Eastern State Penitentiary is the sixth episode of Season 2 of Ghost Adventures. The Ghost Adventures Crew goes to Philadelphia to investigate the abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary. Driven insane by solitary confinement, torture and disease, the inmates suffered an ugly and violent existence. Their angry spirits continue to roam the corridors.
Watching the above “Ghost Adventures” T.V. episode about the ghostly spirits still within the old Eastern State Penitentiary, is totally heart-breaking. The Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia was built in 1829, it’s over 180 years old and as a maximum security prison it housed about 75,000 inmates.
How can society ever allow thousands of fellow human beings to be treated so barbarically? Whatever happened to the Enlightenment that was allegedly born in Philadelphia in 1776?
Islamic Philosophy and the Enlightenment
The political and social ideas that caused the American colonists to revolt against the British Empire were formulated in a movement known as the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was an intellectual movement that argued that science and reason should be the basis of human society, not blind following of monarchs and church authority. On July 4th, 1776, in Philadelphia, the American revolutionaries signed the Declaration of Independence, a document written by Thomas Jefferson and heavily influenced by the Enlightenment, which made official their break from Great Britain and the establishment of the United States of America.
The Enlightenment was driven by a group of European philosophers and scientists who were going against the prevailing ideas of governance in Europe at the time. Among these thinkers were people such as John Locke, René Descartes, Isaac Newton and Montesquieu.
Apparently, the idea of prisoner solitary confinement (as a form of punishment) was born thanks to the crazy, quack “Quaker Society”. It was the Quakers who believed that isolation would help prisoners to find God, and so they endorsed the idea of solitary confinement as a social experiment in dealing with all criminals in society. But how horrific it is that they ever allowed such a barbaric practice of prisoner torture in the name of God? Is it any wonder then that the Eastern State Penitentiary is hunted by ghostly spirits? All prisoners (even famous criminals like Al Capone) were to be kept in solitary confinement and routinely tortured (much like how Gitmo prisoners are treated today). Many prisoners, such as petty criminals for the crime of robbery, chose to commit suicide rather than continue to live such a torturous prison life. A society that endorses such a form of punishment is one that totally lacks moral, or spiritual understanding. Whoever these so-called religious “Quakers” are, they have a lot to answer for! By endorsing the barbaric cruel prison system of solitary confinement (which still exists in prisons today), they need to now repent and atone for the damage they have done to society. Because if they don’t, perhaps in the hereafter they will be made to suffer the same injustices they have inflicted on others. Doesn’t the Bible teach to treat others the way we would wish to be treated ourselves? Perhaps the Quakers have been confused by the Christian concept of ‘Original Sin’, which tends to label humans as essentially being born with ‘evil’. However, the Islamic teaching is that all humans are born innocent (as Muslims – in a total state of submission to Allah) and it is only society, or parents that corrupts that innocent child:
John Locke, an Englishman who lived from 1632 to 1704, promoted some of the most influential ideas of the Enlightenment. He pioneered the idea that humans are naturally good, and are corrupted by society or government to becoming deviant. Locke described this idea in his An Essay Concerning Human Understanding as the tabula rasa, a Latin phrase meaning blank slate. The idea was not original to him, however. In fact, Locke directly took the idea from a Muslim philosopher from the 1100s, Ibn Tufail. In Ibn Tufail’s book, Hayy ibn Yaqdhan, he describes an identical idea about how humans act as a blank slate, absorbing experiences and information from their surroundings.
The same idea manifests itself in the life of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). He stated that “No child is born except on the fitra.” Fitra here can be defined as the natural, pure state of a person. According to Islamic thought, all humans are born in a natural state of purity, with belief in one God, and that as they grow older, they adopt the ideas and beliefs of the people around them, particularly their parents. This is the intellectual forerunner of the tabula rasa that Locke learned from Ibn Tufail.
Through Locke, this concept would influence the political idea that humans should not be constrained by an oppressive and intolerant government. His ideas, which he borrowed from Ibn Tufail, would end up forming a cornerstone of America’s revolutionary ideas that the colonists in America would be much better off if they were not under the oppressive British government. Locke further expanded on the subject by describing something he called the social contract. In this social contract theory, the people must consent to be ruled by a government that in turn agrees to protect the natural rights of its citizens.