Plato, Descartes, and The Matrix
Coming to the realization that your entire life is all an illusion would be frightening, painful, and hard to believe. This is the main concept of the movie, The Matrix. The main character, Neo, is told that the world he has been living in is nothing more than a simulation controlled by a computer program. After being told this information, Neo, being apprehensive at first, has to then decide what he will do; accept it and help expose it or dismiss it and go on living an illusion. One can’t help but notice the similarities between the story of The Matrix and the classic writings of ancient philosophers Rene Descartes and Plato.
Plato’s writing “The Allegory of the Cave” has undeniable similarities to the ideas of The Matrix. The prisoners of the cave in Plato’s writing live in seclusion their whole lives and are not permitted to see anything other than the shadows on the cave wall. The shadows on the wall are what the prisoners perceive as their reality. Likewise, in The Matrix the world is being controlled by a computer program and the world they perceive as real is whatever the computer gives them. Therefore, the people living in The Matrix are prisoners of their version of the “cave”. Another comparison between “Allegory of the Cave” and The Matrix is the idea of what would happen to a prisoner if he was to learn that his perception of reality is not what he perceives it to be. In Plato’s writing, he describes the prisoner after being released from the cave as feeling pain in his eyes from the bright lights and not able to discern objects. Furthermore, Plato points out that because of fear, the prisoner would initially want to return to the things he was comfortable with and was able to discern, but after habituation the prisoner would progressively be able to discern new objects easily. In the same way, Neo is hesitant and...
References: Descartes, R., & Clarke, D. M. (1999).Discourse on method, and related writings. London: Penguin Books.
Plato. (1997). Plato: Complete Works. Edited by Cooper, J. M. Indianapolis: Hackett.
Wachowski, A. (Director). (1999). The Matrix [Motion picture]. USA: Warner Bros. Home Video.
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