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The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real (Popular Culture and Philosophy) Hardcover – September 27, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
The many faces of Keanu Reeves as hero Neo-Christ, Buddha, Socrates-are explored in these essays on the philosophical implications of the sci-fi martial arts blockbuster The Matrix, collected by the editor of Seinfeld and Philosophy and The Simpsons and Philosophy. According to the academics assembled here, when messianic hacker Neo kick-boxes the Matrix's virtual-reality dream-prison, he is really struggling with some of mankind's biggest conundrums: the nature of truth and reality, the possibility of free will, the mind-body problem and the alienation of labor in late-capitalist society. The tacit goal here is to make philosophy fun for the general reader by orienting it to pop-culture reference points, so while some articles contain rather dense philosophical jargon, most are pitched at the level of a freshman intro course. But only a few chapters delve into the movie's aesthetics; the rest seem to use The Matrix as a peg on which to hang a canned philosophy lecture. The results are occasionally engaging, as with David Mitsuo Nixon's nifty refutation of the "reality is just an illusion" conceit, but they're too often dryly academic and liable to elicit no more than a drowsy "whoa" from the movie's legions of fans.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"This collection of essays has something for nearly everyone interested in the intersection between philosophy and pop culture." -- Utopian Studies Book Review, September, 2004
Top customer reviews
Two examples that come to mind: in the last chapter, the writer is using an esoteric term. He uses this term without defining it or relating what it means to the reader until about 3/4 of the way through the section. He uses the term in exactly the same context but chooses-that far in- to parenthetically explain what the term means.
Another instance is one author's justification for claiming the red pill's superiority over the blue pill because, though taking the blue pill will surely reduce a great a amount of angst, anxiety, and suffering, it will not remove ALL angst, anxiety, and suffering, so that we may as well opt for truth, as we'll be victim to these experiences regardless.
The book is filled with really rudimentary, verdant, and silly points like this. Issues are often taken for granted with little or no supporting evidence or justification.
I have no idea how or why erudite academics would put their names on most of this stuff.
For those interested in an solid introduction to philosophy (and the "big questions" philosophers from Socrates to Nozik have wrestled with), I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Were I teaching in the philosophy department, this would be my text of choice. (In fact, it was by a recommendation by a colleague in that department that I picked this up.) While the concepts are lofty, abstract and mind-bending, the authors, through pop-cultural references, connect the musings and writings of philosophers like Kant, Descartes, Hume as well as contemporary philosophers to events and plot points in the film, making these ideas both clear and accessable to lay readers.
At first I was a bit skeptical (no pun intended, and apologies to Pyrrho) of the premise of the book and its pop cultural approach to a serious discipline. I was immeadiately won over, however, by the introductory essay on Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" to Neo's discovery of what the Matrix is. The book is rich with such connections. Highly recommended.
The book is a collection of essays, some of which - such as an early one that explores the Matrix and how it relates to Plato's cave - are very good reads, but these are interspersed with essays that are overly technical, boring or that take a tangent and run with it, leaving the movie in the dust.
Lovers of philosophy will love this book. Lovers of the movie that aren't philosophy buffs will fall into two camps - they will either hate it or think it's just okay. You can enjoy the movie without thinking too hard about it - not so with this book, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but not necessarily a good thing either.
Most recent customer reviews
Blue and you go on as before. Go to work, do your routines, and enjoy your sundays, eating icecream and stroll around, happy.Read more