In the movie The Matrix, the question is raised on how someone can know whether the things he or she perceives are real or just an illusion. This position as adversely taken is called skepticism; the overall genuine knowledge towards such matters is normally deemed as unattainable. Consequently, a close examination of The Matrix exploits the fears of Descartes’ theory which comes out from his Mediations on First Philosophy. The film is a manipulation of the mind and soul especially by establishing that human actions have no real consequences in a world that seems to exist independently from their own mind. In so doing, it helps understand whether the thoughts are not being manipulated, and that the perception of reality is actually accurate.
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In the movie, there is an inclusion of the blue pill and the red one. These pills are incorporated in order to serve as a mechanism by which someone can either remain in the illusory world of matrix (the blue pill) or exist in the real world (the red pill). The problem which comes out of the film is that Anderson/ Neo is presented with these pills while he still exists in an illusory world. Even more significantly, the pills themselves are illusions. This in turn brings out concerns regarding how exactly taking an illusory pill could enable Anderson to come out of the matrix fantasy and venture into reality. It is in this aspect that this essay discusses not only how, but why Anderson should choose the red pill.
Anderson (Neo), as portrayed in the film, is a software developer by day and a computer hacker by night that is successfully recruited by Morpheus, an underground rebel. His recruitment is driven by his concern to learn the meaning of cryptic references associated with the Matrix which continuously appear on his computer. This means that Anderson, must take the pill to help himself clearly capture this reality. As Morpheus explains, “The pill you took is part of a trace program. It’s designed to disrupt your input/output carrier signal so we can pinpoint your location” (Grau 12).
Consequently, Morpheus’ speech to Neo (Anderson) about taking the red pill implies getting someone high for the first time from his illusory world into reality. He says to Neo, “This is your last chance. After this there is no turning back. You take the blue pill, the story ends; you wake and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you just how deep the rabbit hole goes” (Grau 16). It, therefore, means that taking the red pill will open the soon-to-be Neo’s eyes towards the fantasy he has been living in. This will enable him to see the reality which is represented by the red pill. Another reason why Anderson should take the red pill is that it signifies a free-thinking attitude which is intended to make him awake from the normal life of sloth and ignorance through the determination of the truth. Morpheus points out to Neo as he reaches for red pill, “Remember, all I’m offering is the truth, nothing more” (Grau 21). Contrary to taking the red pill implies that if Neo takes in the blue pill that signifies an illusion, he would continue to have stayed within the Matrix; illusory world, thereby being blind to the reality.
As Descartes argues, dreams are difficult to distinguish from reality, but it is only in reality that one is able to have independent thought produced by his mind. Sometimes, dreams are usually vivid and indeed lucid. This makes it impossible for an individual to be sure whether what he or she is experiencing under such conditions is illusive or reality (Descartes 35). It is this kind of problem that has not given a sure test that can effectively help in distinguishing vivid dreams from perception that Anderson receives in the real world under normal circumstances. However, by taking the red pill, Anderson is able to probe the next step of sensory and perceptual manipulation in making a clear distinction on the quality of the dream. In so doing, he is assured that what is dreamt is not actually real.
Descartes’ First Mediation on his famous Dream Argument suggests that even though there is a waking experience, it is difficult to point out which moments are dreams and which ones are awakenings. This means that senses are not always reliable and therefore they cannot be trusted. By universally depending on them, an individual is not able to determine the reality. Anderson should take the red pill in order to help him solve the problem of everything which he perceives as illusive. This is evident when Neo is welcomed by Morpheus into the Desert of the Real. He says, “You’ve been living in a dream world, Neo. This is the world as it exists today” (Grau 23). The Matrix only existed as part of the neural-interactive simulation that made people believe on the illusiveness of everything. This is due to the fact that imagination, as created by the film, in the same manner as senses cannot be trusted. “The imagination can conjure up ideas of all sorts of things that are not real, so it cannot be the guide of knowing individual’s own essence” (Descartes 26). Therefore, choosing out the red pill would help Anderson in determining the moment at which his mind was being manipulated in denoting future possibility when in fact it was a present reality.
In conclusion, The Matrix is a good philosophical movie that brings out concerns of determining whether something is real or illusive. Based on the above, an individual’s reality can only be obtained through taking the red pill. This is a symbol of reality which denotes that any existence is due to independent thoughts as produced by human mind. People should understand the manipulative aspect of created visual simulations in order to live a realistic life by avoiding a comprehensive control of their mind.
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