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February 02, 2005

Comments

Phil Aldridge

I always thought Neo was a "Moses" figure if anything, although ascribing a coherent allegory to the film is being too kind. It's a techno-thriller that desperately wishes it was a philosophy film. It's a poser.

I'm VERY interested in your Agent Smith/Christ figure theory though. Do you happen to have a link to a written article on the topic or could I implore you to explain your idea here?

djc

It's in section 5 of "The Matrix as Metaphysics". Here's the relevant paragraph:

In the movie Matrix, of course, the creators are machines. This gives an interesting twist on common theological readings of the movie. It is often held that Neo is the Christ figure in the movie, with Morpheus corresponding to John the Baptist, Cypher to Judas Iscariot, and so on. But on the reading I have given, the gods of the Matrix are the machines. Who, then, is the Christ figure? Agent Smith, of course! After all, he is the gods' offspring, sent down to save the Matrix world from those who wish to destroy it. And in the second movie, he is even resurrected.
clark

I think the computers as the Gods though runs right into the conflict in the film between its gnosticism and its Catholicism. They really are at odds. One could well see Smith as a doppleganger of Neo who is the Christ figure. Thus Smith as the anti-Christ. But unfortunately as confused as some things were in the first film they completely fell apart in the next two.

Reading through the site though I was interested as why there weren't more Continental commentators. I think that especially in the second film they were heading down towards a Levinas like view. However it was very, very clumsily done and then completely ignored in the third film.

Dark City is a movie with many of the same philosophical aspirations as the Matrix. It achieves them much more competently though.

Kit

The first Matrix had lots of potential and was littered with philosophical and religious references. For me the movie worked as Rorschach test, you could see connections you projected into the movie. Maybe that was intentional.

I concur with clark on Dark City. For me Dark City was more philosophically entertaining and raised intresting philosophical point. In the Matrix it is assumed that people have internal "gut feeling" that tells them there is something wrong in their universe. But how that gut feeling could have envolved?

If you live in "Brain in a vat"-esque environment that seems to clearly artificial and contain self evident logical inconsistencies if looked from outside (you watching the movie) how hard it might to realize them from inside. Usually in brain in a vat settings it is assumed that simulated environment that interacts with the brain must be coherent and accurate simulation to the atom level at least. But what if brain had been born and living in SimSity like wery coarse kind of world? If you have been living your whole life in coarse simulation and you discover the laws of it's universe, how could you ever come to conclusion that it's a artificially made hoax?

Isn't this actually what creationists are claiming? We are living in artificial God made universe that is not closed logically coherent accurate atom level simulation. Creator of the game inserted the earth, souls, animal species etc. into the game. They can't emerge from the gameplay from themselves.

BickByro

Hey there! Dave knows me; others do not. I'm an amateur, so I'm guessing there are some obvious holes in what I'm about to say... but that's why I'm posting it here!

Tonight, while contemplating the folly of Dennett, I hit upon the idea of "the Anti-Matrix."

We are all familiar with the basic concept of the Matrix, in which that which we perceive as external reality is but a forgery. Now, consider the converse of that: the Anti-Matrix. In such a universe, that which we perceive as internal reality is but a forgery. Our main character might be called Owen instead of Neo.

I certainly can see how it is possible we could be living in the Matrix, but I don't see how it is possible we could be living in the Anti-Matrix.

It seems that accepting the world of the Anti-Matrix would implicitly allow for the possibility of a nested "regular Matrix." For if our internal reality is but a forgery, how can we possibly trust that what we see as the external, "really real" reality isn't also a forgery? This way of looking at the world looks to me like a donut-shaped version of Kant's philosophy, with the central perceiver knocked completely out of the picture---the external world doesn't exist, and neither do we.

The conclusions of such a way of thinking just boggle my mind. But maybe this is just because I'm a Chalmersite. If anybody out there understands how the Anti-Matrix could make sense, I'd honestly love to know.

BickByro

Furthermore, though I could be all wet about this:

It seems to me Dave is saying that a Matrix world would be "real *to us*" to the extent that it had an internally consistent set of rules, and could therefore be learned about. There seems to be an implication here that a world without an internally consistent set of rules could not similarly fool us---that we would somehow know it was "not real."

I wonder if this is necessarily the case; would a "random" Matrix seem any less real than the "classic" Matrix to participants who had never known anything else?

android

my friend and I were arguing that the philosophy in the movie was stolen.
my theory is that the Wackoski brothers expanded the philosophy , and illustrated the idea behind the philosophy. I have asked myself a few times when i was growing up , how do Iknow I'm breathing air and so on. If i were to make a movie about this would I then be accused of stealing someone's idea.
This might be irrelent to you, but we are in need of an answer . Is it important to talk about other philosophers when trying to understand why things are the way they are.

ShaneOrion

It's my belief, and this might be just a hope, that the matrix was designed to refer to, not steal, other philosophies. It was delivered out to a mass of people who don't necessarily study philosophy or think about a greater truth, and it filled them with questions. It brings up discussions just like this one.

And yes, as noted numerous times a specific book was placed in the film which was written by Postmodernist Philosopher Jean Baudrillard (sp?). That's a reference. They reference him again later on with the quote "Desert of the Real". It's taken straight off the second page of Simulations. The thing i can't figure out however is why they're in there. The film seems to uphold a lot of modernist ideas, but then again, it also throughout the trilogy touches on many diferent philosophies throughout history from Socrates, to Descartes, to Neitchze (sp?), to Marx and so on. If you dig far enough, you'll find a lot of different views, some intentional, and some possibly unintentional. The point is that they're there, and you can find them. Look them up, and discover more.

One of the things i would consider a bit of a joke in the first film would be when Neo opens up his oversized version of Simulacra and Simulations. It's as if it's showing that people these days would be unable to spot the obvious size problem with the book, or never search in a philosophy book, as no one searches for enlightenment anymore. I however still have a lot of work to do in studying myself before i can continue to comment however.

I enjoy the idea that Smith is a Jesus figure, but to me he seams to strongly represent the distructive, and viral-like tendancies of Nihilism and other current and common human beliefs. The "Why" speach at the end of they're final fight really strongly points out the great battle of mankind, and neo responds with the great virtue of man.

Again, i still have a lot to learn, before i finish that thought.

I know that the film has allowed me to study and learn. Hell! That's how I found this site.

Dave, if you would, I'm working on a paper/panel discussion/presentation for class on the matrix, the possibilities of using it for an introductory philosophy class, and it's connections to philosophy. If you have anything you'd like to say, any references you'd like to refer to me, or just review some of my ideas in order to tell me they're crap, I'd love to hear your responce.

Thanks

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