Senses: The Reality of Experiencing the World
In 1999, Hilary Putnam, a modern American philosopher, created a megahit movie called The Matrix. This movie was created to explain Putnam’s perception of the problem of skepticism and society’s knowledge of reality. Putnam presented an idea that could completely alter and destroy the thoughts of the human race, if it was true. The thought experiment behind the movie consisted of our brains being severed from all the nerves connected to sensory inputs connected to a giant computer. The computer is controlled by a man that sits at the keyboard of this super computer to input data. As a result, this data is transformed to the brain and processes information as if it were obtained through one’s senses. In conclusion, the brain believes what it experiences, even if the man at the monitor determines what the individual should experience. Although Putnam’s idea became popular, Putnam was not the first philosopher to suggest that there could be a problem with seeing and understanding reality.
In addition to The Matrix, the works of two other philosophers must be considered when thinking on this topic- Plato’s classic work The Republic and Rene Descartes Meditations on First Philosophy. First, we must observe the basis of the recent perception of the idea. The Matrix reveals that knowledge can be overbearing for one to handle alone. As a result, some individuals desire to be ignorant to truth. Some believe “Ignorance is bliss” (Wachowski, 1999, pg. 1). In The Matrix, Neo realizes that he has been living in a dream his whole life. “The Matrix” is the computer program that has controlled him and the entire human race his entire life. Morpheus, who is “a leader of a group of dissidents who are trying to help others see the true nature of their world (Wachowski, 1999, pg. 1),” explains that some people desire to be ignorant because they believe ignorance is more enjoyable than reality, so they do not desire to understand that their life is but a dream in reality.
The Matrix is similar to Plato’s The Republic in a sense that two realities exist. The Republic expresses a parable of men trapped in a subterranean cavern governed by a force that controls the actions and experiences of the “prisoners”. Socrates and Glaucon discuss the parable. They visualize “the prisoners and above them a road along which a low wall has been built, as the exhibitors of puppet shows have partitions before the men themselves, above which they show the puppets” (CITE THIS, para. 1). The individuals in the cave do not see anything else other than what the controller allows them to. They are not allowed to look back and remember the past. They are only allowed to look forward and visualize the future. Likewise, in The Matrix, society only sees and experiences what the man controlling the computer program allows them to engage in.
Descartes Meditations on First Philosophy relate to the concept of the world being under control of a...