The Matrix Paradigm (From a Goodmanian Perspective)

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Note: This article is not meant as a thorough analysis of the three movies that were presented to the public. It is meant as an extension of my previous writings, to illustrate certain concepts more vividly. It shall only focus on certain philosophical points that are linked to; Perspectivism, Relativism, The Goodmanian Perspective, Pathei Mathos & The capacity of choice which leads to a certain Anados.

The complete article from which I was heavily inspired can be found here: http://thematrix101.com/contrib/myoung_aitptm.php


Apart from its rich symbolism, its complex philosophical structure and its various conceptual inspirations, the Matrix movies also raise the question: What is the true meaning of the giant algorithm that is the world (matrix) if every variables (beings), experience it differently on a personal level? According to the Merovingian, the universe is simply a constant interaction of causes and effects. For the Oracle, knowledge of the self (γνῶθι σεαυτόν) leads us to understand the choices we make, for we cannot go further than a choice we do not understand. For Morpheus, faith is at the core of every actions and decisions (..) We come back to what we initially observed in previous articles. This plurality of “categories” or “scope” is fundamental to understand how Witchcraft & Philosophy, function. Both are subject to the chosen perspective(s), the philosopher or practitioner adopted through his lifetime.

“One of the most significant scenes in any of the three movies occurs when Neo decides to eat the red pill, which then leads to his awakening from the Matrix. With this scene the Wachowski Brothers convey an important idea within philosophy that has been a part of the discipline since its inception. Often people are wiling to accept things as they appear, in that they do not question their beliefs about the world. Our belief systems determine our world for us; since it is through them that we interpret our experiences. A simple example is the optimist who seems to live in a different world than the pessimist, although a more striking example is between the fundamentalist Christian and the scientific naturalist. Each will interpret particular experiences, as well as the whole of reality, differently simply due to the divergent belief systems that each possess. Of course, our belief systems can be wrong, and thus reality is not as we think it is. This was Neo’s discovery when he ate the red pill, and the discovery of philosophers when they began to question their beliefs more than twenty-six hundred years ago. Thus Neo’s awakening is symbolic of the general philosophic experience of questioning one’s beliefs about the world, and the attempt to discover what exists behind our illusions. We can be deceived by evil machines, a Cartesian demon, or by the traditions of our society; and if we are, then reality is not as we believe it is.”

In the matrix, another crucial point is that, programs (auto determined “beings”) cannot go beyond what they have been programmed for and yet, it happens. They willfully choose to sometimes causes a bug in the matrix system and they disobey (Agent Smith). This is probably the most complex integration in the entire trilogy for a lot of reasons but mainly because it seems to suggest that the choices we make are more complex in nature than what our reason can process. Along with that, sometimes, our choices are intuitive and so we do not understand them ourselves. In the second movie, this is exactly what happens when Neo decides to save Trinity over saving Zion. Mathematically, this decision was supposed to lead to the destruction of the last human city by the machines and yet, it did not.

“The significance of Neo seems to be readily apparent. He is the savior of a people imprisoned by a false reality. This is a theme that can be found in religions that are as diverse as Christianity and Buddhism. Another theme that can be found in either of these religions’ mystical traditions is that religious myths and symbols can be a hindrance to true enlightenment. At the end of the second movie we discover that Neo is such a hindrance. That is, he is not truly the savior of humankind, but instead a means of control. Thus, people will not become free through him. Neo nonetheless is still something special, and it is through the Architect’s esoteric remarks that we learn of his significance. Neo is, as the Architect states, the manifestation of pure choice or freedom. We may ask, of course, what does this mean? To answer this question we must state what the Architect is supposed to represent. The Architect is the designer, and maintainer, of the Matrix. The Matrix is for him an elaborate calculation, or algorithm, which he is capable of computing. This is due to the fact that he possesses a sophisticated logical mind, since he is artificial intelligence. The Architect is able to deal with the plethora of human motives, desires and drives within his algorithmic world, but one thing he is incapable of managing is unfettered choice as it is manifested in Neo. Neo is not constrained by the world around him, since the rules and laws of that world can be overridden by Neo through a simple fiat. He can stop bullets, or fly, by simply willing these things to occur. Neo is therefore referred to as the ‘anomaly’ by the machines, and by the Architect, since the artificial mind of the latter cannot fathom an undetermined choice. For the artificial mind all thinking is determined by strict rules of reasoning. To make a choice the machine must have a reason which justifies what is chosen, and the reasoning toward this choice always follows the necessary logical steps. The machine mind cannot think outside of strict rules of logic and justification, and this is why the Architect, as well as the Merovingian, cannot break a promise once it is made. If reason and circumstance has led them to make a promise, then they can do nothing other than act in accord with it since their minds can be nothing other than logical.”

