Lore Reasons: We Answer Your Philosophical Questions About Kingdom Hearts


Seven weeks ago, we at Waypoint set out on a journey to untangle the lore of Kingdom Hearts. Partially, this was for our listeners who trust our expertise in all matters of the heart, but in honesty, it was mostly for ourselves. We, perhaps like you, had been plagued by questions about the Disney-Square collaboration. These were not novel questions, we know, and to series diehards they were simple: Why do so many people have the letter X in their names. Who was Xehanort, and what did it men to be norted? What's up with Mickey Mouse's shirt situation? How many different ways can you write out the sound "key"? What's more powerful, friendship or darkness? We learned, of course, that many of these questions were deeply connected. Especially the one about Mickey's naked chest.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/9kpvxv/lore-reasons-we-answer-your-philosophical-questions-about-kingdom-hearts


I enjoyed this Episode immensely especially when the discussion of replicas occurred. However Austin brings up a point “Fuck you I want a robot Body to develop a heart” Which Happens Everyone forget Baymax is a robot with a heart. also Toys in toy story have hearts they are both Examples of Bodys that are not Human Body’s or Replica Body’s


I genuinely just want a philosophy podcast from the Waypoint crew now. This was tremendously entertaining.


On the main KH3 discussion podcast I hope they mention the wild theory going around that a lot of KH3 takes place in the sleeping realm.
Aptly named the “sleeping realm theory”, it details the various ways a lot of the events of KH3 potentially takes place in a second alternate timeline within the sleeping realm, tying into the weird groundhog day thing and the following dream sequence at the end of the game.
It’s a huge document, but mostly comprised of images and gifs (maybe don’t open on phone) and you can read it here. (spoilers for all of KH obviously)


By 2020 Austin Walker will be more podcast than man


I appreciate that this podcast started with Benjamin because if it starts with some of the only philosophy I’ve really read and wrapped my mind around it must go to some places im gonna think are wild.


This podcast is everything I’ve ever wanted tbqh, super informative and interesting and makes me super excited for the KH3 Lore Reasons!

I really enjoyed all the Xion discussion- she’s always been one of the most philosophically interesting characters in the series and I’m glad y’all really dug into her whole situation. Something y’all might’ve missed if you never actually watched the 358/2 Days movie is that not only does Xion’s appearance reflect the viewer’s perception of her, but in cutscenes it literally changes between shots, depending on who else is in the shot. There’s a really clear example of it here:

This is at a point where Xion is friends with Roxas, but not yet close to Axel- as such, Axel doesn’t see the ‘real’ Xion yet, just the featureless puppet with her hood up. So when the shot includes just Roxas and Xion, we see her as Roxas sees her, as his friend with her ‘real’ face, but once Axel is back in the shot, because Axel doesn’t really consider her his friend yet, we see her as Axel sees her, in her original ‘puppet’ form. But once Axel comes out and says she’s his friend, he sees her as Roxas does, with her real face. We only ever see her true face if everyone else contained in the given shot or the person from whose perspective we’re viewing her is close enough to her to see her true face too, often resulting in her hood seemingly instantaneously popping on and off her head as the camera cuts to different shots with different people included in them. Xion has to quite literally be ‘seen’ by someone close to her in order for her identity to manifest.

(This also comes up in KH3, albeit a bit more subtly- Xion has her hood up and does not show her face until Roxas, through Sora, says her name. She begins to break down, Xemnas calls her a “useless puppet” and kicks her, and only then does her hood come off and reveal her true face.)

Re: the Lingering Will discussion, as already mentioned, a “human” body (i.e. a person or a replica) is not required to develop a heart, as Baymax and the Toy Story toys have hearts. But I think Austin’s conclusion that Lingering Will’s failure to develop a heart comes from it not really having a sense of self is spot on. Lingering Will has literally one thing on its mind, and it’s Xehanort murder- it couldn’t give a fuck about anyone or anything else, including itself. The only times Lingering Will ever speaks in the first person are when it’s either recalling one of Terra’s memories (saying “You aren’t the one I chose” to Sora, referring to Riku) or in reference to its unrelenting bloodthirst (“How I’ve waited for this moment” when preparing to kick the shit out of Terranort).


Regarding the discussion around Xion, I found it interesting to note that Xion’s original name was No. i, where the i was the for the mathematical imaginary number, implying that she was always intended to be a copy, or an imaginary duplicate.


A small but important part of KH lore that I expected to come up in the discussion of digital Sora - the digitisation of persons in KH comes from Tron. When Sora & Co. visit Tron in KH2 it is not by Gummi ship but by digitisation into Diz’s computer, in the same way Flynn enters The Grid in the movie - the conversion of the physical self into a data self, and the heart becomes digitised too. Is the person transported whole, or have they been replaced by a simulation, from which the original person can be regenerated when they leave the Grid?
Further, we have Tron and all the other sentient programs. They were not created to have sentience. They were created as tools, and yet they think and live and love. Panpsychism in action?


I’m right there with you on the Lingering Will stuff! iirc there’s also a small part in the KH3 Ultimania interviews where Nomura mentions Terra’s heart was spread between/constantly moving between Terranort, the Guardian and Lingering Will, depending on who had the most control over his body/how much Xehanort was suppressing him at any given time.

I’m reading that as, like, LW isn’t really a being separate from Terra at all - it’s a proxy body, usually just reacting to/acting on thoughts and feelings that echo along its connection to Terra’s heart, sometimes more fully embodying that heart when it has no other vessel to reside in.


I read this theory before we recorded and I found it very uncompelling and not worth the 30 minutes it would take to explain. It’s fun, though.


Yeah fair enough, I was just impressed with how they lined it all up and it ended up mostly making sense, although I might’ve had a weird experience with it since I first heard it walked through on a very long stream.
I agree though it is just good fun.


I was overjoyed to hear Alfred North Whitehead invoked in this episode. I’ve read his magnum opus of lectures, Process and Reality, numerous times, and like Natalie, I think that the attribution of some sort of mind or mentality to all material existence is right. (Note, however, that Whitehead’s philosophy is not panpsychic but, rather, panexperiential. This may seem an academic quibble, but it is much closer to what Austin was describing as a physical mode of desire intrinsic to all things, from bacteria and plants to humans, not to mention nonliving things, than is panpsychism. Experience is a much broader category than psyche, so panexperientialism acknowledges a much wider gamut of existence whereas panpsychism could be understood as reducing all things to an anthropocentric understanding of experience. Consciousness, in Whitehead’s view, is an extremely rare “achievement” of nature.) Whitehead transitioned from being a mathematician (what we would call a mathematical physicist today) to a philosopher by way of a critique of modernity’s metaphysical presuppositions. One of his major targets was the mechanical view of nature, what some refer to as scientific materialism (see his book Science and the Modern World). According to this account, matter is passive, receptive, inert, and self-contained. Whitehead, by contrast, argued that in order for scientific knowledge of the world to cohere with our daily experience of it, we must recognize that existence is fundamentally relational and in process. Thus, all things are both receptive of their worlds (or milieux, if you wanna get fancy) and also active in constituting themselves from out of their worlds.

For those interested in what Natalie was saying about plants feeling, check out Daniel Chamovitz’s What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses. For a simple example, tropism, think about how sunflowers follow the sun throughout the day, or how tulips open their flowers during the day and close them at night. A more complex case: plants of the same species will share ground space, whereas when confronted with another plant species they will compete with their roots. Plants, in other words, engage in a kind of cognition insofar as they respond according to specific contexts.