The Matrix, Skepticism and the Mind-Body Problem, Argumentative Essay Sample

Published: 2022-05-17
The Matrix, Skepticism and the Mind-Body Problem, Argumentative Essay Sample
Essay type:  Argumentative essays
Categories:  Movie
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1533 words
13 min read

The skeptic ideology is centered on the contention that none of our beliefs are justified owing to the fact that we have no way of knowing that the world that we perceive is the real one. For instance, the skeptic argues that we could be in a Matrix. In the movie the Matrix, Keanu Reeves takes the role of a computer programmer leading a double life as a hacker who goes by the name, Neo (Costandi). In the movie, Neo, who received a cryptic message on his computer monitor begins to search for the elusive Morpheus, a leader of a clandestine resistance group and one who is believed to be responsible for the messages. In the end, Neo finds Morpheus who eventually tells him that reality is overly different from what he, and many other people perceives it to be. This being said, the core intent of this essay is to examine the philosophical questions that are raised in the movie, The Matrix and also evaluate how the questions drawn from the movie directly relate to skepticism and the mind-body problem.

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To begin with, as substantiated in the movie, The Matrix, reality has been a subject that has merited great concerns, and that has highly contended among philosophers over various centuries. Rene Descartes is one of most renowned philosophers, who developed unique ways of understanding as well as interpreting reality. In his meditation on First Philosophy, Descartes contends his method of doubt about the skepticism idea. This, in essence, is reflected in the Matrix when Neo fails to choose the blue pill and instead chooses the red pill, hence the whole experience that followed (Wachowski).

In the movie, Morpheus, asks Neo to choose between the red pill which would take him out of the Matrix, or the blue pill, which would have him remain in the Matrix. In this regard, Neo is offered the choice of either accepting Morpheus, who would give him the truth or the other choice of being a skeptic and doubt the Matrix, which to him, was the reality. Nonetheless, when Neo chooses the red pill, his preference is in reality over the Matrix program. In particular, his taking of the red pill makes him throw away everything that he perceived as the truth for him to take part in the real truth. In this regard, the Matrix is a malicious or an evil demon ought not to be perceived difficult. The parallels are definitely near the surface, and according to Descartes, an overly powerful malevolent entity has focused all its energies on to him to deceive him on all levels of his existence.

The fact that Neo had to continually doubt the Matrix more and more to grow his understanding of reality skepticism is evident. Specifically, Erion and Smith point out that a skeptic is an individual who believes that we all can never be absolutely sure what the world is really like. Therefore, with reference to the skepticism ideology, one can never reach the true definition of reality regardless of the amount of time that they spend in the seeking process. Also, in line with Descartes' Meditations about dreams, there is absolutely nothing that can be seen or experienced by an individual that is known to be real. This means that no person can know something to be true without and outside the frame of reference.

To philosophers such as Descartes, Matrix-like scenarios are deemed as useful tools important for the exploration of fundamental questions about reality and knowledge. For instance, Descartes, in his classic Meditation on First Philosophy, gives a skeptical argument that is designed to establish a concrete foundation for science, other than proving that skepticism is actually true. In his argument, Descartes begins this particular Meditation through declaring his intentions of doing away with or suspending any of his beliefs that he finds a reason to doubt. For this reason, it is evident that as a philosopher, Descartes approached every knowledge or any information from an overly skeptical perspective. However, regardless of his skepticism, he was convinced that no person would be fooled with regard to their own existence. Drawing from his dictum, cogito ergo sum, meaning, I think, therefore I am, Descartes believed that regardless of his philosophical thought, the only thing that he could not doubt was his very existence.

