Philosophical Perspectives in the Matrix





Philosophical Perspectives in the Matrix


The Matrix is a film with a heavily futuristic theme that is set in the 23rd century. Machines and robots have assumed control of the world. These intelligent machines had managed to trap humans and restrict their activity using the Matrix, a virtual reality program that deceived people into thinking they were still living a normal life in 1999. However, a section of the human who had detached themselves from the pods saw the actual problems with the 21st century. Consequently, their biggest priority was to liberate the bound colleagues from the false reality. Eventually, they locate Neo, a man who is prophesied to lead the liberation and free all humans from bondage. Consequently, Neo acknowledges his fate and proceeds to lead the rebels in a common cause. This particular philosophical analysis will investigate Plato’s Allegory of the Cave in relation to the Matrix film.


The Matrix is a false reality that everyone experiences which is not actually genuine although it is difficult to differentiate from the original. One fascinating tricky situation over the normal solipsistic “brain in the pod” setting is the idea that all the human captives are connected to the same software. Therefore, they have the ability to experience fellow humans just like the normal world. Two people can walk past each other on the street, greet someone, indulge in a conversation, and share exactly the same events as ordinary people, with one disparity: their bodies were in reality positioned, not in the city where they saw, but in two separate pods, most likely remote from each another. Of course, the audience is aware of this while the characters are not. This implies that, within boundaries, imprisoned humans can apply an influence on the virtual software. Humans choose the words in the conversation consequently influencing the experience presented to them by the Matrix. The following section discusses the philosophical framework of the Allegory of the Café and draws examples from the film.

In summary, the Allegory of the Cave refers to Plato’s philosophy of people who have been chained inside a cave their whole life. Consequently, they learn about the universe using the shadows that are projected on their wall and this forms their reality. Plat explained that the philosopher could be deemed as the man who had the chance to leave the cave and subsequently grasp the understanding that the shadows did not form part of reality. This is because he is now able to perceive the true universe instead of vague shadows as was in the cave. While “The Matrix” reflects Plato’s allegory in many places particularly in structure. Its plot is significantly intricate as well as the fact that it was transformed into a contemporary action film. The film attracts a modern viewer base that can identify with the central character, Neo mainly because the current society harbor a deep feeling of being detached from present society.

In a similar manner to the captives in Plato’s allegory, Neo is fettered to a massive building where devices gather his body’s heat to drive themselves. Both the captives and the other humans in the matrix are aware of their incarcerated state; they are very oblivious that the reality they assume they know is artificial. While describing the matrix, Morpheus tells Neo, “…you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage. Born into a prison that you cannot smell, taste, or touch. A prison for your mind” (Wachowski, Lana, Silver & Keanu 76) “The Matrix” represents the murky cave where captives are accurately chained. However, in the film, the imprisonment is a virtual one where the nation is not literally bound. Rather, they are mentally confined. This reinforces their conviction that they are liberated while in reality, they are not. This inhibits them from acting to change their state of imprisonment.

An essential theme in Plato’s philosophy and teachings and “The Matrix” is the concept of man’s confines in knowledge. “The Matrix” invokes questions in its audience concerning the definite limits and bounds of human behavior. The film presents these inadequacies not only in the protagonist’s attainment of knowledge, but also of their capability to overcome physical restrictions that the human prisoners are still overbearing them. In the same way that Neo gained the ability to execute physically impractical maneuvers once he learnt to control the virtual software, the philosopher is similarly able to study infinite wisdom only after he escapes from the cave. One of the fundamentals elements of Plato’s philosophy is acknowledging one’s boundary of understanding and consequently making a deliberate effort to overcome those limits. In the film, the protagonist applied this strategy to his physical restrictions that were imposed on him by the virtual reality. Acknowledging his limits and understanding that they were artificial, allows him to achieve impossible feats in the matrix, for instance, stopping fired bullets and flying without wings. The kind of life that a person leads does not necessarily represent the totality of their ability. The man or woman who can free themselves from the invisible chains will possess the ability to perceive the world in its true sense.

Between Plato’s symbolism and the film, it is evident that the protagonists in both stories are released from their dark caves and into the radiance to pursue their true reality. The prisoner learns from shadows while in the cave that is a direct similarity to what Neo perceived in the film. The Matrix is a penitentiary developed as a virtual universe that manipulated all the humans and all the aspects in it and represented a new reality. This alternate world has elements that cannot be seen or perceived. In such a virtual state of mind, people who would not think that they are not ensnared are still trapped. With the entry of Neo into the Matrix, the audience can see a similarity with a man trapped in Plato’s cave. When the prisoner ended up being released and introduced into the real world, this is when Neo opted to think whether the Matrix was authentic or not. The disparity between the Plato’s allegory and the Matrix is that the universe the prisoners existed in is a significantly more objectionable universe than the one Neo existed. The captives are shackled in the cave from the day they started living without any other job apart from staring at the wall and studying the shadows. Nevertheless, in the film, Neo goes into a world where the limits of science are defied and a universe that is not limited by regulations or authority.

