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What if our world were simply a hyper-realistic simulation, with all of us merely characters in an artificial world? Summarizing The Matrix, it is a movie where people are kept inside capsules and are experiencing a real life simulation without noticing it being artificial. Throughout history, philosophers and scientists have often theorized and questioned whether or not we live in a “real” world. There are many things that are still unknown about the world, and adding the possibility of a simulation adds fuel to the fire. The reality is, living on Earth already feels like a simulation. People get out of bed, go to work or school, go home and this process is repeated every single day for their entire lives. The question that is brought up is “How does one know if they are in a simulation or not?” I believe that the possibility of a simulation is highly unlikely, as there is not enough evidence that back up that claim. Opening up to the thought, a simulation would lead to a chain of complications and questions: Who made the simulation? Why did they make it? What is happening to our real bodies? The reason why some people tend to believe that a simulation is casted upon us is because there is also no undeniable proof that we actually live in the real world either. However, there is more evidence from philosophers and scientists that lean towards there being no simulation.
The Matrix can closely be related to Plato’s allegory of the cave. In his allegory of the cave, Plato describes people being born inside a dark cave chained up against a wall and living inside their whole lives. These people have never experienced daylight and often only see mere shadows of people or animals walking by. Eventually, one person was released from his chains and stepped foot into the outside world. He could not believe his eyes as objects looked too good to be true. He was told that the shadows he was used to seeing were fake and artificial, while things like sunlight, plants, and animals were real. Overtime, he gradually adjusted to the new environment and saw a new light in the sun. The sun could be interpreted as “The nature and knowledge of reality.” It gives the viewer knowledge and shows truth behind each object with its light. With his newfound knowledge, the man then returns to the cave to tell his friends about his experience in the outside world. To his surprise, he was not used to the darkness and shadows of the cave. He tried to help free his comrades, but they resisted and thought his experiences were ignorant and useless. The Matrix generally has the same concept as Plato’s allegory of the cave. The main character Neo, was given an opportunity to swallow a red pill and be released from the computer simulation to experience what the real world was like. He then proceeded to swallow the red pill in order to awaken in the real world. To his surprise, thousands of people were being succumbed inside capsules living under a false reality. The man who left the cave and experienced the outside world can be interpreted as Neo. They both left their augmented reality to face truth and what lies beyond what they were accustomed to. Eventually they came back to the artificial realities to help free the people enslaved inside. Importantly, Plato’s allegory is connected to his theory of forms written in his other dialogues. It concludes that “The physical reality is merely a shadow or reflection of the forms reality.” Plato explains that the things we see in the physical world are like the shadows on the wall in his allegory.
The Matrix has many philosophical beliefs behind it. Another of which is the idea of Rene Descartes. Descartes’ Evil Demon describes a powerful demon that controls and exists solely for the purpose of deceiving him (Descartes). The philosopher explains that this particular demon creates a “fictional” world for him to live in and goes as far as falsifying everything Descartes feels with his body. This demon can control and forge everything that exists in the outside world, but cannot touch universal truths and conclusions such as 2+2=4. This mediation causes Descartes to believe that he has no physical body, and is just a mind. Due to this, Descartes decides to escape all the illusions, leaving behind only what is real. This is also known as Cartesian doubt, another one of Descartes’ writing which leads to the famous phrase “I think, therefore I am.” The ideology of Evil Demon can be easily distinguished in The Matrix. In the film, the powerful and controlling demon is The Matrix itself which deceives all of humanity. The Matrix locks away a person’s sense of feel and reality to the point where they are not even able to tell that they are living in a simulation. A flaw in the system was that the machine feeds the individual what they want to believe in. For example, if one person trapped in The Matrix shares what they think oatmeal tastes like, the other person will perceive it tasting as something totally different. In reality, when it comes to tasting food and various other activities, people will generally come to a consensus on the taste.
Now with utilizing these philosophical beliefs, are we able to say with certainty that we are not in a “simulation”? The short answer is unlikely. We can never prove that everything around us is real and not an illusion, nor can we prove that we are living in a simulation. The concept of a world simulation is purely speculation and is based off of personal beliefs. Like Plato’s allegory of the cave, the sun is constantly shining on the Earth, revealing to us what seems to be real and the truth. Descartes’ Evil Demon is probably unrealistic because our sense of feeling and realization are not deceived by someone or something. Everything that we touch or sense is definitely the real deal. Things being false and not actually existing creating a simulation for billions of people would require technology that is far from realistic at this point in time. The chances of a superior being with this technology is quite low. If there really is a simulation happening, then has someone escaped and realized the truth? As far as we know, there has been no Neo in this world. Usually during a simulation, there are a few glitches that happen such as the spoon scene in the matrix. There has not been any abnormal phenomenon similar to this at all in history. No one can bend a spoon with their mind, or dodge bullets in slow motion. The world that we live in today is just too normal for anything to be a simulation.
To conclude, I believe that we are not imprisoned inside a simulation and controlled by a superior being. There are still however, many unexplored and unknown conspiracies that currently exist in our world. This is why there is no certainty that we are not indeed in a simulation. Most likely for centuries, no one will be able to uncover these theories and conspiracies. The only thing that we can do right now is trust everything is real, and continue to theorize ideas to back it up. Reality has not mislead us over the course of history and hopefully it never will. Eventually one day our technology will become so advanced that we would be able to create our own “simulation.” Until then, we should just keep on living our everyday lives as it has been.
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