Epistemology is the nature of knowledge. Knowledge is important when considering what is reality and what is deception. The movie “The Matrix” displays a social deception in which Neo, the main character, is caught between what he thought was once reality and a whole new world that controls everything he thought was real. If I were Neo, I would not truly be able to know that I was in the matrix. However, it is rational to believe that I am in the matrix and will eventually enter back into my reality later. The proof that that I can know that I am in the matrix and that I will return to reality comes from the responses of foundationalism, idealism, and pallibalism.
To begin, foundationalism is the essence of what we are certain of. Many philosophers argue on the basis of foundationalism to find out where knowledge begins. This will help determine if Neo would be able to know or not know if he is dreaming up the matrix or in fact that it is reality. The popularity of foundationalism starts with Descartes. He challenged the previously popular skepticism. In Descartes Meditations he discusses many issues relating to the question of “where does knowledge come from?” His main arguments appear in his dreaming argument. He first begins by stating 1. I often have perceptions very much like the ones I usually have in sensation while I am dreaming. Then he goes on to say 2. There are no definite signs to distinguish dream experience from waking experience. These two premises lead to the conclusion that 3. It is possible that I am dreaming right now and that all my perceptions are false. This shows that there is no real way to know to know anything. Descartes add to his argument using foundationalism. “’Throughout my writings I have made it clear that my method imitates that of the architect. When an architect wants to build a house which is stable on ground where there is a sandy topsoil over underlying rock, or clay, or some other firm base, he begins by digging out a set of trenches from which he removes the sand, and anything resting on or mixed in with the sand, so that he can lay his foundations on firm soil. In the same way, I began by taking everything that was doubtful and throwing it out, like sand ... (Replies 7, AT 7:537)’ (Lex, Newman)”. This explains how foundationalism works; you must remove al...
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...notion and the only thing that one can be certain of is them selves.
Clearly then, foundationalism, idealism, and pallibalism all fit together to prove that Neo can not be certain of the matrix, but only himself. Also it further explains how it is rational for him to believe that the matrix exists through his perception of the matrix and the knowledge he obtains when he is there. The growth of knowledge in Neo’s mind is possible what is his deception. The more he perceives could possible be more he is deceived. What we know about reality is all in our minds and if we can only be certain of ourselves and our own existence then the reality that we perceive and conceive does exist. So the answer is yes, Neo can know that he is in the matrix, but this does not necessarily mean the matrix exists. As far as Neo knows the matrix does exist and that he will return to what he thought was his reality later, knowing that there is more than just his world.
Newman, Lex, “Descartes’ Epistemology”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 1999 Edition), Edward N, Zalta (ed.), URL= http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spring1999/entries/Descartes
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