Life in a Cave: The Flawed Philosophy of the Matrix

As you may or may not know about me, I’m not a big fan of “those kids.” You know the ones I’m talking about: The members of the Phi Delta Burke fraternity who see the Matrix trilogy and think they’ve earned a degree in philosophy, high school sophomores who question the existence of reality aloud as to sound deep , the stoner who thinks he is really a summer sausage that is dreaming of being a man… ok, the last one is funny, but you get the drift of who I’m talking about. I’m not trying to condemn those with philosophical minds (I’ve enjoyed a lecture or two on contrasting the works of Hobbes, Camus, and Merton in my day), but there are some people who, when expressing their opinions on such matters just kind of make you say, “eh, why bother listening.” It’s at this point that you just start nodding your head and humming a song to yourself. I personally prefer “Private Eyes” by Hall and Oates, but you go ahead and choose what ever song you like! It’s like the 13 year old Freshman at my highschool during my senior year who wore Chuck Taylors with the anarchy symbol on them. Like like the above mentioned people, this kid knew about as much about the ideologies he “supports” as I know about spending money properly, or hygene, or making and maintaining friends who enjoy my company (that is to say he knows nothing).

This isn’t some attempt to inflate my ego by showing off how much I know about philosophy, but to simply counter two common arguments I’ve been hearing in recent years:

1. The Matrix might be real!
Well, no it is not real. You see, if there was an army of poorly animated 3D robots using people as batteries while creating an illusionary world while monitoring for any roustabouts or rabble rousers (in the parlance of our times) is, well idiotic. How did I come to this conclusion? It’s so simple, it almost sounds as dumb as the original theory. Why would they allow a movie to be made revealing their poorly developed plot (line [it was a bad trilogy]). The only way I could accept this theory is if said robots were using human energy to power a giant fart machine. That would be funny. I know that not all people are paranoid that the Matrix could be real on a literal level. Most people see value in the film for its loose screen adaptation of Plato’s The Allegory of the Cave (a much more credible work). But don’t hold it’s association with Keanu “Dude” Reeves against Plato’s work. While the basic theme is the same, The Cave suggests that we are prisoners of our own senses’ abilities to perceive the world, while the Matrix says we’re prisoners of… robots.*

2. This world might be, you know, a dream!
Ok, so you took one semester of philosophy in high school and the day the gym teacher substituted for the already under qualified grad school drop out who had been teaching you, you stopped drawing penises on the desk long enough to hear this theory. While this would be a great relief (as it would mean the front butt protruding from under that gym teacher’s wind pants wasn’t real), I have to say that once again I am going to disagree with this theory. I have nothing to really back this stance up except common sense. But I will say this: I would rather spend my life assuming that the world is real and wake up some day to find that I’m really a chubby Italian mattress salesman than worry about it for 80 years and (assuming there’s an afterlife) realize I had taken the movie Waking Life too seriously.

So, that’s my little rant on Philosophy. Do I have the sense of catharsis I was hoping for? Not really. Do I expect to make an impact on anybody’s way of thought? Hell no. Am I gonna skip out of work early to watch Scrubs and eat a turkey sandwich? You bet your ass I am. And in the end, that’s all that really matters.

Peace out. Don’t let the man get you down.

Foot notes:

*also, The Allegory of the Cave had much less marketing support from Powerade. Oh, and Plato didn’t have a sex change after he wrote it.

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