The following article, entitled, ?The Matrix as Metaphysics? by Dr.
David J. Chalmers, Director of the University of Arizona?s Center for
Consciousness Studies, (Dept. of Philosophy), is an excellent
treatment of the character Neo?s philosophy and of the general
philosophical theories presented in the film, The Matrix:
[ http://www.u.arizona.edu/~chalmers/papers/matrix.html ].
Note: this is a lengthy article, and so I will paraphrase part of it
here, along with key excerpts, but I highly recommend you read the
article in its entirety, from beginning to end.
Chalmers states, ?The Matrix presents a version of an old
philosophical fable: the brain in a vat. A disembodied brain is
floating in a vat, inside a scientist's laboratory. The scientist has
arranged that the brain will be stimulated with the same sort of
inputs that a normal embodied brain receives. To do this, the brain is
connected to a giant computer simulation of a world. The simulation
determines which inputs the brain receives. When the brain produces
outputs, these are fed back into the simulation. The internal state of
the brain is just like that of a normal brain, despite the fact that
it lacks a body. From the brain's point of view, things seem very much
as they seem to you and me.?
Another key construct:
?Let's say that a matrix (lower-case "m") is an artificially-designed
computer simulation of a world. So the Matrix in the movie is one
example of a matrix. And let's say that someone is envatted, or that
they are in a matrix, if they have a cognitive system which receives
its inputs from and sends its outputs to a matrix. Then the brain at
the beginning is envatted, and so is Neo.
We can imagine that a matrix simulates the entire physics of a world,
keeping track of every last particle throughout space and time.
(Later, we will look at ways in which this set-up might be varied.) An
envatted being will be associated with a particular simulated body. A
connection is arranged so that whenever this body receives sensory
inputs inside the simulation, the envatted cognitive system will
receive sensory inputs of the same sort. When the envatted cognitive
system produces motor outputs, corresponding outputs will be fed to
the motor organs of the simulated body.?
Chalmers goes on to say that, ?We can think of the Matrix Hypothesis
as a creation myth for the information age.?
Again, the full text of the article is located here [
http://www.u.arizona.edu/~chalmers/papers/matrix.html ], and there is
a list of relevant references at the end of the article.
The following official Warner Bros. site, whatisthematrix.com, offers
several essays on the subject of what exactly constitutes the Matrix:
[ http://whatisthematrix.warnerbros.com/rl_cmp/phi.html ].
In particular from this site, I recommend the article, ?The Brave new
World of the Matrix,? by Hubert Dreyfus and Stephen Dreyfus:
[Due to the site?s frame structure, I can?t give you a direct link to
this article, but click on the link above, and from the left menu
select ?The Brave new World of the Matrix,?].
Here?s an excerpt from the above article:
?The Matrix1 raises several familiar philosophical problems in such
fascinating new ways that, in a surprising reversal, students all over
the country are assigning it to their philosophy professors. Having
done our homework, we'd like to explore two questions raised in
Christopher Grau?s three essays on the film. Grau points out that The
Matrix dramatizes René Descartes? worry that, since all we ever
experience are our own inner mental states, we might , for all we
could tell, be living in an illusion created by a malicious demon. In
that case most of our beliefs about reality would be false. That leads
Grau to question the rationality of Cypher?s choice to live in an
illusory world of pleasant experiences, rather than facing painful
We think that The Matrix 's account of our situation is even more
disturbing than these options suggest. The Matrix is a vivid
illustration of Descartes? additional mind blowing claim that we could
never be in direct touch with the real world (if there is one) because
we are, in fact, all brains in vats.?
The next link is to a non-fiction book entitled, ?The Matrix &
Philosophy: Welcome To The Desert Of The Real,? which is a collection
of 20 essays on the subject by world-renowned philosophers:
[ http://www.thinkgeek.com/books/nonfiction/5d52/ ].
The book costs $14.99 in paperback. Here?s an excerpt from a review of
it from the above site:
?The Matrix is the most philosophical film ever made, every step of
its fast-paced plot pivoting on a philosophical conundrum. If the
world as we know it is nothing more than our dream, does this make the
dream real? If we had the choice to step out of our world into a more
real but less pleasant one--to take the red pill--would it be a moral
failure not to do so? Why do humans have a value above that of
intelligent electronic mechanisms? Can the mind live without the body
or the body without the mind?
In The Matrix And Philosophy, professional philosophers analyze The
Matrix from many angles: metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, and
aesthetic. They uncover hidden depths in this intricate work of art
and often reach disturbing conclusions. Those who take the red pill
never look at 'the real world' the same way again.?
Here?s a link to a lengthy article entitled, ?The Philosophy of the
Matrix,? by Christopher Grau:
Here?s an excerpt from Grau?s article:
?Our ordinary intuition is that there's something valuable about the
real deal that is missing in a Matrix. Consider your present
situation. You are either right now in a Matrix, thinking that it's a
certain time and place when it really isn't, that a certain sequence
of physical events is occurring when it really isn't, and so on; or
you aren't, and it really is that time and place, and so on. Most of
us hope we are not in a Matrix right now, which shows that, other
things being equal (that is, where the experiences are identical in
subjective character), we prefer the real deal. My hunch is that you
also hope that, if your present existence is not the real deal, it's
at least participation in a teeming Matrix. Being in the real deal has
two distinct features of apparent value: your beliefs are more
connected to the truth, and you really interact with other human
From Kurzweiler?s site dedicated to technology and Artificial
Intelligence (AI) comes the following article, entitled, ?Parallel
universes, the Matrix, and superintelligence,? by Michio Kaku:
[ http://www.kurzweilai.net/meme/frame.html?main=memelist.html?m=1%23598 ].
Here?s an excerpt from the above article:
?Now, in the Matrix, several metaphors are raised. One metaphor is
whether computing machines can create artificial realities. That would
require a civilization centuries or millennia ahead of ours, which
would place it squarely as a Type I or Type II civilization. However,
we also have to ask a practical question: is it possible to create
implants that could access our memory banks to create this artificial
reality, and are machines dangerous? My answer is the following. First
of all, cyborgs with neural implants: the technology does not exist,
and probably won't exist for at least a century, for us to access the
central nervous system. At present, we can only do primitive
experiments on the brain.?
The following links will lead you to many more resources on this subject.
Google search strategy:
?"The Matrix" philosophy?:
I certainly hope that this information more than satisfies your need
for resources on this topic. If it does not, or if I have left
anything out here which is important to you, please don?t hesitate to
ask for Clarification to this Answer.
Thanks for the opportunity to work on such a fascinating question.
Google Answers Researcher