Decartes and The Matrix

Essay by rabbitdeath December 2004

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Descartes and Matrix

Matrix is an interesting movie because it examines very basic questions of philosophy. The existence of human being, the reality of this world we live and the questions of the reliability of human mind are examined during the movie. When examined deeply, it is found that the philosophy of Matrix has very common features with the philosophy of Descartes. The dream metaphor, the deception of people by a 'malignant demon', the reliability of certain physical truths, and split of mind and body are the most significant ones. But there are also some significant differences, since the possibility of dreaming is remained as a 'possibility' for Descartes whereas in the movie it is realized. Moreover, the existence of God is another big difference since Descartes is a strong believer but movie ignores the existence of God.

In the movie Matrix, before Neo discovers the reality, Morpheus asks Neo "Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real?" and he continues, "What if you were unable to wake from that dream, Neo? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?" In the movie, the dream, which Neo woke, was his own life.

He could not sense that the world in which he is living is just a dream. The whole story of the movie is started up by the wake-up of Neo and some other people from their dreams, namely the Matrix. The most surprising similarity between the Matrix and the philosophy of Descartes is the 'dream metaphor'. Descartes, similarly, asserts that we might be in a dream in which, even if we realize that we are dreaming we could not wake up. Descartes started to build his argument by giving examples of real life such...