe whatever you want. As to the comments above regarding the whole killing one to save thousands, neglects to note that by actively harming others you have violated your responsibilities to others. In violating that, you can lose your rights. Maybe it's less that they're inalienable but that they're inherent to and in all of us. Now, the minute you disrespect those rights, you make a choice to forfeit those rights. I'm hoping I'm being clear. I guess what I'm getting at is sort of the same idea that we're neither born good nor evil, but that we have the choice to be one or the other. I think we're born with the rights and whether we choose to act in a way that causes us to forfeit them is another story entirely.

10/24/2006 3:38 PM  
Blogger kvonhard said...

As an aside, I suspect that I have eaten dog at some point. Given that I've ordered take-out Chinese food in the US. ;-)

10/24/2006 3:38 PM  
Blogger Twinkle said...

Man, so many comments and I've got to go! I'll catch up tomorrow so check back and don't leave me hanging! :-D I always seem to post right before we get a new thread...And tomorrow *is* Wednesday...of course, I'm not complaining!

Hasta manana! (Anybody know how to make an "enyay"?)

10/24/2006 7:30 PM  
Blogger Dark Angel said...

Good arguments Kvonhard and I think there is a degree of crossover between religion and social contract but they are not the necessarily the same, for me my beliefs are the result of a journey of discovery rather that of dogma handed down.

Whilst I agree completely that for example everyone has a right to life I believe that this is as a consequence of a social contract. If we have inalienable rights, where do they come from? whom/what decided. If they are dictats from GOD then I could accept OK, theses rights are decreed but I do not think that is the case, nor do I think they are some universal law, like gravity or entropy when we have only been around for the blink of an eye. To me rights are a construct of our society and culture, they are no less important as such but without society it's very hard to argue your rights.

I also think the tie between rights and responsibility is interesting but I do not agree with the argument that if you kill someone you loose the right to live and should be executed. I still don't understand how a country like the US which is basically Christian can have the death penalty which is in complete contradiction of the Ten Commandments. In my ideal little world in my head the ideal way to take out the bomber would be with a tranquilizer dart but I know this is completely unrealistic.
To a degree I think there is a very strong link between rights and responsibilities, it's like the people that don't vote and then bitch about the fact that Bush or Blair got re-elected. In the book Starship Troopers (Not the film) in order to get the rights of a citizen you have to take on the responsibilities and work for the state. The set up is a bit facisit for my likes but it does bring up an important point. However if the right to life is an inalienable right then surely none of us can remove that right, kill another.

For me I believe that life should be preserved but it dosen't mean I am right and there are a lot of grey areas. In the UK there have been a few high profile cases of severly ill and disabled babies in constant pain being kept artificially alive which end up with legal battles between the hospital who want to turn of the life support and the parents who do not- who is right? And what if some one abducted my children and abused and murdered them, what would I do if I caught them. I should hand them to the law but would my morals stand up or would I beat hell out of them?

It's a very difficult topic and all our views are of course moderated by our beliefs, experience and culture. I must say though I am really enjoying the depth of conversation here and the intelligence and wisdom of all you guys.

Good point about the Chinese food, I had a few friends who lived in Hong Kong and they always had to keep their dogs and cats indoors during Chinese New Year as pets had a tendency to go missing.....

10/25/2006 1:28 AM  
Blogger capcom said...

I also certainly enjoy discussing these things with you all as well! In this day-and-age, people do not participate in deep intellectual discourse as much as people did in the past, up to about the middle of the 20th century. I always wished that I could have been able to sit in the sidewalk cafes with the turn-of-the-century artists and writers who sat all day discussing opinions and current events. (like with Hemmingway, Fitzgerald, and Stein, et.al. in Paris) And this blog is just about as close to that as one can get....without the espresso and absynth, that is. :-)

It's good that the Admins gave us a place to do this, otherwise it would be more dificult to stay on-topic on the TLC blog, for sure. All the concepts and events that are purposely put into the Lost show by TPTB are just begging to be discussed and dissected, which is I think TPTB intent, from what they've expressed.

