Monday, June 2, 2008

Philosophy at the matrix

The Matrix

The Matrix is a film that astounds not only with action and special effects but also with ideas. These pages are dedicated to exploring some of the many philosophical ideas that arise in both the original film and the sequels. In the upcoming months we will be continually expanding this section, offering essays from some of the brightest minds in philosophy and cognitive science. News about updates to this section can be found right here. (Scroll down to read about the latest update, or just click here.)

We are kicking things off with essays from eight different contributors on various philosophical, technological, and religious aspects of the film.

Though this collection of essays is part of the official web site for
the Matrix films, the views expressed in these essays are solely
those of the individual authors
. The Wachowski brothers have remained
relatively tight-lipped regarding the religious symbolism and philosophical
themes that permeate the film, preferring that the movie speak for itself.
Accordingly, you will not find anyone here claiming to offer the definitive analysis of the film, its symbols, message, etc. What you
will find instead are essays that both elucidate the philosophical problems
raised by the film and explore possible avenues for solving these problems.
Some of these essays are more pedagogical in nature – instructing
the reader in the various ways in which The Matrix raises questions
that have been tackled throughout history by prominent philosophers.
Other contributors use the film as a springboard for discussing their
own original philosophical views. As you will see, the authors
don’t always agree with each other regarding how best to interpret the
film. However, all of the essays share the aim of giving the reader
a sense of how this remarkable film offers more than the standard Hollywood
fare. In other words, their common goal is to help show you just “how
deep the rabbit-hole goes.”

Beginning the collection are three short essays in which I discuss two
of the more conspicuous philosophical questions raised by the film:
the skeptical worry that one’s experience may be illusory, and
the moral question of whether it matters. Highlighting the parallels
between the scenario described in The Matrix and similar imaginary
situations that have been much discussed by philosophers, these essays
offer an introduction to the positions taken by various thinkers on
these fascinating skeptical and moral puzzles. They serve as a warm-up
for things to come.

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