The Matrix: Reloaded — Fides et Ratio

I’ve seen The Matrix: Reloaded twice now. Fit­ting­ly I will give it two entries, one on phi­los­o­phy and one on its cin­e­mat­ic qual­i­ties. This is the phi­lo one. Most like­ly they will both con­tain spoil­ers.

To start out, those who say that this sec­ond film lacks [in sub­stance and thought pro­vok­ing mate­r­i­al] are idiots.

They must have ignored [slept through, dis­missed because they did not under­stand] the Ora­cle, the Merovin­gian [who is ridicu­lous awe­some], and the Archi­tect. Grant­ed, much of the rest of the film is cot­ton can­dy [to be cov­ered in the next entry], but the afore­men­tioned seg­ments are any­thing but.

Con­tin­u­ing the debate that was exhumed in the orig­i­nal Matrix, this film deals time and again with the antag­o­nism between choice/free will and causality/predetermination. Its pret­ty ho hum, and the screen­writ­ers are either genius­es or stayed up all cram­ming and then regur­gi­tat­ed the answers. I lean toward the bile side myself, because the Ora­cle, the Merovin­gian, and the Archi­tect all con­tra­dict them­selves in their solil­o­quys on choice v. causal­i­ty.

The Oracle

An ‘intu­itive’ com­put­er pro­gram that cre­at­ed a ver­sion of the Matrix that 99% of test sub­jects accept­ed as long as they were offered a choice. Neo looks to her for guid­ance and ques­tions her regard­ing choice. If she knows the answer to the ques­tions she asks him, what does his choice mat­ter? She tells him that his choic­es have already been made, Neo is now sup­posed to under­stand why he made/making/will make these choic­es.

But then, ‘we can’t see past the choic­es we don’t under­stand.’

All of this time, while dis­cussing choice, the dis­cus­sion has real­ly cen­tered on causal­i­ty, the Ora­cle seems to be hint­ing that choic­es do not mat­ter. At the same time, she tells Neo to makes choic­es.

For her it appears that choice is mere­ly an illu­so­ry mech­a­nism of causal­i­ty. But not see­ing past the choic­es we do not under­stand gives her the lie, for unless she under­stands all choic­es, how can she see the future. To me it appears that for causal­i­ty to func­tion is must be con­cerned only with hind­sight. It can only prove its verac­i­ty by show­ing com­plet­ed cause and effect rela­tions as some­thing inevitable. It should only be able to pos­tu­late the future, not pre­dict it.

The Merovingian

This guy is my favorite char­ac­ter in the entire film. We’ll just get that out of the way.

This exquis­ite­ly con­temptible French pro­gram appar­ent­ly touts causal­i­ty as its cham­pi­on. He says choice is an illu­sion giv­en by those with pow­er to those with­out it. Osten­si­bly, as a means of con­trol [see The Archi­tect]. He states the humans run on instinct, and proves this by enchant­i­ng a hot chick with a pro­grammed piece of aphrodit­ic choco­late and mak­ing her all horny. Thus, dou­bly prov­ing his point [if you were even lis­ten­ing to his mono­logue] because most like­ly the audi­ence watch­ing the film was more inter­est­ed in the warm spot in hot chick’s crotch than what the Merovin­gian was say­ing.

He says that those with pow­er are those who ‘under­stand the why’ of things.

To me ‘why’ is a word that deals with choice. To know ‘why’ you do some­thing is to know the rea­sons you made the choice. To under­stand ‘what’ is to under­stand causal­i­ty. ‘What made you do some­thing’ — this rec­og­nizes that an out­side, pre­de­ter­mined, non-will­ful stim­u­la­tion result­ed in an act. Why is sub­jec­tive, thus con­trol­lable, What is objec­tive, and causal.

When Perse­phone screws him over, in a beau­ti­ful throw-away remark after his recent homi­ly, he demands to know the rea­son she lets Neo have the Key­mak­er: she says some­thing about causal­i­ty and retorts with — Cause? There is no cause for this!

The Architect

Like the Merovin­gian sequence, The Archi­tect uses a shit­load of mon­i­tors show­ing dif­fer­ent things to dis­tract the view­er from the dis­cus­sion.

The Archi­tect explains about the means of con­trol with­in the Matrix, that Neo is an expect­ed anom­aly result­ing from the inabil­i­ty of the cause/effect nature of pro­gram­ming to ade­quate­ly cope with the demands of imper­fect human desires and choic­es. The human mind is less­er or, per­haps, not bound by the demands of per­fec­tion. To deal with this the machines use life out­side the Matrix, and Zion, an appar­ent­ly oft destroyed and rebuilt city, as anoth­er method of con­trol. Neo is also appar­ent­ly the sixth anom­aly, so Zion is in its 5th rein­car­na­tion.

Besides all that, The Archi­tect points out the flaws between causal­i­ty and choice. He offers Neo a Lady or Tiger choice, choose a door. This is where the philoso­phies get a bit shal­low for me. Cause and effect seem to hang on Neo’s choice. Except, Neo seems to think he only has two choic­es, one door or the oth­er. He has plen­ty of options.

Other

Where is the reli­gion? TM:R uses the devices of reli­gion [Mor­pheus as a prophet, men­tions of prov­i­dence, the need for faith, etc] but nev­er deigns to illus­trate the effi­ca­cy of these demands, nor to explain what it is peo­ple are to have faith in. Are we to assume that faith should be placed in Neo. Who should Neo have faith in then? Only him­self? Mor­pheus faith seems bound to his ideas about choice and prov­i­dence, but at odd points these eat each oth­er. He says every­thing hap­pens for a rea­son, his prov­i­dence, but he also says every­one has a choice. In the dialec­tic set up with­in the Matrix, these are at cross-pur­pos­es.

They could how­ev­er, be explained in regard to faith. Yet, they nev­er are.

Last BS

I think, though I am quite pre­pared to admit that this could very well be wrong, that what the Archi­tect spoke of, that 99% accept the Matrix as long as they are offered a choice, hints at a pos­si­ble twist. Per­haps while Neo and Trin­i­ty, and Mor­pheus, et al. think they are out­side of the Matrix, they are actu­al­ly still with­in it. Thus, The Matrix encom­pass­es both the Zion-world and what we have come to know as the Matrix itself.

This is explained both through what the Archi­tect says, as well as in Neo’s freaky light­ning abil­i­ties at the end. He can sense the sen­tinels in the ‘real world,’ and can EMP-bake them with his hand in the ‘real world.’ I think he real­ized he was in anoth­er lev­el of the Matrix, and sent his con­scious­ness forth into a high­er state of mind. Yeah, it sounds a bit new-agey.

or, per­haps while he was in the main­frame, he gained a new abil­i­ty, to trans­port him­self direct­ly into the Matrix, with­out plugs.

Hell, like I know what I’m talk­ing about.