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Philosophers Explore The Matrix

Edited by Christopher Grau

Publication Date - September 2005

ISBN: 9780195181074

352 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

A top-notch group of analytic philosophers explore the movie The Matrix and the philosophical questions it provokes.


The Matrix trilogy is unique among recent popular films in that it is constructed around important philosophical questions--classic questions which have fascinated philosophers and other thinkers for thousands of years. Editor Christopher Grau here presents a collection of new, intriguing essays about some of the powerful and ancient questions broached by The Matrix and its sequels, written by some of the most prominent and reputable philosophers working today. They provide intelligent, accessible, and thought-provoking examinations of the philosophical issues that support the films.

Philosophers Explore The Matrix includes an introduction that surveys the use of philosophical ideas in the film. Topics that the contributors tackle include: how a collaborative dream could differ from hallucination, the difference between the Matrix and the "real" world; why living in the Matrix would be considered "bad"; the similarities between the Matrix and Plato's Cave; the moral status of artificially created beings, whether one can behave immorally in illusory circumstances, and the true nature of free will and responsibility. This volume also includes an appendix of classic philosophical writing on these issues by Plato, Berkeley, Descartes, Putnam, and Nozick.

Philosophers Explore The Matrix will fascinate any fan of the films who wants to delve deeper into their themes, as well as any student of philosophy who desires an accessible entry into this challenging and profoundly vital world of ideas.

About the Author(s)

Christopher Grau is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Florida International University.


"Philosophers Explore The Matrix is of great value to students of philosophy who have already decided to see how far the rabbit hole goes, and, as Grau suggests, want to go a bit deeper. To that end, Philosophers Explore The Matrix is a noteworthy and respectable contribution to philosophy."--The Journal of Value Inquiry

"A broad and diverse collection...the book is a great success."--Alex Bussey Thames Valley University

"Several volumes have emerged since the film was released offering discussions of the philosophical issues that arise out of the film (and its sequels), but Grau's collection is by far the best...fans of the film with an interest in philosophy should without hesitation procure a copy-- Grau's collection features leading contemporary philosophers discussing some of the most exciting issues in philosophy, at a level accessible to any intelligent non-philosopher."-- Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"This book is a rare thing: an anthology on a highly popular topic that actually includes many intellectually excellent contributions, and is at the same time engaging and intelligible to the non-academic public."--Ned Block, New York University

"This is an excellent collection by well-known philosophers ...uniformly intelligent, and well-written. The volume constitutes a genuinely excellent route into the subject. Amateurs who enjoyed the movie in part because it got them thinking about deep issues will be challenged by the book, and they will profit considerably from working through it." --Gideon Rosen, Princeton University

Table of Contents

    1. Introduction, Christopher Grau
    2. Bad Dreams, Evil Demons, and the Experience Machine: Philosophy and The Matrix, Christopher Grau
    3. Morpheus and Berkeley on Reality, Tim Mawson
    4. What's So Bad about Living in the Matrix?, James Pryor
    5. The Matrix of Dreams, Colin McGinn
    6. Existential Phenomenology and the Brave New World of The Matrix, Hubert L. Dreyfus and Stephen D. Dreyfus
    7. Reality, What Matters, and The Matrix, Iakovos Vasiliou
    8. Never the Twain Shall Meet: Reflections on the Very First Matrix, Richard Hanley
    9. The Matrix as Metaphysics, David J. Chalmers
    10. The Twisted Matrix: Dream, Simulation, or Hybrid?, Andy Clark
    11. The Matrix--Our Future?, Kevin Warwick
    12. Artificial Ethics, Julia Driver
    13. Neo's Freedom...Whoa!, Michael McKenna
    14. Plato's Cave and The Matrix, John Partridge
    15. Wake Up! Worlds of Illusion in Gnosticism, Buddhism, and The Matrix Project, Rachel Wagner and Frances Flannery-Dailey
    Appendix: Selections from Classic Texts Plato, The Republic Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy Berkeley, Of the Principles of Human Knowledge Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia Putnam, Reason, Truth, and History