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"The Matrix" (De)Appreciation Thread

  1. Apr 28, 2003 #1
    [SOLVED] "The Matrix" (De)Appreciation Thread

    I find it highly probable that the upcoming release of The Matrix: Reloaded will become the most successful movie of all time. Many of the fans of The Matrix adopt the cultish theories behind the movie, such as "There is no spoon" and that we all live in a fabricated reality.

    Since this "scientific" viewpoint will undoubtedly work into the minds of many who watch it, I was wondering what others thought about the movie's concept.

    Personally, I find the idea of a fabricated reality to be completely irrelevant. It seems no more credible than any arbitrary idea of the universe being some soap bubble floating in someone's bathtub, for example. If the universe were not "real", it would not change a single thing in my life because I would have no basis upon which to live differently.

    Besides, who could possibly have the perspective to challenge the reality of the universe? The reality of the universe is the fundamental axiom behind everything we know, and someone who claims the universe to be fake must be outside the realm of the universe.

    To me, "The Matrix" is a pop-culture fad that does not even fall under the most liberal definitions of sci-fi. The "real world" as shown in the matrix is only a gimmick to justify the countless action scenes in the rest of the movie. Unfortunately, not all of the general population realizes this and takes the movie's message to heart.

    Any other ideas?
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  3. Apr 28, 2003 #2


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    Many philosophers have held that we do live in a manufactured reality - the reality of modern consumerism. The fact that it's our minds rather than our bodies that are enslaved is just a detail. It isn't machines sucking our bio-energy, it's corporations sucking our life earnings. etc. This is quite common on the left and the original Matrix was greeted with delight by many of these philosophers.
  4. Apr 28, 2003 #3

    Tom Mattson

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    Re: "The Matrix" (De)Appreciation Thread

    Heh. You wouldn't think so if you woke up in a pod full of goop, as weak as a baby, and with a bunch of cables hooked up to you.

    Well, Descartes thought he had disproved the existence of the "Evil Genius", and many people--rightly or wrongly--accept his proof. Now here is a movie that posits a plausible scenario in which the Evil Genius could exist, and all of a sudden the proof is not so convincing, even if you do accept it as logically valid.
  5. Apr 28, 2003 #4
    It's a kung fu movie. Other than a few over eager fans using obscure character names for handles on message boards not much will come of it.
  6. Apr 28, 2003 #5
    Yes, I can see that the idea behind the matrix is interesting to draw parallels to and from, but I think the Matrix takes it too far when they say that the entire universe is composed of a computer program and we are just figments of memory cells.

    I still find this premise irrelevant. If I woke up in a pile of goo, I would suddenly come to the realization that I have never had a single genuine thought my entire life. Thus, my existence up until waking up in that goo is completely null and void. In a way, it is like imagining the sudden collapse of the universe. If I had taken serious thought to the idea of the matrix while I was in the matrix, or if I hadn't, the outcome is the same: that these thoughts never existed in the first place.

    Therefore, the idea of a matrix is irrelevant because life as we know it cannot be lived on the premise that life as we know it does not exist.
  7. Apr 28, 2003 #6
    The Matrix is just a modern pop movie about ancient Zen Buddhist ideas. The first movie I found exceedly good in conveying these ideas, and I have hopes that the second one will do equally well. So well did this movie integrate these ideas, that most of the people I've talked to about the movie never realized the movie revolved around a paradox.

    In the first movie the hero, Neo, refuses to believe in fatalism and that his life is unreal in some sense. Later he finds out his life is unreal and an oracle demonstrates the power to see the future, implying he does not have free will. Still refusing to accept his life is fated yet having to accept that somehow it might be, he finally becomes enlightened when forced to choose to die and leave his love behind or rise to the occation.

    Along with these paradoxical plot elements, the nonstop intense drama of the situtation clearly demonstrates the Zen philosophy of the movie. Buddhists believe this "reality" we experience is illusory and behind it lies a unified undifferentiated reality. You can claim it is obviously wrong, just a movie, but nobody can really prove that. Like Neo perhaps the best we can do is live our lives as if they are real until something proves us.
  8. Apr 28, 2003 #7
    I do admit that it is impossible to prove "The Matrix" wrong, but just because something can't be proven wrong doesn't mean it's right.

    I agree, however i would replace "until" with "unless". :wink:
  9. Apr 28, 2003 #8
    From the thread, https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=1580" ...

