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The Matrix

The Matrix is a 1999 science fiction action film written and directed by the Wachowskis. It is the first installment in The Matrix film series, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, and Joe Pantoliano. It depicts a dystopian future in which humanity is unknowingly trapped inside a simulated reality, the Matrix, which intelligent machines have created to distract humans while using their bodies as an energy source. When computer programmer Thomas Anderson, under the hacker alias "Neo", uncovers the truth, he joins a rebellion against the machines along with other people who have been freed from the Matrix.

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The Philosophy

Philosopher William Irwin suggests that the idea of the "Matrix" a generated reality invented by malicious machines is an allusion to Descartes' "First Meditation", and his idea of an evil demon. The Meditation hypothesizes that the perceived world might be a comprehensive illusion created to deceive us. The same premise can be found in Hilary Putnam's brain in a vat scenario proposed in the 1980s. A connection between the premise of The Matrix and Plato's Allegory of the Cave has also been suggested. The allegory is related to Plato's theory of Forms, which holds that the true essence of an object is not what we perceive with our senses, but rather its quality, and that most people perceive only the shadow of the object and are thus limited to false perception. The philosophy of Immanuel Kant has also been claimed as another influence on the film, and in particular how individuals within the Matrix interact with one another and with the system. Kant states in his Critique of Pure Reason that people come to know and explore our world through synthetic means (language, etc.), and thus this makes it rather difficult to discern truth from falsely perceived views. This means people are their own agents of deceit, and so in order for them to know truth, they must choose to openly pursue truth. This idea can be examined in Agent Smith's monologue about the first version of the Matrix, which was designed as a human utopia, a perfect world without suffering and with total happiness. Agent Smith explains that, "it was a disaster. No one accepted the program. Entire crops [of people] were lost." The machines had to amend their choice of programming in order to make people subservient to them, and so they conceived the Matrix in the image of the world in 1999. The world in 1999 was far from a utopia, but still humans accepted this over the suffering-less utopia. According to William Irwin this is Kantian, because the machines wished to impose a perfect world on humans in an attempt to keep people content, so that they would remain completely submissive to the machines, both consciously and subconsciously, but humans were not easy to make content.

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