Sean Sheep's recent post MiB: The ultimate Knaves & Knights scenario, which discusses our inability to trust either Jacob or the MIB without knowing their motivations, got me thinking. Assuming that the conversation, on the beach, between Jacob and Richard can be believed, if Jacob considers the MIB as "evil", has trapped him on the Island, and directly opposed the MIB's view that "man in inherently sinful", then Jacob must view himself and his actions as "good" or "for the good" and that the cost of these actions (deaths, despair, and all) are worth the chance of success.
If we go by events that we've seen, Jacob and the MIB have been at odds for at least 140 years, as seen during the landing of the Black Rock. If we go by what Jacob and the MIB have said to each other or to Richard, they have been together, struggling against each others points of view, for at least a few hundred years prior to that. If we go by the architecture of the older structures on the Island, assuming that they weren't brought into existence with a "magic box", they've potentially been having this disagreement for at least what, 5000 years?
Jacob told Richard that, in the past, many people had been brought to the Island in order to disprove the MIB's assumption of man's selfishness and that they were all dead. We assume that, prior to Richard's involvement, Jacob had just been bringing people to the Island, letting them run free (like the passengers of the Black Rock), with no long-reaching plan like the one he put in place later with Dharma, the Hatch, Flight 815, etc. For around 5000 years, these poor souls would arrive like lambs to the slaughter, dying by the 10s, 100's, and over the years, potentially 1000s.
For what? Is it really just one man's obsession with being right that's supposed to justify the necessary alteration of the course of these lives and their horrific endings? Had Jacob been doing this before Richard, then continuing on with an adjusted long-term strategy (which ultimately lead up to and beyond his own death), simply to win an argument?
If, as we have been led to consider, Jacob is "good" or has "good" intentions (rather than he, himself, believing that he's Good), then proving his point has to provide an outcome larger than his own satisfaction. Otherwise, regardless of Jacob's view of himself, the deaths on his hands could never be justified.
So what exactly is he trying to achieve?
Taking everyone's word except for the MIB, the MIB is Evil. He works for his own gain. And why shouldn't he? He's convinced that every other soul in existence does the same. No one is worthy of that existence and if he leaves the Island, he'll finally be free to stop all this selfish, chaotic, free will and instill some order on the Universe by wiping it out all together.
Well, assuming that there's some Cosmic Rules in play that keep you from killing him, there's only two things to do...
1. Confine and restrict him. Check.
2. Change his point of view. In Progress.
What would happen if this Powerful Being, who was considered Evil because of actions driven by a point of view, were to change that point of view from "Man doesn't deserve Life" to "Man deserves Life"? If all the death and destruction were removed with one act of Redemption, would that Being still be Evil?
If the MIB had passed Judgment on Mankind, and leaving the Island would allow him to carry out the Sentencing, Jacob's act of trapping him and his attempts at "making his point" with the subsequent deaths that came from it, could all be justified if a change of the MIB's heart is all it takes to stop all of existence from being destroyed.
The whole "candidate" thing may be real but Jacob brought these people here to do something. They've all been given a chance for redemption. Could it be as simple as them giving the same chance to the MIB by proving his Judgment to be wrong?