One key predicament The Matrix describes is whether the captives want to disentangle themselves from their apparent reality. In his allegory of the cave, Plato portrays the cave in a very pessimistic light: the detainees are shackled, the figures are dim and deformed while the voices are misunderstood echoes. Overcoming this detained state is the purpose of authentic education, perceived as an escape from incarceration, a revolving or reorientation of one’s whole being, an uphill journey from dark into daylight. While in the Matrix, the virtual realism is an enjoyable one, though its occupants are senseless, they also have little stress and life is not cruel or frightening. A significant plot change in the account occurs when Cypher deceived the group since he opted for the easier way of existing provided by the matrix and preferred to go back to the pods rather than fight the advanced intelligent machines. While it is difficult to think anyone would prefer to stay fettered to the cave, it is relatively easy to imagine residing in a virtual universe such as the current one rather than venturing into a murky war zone.

In the movie, it is proposed that people should be detached from technology before they attain a certain age since some people may end up failing to accept the reality of the world in their environment. One of the allusions in the Allegory of the Cave, it states if the captives remained in the cave, or are not liberated at a younger age, they may fail to understand and acknowledge a greater good. If a person is too mature or else established in their manner of philosophy, it is extremely unlikely that they will be able to comprehend and convince themselves that all the elements they have learnt to perceive as genuine has been nothing but a complicated frontage. The Matrix represents another category of reality. In spite of its existence as a model, the decisions people carry out within the virtual reality are understood by the mind as authentic. Consequently, any action that takes place in the Matrix is manifested in the real world as well since the brain perceives what happens within the Matrix as “genuine”. In another reference to Plato’s allegory, it states “…what exists is reality, like the shadows dancing on the wall in Plato’s cave.” The mind perceives the events occurring within the Matrix as genuine, and despite the fact that the cast have the capability to defy the laws of physics to achieve supernatural feats since they are aware that the Matrix is simulator software, they cannot confront the mind’s awareness of personal damage or death.

The very basic disparities between the film and the allegory include the reality that the movie has no forms while the allegory of the cave has numerous instances. Similarly, unlike Plato’s hostage, who eventually found his way out of the cave without the assistance of other people, Morpheus provided his expertise to help Neo. The Matrix film successfully triggers questions among scholars over what is “real”. Most of the viewers of the movie lack the candidness that is common in the Allegory of the Cave. Authenticity is not as evident in the Matrix that forces the viewers to inquire on assumptions about the solidity of reality that surrounds the environment. At the very least, the movie makes people reanalyze their reality and its meaning in their life. The Allegory of the cave offers an important opportunity for a fresh comprehension of peripheral reality since understanding the genuine form of reality is quite difficult. The captive lived his life believing that was he perceived in the cave was the actual reality, but when he exited the cave, he became conscious of the fact that genuine reality was that was located outside in the world. “The Matrix” renews the original metaphor and includes a more normal appeal. It also concentrates more on individual feelings and sentiments. These two creations contain numerous similarities and rotate around the same metaphysical query.

Most people tend not to question what knowledge is before they can assess whether they possess it or not. People make claims of being in possession of knowledge about things and most people are comfortable with this level of knowledge. There are several reasons for this phenomenon but the most probable is that humans pick a specific description over time in a general manner. The basic components of knowledge involve certainty, evidence, and a universal agreement. Empiricism is one of the philosophical frameworks that argue that all knowledge originates from senses that are experienced by man. Consequently, the theory stresses on the presence of evidence to acquire ideas. Therefore, for humans to claim that they have knowledge, they have to experience it. This theory has the weakness in that it is virtually impossible for a single individual to have experienced all the aspects in the universe. Another philosophical framework is the constructivism theory. It argues that the knowledge acquired by human beings is construed and highly dependent on the social experiences. Its main weakness is that it depends on the society, which is highly volatile and dynamic, knowledge in the society changes at a rapid pace.


After all the major arguments have been put forward, it is evidently clear that The Matrix holds a great number of parallels with the concepts of many theorists, both current and conventional and many biblical beliefs. It is apparent that there were several ideas within the film that can encourage both academic and theoretical understanding and dialogue. At a strictly theatrical level, The Matrix stands out as an exceedingly creative and thematically radiant film but its exact superiority lies within its theoretical values. While the public may have perceived this movie for what it was promoted as, a powerful action movie, many have studied the detailed ideas and realized that the film contained more than special effects and actions.


Work Cited

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Wachowski, Andy, Lana Wachowski, Joel Silver, Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Gloria Foster, and Joe Pantoliano. The Matrix. Burbank, CA: Warner Bros. Pictures, 2001.

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