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2017
  10. Apr 28, 2003 #9


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    psst. It's me, Morpheus. You'll get an email in 10 minutes. Click the blue or red button.


    Anyhow, the matrix kinda sorta makes sense. At least that it could be possible. I mean, how far are technologys that would allow a person to be hooked up to a machine and its perception completly hijacked. Then all would be required is the domination of the entire species, mass cloning to produce the lifeforms needed.

    It seems to me to be a After the robots in Terminator killed off the rest of the humans and took over the world.
  11. Apr 28, 2003 #10
    I would want to go back in the Matrix once I knew what was out there for me. It would be a much better, much happier place. What is outside? A scorched Earth. I would especially want to stay in if I knew that I could be a super-hero!

    Locutus, they would still be your own thoughts. Your brain would just have been interacting with different signals than if you had not been hooked up to a computer.

    If you remember, the Matrix had glitches...any computer program would. There are no glitches in our world, so I'd say that that's pretty good evidence that we aren't living in a computer world...not that it really matters.
  12. Apr 28, 2003 #11
    Re: "The Matrix" (De)Appreciation Thread

    You will notice that in the movie, the knowledge that you lived in the matrix empowered you to control events within that matrix. This knowledge would change your attitude to life. You would try to use it.
    Are you saying that you know what the reality of the universe is?
    That's an assertion. You have no idea whether your inner-perceptions of a universe are reflective of an actual 4-dimensional reality, existing beyond your perceptions of such a thing.
    Certainly not. Such a person might suggest that the universe exists solely within the mind.
  13. Apr 28, 2003 #12
    Yes, and common sense dictates that if we were really in the Matrix, we also wouldn't have produced a movie about it either.

    Perhaps they would still be your own thoughts, but they would be in response to artificial stimuli. Thus, artificiality is used to manifest one's thoughts.

    Now how about this idea: Neo wakes up in his pile of goo, saves the world from a bunch of machines, only to find out that it was originally the matrix that was real and real people in the matrix made up this whole "the one" business just to give him a psychological exam. What if it is the "real world" that is the fabrication and the matrix that is indeed real.

    I can't imagine a single thing in the universe that could declare itself the judge of reality, so to say. If there is no basis to judge reality then the possibilities of what is real or not fall into a cataclysm of countless cycles between possible realities (such as the one previously described). If we doubt the universe's existence as the way we know it, we advance ourselves nowhere.
  14. Apr 28, 2003 #13
    Re: Re: "The Matrix" (De)Appreciation Thread

    I believe in the reality of the universe because to not do so would contradict my existence. Besides, how would we know if at any time the "real world" outside the matrix is real? We could endlessly ponder about how many levels of fabricated universes are controlled by computer programs down to our very existence, but this gets us nowhere. In order to progress as a human race, we must accept the reality of our universe and learn about it under this assumption.

    Yet that person would still agree that the universe is real. Especially if reality is unique to the individual, nowhere would a power exist that could question reality if it were to be an inherent property of one's thoughts.

    Once again, imagining whatever may lie outside our perceptions will not change what we do percieve. We are human beings, not gods of the universe, and we will never accomplish anything by worrying about questions and realities that we are in no place to answer.
  15. Apr 28, 2003 #14
    Your existence is an inner-existence, comprised of inner-sensation; reason; emotion; will. You have self-existence: self-awareness.
    The non-reality of the universe (outside of your sensations of one) does not contradict your existence. Your existence is ascertained by self-attributes. Not by the universe.
    It is easy to counter this. I could just say that in order to progress as a 'race', we must accept the reality of the Mind, and learn from this knowledge of self-existence.
    The inner-awareness of a universe is real. The external-reality of a 4-d universe is open to challenge.
    It is easy to show that the reality of a 4-d universe is unprovable.
    It is also easy to show that the sole means of knowing about existence is gleaned via attributes of the mind. We have a mindful-existence. Science is the study of inner-sensation. It is not the study of an external-reality.
    We have reason. We are in a position to ponder many such things as this. That's what philosophy is all about.
    Your position here is that 'reality' is an external-reflection of our inner-awareness. But you have not used reason to come to this conclusion. Because no such reason exists. Our existence is entirely inwards. And yet you would have us ignore this fact and blindly-accept the reality of an external-realm. And then, finally, you would kill all further debate (worry) about such matters; thus closing our minds to 'reality'. Such methods kill philosophy.
  16. Apr 28, 2003 #15
    You seem to believe that whatever one senses in his mind is his universe. Correct?

