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Lost in Political Philosophy Essay

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Updated: May 27th, 2020


The TV drama Lost has six episodes. The drama is about the survivors of a plane crash on the south of Pacific Ocean who were flying between New Jersey and Los Angeles. The movie illustrates two episodes namely: primary story, as it happened on the island, and the secondary story, as described from another perspective of characters’ lives. The story is full of mysteries and cruelty that inspire passionate love and frustration at the same time. The scenario of the movie is about a plane crash into an ocean. Several passengers and particularly those with dark and intrigue past survive the plane crash; it unites them into forming a functional civilization and to further craft their way into escaping. Their efforts are thwarted by the inhabitants of the island who bedevil them. This essay critically analyses the Lost in the light of philosophical theories.

Overview of Lost

The passionate frustration in the movie happens in the middle of the movie where the viewers are clouded by uncertainty; they are neither sure of what lies ahead nor they are precisely aware of the past, which makes them unable to comprehend the real meaning of what is happening. It is this search for a meaning that puzzles the viewers and the characters. The conspicuous element of the show is its reliance and heavy latent with political and philosophical references. This is evidenced in naming of the movie’s characters and profiling of the episodes which serve as an encouragement to the viewers to appreciate the philosophical themes in it.

The movie brings out what is termed as guilty pleasure. It is the story of ancient political thoughts and theory. In the movie, the survivors of the plane crash are abandoned in a location that is far away form the human beings, but they demonstrate the struggle to survive by solving their mysteries and fighting with the sinister forces that inhabit the island. The show features casters who are named after classical political theorists; some of these names are John Locke, David Hume and Jack Rousseau. Another suspended philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, comes out, and he is convinced that humans can be cruel and nasty when they are left on their own, and they may indeed find a reason to murder and maim each other.

In the works of Thomas Hobbes titled the Leviathan, there are two main types of bodies namely the commonwealth and the natural body and of which all are made up of agreement of men. According to Hobbes, the nature of men is made up of three main principles all of which cause quarrel, these are: competition, diffidence, and glory. Competition involves men engaging in invasions because of their desire to gain. Men seek diffidence in order to achieve safety, and people seek glory for reputation.

Thomas Hobbes and the Drama “Lost”

The drama series Lost is directly related to the philosophical works of Thomas Hobbes in the sense that after the plane crash, the travelers come directly in contact with the inhabitants of the island. At the course of their interaction, competition ensures between the two groups. The inhabitants earlier threw each other into water and pits while scrambling for the limited medical suppliers but upon the arrival of the external enemy, who are the travelers, they abandon their fight against each other, and instead they unite against the common enemy due to their desire to protect themselves as a team. Hobbes described the situation as war of all against all and one’s survival depends on the side with which he/she chooses to fight on or team up with and the individual’s ability to take advantage of another person.

According to Hobbes, every encounter in life is a new threat, and it is upon the individual to choose between cooperation and resistance. With the reality that there may not be a higher authority for recourse or to seek redress, fear drives individuals and hence making them opt for resistance (Michaels 1). Hobbes argued that when a central power does not exist to restrict the activities of men, war becomes an inevitable option which draws man against man and consequently, the absence of common power is an indication that there is no law and hence no injustice. In the island, there was no government or any central authority to regulate the activities of men, this called for protection due to the fear of competition from the external enemy.

This made war to be inevitable. This is reflected in the second and the third episodes when the survivors are drawn into a conflict with the others or rather the tail section survivors and the inhabitants of the island. After the crash, survivors learn more about the inhabitants and the history of the island, Desmond and another individual from the inhabitants defect to the side of the survivors, this culminates into full-blown war between the survivors and the others. This war is largely due to the absence of central authority in the island to regulate the behavior of men (Doherty 1).

