Reader Adam sent me this great post about Desmond's faith and purpose. (Who's Desmond?) The post talks about Desmond's transformation from a drifter-through-life into a purposeful, world-saving hero -- even if only in his own mind.
What made Desmond worthy of admiration was, exactly, that he did not know for sure he could predict the future. He took it on faith that he could, and then proceeded to live his entire life based on this single, faith based, assumption. He put his money where his mouth was.
Desmond took a leap towards faith, not a leap of faith. He didn't have faith to leap with. He went towards it, picked it. He didn't know the button needed pushing, and so, like a soldier, took responsibility to push it. He took on faith that the button needed pushing and then furthermore decided it was his responsibility to push it, defying logic and sanity and evidence and, well, everyone else. The action wasn't just heroic; it was heroic and defining.
He decided that he was going to give his life meaning, importance, even if it was the most insane, solitary, depressing meaning available; and at the great risk that he could be wrong, a life wasted.
An interesting exploration of faith.
If the writers of Lost intended this exploration, then they named the character Desmond David Hume with a heavy sense of irony. Desmond's philosopher-namesake practically defined empiricism and skepticism in opposition to faith.
Hume believed that all human knowledge comes to us through our senses, a school of philosophy that came to be known as "Empiricism" (derived from the Greek "empeiria", which became later the Latin noun "experientia", in English, "experience"). Our perceptions, as he called them, can be divided into two categories: ideas and impressions. He defined these terms thus in his An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding: "By the term impression, then, I mean all our more lively perceptions, when we hear, or see, or feel, or love, or hate, or desire, or will. And impressions are distinguished from ideas, which are the less lively perceptions, of which we are conscious, when we reflect on any of those sensations or movements above mentioned." He further specifies ideas, saying, "It seems a proposition, which will not admit of much dispute, that all our ideas are nothing but copies of our impressions, or, in other words, that it is impossible for us to think of anything, which we have not antecedently felt, either by our external or internal senses." That formed an important aspect of Hume's skepticism, for he said that we cannot believe that a certain thing, such as God, a soul, or a self, exists unless we can point to the impression from which the idea of the thing is derived. The Enquiry concerning Human Understanding concluded with a statement of what has become to be known as Hume's Fork. "When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what havoc must we make? If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion."
Hume's ideas are interesting, but problematic in that they tend to deny the existence of things like cause and effect relationships, the validity of induction and deduction, and reason.