Have you ever wondered whether, Plato, if he were alive in the 20 century, would he be a brilliant movie director, with productions that earned more than $400 million? Both Plato’s “Allegory of Cave” and Andy and Lana Wachowski’s movie “The Matrix” explore the abstruse question of perception of truth. What is truth, and how do we determine what is truth? “I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. This quote from the Matrix vividly illustrates the truth that how people perceive is the way they think, their realization of the truth is due to the world in which they live. Different people may have different perceptions of knowledge, which leads them to a distinct understanding of truth. It is about personal experience seeking the truth, in the process to knowledge - an image does not accurately reflect reality that is the challenge for both Socrates and Neo, the protagonist in the Matrix.
Considering one day there is a chicken that has lived with ducks since he was born, and never seen other chicken. Will that chicken ever know he is a chicken, or even when he sees other chicken, does he know it is a chicken? The prisoners in the cave have been chained together and have been separated from the outside world since birth. Consequently, their perceptions of objects are based on the shadows of those things, shadows produced by firelight in the cave as true representations. The environment where they have lived creates a world basic on their perception of things.
Like Plato mentioned in the story: “To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images. ” The prisoners form their own opinion about things they perceive as true representation. By comparison, people who live in the Matrix accept the buildings and the things around them as the truth. However, the truth they have been accepting is merely their opinion, but no necessarily an opinion formed through knowledge. “If real is what you can feel, smell, taste and see, then 'real' is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain”.
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This quote identities are the result of opinions formed their brains. The tunnel in the Allegory of Cave and the red pill in The Matrix are the keys that open the door of knowledge for them. In the world of the Matrix, or the Cave, where everyone accepts objects as the truth, and real, like the shadows on the wall of the cave, this is a way to realize truth, to decide to walk through the tunnel and to pick a red pill, is a choice to enter a world of knowledge. As it is mentioned in the Matrix, “You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.
You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. ” In both the story and the movie, everyone is so close to knowledge of the truth that they just need to put their foot across the threshold; nevertheless, it is the hardest step to enter door in their mind. It is a leap of faith into the unknown. “And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take and take in the objects of vision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be in reality clearer than the things which are now being shown to him? This quote amply illustrates that everything is decided in their mind, it is their choice, and although Socrates and Neo suffer some physical discomfort in making the journey, they are now in the world of knowledge, the world of real truth. The profound brilliance of the sun can provide another source of discomfort, it cannot be seen directly through human eyes due to the intensity of the power it emits. Similarly, Socrates and Neo experience some physical suffering, such as, pain in their eyes and muscle problems while witnessing at true light for the first time. Why does my muscle hurt? Because you never used it. ” This conversation dramatizes the difficulty faced by people as they make the transition from the limited world they know to the real world. The process of accepting and being able to “see” the real world is arduous; and comes about as a result of enormous changing in their belief and challenging knowledge of what they have long accepted. Knowledge is a concept that many philosophers, over thousands of years, strive to experience.
Knowledge can be extremely powerful, but it can be illusive as well; however, once into the world of knowledge, people can distinguish the real truth from what they help as true. “And the first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water……,Last of he will be able to see the sun,…… and he will contemplate him as he is. ” Plato believed that, as long as there is a gradual process of adapting to the light, Socrates will be available adjust, and to see through the essence of things.
In Plato’s Allegory of Cave, Socrates is fully aware of the truth after a process of adjusting to the light of real world, and then he returns to the cave and tries to teach to the others, the truth he has discovered. “Men would say of him that up he went and down…… and they would put him to death. ” In spite of his efforts, the chained prisoners reject the real world due to the pain that is brought to them by the lights, they prefer to maintain the illusion of the images they saw as truer representations than the objects in the real world. Similarly, Cypher, the character in the Matrix, has been freed to see the real world.
Unlike people who accept the truth and try to fight the agents in the Matrix, Cypher wants to go back to Matrix without knowing anything about real world. “The Matrix isn't real. I disagree, Trinity. I think that the Matrix can be more real than this world. ” People who free themselves may not perceive reality, like Cypher, he chooses go back to the Matrix because there is less suffering than in the real world. The same as the prisoners in Plato’s story, they would rather accept the illusion they see as truth, than go to the real world due to the pain it brings to them.
Knowledge is the place where people want to be but may not necessarily be able to be in there. Even for people in the world of truth, the real world, who may also be bogged down in their search for truth, as apart from what they accepted before; this takes people’s mind to accept the changes from the previous knowledge held. In the Matrix, Neo does not confirm the truth in the real world where he is, until he accepts the training offered by Morpheus. Moreover, near the end of the movie, he makes the simple statement: “My name…is Neo! in which he accepts himself in the real world instead of the name, Thomas Anderson, used in the Matrix – a world build by computer programs. In comparison to the Allegory of the Cave, Socrates accepts the truth after he adapts to the real world and sees things clearly in the real world. As it is mentioned in the story “Last he will be able to see the sun……; and he will contemplate him as he is” No one can enlighten anyone else toward the world of knowledge, people have to enlighten themselves in their own minds.
What is truth? The truth itself is a personal definition and realization of things in the world around us. Truth is a concept that seeks deeply to be defined in people’s minds; everyone has their subjective opinion of what truth it is. In both the story and the movie, some people realize the real truth but others do not; there is no right or wrong, just different view toward knowledge. Even now, the truth that people are accepting is not truth; even truth itself may not be truth.
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