Who Is Jeremy Bentham?

On last night’s excellent season finale of Lost, an unseen and previously unnamed character named Jeremy Bentham haunts the Oceanic Six and urges them to return to the island. It’s this same Jeremy Bentham who is in the casket that Jack visited in the finale of season 3. The final reveal of this season, of course, is that Jeremy Bentham is a pseudonym taken by an all-too-well known figure on the show. But Jeremy Bentham was actually a real person in the real world of real life.

He was a philosopher and social reformer who was influenced by John Locke. His life’s work centered on a political code of Utilitarianism, the founding principle of which was that the best laws are those which create the most happiness for the most people. There’s lots of stuff on his wikipedia page, including this quote:

Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. They govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think…

So pain is Jacob and pleasure is not being in a wheelchair. It is all starting to make sense. Also, in accordance with his will, Bentham’s body remains displayed in a “wooden cabinet” at University College London. SOUND FAMILIAR?

Bentham’s “Auto-Icon” has a wax head, though, because his head was too badly damaged for preservation. WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO LOCKE’S HEAD?

Another theory behind the name’s significance is that Bentham proposed a concept that would eventually become Foucault’s Panopticon, which is a prison in which prisoners can never tell whether or not they are being surveilled. They operate is if they are, thereby imposing their own mental imprisonment. Which is interesting, but still doesn’t explain why the island has a pirate ship steering wheel in the cave basement behind the magic microwave.