According to Thomas Hobbes, the natural state of man or the absence of civil government results in war. This was evidenced in the island between the survivors and the inhabitants as reflected in this quote:

To this war of every man against every man, this also in consequent; that nothing can be unjust. The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice have there no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law, where there is no law, there is no injustice. Forces, and fraud, are in war the cardinal virtues. (Hobbes 154)

The characters stick hard to their inherent qualities so as to enable them to survive and also due to the fact that there was no alternative to survival. The survivors and the inhabitants did not get along well leading to fierce fight. The groups only depended on one another due to absolute desperation. The two groups were in constant competition for honor and dignity, and this bred hatred and escalated into war. The agreement between the survivors and the inhabitants was due to the fact that they were bound by natural law and they were natural in form. In a civilized society men are jointly held together by covenants. Hobbes argued that the only way of defending themselves was by getting united.

Presence of central authority was considered the perfect source of building a unified front against an enemy. This can only be realized if the citizens surrender, their will and their voices to one person or assembly of persons. The explanation of fear according to Hobbes was captured in the drama. There was always a fear of death by the survivors. If the island was to be a better place, then it could only be so through a central authority to drive away the fear (Hobbes 154).

John Stuart Mill and the drama “Lost”

The introduction of the philosopher Mikhail Bakunin in the TV drama is aimed at regulating the philosophy of Karl Max. According to the drama, Bakunin was portrayed as an uncanny person who could maneuver his own way out of injuries and brutal treatment. Bakunin was a firm believer in social anarchism. Bakunin exhibited a desire to involve in rivalry with Karl Marx about the assumption of the new state or the existing state.

On liberty, as applied by John Stuart Mill, there is a degree or an extent of power that a society or a community can exercise over an individual. According to Mill, bestowing of power on one individual was considered brave and dangerous, since he/she might use it more against their subjects and less against their external enemies. In the otherwise, it was necessary for a community or a society to define the limits of power that a leader can hold; this limitation is what is referred as liberty. Jack Shepherd was synonymous with J.S Mill and was considered as a man of science. He was used as an epitome of liberty and normalcy in the island.

Jack was more concerned about the human interaction contrary to dwelling in the past. Jack came out as a morally upright and a believer in utilitarianism. Jack acted the way the situation dictated it. The fact that Jack murdered Sawyer is due to the fact that he did not believe himself to be a good and honest man. Jack was an epitome of what Mill described as a social tyranny which he termed as more serious than political oppression. This was due to the fact that the island society lacked necessary instruments of protection against tyranny of opinion, and the society should have had ways of imposing sanctions against opinions and actions of social tyrannies like Sawyer and Jack.

The actions of the character Jack Shepherd confirmed a fundamental principle by J.S Mill that human beings are entirely entitled to govern themselves and to completely govern their dealings with other individuals through compulsion and control. This can be achieved through the use of force or imposition of penalties or by moral coercion of public opinion. Jack opted for use of physical force against Sawyer, who was sanctioned by the community.

The war that broke out between the two groups conformed with the principle that “the sole end for which mankind is warranted individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their members, is self-protection” (Mill 194), and it was considered as the only way through which the individuals could exercise power, and the island war was inevitable in a world where liberties are held high (Mill 186).


The TV drama is heavily latent with philosophical themes. This is demonstrated by the names of contemporary classical political thinkers who are represented by various characters in the drama and also titles of the episodes. This is aimed at enabling the viewers to appreciate both the setting and the plot of the drama and its philosophical content.

Works Cited

Doherty, Brian. “.” Reason Archives, 2008. Web.

Hobbes, Thomas. “Hobess. 1651. Web.

Michaels, Seth. “The Hobbesian charms of lost.” The Guardian. 2007. Print.

Mill, Stuart. “On Liberty.” 1859. 2011. Web.

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1. IvyPanda. "Lost in Political Philosophy." May 27, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/lost-in-political-philosophy/.


IvyPanda. "Lost in Political Philosophy." May 27, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/lost-in-political-philosophy/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Lost in Political Philosophy." May 27, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/lost-in-political-philosophy/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Lost in Political Philosophy'. 27 May.

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