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Neo begins to seriously reflect upon the nature of his identity and existence in the middle of the movie as he is already taken to the Nebuchadnezzar. This rather personal and philosophical search begins with Agent Smith saying that Neo is seeking answers to his own questions although Neo himself does not even realize he is doing this. The point is that Neo’s search for himself and questions about his existence begins with a doubt, much like the 17th century philosopher Rene Descartes who wrote, “…it will be sufficient to justify the rejection of the whole if I shall find in each some ground for doubt” for this systematic process of doubting is “the only way to achieve clear and well-reasoned conclusions” (Author, Year). This means that if Neo had not doubted his existence, he would have simply stayed in the Matrix and, although such ignorance would have felt like bliss, he would forfeit all the possibility of knowing who he really is and what reality is actually like. As Morpheus tells Neo what he and reality are really like as well as what the Matrix is, this is the only time that Neo begins to realize his true identity and only then is he able to start being conscious of his own existence. Besides, “it would be impossible to be self-conscious if we didn’t have a personal identity of which to be conscious” (Author, Year). After Morpheus explains to Neo what he calls “the desert,” which is a rather simplistic term for what the real environment looks like in contrast with the virtual environment in the Matrix, Neo is shocked but is enlightened at the same time (Berman & Wachowski, 1999). Nevertheless, as he learns the truth that he is a person of and from this “desert,” it is only then that he comes to develop true self-consciousness. Moreover, Neo bases his own existence on his mind, or, more specifically, on the activities of his mind, or on his mental faculties. He knows that he exists only through his thoughts and his beliefs. The actions of his thoughts are evident in the scenes where he discovers his hidden abilities merely by thinking through his Kung Fu training with Morpheus and the one where he has to jump from one building rooftop to another. Through these scenes, Neo is able to prove once again a rationalistic approach to reflecting on his own identity. According to Descartes, “…it would even happen, if I should wholly cease to think, that I should at the same time altogether cease to be” (Author, Year). Therefore, realizing that he is a thinking being and that it is through this thinking faculty that he defines his own existence, Neo then proceeds from this and develops his self-consciousness and the various aspects of himself – physically, emotionally and intellectually – from his thinking mind. Furthermore, he also chooses the Real World as the place where he develops aspects of himself and not from the Matrix, where such aspects are fake. In short, upon knowing that his true identity is that of the Real World, Neo has now attained a degree of self-consciousness where he would make choices only based on the context of the Real World and not anymore of the Matrix. The Matrix then, which is represented by Agent Smith ...Show more


Rene Descartes, Rationalism and The Matrix Name Subject Teacher Date               Rene Descartes, Rationalism and The Matrix The film The Matrix is more than just a story of how true reality differs from what we have been taught to know. The film is a personal biography of a man called Neo and how he has come to develop self-consciousness through his knowledge of the Real World and the discovery of his true identity…
Author : meggie97
Philosophy and Media
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