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The Matrix movie film raises various philosophical issues. The major philosophical issues raised by the film are skepticism and the body-mind problem. These philosophical issues related to the philosophical issues that are addressed by Plato’s and Descartes’ philosophy. About the mind-body problem, Plato argued that the physical world is only a representation of a complex reality that is formed by various human and life concepts. Descartes argued that the mind has great control over the human brain. He further argued that the mind was very different from the physical aspect of human life but had great control over individual’s general lives. The matrix portrays this philosophical issue in the sense that Neo who is the main actor and other characters are plunged into illusion through the use of a simulation machine which controls their senses through their minds (Jeff 29). The mind is Neo’s greatest weapon and source of physical power. Philosophical skepticism involves any form of doubt or question attitude directed towards any concept of belief or knowledge. The doubts brought about by skepticism are usually directed towards morality, science, spiritualism or religion. The most common form of skepticism portrayed in the Matrix is scientific skepticism in the form of supernaturalism. Religious skepticism is portrayed in the film as the film depicts immortality. About the philosophical issue of skepticism, Descartes emphasized more on the focus of things that exists than those that are believed to exist, and there is no evidence of their existence (Gideon 238). Plato’s philosophy portrays skepticism in that some beliefs or perceptions are more real and have a high probability of occurrence than others. Plato discouraged the use of judgment greatly since he argued that it brings about questioning and doubts towards human beliefs and perceptions even to those that are real.
Skepticism in the Matrix about Plato’s and Descartes’ philosophy
The Matrix film was based on an illusion that Neo, who is the main actor had alongside other film characters that were connected to the machine that simulated the Matrix illusion. The experiences of Neo in the movie were not real, but the simulator made them look real to Neo. The simulating machine created the experiences and they made Neo think that he was going on with his day to day life normally. Plato and Descartes argue that everything is an illusion and nothing is real. The philosophers believed that there is a possibility that the human race has been tricked into believing their life experiences are real through computer programs and fictional techniques. Neo in the Matrix is tricked by the simulating machine to believe that what he is experiencing is true. The common senses of human beings cannot be relied on fully to determine what is true or false according to Plato and Descartes. The common senses of Neo could not help him to determine whether his experiences were real or fake. Similar to what is portrayed in the Matrix, human beings cannot be able to determine whether their external worlds are real. The realization of Neo that his experiences were not real but were simulated by a machine makes him very doubtful of his life even when he is not connected to the simulating machine.
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According to Plato’s and Descartes’ philosophy human beings are at times presented with signs implying to them that their lives are an illusion, but they tend to ignore these signs (Constance 33). Doubt usually makes it difficult for human beings to believe anything and make the right decisions. Morpheus offers Neo with two pills that would present him with two different life worlds. The blue pill is supposed to plunge Neo back into the Matrix world while the red pill is supposed to let Neo stay in what he thinks is his reality (Jeff 29). Neo chooses the red pill since he wants to stay in reality and know whether his experiences in the matrix program are different from his reality. Neo plans on establishing this by comparing the two worlds, the Matrix world, and the real world through the experiences he gains from both worlds. Descartes argued that various signs present themselves in the lives of human beings, but humans tend to ignore them since they are afraid of the truth. According to Descartes, human beings have gotten used to what they call reality, and nothing can make them believe that their lives are an illusion. Neo did not want to experience what he had experienced in the Matrix program since he preferred reality over the world that was created by the simulating machine.
The Matrix portrays scientific skepticism through the supernatural aspects portrayed by Neo and other characters in the film. The characters in the Matrix including Neo can fly, jump long distances or move at supersonic speeds. These supernatural powers that the film characters posses are not possible to possess in reality. After being disconnected from the matrix program, Neo doubted the world he was exposed to by the machine due to the supernatural powers that he and other film characters possessed in the Matrix world. According to Descartes, supernaturalism is greatly associated with spiritualism. Supernatural aspects are sometimes given to human beings by supernatural beings. A great supernatural aspect that Neo possessed in his simulated life was immortality. Neo did not believe in immortality since he had the perception that a normal human being was mortal. This perception made it more difficult for him to believe the world that was created by the Matrix program in which he was immortal. Immortality is associated with supernatural beings such as God according to Descartes. Possession of supernatural characteristics by Neo implied that he was a supernatural being in some way. Even though Descartes was doubtful about the existence of God he considered God as a supernatural being that possessed characteristics such as immortality.
The mind-body problem in the Matrix about Plato’s and Descartes’ philosophy
In the Matrix, the main actor’s physical actions in the world created by the simulation machine are greatly influenced by his mind. Neo’s physical abilities and actions in the Matrix are controlled through the simulation machine controlling his mind. The Matrix portrays that the mind of a human being has control over his whole body. The machine controls Neo’s senses by the machine taking total control of his mind. According to Descartes, the mind has great control over the brain, and since it is the brain that controls senses of human beings, the mind has control over them too(John 67). The human soul influences the physical aspects of humans greatly and even though they are two different things they are connected in one way or another. Plato argued that the physical existence of human beings is greatly dependant on complex aspects of their minds. The simulation machine was connected only to Neo’s brain, but it took control over all his senses. Neo could use all his senses and body parts in the world that was created by the simulation machine even though the machine was only connected to his brain. Descartes perceived that the mind is distinct from the physical aspects of human beings including their body parts but greatly influences how these body parts act and perform (Karen 143). Disconnection from the simulation machine disconnected all the senses of Neo from the machine even though it was only the brain that was disconnected. Disconnection of his brain from the machine brought him back to what he believed was his reality. Plato argued that all human senses are connected to the mind and are fully dependant on the mind for their functioning similar to what is portrayed in the Matrix (Rowe 145). According to Descartes, the human mind and body can exist as two different things.
The Matrix portrays that human beings have great cognitive abilities and this is the major reason why they were able to create the Matrix program that used a simulation machine to plunge the film characters into an illusion. Descartes’ argument implies that it is not possible to create a simulation machine that can control the mind and body of human beings. Human beings believe that it is not possible to create a machine that can be used to control their minds such as the one used in the Matrix. Plato did not dispute that the human mind can be controlled, but he argued that if the human mind can be controlled other human senses or body parts can be controlled too. He argued that other human senses could be controlled by controlling the human mind. The simulation machine running the Matrix program is used to control the mind and senses of the film characters including Neo.
The mind and the body are connected, and the human mind usually influences human senses. The human soul affects the physical aspects and actions of human beings since it is connected to their bodies. It is challenging for human beings to distinguish between what is an illusion and what is reality. Human senses cannot be relied on fully to determine what is real or fake since they rely totally on the mind for their functioning and the mind can be easily deceived. The mind is the greatest weapon that human beings can learn posses since it is the greatest source of a human being’s physical power.
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