I have a theory about LOST, one that I think will make sense of the focus on mirror opposites, of opposing forces of light and dark, good and evil. I think it also makes sense of the video clip with the rabbit at the Dharma station known as “The Orchid”. If my theory is correct, then LOST is certainly one of the most philosophically interesting shows around, and perhaps ever.
One view of the universe that some physicists find persuasive is that there are an infinite number of “universes”, and we happen to inhabit a universe in which life is possible (or perhaps even inevitable). The island on LOST may be a place where two universes have come into contact. It is possible to bring the “parallel” universe’s rabbit, for instance, into our own. These universes are similar, but not identical. Perhaps there is contact between more than one universe at this point. In the universe from which Naomi came, maybe the people on the Oceanic flight really didn’t survive. Maybe in that universe (as in the original plan in our universe) Jack didn’t survive, and so for that reason no one did.
This leads us to a question that physicists have not explored about the multiverse theory, and neither have moral philosophers to my knowledge. What is the moral status of our existence in a universe in which every possibility is realized somewhere? Presumably no matter how good or evil a person may be in a given universe, in a universe in which every configuration and every possibility is manifested, a precise moral opposite of that person will exist somewhere. This raises a profound question about the nature of good and evil. Is there anyone who could be good in every iteration of themselves? What would it take to achieve that? If the heroic Jack of the island is “rescued” and taken into a parallel universe in which the pressures and circumstances Jack faced there are very different, could he still be the same person in terms of his way of life and fundamental values? If so, or if not, what does this say about the intriguing moral questions raised by this particular cosmology?
The question that LOST poses about fate and coincidence doesn’t go away just because one believes the multiverse theory. Either we must ask whether the existence of one universe that has given rise to us is fate or coincidence, or we must ask whether it is fate or coincidence that we inhabit the universe we do.
At any rate, if my theory about the view of the world they are exploring in the show LOST is a correct view of the universe we actually inhabit, then I can at least take comfort in the fact that my theory is correct somewhere in the multiverse, even though it may not be in the one this iteration of my existence inhabits…