10/25/2006 8:32 AM  
Blogger Dark Angel said...

I agree, I do have some pretty deep conversations with my wife which is cool and I have some good discussions with my closest friend but he is an ardent athiest so we tend to avoid religion if we had more than a few beers.

I try to have a simple rule though that I avoid mixing alcohol and discussions on religion and or polictics :)

Mind you weren't all those turn of the century artists and poets all drinking Absinthe!

10/25/2006 8:41 AM  
Blogger kvonhard said...

Sooo ... First, I'd like to note that I was specifically steering away from the death penalty idea. ;-) I said that I think freedom/liberty are inherent rights that we forfeit by harming others. :-)

To a certain extent, maybe it depends on which you think comes first. You can't have a social contract without a community. So ... then, how many people constitute a community? Do you still have these rights if you live outside of a community? In other words, when cavemen (and women!) lived separated or before they congregated did they not have these rights? What about hermits, do they not have these rights? So ... if you choose not to live in a society, do you not have the right to liberty, property, etc.? Hmmmm ... I don't even know my answer to that. :-)

I really enjoy Stories as much, if not a bit more, than the regular page. I enjoy the mysteries, don't get me wrong. More, though, I love the esoteric side of the episodes.

Tee hee, we're the TV version of The Algonquin. :-D Apologies if I'm confusing today. Ideas don't seem to be sticking in my head long enough to write.

10/25/2006 12:05 PM  
Blogger Twinkle said...

Well, this isn't going to happen today. I'll just carry my comments over if I have to. I miss having time to read ya'll provacative discussion! As for my daughter, her transition to sleeping without a pacifier has gone well. She's sleeping less than before during the day which means I have no blog time, but other than that she's starting to be able to go to sleep without it and without one of us laying down with her. Still, now she's cutting teeth so sleep is hit or miss.

The worse always comes out in me when I'm sleep deprived. That is the true test of whether we can follow what we believe, whether or not we can follow when we feel our world falling apart and have little control over ourselves. That's what losing sleep does to me. I'm so grateful for the experience of falling apart when both of my babies weren't sleeping through the night. Thoughts and actions came out of me that I didn't know I was capable of when I was sleep deprived. Sooo grateful for that insight into myself. The transition this week hasn't been nearly so bad.

10/25/2006 3:25 PM  
Blogger capcom said...

DarkAngel, I too avoid discussing things of serious nature while tippling, as it tends to make me too stupid to discuss anything! Now give me a couple espressos, and I'll babble on forever.

Kvonhard, I enjoy any TV shows with an esoteric aspect as well, probably most of what I am interested in TV-wise has that feature about it.

Twinkle, I find that my temperment has been terrible when I have chronic pain for extended periods. The cancer treament I went thru about 2 years ago is still putting me through a lot of long term side-affects, and it makes me very crabby when I am experiencing that. I feel sorry for anyone around me, I just want to be alone. :-p Maybe I should take up using a pacifier! See y'all in the next post!

10/25/2006 4:50 PM  
Blogger coley said...

Thank you kvonhard for pointing out the emotional neediness of Locke. Perhaps it is that that causes him to throw caution to the wind, or ignore the "red flags" that we all see screaming at us to run away, far away from a given situation. For example, he felt a sense of family and belonging at the compound there, and while he might not have agreed with what they were growing, perhaphs he felt so special just to be included. I know that feeling. Sometimes people are willing to overlook things they might not agree with just to feel that "I'm included in this circle" feeling.

However, it never lasts, that feeling with that group. Eventually the group breaks down, or the person realizes the whole thing isn't what they thought it was and becomes disillusioned.

I think everyone is needy on some level. We all learn about ourselves at different times, at different rates. I personally have learned a lot about myself, my strengths and accomplishments that has helped me step away from a needier motivation into relationships that I believe are more mature and evolved.

We are all works in progress.

Thanks again for that viewpoint from another angle on this issue. That's why I love the conversations on here so much!!

10/26/2006 6:21 AM  

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