The Analysis of the Film the Matrix
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Rene Descartes is often referred to as the “Father of Modern Philosophy”. He challenges many theories such as the reliance we have on our senses to perceive the world and form our beliefs, whether or not it is worth challenging his beliefs and doubts, and the separation of the mind and body and how they are connected if they are connected. He realized that the ideas he grew up believing were fact he could not be absolutely certain about. Questions he challenged were why we automatically put complete reliance on our senses when there is no certainty behind them. At any moment our senses could be influenced by God or some other good or evil entity such as a evil demon. He also brought about the idea that we could be dreaming when we believe we are living a reality which would also have an effect on our senses causing them not to be a reliable source of knowledge.
The Matrix is a movie about a hacker named Thomas Anderson or “Neo”. He was in contact with Morpheus who explained to him that his reality isn’t what he believes it to be. The world is actually an elaborate computer simulation, the Matrix. Reality only exists in their mind so everything they see and do is actually a dream. Neo is presented two pills, a red one and a blue one. The blue pill leads him to forget his new found knowledge and continue to live life the way he has been, as a dream. The red pill allows him to dig deeper for the truth of the world he lives in. Neo makes a decision and takes the red pill. After regaining consciousness and control over his own body again, he learns that humans in the real world developed artificial intelligence that they eventually lost control of. The Matrix computer program was created to hopefully gain control of the artificial intelligence by using the energy from their bodies. The main idea behind this movie is that the real world is an illusion, similar to the claims that Descartes was making.
Throughout the night we dream. Sometimes they seem so real we wake up thinking they are reality until we make some connection that proves otherwise. But who are we to believe our senses when they say that when we are awake, it is the real world? We don’t know in the moment that we are dreaming so it’s possible that we are still in a dream even though our body tells us that we are awake. These are some of the ideas that Descartes presents in “Meditation One: Concerning Those Things That Can Be Called Into Doubt”. Both The Matrix and “Meditation One” elaborate on how perception, and the use of our senses” isn’t reliable when it comes to gaining knowledge about the world we live in. Descartes explains a theory of an evil demon.
There is an opponent of God’s that brings about the world around us in order to deceive us of God’s intentions. Although the world around us may not be what it seems, we must believe that our own existence is in fact real. Because we think and have these senses, we are real although we may not know exactly what we are. This is also displayed in The Matrix movie. People themselves are real, their bodies are physical and they have a mind that thinks. They spend their lives trapped in pods living through a computer simulation. Their existence is real but the world around them is not. Neo challenges these ideas and his reality similar to how Descartes did.
A few questions remain including if it is worth one’s effort to doubt existence based on perception in order to find reality. Descartes questions his beliefs and decides that he will hold onto these believes only if he can prove them beyond any doubt. There must be no possible errors. The sources that he uses are perception, memory, testimony, and reason. Descartes starts at the foundation of his doubts and if each aspect can be proven true with complete certainty, he will continue challenging the belief. Neo is also questioning his existence and the world he lives in. He is given a choice of remaining where he is and continuing to live as he has been or taking the chance to find the truth behind his existence. They both have a choice of living as they are or challenging their beliefs in order to come to a more certain truth, the choice between “ignorance is bliss” and “knowledge is pain”.
There is a special relationship between the mind and the body. According to Descartes, the mind is not the brain but they are intimately related. The body has mass and is perceivable through senses. It is simply a physical extension of the mind. The mind isn’t physical and has no mass. It is simply composed of thought, imagination, emotion, dreams, and feelings. The Matrix also challenges the concept of existence dependent on the mind. When they are in the computer simulation, their mind is perceiving it as reality. If someone dies while in the simulation their mind dies. The body is able to continue to live but is it really a life worth living? In order to better explain this, a real life example would be someone being proclaimed as “brain dead”. Their brain is no longer working, there is no longer brain activity. Still, other organs, such as the heart and kidney, in the body can still be functional with help of a machine. This demonstration shows the separation of the body and the mind which is relevant in both works being observed. Their existence is not dependant on one another.
Rene Descartes’ meditations were a great influence on the making of The Matrix. For me, I see it as his thoughts being put into a virtual form concerning the modern world, with a few twists here and there! The main focus of both the movie and the meditations are reality versus a dream and what our world consists of, remaining ignorant in order to have bliss in life or seeking knowledge to be aware of the truth, and separation of the body and the mind. All of which have been continuously challenged in the past by philosophers and are still continuously being challenged in today’s world.
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