The Matrix as Prophecy – Questioning Reality

What is real? It’s a question that many people ask. How do we know the object that we’re seeing in front of us is real? How do we know that what we are feeling is real, and not something that’s possibly ‘pre-programmed?’ In addition, the further popularity and existence of online virtual constantly blur the lines between what is real and what is unreal is continually being blurred. Movies have also been an avenue that constantly questions what is real, and The Matrix presents this in an interesting way.

The Matrix is a 1999 film that stars Keanu Reeves (as the main character, Neo), Laurence Fishbourne (Morpheus), Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity) and Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith).  The plot of the movie involves Neo and his quest, along with Morpheus and Trinity, in a rebellion against the machines who controlled a virtual world which humans are being placed in. During the course of the movie, when Neo is being ‘set free’, Morpheus gives him a tutorial and a talk on ‘what is real?’ The following is an excerpt on what Morpheus said to Neo:

The Matrix is a 1999 film that stars Keanu Reeves (as the main character, Neo), Laurence Fishbourne (Morpheus), Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity) and Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith).  The plot of the movie involves Neo (Then as Thomas Anderson) and his quest, along with Morpheus and Trinity, in a rebellion against the machines who controlled a virtual world which humans are being placed in. During the course of the movie, when Neo is being ‘set free’, Morpheus gives him a tutorial and a talk on ‘what is real?’ The following is an excerpt on what Morpheus said to Neo:

“What is real? How can you define real? If you’re talking what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see – then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”

Many philosophical writers have used The Matrix as a example to fuel the philosophical debate on what is real. Mark Rowlands (2004, p. 28) has described this area of philosophy as epistemology, defining it as questioning the knowledge of the world around us that we normally take fore granted. Rowlands (2004, p. 31) compares the events in The Matrix to the philosophies of Rene Descartes, who argued that there is a possibility that the world we see now may not be the ‘real world’ but a ‘dream world’. This is anagolous to the construct and purpose of The Matrix itself – to distract humans from the dark ‘real world’. Descartes takes this one further – what if the world is just one big virtual playground?  Rowlands (2004, p. 37) insists not to take Descartes out of context, he was just merely stating a possibility. The Matrix presented such a possibility for the modern times, and it’s a view that Rowlands (2004, p. 37) agrees with.

David Weberman also has similar views to Rowlands. Weberman (2002, p.226) stated that The Matrix was a powerful social commentary that was successful in posting the question – what is real and what is simulation? Building upon on what Rowlands (2004, p. 27 – 58) has described in his paper, Weberman (2002, p. 229) brings two important points – that reality can be simulated and improved on and that virtual worlds can be more preferable to the real world. The Matrix essentially was an improvement of reality, which in the year 2199 is very dark and bleak. The Matrix had everything a human can enjoy – the real world didn’t (Weberman, 2002, p. 233-234).  What’s happened in the Matrix is, to an extent, happening right now. So many people are spending time on virtual worlds such as World of Warcraft and Second Life – which do ‘enhance reality’ and is more preferable than the real life.

Although, let’s bring it back to what Rowlands (2004, p. 37) claims – that there are dreams within dreams. Second Life is a dream world within a supposed ‘dream world’. So in reality, what is real?

References

Rowlands, M. (2005). The Matrix: Can we be certain of anything?. In The Philosopher at the End of the Universe: Philosophy Explained through Science Fiction Films (pp. 27 – 58). United Kingdom: Elbury Press. Retrieved May 29, 2010 from Queensland University of Technology Course Materials Database.

Weberman, D. (2002). The Matrix Simulation and the Postmodern Age. In William, I. (2002). The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real (pp. 225 – 239). United States of America: Open Court. Retrieved May 29, 2010 from Queensland University of Technology Course Materials Database.

1 Comment


  1. The Matrix decoded

    You will find our decoding in an article, item #29 in a list of free downloads from our Website at URL http://jesusdzeus.com .

    This decoding will shock you (because it concerns you). It is truer than any decoding you have read so far; it even goes beyond the metaphors intended by the writers and the producers.

    Read also the other articles cited in this article and any other articles and scientific books that may interest.

    Good reading. You will have lots of reasons to be grateful.

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    Reply

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