Based on the philosophical analysis of the movie, the Matrix is a representation of the system of complete deception and cradle to the extreme control of the minds that are trapped in it. In particular, all of them share a computer-generated complex illusion. In a similar regard, this is relatable to the mind-body problem, which is one philosophical problem, which has plagued a majority of the philosophers' thoughts. In this case, one of the most significant views relating to the philosophy of mind has to be dualism, which is a set of opinions relating to the relationships between the mind and body. One of the biggest and most controversial is the Cartesian Dualism by Rene Descartes (Descartes, et al). Particularly, the Cartesian Dualism is applicable in The Matrix, which is a science-fiction film. This, in essence, is overly centered on a future in which reality, as perceived by a majority of the people is an actually simulated reality that is developed by sentiment machines so as to subdue and pacify the human species. More particular, Neo, in this movie, becomes a member of this resistance and they work against the machines that strive to liberate the human population from the evil clutches of the machines. Therefore, drawing upon this conceptual base, The Matrix raises some interesting questions which primarily focus on two points. For instance, the first question probed in this regard is whether it is possible to create a machine that is sentiment, and specifically one that is self-aware and conscious. Similarly, there is the question whether it is possible for the mind to exist without the body as so forth.

Descartes, through his theory, answers these two questions by contending that the mind is non-extended, as well as a non-physical substance which is well identified in his philosophical thought as both self-awareness and consciousness, rather than the brain which is the center of intelligence (Erion and Smith). Descartes, through his philosophical thought, explains the first question raised in this case by contending that both the human minds and bodies are two very distinct and independent substances that are capable of existing apart. This, in essence, refutes the ideology exemplified in the Matrix since it is theoretically impossible to create a sentient machine.

Other than Descartes philosophical thought, the questions raised in The Matrix can also be understood based on the cave analogy of Plato. Like, Descartes' work, Plato's cave analogy doubts the reality of the world around us and as a results calls into question the validity of our sense perceptions. According to Plato, the reality is explained through a hypothetical situation of a cave in which men lay bound up in chains and only able to perceive the shadows of the figures they saw on the wall, as their ideal reality. Therefore, based on this concept, Plato concluded that, by all means, these prisoners would perceive reality not to be anything other than the artificial objects' shadows that they saw (Andersen). The Plato contention of reality is, therefore, similar to that of the Matrix in which a massive computer system takes over the earth and controls every human mind in a virtual reality world. For instance, before Neo's discovery of the realism, Morpheus asks him whether he ever has a dream that he was so sure was real. Therefore, Morpheus' question instantly addresses the issue on the reality that relates to Plato's cave analogy. Like the shadows in Plato's cave analogy which act as the only realism that the prisoners knew, Morpheus, in the movie The Matrix, substantiates that Neo has always been trapped in a "cave." Therefore, when he brings him out of his "cave" of everyday late-20th-century existence, this is done in a manner that is synonymous with Plato's analogy of the Sun (Marbaniang). In his ideology, Plato perceives the sun as a metaphor for the nature of both reality and knowledge concerning it. Besides, the eyes of the prisoners which are forced out of the cave need quite some time to get used to the sun. Therefore, in a nutshell, comparing Plato's cave analogy to the Matrix substantiates that each of the individuals, both the prisoners and the individuals from the Matrix eventually face the one thing that manipulates them and is finally set free from all the manipulation.

Works Cited

Andersen, Nathan. Shadow Philosophy: Plato's Cave and Cinema. Routledge, 2014.

Costandi, Mo. "The Philosophy of "The Matrix"." Mo Costandi, 11 Dec. 2016, Accessed 24 Apr. 2018.

Descartes, Rene, et al. The Meditations: And Selections from the Principles. Open Court Pub. Co, 1962.

Erion, Gerald J., and Barry Smith. "In Defense of Truth: Skepticism, Morality, and The Matrix." Philosophy and The Matrix, 2002, p. 16-27, Accessed Apr. 2018.

Marbaniang, Domenic. Beyond the Shadows and Other Essays. Domenic Marbaniang, 2014.

The Matrix. Directed by Lana Wachowski, Perf. Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss. 1999. 1999.

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