By Bill Keveney, USA TODAY
Lost pays homage to history's greatest thinkers by naming characters after philosophers who mused on man, nature and society, themes central to the ABC drama (tonight, 10 ET/PT). USA TODAY dissects the parallels and contrasts of the twosomes, starting with their Lost names (and relying on a bit of a stretch in some cases):
Character: A frustrated office worker (Terry O'Quinn) in a wheelchair transformed to a vital, ambulatory explorer on the island.
•In the episode "Man of Science, Man of Faith," Locke represents faith. Feels a spiritual bond with the mysterious island.
•Episode title with Locke flashback: "Tabula Rasa."
Philosopher: John Locke (1632-1704), English philosopher of the Enlightenment Era.
•Differs from Lost's Locke by favoring reason in the search for truth and championing science.
•Believed the mind starts as tabula rasa, or blank slate, and learns through experience.
Expert comment: The philosopher saw humans starting in a state of nature — the crash survivors — and moving toward some kind of social contract, as the people on the beach have, says David Thomer, who teaches philosophy at La Salle University. His belief that action is based on experiences fits in with Lost's signature flashbacks: "What the creators are doing here is trying to show you the particular experiences that are motivating the characters."
Character: Island survivor (Mira Furlan) from an earlier, ill-fated expedition.
•After living alone on the island for years, Rousseau is intensely suspicious of all, including the Lostaways.
•She often seems unhinged, possibly a result of living in the wild so long.
Philosopher: Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-78), French philosopher, born in Switzerland.
•Rousseau grew paranoid later in life and had a famed falling-out with philosopher colleague David Hume.
•In his later writings, Rousseau sees society as beneficial, allowing people to work together andproviding security.
Expert comment:"The Rousseau character has been stuck in a state of nature for so long … she might have gone mad at some point," Thomer says. "You could read that as a warning about what the state of nature can do and how destructive it can be."
Character: The shopkeeper (Fionnula Flanagan) in Desmond's time-twisting flashback.
•In the flashback, Ms. Hawking tells Desmond he can't change the past and propose to Penny.
Philosopher: Stephen Hawking (1942-), English theoretical physicist.
•Hawking, author of A Brief History of Time (a book seen in the Feb. 7 episode), has discussed the concept of wormholes, which could potentially allow travel through time and space.
Expert comment: Desmond's effort is futile. Hume argued that "there is a definite structure to the way things are supposed to go. So Desmond isn't able to use his knowledge" to change events completely, Thomer says. According to Joley Wood, author of Living Lost and a Lost blogger at powells.com, "Desmond knows Charlie is going to die. He can save Charlie when he can, but he can't stop it," he says.
Character: Locke's father (Kevin Tighe), a con man with a violent streak.
•Cooper and Locke are estranged. Locke's obsession with his father destroys a budding relationship with a woman.
•Locke donates a kidney to his ailing father (though later, his father tries to kill Locke).
Philosopher: Anthony Cooper (1671-1713), English philosopher and Third Earl of Shaftesbury.
•Cooper and Locke were not related but had close ties. Locke was in charge of overseeing Cooper's education and his wedding.
•Locke supervised the medical treatment of Cooper's grandfather, the First Earl of Shaftesbury, who suffered from a liver infection.
Expert comment: The philosopher believed the individual had conflicting appetites that had to be brought into harmony, Wood says. "The Cooper of Lost is almost the opposite of everything the philosopher was. The Earl of Shaftesbury worked toward social harmony; the Cooper of Lost foments social discord by manipulating others' appetites for his benefit."
Character: Juliet's ex-husband (Zeljko Ivanek) and head of the Florida medical research lab where she works.
•Enjoys his authority as the boss.
•Dies after being hit by a bus.
Philosopher: Edmund Burke (1730-97), Irish political writer whose work delved into philosophy.
•Believed in preserving hierarchy within social order. Considered father of modern conservatism.
•Died of natural causes.
Expert comment: "One thing I got out of Edmund Burke on Lost was that he liked operating within a very hierarchical structure. He had a position of authority that entitled him to certain things," Thomer says.
Character: Russian (Andrew Divoff) lived alone on the Flame station, one of the Dharma Initiative sites, alternately claiming and denying a connection to Dharma. Later, apparently dies when Locke pushes him into a trespasser security system.
•Lived in isolation, outside of societal strictures.
•Shot Ms. Klugh (April Grace), an authority figure of The Others.
Philosopher: Mikhail Bakunin (1814-76), Russian philosopher and advocate of anarchism.
•Deeply mistrusted centralized governments and their leaders.
Expert comment: The character Bakunin "lived out on his own, away from the centralized system of Other-ville, where Ben seems to run the show," Wood says. When he shot Ms. Klugh, "the image we're left with is Bakunin killing his leader. Which is strictly, in and of itself, a rather anarchic image."
Desmond David Hume
Character: He's the man in the hatch who turned the fail-safe key that saved the island (Henry Ian Cusick).
•In the flashback, a first-of-its-kind for Lost, Desmond in the past appears to have knowledge of the future and attempts to change earlier actions, such as ending his relationship with true love Penny. He also has precognition, using that knowledge to try to save Charlie.
Philosopher: David Hume (1711-76), Scottish philosopher.
•Hume examined the conflict of free will vs. determinism; this relates to Desmond's attempts to alter the past to influence the future.
"No hay manera de escapar a la filosofía […] Quien rechaza la filosofía profesa también una filosofía pero sin ser consciente de ella." Karl Jaspers, filósofo y psiquiatra. "There is no escape from philosophy. Anyone who rejects philosophy is himself unconsciously practising a philosophy." [Karl Jaspers, Way to Wisdom 12 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1951)]