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.

3 thoughts on “The Matrix: Reloaded — Fides et Ratio

  1. You wrote some very in­ter­est­ing things. But I dis­agree on that last part about there be­ing a “ma­trix with­in a ma­trix”. I think that just the way that Agent Smith has been able to be com­pat­i­ble with hu­mans and hack in­to their minds, just has Neo been able to be com­pat­i­ble with the ma­chines out­side the Matrix. Yes, he’s reached a new lev­el of con­scious­ness that has al­lowed him to “feel” the ma­chines. Maybe the Wachowski broth­ers are try­ing to tell us that hu­mans and ma­chines are not that much dif­fer­ent from each oth­er, with con­nec­tions like elec­tric­i­ty, etc.
    Although very ap­peal­ing, I think that dis­cov­er­ing that Zion is still in­side the ma­trix would be a cop-out, not to men­tion that it would make the first movie look like it was all a lie. That would suck A LOT!

  2. i com­plete­ly and to­tal­ly agree with you. I hope the last movie turns out as you say, i’m just not too con­fi­dent that it will.

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