From Witchcraft, to philosophy and to the other spheres of human activities, we can observe a similar process. When an individual is passionate about science and astronomy, he bends the entire world and his entire earthy experience to what he knows or studied. Everyone does this, even a child does it. It is our puerile tentative to fix things into place, to immobilize them so we can obtain an explanation for everything. But, of course, our experiences and interpretations being both limited and varied, mixed to an imperfect language leads us to disagree between ourselves on sometimes even the same sphere of study. Just look around; Theistic Satanism or Atheistic Satanism? Conceptualism or Nominalism, Utilitarism or Consequentialism (…)

“Within the twentieth century there have been two distinct intellectual traditions, each advocating a contrary view concerning the nature of the human mind. In one tradition there is a focus on logic and science with the mind being thought of as analogous to a computer. The mind makes choices, and comes to conclusions, only through the influence of particular causes, whether individual persons are aware of such causes or not. These causes can be such things as particular reasons deliberated over, unconscious fears, experiential input and overwhelming desires. There are a variety of theories about the mind within this tradition, but what is common is the idea that the mind entails a set of determinate relations, and that it is through the interaction of these relations that the mind produces its particular activity.The other tradition focuses less on science and logic, and more on art and creativity. Within this tradition the activity of the human mind can occur without being strictly determined by prior causes. That is, the mind is thought of as more creative and not bound by reasons, desires and so on. Humans have no determinate nature, and can assess the reasons, desires, fears, etc that are possible influences on them and then decide to act on them or not. The important point of distinction to notice here is that with the former tradition the mind’s activity is strictly determined by causes while with the latter it is determined by the agent’s ability to choose. The mind is more intuitive, in that it does not always act through the influence of reasons, but instead through some insight which shapes perception and acts to influence choice and action. It therefore advocates a strong theory of the unfettered will that is able to act undetermined by causal influences. Exemplary examples of the latter tradition include art, poetry, irrational behaviour and human imagination.”

This interaction of both reason and intuition might just be another form of Will to power (der Wille zur Macht) but it might also be through the acceptance of this balanced interaction that lies the secrets of Pathei Mathos (πάθει μάθος). In the matrix, Neo does not always understand the choices he make, in fact, compared to the other characters (like Morpheus or the Merovingian) he seems rather neutral and anxious at times. But in reality, he is mostly driven by love and intuition which he proves many times throughout the trilogy; “I don’t know how, but I know what I must do it”. Smith, on the other hand, is focused and determined to follow the path of ultimate destruction, the path of inevitability.

“In the third movie, then, the interplay of the Limited, the Unlimited and Unity come to the forefront; although they have actually been there all along. We see this through the interaction between Smith and Neo, as well as the Oracle and the Architect. That Neo is supposed to be representative of the Unlimited has already been elaborated upon, and if Smith is his opposite, as it is stated in the third movie, then he will naturally be symbolic of the Limited. And we can see that this is the case if we look to Smith’s actions, and role, in the second and third films. Smith represents an algorithmic self that continues to produce itself. Eventually Smith eliminates all others, and intends to put the ultimate limit on the world by ending it. With this character, then, it seems that the Wachowski Brothers are saying something about algorithmic interpretations of intelligence. They are saying that such an intelligence would ultimately only produce itself, and that if we are to have the variety of humanity we have now there must be some undetermined aspects that humans can mold through sheer will and creativity. What is most important, though, is the interaction between Smith and Neo, especially their last scene together. If we rely on the interpretation that Neo represents the Unlimited, while Smith represents the Limited, then their interaction will be significant for the maintenance of existence. Certainly this is the case, since through their interaction they are both cancelled out and reality reemerges from destruction. This is because we can interpret Neo, as the Unlimited, as representing -1, while Smith, as the Limited, represents 1. What happens when we bring -1 and 1 together? They cancel one another out, and we get 0, which is the starting point of the number line. The number line is itself symbolic of the continuity of existence.”

I will not talk about the platonician universalism that is presented in the article of Mr Mark Young (the author of all those quotes) as this is another philosophical route pertaining to form(s) and even to metaphysical questions. My interest lies more in analytic philosophy (language), conceptualism & perspectivism. Again, my intention was to show that an equilibrium between reason (philosophy) and witchcraft (intuition) can lead to a healthy Pathei Mathos and thus, a life of experience, a practical life. After all, tha matrix is metaphorical, but it shows us that it is sometimes through what is not understood or logical in nature that we accomplish our Wyrd (Örlog) and that alchemical changes occurs.

“Thus, humanity and the machine world is saved through the confrontation and unity of Neo and Smith, and an uneasy peace exists between the two groups. Once again this ‘uneasy peace’ represents the delicate balance between the rational and irrational, or limited and unlimited, aspects of the human animal. That it is the Wachowski Brothers’ intention to propose an ontology that relies on the interaction of the Unlimited and Limited is further attested to by the last few scenes of the movie. In these last few scenes we see the Oracle and the Architect talking to one another about what has recently transpired and the peace that has emerged. The Oracle, as it is stated in the movie, is an intuitive program, and therefore is representative of the unlimited aspects of humanity. The Architect is the limited. With this last scene when they are talking to one another we learn of how it was ultimately a battle between these two that we had been observing throughout the movies. The Architect is the epitome of rationality, and accuses the Oracle of playing a dangerous game. The Oracle confesses ignorance of what the outcome was to be, but states that such actions were necessary for real change. Nonetheless, it is through their game – through the tension and interaction of the Limited and Unlimited – that a new reality is brought about.”

-Beldam 128 yf

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