Reality and the Matrix | Reality | Plato

Reality and the Matrix

Reality is defined by the dictionary as "the totality of all things posessing actuality, existence or essence". This definition is short and simple but the concept of reality is perplexing. We are able to prove aspects of being but proving that our concept of reality to be correct has never yet been quite possible. Many philosophers have questioned our narrow-minded, self assurance of the world, the reality in which we live. Plato contemplated 3,000 years ago the idea that we are merely sitting in a world of fantasy with our backs against reality, not bothering to turn around to see what else new discoveries may greet us. More recently, the blockbuster films "The Truman Show" and "The Matrix" have centred their plots around the theory that our world (the world of one man in "The Truman Show") is not the real world and that we are only seeing an acted representation of the world ("The Truman Show") or a world inside a computer program, in the case of "The Matrix". The question whether or not we could be deceived easily enough to mistake our world for the "real world" if it were not is as controversial as any. As is highlighted in "The Matrix" children are more easily deceived than adults, primarily because they are less accustomed to their circumstances. Aristotle also believed children were more easily deceived and cheated although unlike today he wasn't able to record precise experiments to prove this. Even as adults the brain and the senses can be quite easily tricked in a variety of ways (e.g. optical illusions or card tricks). Plato (427-347 BCE) was a student of Socrates at the beginning of his philosophical career but was also influenced by other famous philosophers and mathematicians throughout his life such as Pythagoras. "...that the reality which scientific thought is seeking must be expressible in mathematical terms, mathematics being the most precise and definite kind of thinking of which we are capable. The significance of this idea for the development of science from the first beginnings to the present day has been immense." - Plato. He established a school of philosophy in his home city of Athens and tried to pass on a Socratic way of thinking to guide, through mathematical learning and to discover new philosophical truths. Mathematics was indeed key to many of Plato's theories. Circularity, squareness, and triangularity are examples of what Plato meant by "forms". Plato believed "forms" have greater reality than objects in the physical world both because of their perfection and stability and because they are models, resemblance to which gives ordinary physical objects whatever reality they have. This theory is similar to Picasso's approach to art in Cubism and Edgar Degas' belief that all natural forms were related to the cube the cone and the cylinder. Plato approved of certain religious and moralistic art works but his main criticism of artist's work was their apparent lack of genuine knowledge of what they were doing, he thought the physical, beautiful flower was one step away from reality and in art was another step away from reality. In book seven of 'The Republic' Plato tells of "The Allegory Of The Cave." He begins the story by describing a dark underground cave where a group of people are sitting in one long row with their backs to the cave's entrance. Chained to their chairs from an early age, all the humans can see is the distant cave wall in from of them. Their view of reality is solely based upon this limited view of the cave which is only a very much inferior version, a poor copy of the real world.

Bibliography Film: 'The Matrix' 'The Truman Show'

Texts: 'The Philosophy Files' by Stephen Law Websites: http://www.dictionary.com http://www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Plato.html http://www.geocities.com/hollywood/theater/9175 http://www.ku.edu/kansas/medieval/108/lectures/philosophy.html http://www.molloy.edu/academic/philosophy/sophia/aristotle http://www.philosophypages.com/ph/plat.htm

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