Matrix and the philosophical meaning: Plato’s Cave
The main topic is of course (although for some people it is not so obvious) the Allegory of the Cave of Plato. At this stage, a brief summary of the Allegory of the Cave is required. In the Republic, Plato and Socrates figure out a metaphor describing philosophers role: In the darkness of a cave, men are chained since childhood, looking towards the back wall. Behind them, the opening of the cave with a wall, behind which men pass on their shoulders all kinds of items. The men have not chained bystanders, their shadows projected on the back of the cave, and hear their voices sound distorted echo of the cave. One of the captives will be released, will leave the cave and will first be blinded by the light … eventually, he will realize that what he saw before was not the reality. He wants to return to the cave to persuade, open eyes to other prisoners and set them free. They do not show themselves receptive to his theories. Having grown up in this system, they will defend to the end and will kill the escapee from the cave. This escaped man, trying to liberate other men from the world of illusion, represents philosopher.
In Matrix, there is a dualist metaphysics, i.e. two levels of world: outside the matrix is the reality, inside is the world of illusion. This dualism is typical of Plato’s philosophy.
Neo and Socrates
We can follow the metaphor of this escaped man, with the figure of the philosopher (trying to enlighten his fellow), particularly of Socrates. Indeed, Plato tries here to tell the life of his master (Socrates) who tried in his time, his fellow Athenians to think logically (the Pythia Oracle at Delphi prophesied that mission), he was finally put to death by his fellow condemned to drink hemlock. In Matrix, the assimilation of Socrates as Neo seems appropriate. Neo will also see an Oracle (note the quotation from Plato’s old lady, “know thyself“), like Socrates, he is the Elected and must save his people, and like him, he is dazzled by light after his release.
Here is a dialogue extract of Matrix:
“Morpheus: She (the matrix) is the world that superimposes your look to keep you from seeing the Truth.
Neo: What truth?
Morpheus: That you are a slave. Like all the others you were born in chains. The world (the matrix) is a prison where there is neither hope nor taste nor smell, a prison for your mind”
Matrix and The socratic Method
Also include the student-teacher relationship in Socrates / Plato, similar to Morpheus / Neo (and in Jesus / = Simon Peter). Also, note the figure of the traitor, the disciple dissenting enemy rallied to the cause: it is Aristotle who takes that role against Socrates / Plato. Indeed, Aristotle departs from its original Socratic thought, in fact he thinks that the world is apprehended through the senses, the sensitive experience (It is the precursor of what will be known later, the empiricism). In other words, Aristotle want to get back to the cave, instead of contemplating pure Ideas. ” In The Matrix, Cypher follows the same trend: it suggests that “the matrix is much more real than this reality” and hoping to return to the cave, he delivers his own machinery as Judas delivered Jesus to the Romans (Aristotle = Cypher = Judas). If the Christ is an obvious comparison, it is also because the character of Jesus owes much to that of Socrates (which he partly plagiarized), 2 died while being condemned by their own people while they were Saviours, the Chosen, the liberators. And besides the Christian religion in its construction and thought, is very close to the ideas of Plato (as well as other religions), it also helped to propagate his ideas of hegemonic way, not hesitating to ignore Aristotle (the “traitor”) for much of the Middle Ages (see “The Name of the Rose”).
Neo is consequently a double metaphor: both Socrates and Jesus.
Finally note another important character, Trinity, completes the Neo-Trinity-Morpheus triangulation, which validates the Christ metaphor.
To Conclude: Matrix as a philosophical movie
Therefore the condition of the human being is described as chained and operated by the consumer society, reified (objectified) by machines that want to domesticate the human race. Thus the matrix becomes a gigantic concentration camp.
Ultimately, The Matrix is a deeper movie as one might think a priori. Matrix shows us an update of the Allegory of the Cave of Plato, tinged Christianity and class struggle!