Essay on Plato, Descartes and the Matrix

Published: 2021-06-29
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Sewanee University of the South
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The Matrix, the reading from Platos work The Republic and Descartes work the Mediations on First Philosophy have both similarities and differences.

The similarity of these works is, they all shows that the reality that we perceive could be virtual. All these works suggest that there could be some powers beyond us who determines how we see the world. Descartes in Meditation I. Of the things which may be brought within the sphere of the doubtful, argues that we cannot prove that the reality we are in is real. He points out that everything we think we have, the sense of sight, our brain functions and our physical body actives could all be in a dream. He points out that there are no clear distinctions between a dream and real life. He demonstrates that in both the fantasy and real world, we use the same methods to perceive the environment. The eyes look at things the same way and the hands and legs function just like in the real world. He argues that the sciences that try to prove our actual existence cannot be accurate (Descartes, 8). Plato believes that our reality is based on the individual experiences that we have in the course of our life. He points out that there is no set standard to what the reality is. He explains that everyone has their facts depending on their environment. Plato demonstrates his position by giving an analogy of men who are chained in a cave for all a lifetime. The only images that these people can see are of shadows on the walls which shows figures passing. Plato shows that the only reality that these men will have is of the shadows. Plato further points out that, if these people are released and are in our reality, then wont be able to perceive anything since their eyes are very week and the sunlight is too intense for them (Plato, 512-519). The Matrix movie shows the world where a supercomputer has taken over the humanity. The supercomputer controls the humanity by taking over humans minds. The people in the matrix are all living in a virtual world (Stacy Gillis, 109).

The difference between the Matrix, Plato and Descartes work is how their story ends. The movies show that some humans realized that the supercomputer was controlling people mind. The few individuals who recognized the scheme to control them started fighting towards liberating humanity from the system. Plato and Descartes dont have a way out to the virtual world. Plato shows that the prisoners who are trapped in the shadow reality cannot see the reality of our world due to the immense light that their weak eyes will experience. Descartes on the other hands points out that there is no way of proving that we are not living in a virtual world.

In my opinion, the harshness of reality is better than the ignorance is bliss of illusion. Residing in a dream could be comfortable, but I believe in God, and the life we live should be in line with His teachings. I think that as humans, God has given us life to serve a higher purpose than just a dreamy world of physical pleasure. The virtual world just like in the Matrix and Platos cave allegory is an illusion; it is living a lie. As a believer in Gods purpose over our life, virtual reality contradicts that belief. God wants us to live an honest life according to His will. Prov. 6:16-19 shows clearly the things that God hates. It states that God hates those who lies and give false witness. Cipher a character in the Matrix demonstrates the disadvantage of dwelling entirely on the physical pleasure and the virtual world. Cypher chose the dream over the truth and reality. The choice he made led to the death of some of his friends. He lost his morals, and by the end of the day, he had a terrible end (Stacy Gillis, 111). Plato demonstrates the difference between the real life and the illusion. He shows that if the prisoners experience our reality, the actual life outside the cave, they would count themselves lucky and pity their fellow inmates who are living a virtual life (Plato, 517). Therefore, living a virtual life robs a human being of all the good and bad that the real life has to offer. God who is loving, merciful and gracious has provided humanity a free will. A controlled life is living under someone elses terms and conditions depriving him/her the free will.


Descartes, Rene. Meditations on First Philosophy. Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Plato. The Republic. Penguin Classics, 2007.

Gillis, Stacy. Style and Substance in the Matrix. London and New York: Wallflower Press, 2005.

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