    Well part of existing is interacting. A universe cannot merely be confined into one's mind and nothing else. For example, my thoughts right now are obviously part of my universe. They, however, are not part of yours because you cannot experience their sensation. A man needs interaction in order to confirm his existence, it must be physical as well as mental.

    For example, a man can believe with all possible conviction that he has travelled to Alpha Centauri and back overnight. However, this does not mean he actually did so. The mind is certainly a gateway through which we may interpretate and percieve the universe, but it alone cannot dictate the universe. Philosophy is exploring the symbiosis with the cognitive and physical, not subjugating one to the other.
  17. Apr 28, 2003 #16
    I happen to believe that Neo is very sick in the head. He's like a religious fundamentalist that is willing to justify anything in the name of his religion. How many people did he kill in order to "free" them? Remember, when you die in the Matrix, you die in reality.
  18. Apr 29, 2003 #17
    Well, I am sympathetic with the notion that there is something irrelevant about Matrix scenarios, but perhaps for a different reason. It's not that it makes no difference whether we really live in the Matrix or not; it's not that we couldn't ever tell, so we shouldn't care. There are many possible circumstances under which we could tell, such as if we found glitches in the programming, or woke up in a vat of fluid with cables stuck in our bodies.

    In fact, Nick Bostrom has a good empirical argument, the "simulation argument", that it is in fact more probable that we do live in a computer simulation than not. The argument suggests that our descendants will probably have enough information processing ability to simulate worlds like ours, and they will probably want to do so. Indeed, they may even simulate predecessors who are also more advanced than us, and who can create their own simulations, and so forth. Anthropic reasoning would suggest that we should expect - perhaps with overwhelming odds - to find ourselves in a simulated world.

    The reason why I think there is truth to the notion that Matrix scenarios are not really relevant is because I think the intuition underlying it - that we should expect most of our beliefs to be true - is in fact legitimate. That is, even if something like the Matrix scenario turns out to be the case, most of our beliefs, such as that we have bodies, or that we drive cars, or that we live in New York (or wherever) will still be true - in the same way that the sentence "someone is behind me" could be true in the context of a good Counterstrike match, even if no one is actually standing behind you and looking over your shoulder while you're playing. The Matrix scenario is not a skeptical scenario in the way Cartesian evil geniuses are (though to be honest, I doubt the coherence of such skeptical scenarios, anyway). I haven't the time to give a defense of this suggestion now, but I can link you to one that David Chalmers recently wrote for the Matrix philosophy website: http://www.u.arizona.edu/~chalmers/papers/matrix.html [Broken]

    As an aside to Locutus, I doubt anyone really takes kung-fu movies "to heart", except morons and academic philosophers, so no need to worry.

    And as an aside to Tom, I really doubt that anyone (nevermind "many people") takes the Cartesian circle seriously.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  19. Apr 29, 2003 #18
    Daniel C. Dennet, in his book "Consciousness Explained" poses an argument against the "Evil Genius" mentality. By his reasoning (or, rather, by my limited understanding of his reasoning, I may be entirely wrong)), free will is a factor that doesn't allow for anyone to project a "real-like" reality. The "Evil Genius" would have to account for every possible choice, of every person, at any given time. This is simply too much information, and doesn't allow for any kind of random-chance occurance, which the computer could not possibly compensate for.

    Perhaps someone with a greater knowledge of Dennet's philosophy could explain it better...?
  20. Apr 29, 2003 #19
    Hey! I resemble that remark! Jackie Chan is my hero!

    Long Live the Drunken Master Monkey King!
  21. Apr 29, 2003 #20
    Thank you, Mentat, this is an excellent point.

    However, even these scenarios would not prove that we lived in the matrix. If one woke up in a vat of goo, he may reason either "My whole life has been in the Matrix and now I have finally awaken in the real world" OR "My whole life has been in the real world but now I have just been transported to the matrix".

    Both scenarios have equal probability of being true, so I truly think that we would never be able to determine whether our universe is "real" or not. Therefore, the best assumption seems to be to accept our universe as real, because carrying out life on the assumption that our universe is not real is fundamentally flawed.

    I agree. Some things in the universe must be assumed true. For example, the five axioms of Euclidean geometry are assumed to be true, for they are the basis on which all other ideas of Euclidean geomitry are based. One cannot question his existence, for in order to pose the question he must exist in the first place.
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