Matrix and Descartes

Topics: Virtual reality, Mind, The Matrix, Perception, Simulated reality, Metaphysics / Pages: 3 (709 words) / Published: Aug 20th, 2013
The most obvious similarity between the movie The Matrix, the cave analogy of Plato, and Descartes’ Meditation, is that all of these works doubt the reality of the world around us and call into question the validity of our sense perceptions. “Let us suppose,” says Descartes, “that we are dreaming, and that all these particulars – namely, the opening of the eyes, the motion of the head, the forth-putting of the hands – are merely illusions” (Descartes, 1641, Meditations on First Philosophy). Likewise Plato proposed an interesting hypothetical situation of a cave where men lay bound up in chains, able only to perceive the shadows of figures on the walls as they passed by. Plato concluded that “in every way such prisoners would deem reality to be nothing else than the shadows of the artificial objects” (Plato, 514 – 518, The Republic, Book VII). In the 1999 movie The Matrix, a giant computer system has taken over the earth and controls all of humanity’s minds in a virtual reality world. “What is the Matrix? Control. The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to keep us under control” (“Orpheus”, The Matrix, Wachowski, 1999). Thus, all three of these sources are asking important questions about our reality; is the world that we perceive as reality actually real? Or is it all simply a dream or a hoax conjured up by some Being who is having a good laugh at our expense? And how do we know for sure? Plato, Descartes, and the makers of The Matrix propose situations in which our minds are being controlled by something outside of ourselves, (whether it be a computer, shadows on a cave wall, or an invisible demon,) that determines what we perceive to be real.

However, though all three of these sources are asking similar questions, it is mainly their way of answering these questions that distinguishes them from each other. The movie The Matrix portrays a society that has been duped and taken over by a computer system, while a small group of dissidents band

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