text booked used; John Chaffee, The Philosopher’s Way: Thinking Critically About Profound Ideas (A Text with Readings), 5e (Boston: Pearson, 2016) ISBN 13: 978-0-12-386754-1
no other sources needed.
Compose a thoughtful essay that addresses each of the following essay topics. (10 points each.)
Expected length: About 1 page per question, double-spaced, normal margins, normal font.
Style guide: When talking about the movie, use italics (i.e., The Matrix); when talking about the inter-connected artificial intelligence entity depicted in the movie, refer to it as a proper noun (i.e., the Matrix).
1. How is the premise of the film (i.e., the “Matrix” scenario) similar to Berkeley and his philosophy of subjective idealism? How is it different?
2. According to Kant, the mind imposes order on the universe. Citing specific examples (scenes, dialogue, etc.), how can The Matrix be seen as an application of Kant’s “Copernican Revolution”?
3. The film The Matrix lends itself to comparisons to Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” and Descartes’ “Evil Deceiver.” Which of those philosophical ideas does The Matrix come closest to emulating? (Provide evidence for your interpretation.)
4. It seems as if it would be possible for a sufficiently advanced computer program to fool us into thinking we had escaped the Matrix even though we hadn’t. That being the case, it seems as if the “Matrix” scenario does not allow for definitive knowledge about the external world. How does that act as a criticism of Locke’s distinction between primary and secondary qualities, and how does it relate to Kant’s distinction between phenomena and noumena?
5. Consider the following piece of dialogue:
Tank: Here you go, buddy; “Breakfast of Champions.”
Mouse: If you close your eyes, it almost feels like you’re eating runny eggs.
Apoc: Yeah, or a bowl of snot.
Mouse: Do you know what it really reminds me of? Tasty Wheat. Did you ever eat Tasty Wheat?
Switch: No, but technically, neither did you.
Mouse: That’s exactly my point. Exactly. Because you have to wonder: how do the machines know what Tasty Wheat tasted like? Maybe they got it wrong. Maybe what I think Tasty Wheat tasted like actually tasted like oatmeal, or tuna fish. That makes you wonder about a lot of things. You take chicken, for example: maybe they couldn’t figure out what to make chicken taste like, which is why chicken tastes like everything.
How can Mouse’s response be seen as an attempt to answer the problem of skepticism?
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