Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Philosophy Project I

We have just concluded our viewing of the movie The Matrix. In the movie, a group of extraterrestrials have hooked all human beings into the eponymous "Matrix," a mechanism by which humans in a vegetative or comatose state can be used to generate power or nutrients or something for the extraterrestrials. In the movie, the overwhelming majority of human beings are not aware that they are being used in this fashion, and the extraterrestrials are using advanced virtual-reality technology to provide the brains of the humans with impressions and experiences resembling late-twentieth-century everyday life.

I will divide the class into groups of three or four. Groups are to brainstorm for methods by which a person could determine whether he or she was in the world posited by The Matrix. Ideas will be presented to the class next week.

Grades will be based on 1) likelihood that the method you propose will be successful (as determined by your classmates), 2) originality of the idea you present, 3) presentation skills, 4) class participation, and 5) handling of cross-examination about your method from other members of the class.

The second part of the project will be a short (5 pp. or less) essay in which you should address the following questions:

A) Was it more or less difficult to come up with testing ideas than you expected it to be?
B) What did you learn from the class attempts to test the theory?
C) Is it necessarily even a bad thing to be living in the Matrix? Why or why not?
D) Was it uncomfortable to contemplate the idea that you might be a subject in the Matrix? Why or why not?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The way I would determine if I lived in The Matrix is: I would start a religion that said that everyone lived in The Matrix. If everyone believed in this religion, I would know that it was wrong, because suckers are always wrong. If no-one believed, I would know either that: a) I was right, b) I wrong, but was a poor communicator. Suckers are allergic to truth, but they're also allergic to poor salesmanship. This theory leads me to the conclusion that we should all adopt the ideology of the least convincing person we know, but only if no-one more convincing shares that ideology, i.e. the least convincing antinomian. People go to a lot of work to make a little sense out of reality, and I think they deserve thanks for that even if they are poor salesmen or smell.