Matrix and Plato’s Republic Plato is known to be one of the greatest philosophers of his time, and even still considered to be one of the greatest of today. Many of his works have been used to analyze and answer important philosophical questions and are even used today as the basis of different stories and movies. One example of the use of Plato’s philosophy is the movie The Matrix directed by the Wachowski brothers. The Matrix is a reenactment of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave with some exceptions.
In both stories reality is questioned, people are chosen to learn of the truth and everything that is thought to be real is actually not. There are many parallels between the two but there are also some small differences. In Plato’s Cave, the prisoners are bound with chains, hand and foot under bondage. In fact they have been within this very cave since childhood, which much like matrix people are seen as in reality being bound within a pad where they are fed images to keep them in a dreamlike state.
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They have been in this bondage by virtue since their youth and like the Allegory of the Cave they are completely unaware of the reality of this situation. In regards to the Cave they have become conditioned to the shadows that are displayed upon the wall and do not see the true forms of which the shadow is a mere non-substantial pattern of. In the Matrix, within the person of the virtual world, it is a non-substantial pattern of the world, it is reflective of the real world, and it is a shadow in its form and nature being a simulation of the world at a particular point in history.
Like the prisoners in the cave, those who are prisoners in the system of the matrix are held in their calm state by reason of the illusion that stimulates them and tricks them into remaining asleep or rather into being ignorant of the fact that they are prisoners so that the machines can feed from their energy. The shadows on the wall, which are reflective, are to keep the prisoners in the Cave unaware of the fact that they are prisoners, that they are under bondage and have never truly seen life outside of the Cave.
The shadows on the walls act as puppets conducted by puppeteers. They could be seen as the agents, who within the matrix are programs built to maintain that the humans asleep in the matrix remain in their comatose state. They are to support the illusion by keeping man actively ignorant of what is truly happening and make sure they never wake up. The puppeteers of the puppets which are seen on the wall are there to keep the mind of the prisoners stimulated so they never realize that they are chained, and only have a vision that is straightforward.
This basically means that their minds are only subjected to a single perspective and they are unable or even incapable of seeing within other perspectives, “In every way, then, such prisoners would recognize as reality nothing but the shadows of those artificial objects”,(Plato 179). In the Cave there is some light from the fire which casts the shadows of the puppets on the walls. This light can be seen as a small aspect of the sun or a small aspect of the truth.
It can be said that there is truth beyond the illusion, as its source is the light. The same idea can be applied to The Matrix. The source of the Matrix exists in the real world and the light is the people and objects seen in the matrix that were created by the machines of the real world. The prisoner who leaves the cave comes into the sun and their eyes are blinded by the light. The same can be seen when Neo first came out of the matrix and said “My eyes.
I can’t see”, (The Matrix) and was told by Morpheus “That’s because you have never used them before”, (The Matrix). In the Cave the prisoners never used their eyes truly, they were always in the darkness where they could not see behind themselves to see what was the source of the shadows, in fact their eyes were only adjusted to the dimness of the Cave so that when one of the prisoners left the cave and saw the outside, they were blinded having never seen the light before, or in The Matrix having never actually used their eyes before.
When the prisoner returns to the Cave his eyes have to readjust to the illusions of the cave, since it is much darker there. The same thing can be observed when Neo first comes back into the matrix after having been freed, he looks around and has to come to terms with the fact that his whole life in the matrix was a lie. He mentions how he used to eat at a certain restaurant, which was only an illusion in his mind. He has to come to terms with the “shadows” of the actual reality of things and himself.
When the prisoner who has seen outside of the cave attempts to tell the prisoners of course no one believes him, they have never seen it before, and so going by what they have experienced, they see the truth as being what they know in the cave. In the Matrix, jus about no one would believe that they controlled by computer programmed to keep them asleep. This is why, in The Matrix, the few people that are awakened are those who have potential to be awakened, and have come to question things on their own.
The prisoners in the Cave have never seen each other, they only know each other by their voices, and not what anyone looks like. Plato explains “For in the first place prisoners so confined would have seen nothing of themselves or of one another except the shadows thrown by the fire-light on the wall of the cave facing them, would they? “,(Plato 179). Since they can only look forward and see what is in front of them, they have a very limited range of knowledge about life. As a result of this, anything to them that does not correlate to this very limited spectrum of life is not real or of low regard.
When the freed prisoner returns and tells the other prisoners about what he has seen, the only reaction they could possibly have is to think that he is crazy. Another aspect of the shadows is the men who walk across the walkway with their cattle and other things, and the prisoners interpret the shadows as the real thing. Plato also points out that “When one of the people crossing behind them spoke, they could only suppose that the sound came from the shadow passing before their eyes,” (Plato 179).
The essential aspects they believe are supported by the shadows, that the illusion is the substantial reality rather than a reflective allusion. This is similar to The Matrix because people in the matrix assume that all the sounds they hear and every action they see comes from everything around them, which is not real. Everything they see and hear in reality comes from the computer program that they are controlled by in the real word. Even though there are many similarities between The Matrix and Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, there are also some not so obvious differences.
One difference between the two can be found in the “masters” of both stories, the masters being the puppeteers in the Allegory of the Cave and the robots in The Matrix. In the Cave, the puppeteers are not really keeping the prisoners imprisoned for their own benefit. They are just there to prove Plato’s points on what can be perceived as real. In The Matrix the machines that rule the real world are keeping humans imprisoned to feed off their energy. The robots need to keep the humans from getting away because they could not survive if they did not.
Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is essentially put into a visual with the movie The Matrix. There are blaring and obvious similarities between the two, with the allowance of some differences. The Matrix is essentially a reenactment of the Allegory of the Cave with exception of some slight alterations of the characters and plot. Plato’s philosophy on reality is greatly portrayed in the movie The Matrix. Works Cited Lamm, Robert C. The Humanities in Western Culture. Rosemary Bradley. 1996. Print. The Matrix. Dir. Wachowski Bros. Perf. Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie ??? Anne Moss. Warner Bros. 1999. DVD.