Plato, Descartes, and the Matrix
In Module/Week 5’s Reading & Study folder, there are 3 short readings. Your assignment is to read them and then write an essay of at least 600 words in current APA format addressing the questions listed below.
While you are free to quote from sources, quotations will not count towards the minimum word count.
A note about the readings: The first reading is a synopsis of The Matrix. If you have seen the movie, this will function as a review for you.
The second reading comes from Plato’s classic work, The Republic. It is in the form of a dialogue between Socrates and Glaucon, a brother of Plato, and contains the famous cave allegory.
The third and final reading is a section from Meditation I, from Meditations on First Philosophy by Rene Descartes, who offers some reasons to doubt his senses.
Questions to Consider
1. Compare and contrast The Matrix with the readings from Plato and Descartes. What are some similarities and differences?
2. Can we prove that the world we are experiencing is real? How do we know we are not dreaming, living in a Platonic cave, or trapped in some sort of matrix?
Plato, Descartes, and the Matrix
Basically, the three readings, Descartes’ musings, Plato’s cave analogy, and The Matrix are similar in that they all focus on the reality that our senses experience. There is a concern regarding if this reality is objective and tangible or an illusion. The Matrix is all about the reality that the computer generates and at one point, Cypher thought that knowing the truth would result to an easier life, but later, there is the discovery that knowledge is really a weight burden. Therefore, he wants to erase memories so that he can attain the former state. Descartes’ reasoning is that at one point, people discover that the false opinions that were taken to be true are actually vague since everything based on the fails. Therefore, it becomes necessary to do away with them and adopt a new framework for a firm foundation. In cave analogy, there is an enquiry regarding if what people perceive as the reality really holds. Following this reasoning, Descartes continued speculating what higher power it was that had subjected people to such deception (Descartes, 1641). Although these three sources differ in some other concepts, they all speculate on if not or if our perceptions or senses can be trusted.
Second, there is an exploration of how real reality is in the three sources. However, there is an agreement that the reality that people presently perceive through their senses can only be replaced by alternatives that also perceived through the same senses. In The Matrix, the reality that is within people has been presented in the form of a computer that holds their minds captive and gives them many illusions. To Plato, the reality is just like the shadows (Plato, n.d.). However, the usual items to illustrate reality (stone statues, fire, stone wall, humans, and sunshine). Similarly, Descartes knew that for him to reach the higher enlightenment, it was necessary to use the power of the present reality including his brains and thinking abilities (Hasker, 1935). The sensory experience that relates to reality is so much into humanity such that they cannot think of reality that differs from it.
For people to prove different things, the premises underlying these proofs would first need to be established. Many times, human beings are never content with the basic reality and, therefore, they have a tendency of seeking the explanations for this reality. However, there are no alternatives to the reality. And if those refuting this reality can offer at least an example of a person who escaped this reality and was enlightened in another reality, then their arguments would have weight. Nonetheless, trusting that evidence would be hard since it would not be sure it the enlightenment experience of that person was simply another delusion based on the sadistic computer mastermind. The only necessity is an external source originating from an entity which is not restricted to human dimensions. This entity should be divine as no human would manage escaping this reality to confirm its reality.
There are different sources that advocate for true divine origins, including the Bible and Quran. However, presently, there are different movies which create awareness about divinity. One of these is ‘Heaven is Real’, and anyone who has ever watched it can agree that divinity is real. The young boy in the movie is able to perceive things that the parents had never told him about, and he says that Jesus informed them those things. This makes the dad very angry and confused. The boy was able to enter the realms and dimensions that are only accessible to the angles and Jesus Christ, and get answers on different things, and even meet his sister who had passed away on birth. The dad was in denial of what the son was experiencing since he declined using his senses to perceive the works of God in his son’s life (Dew & Foreman, 2014). However, with time, he realized how special his son was and his faith in God increased. Other people were also influenced immensely by this occurrence.
Descartes, R. (1641). Meditation I of the things of which we may doubt. In Descartes, R., Meditations on First Philosophy. Retrieved from Blackboard: http://www.learn.liberty.edu
Dew, J. K. & Foreman, M. W. (2014). How do we know: An introduction to epistemology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Hasker, W. (1935). Metaphysics: Constructing a world view. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Plato. (n.d.). The allegory of the cave. In Plato, The Republic, Book VII (pp. 514A1-518D8). Retrieved from Blackboard: http://www.learn.liberty.edu
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