Perception Descartes Could Have Appealed Term Paper

Pages: 18 (6048 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 25  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Film

¶ … Perception

Descartes could have appealed to the kind of possibilities exploited in The Matrix or Total Recall, but that comparison would not have been as easy to make at that time. The technology available to create the complex dream worlds established in both The Matrix and Total Recall was obviously not available at that time. While that may seem like a pedantic point, it is actually a very important thing to realize. There simply was not a technology available to even allow people to envision the possibility of the type of control that one would have in The Matrix, and nothing other than the possibility of witchcraft that would have permitted the creation of a dream world akin to Total Recall during Descartes time. This is important to realize because Descartes' Evil Demon hypothesis seems to be very similar to a witchcraft scenario: a powerful and evil personification aimed at harming and deceiving the individual. When one considers the externalities of the societies involved (belief in technology as compared to belief in witchcraft), there really does not seem to be a significant difference in the approaches to externalities.

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Skeptical arguments are not necessarily self-refuting. At the heart of a skeptical argument is the idea that nothing can be known with a certainty. Therefore, even if there are mistakes in an argument, such as faulty premises, the fact that it has been previously acknowledged that none of these premises can be known or established builds into the argument. For a modern audience, how many people left The Matrix wondering if everything once Neo-was unhooked was part of an additional alternate reality of some sort? The idea that one could wonder that means that one was questioning the premises presented in the argument, and that the argument was not self-refuting, despite having some uncertainty about the premises.

2.

Term Paper on Perception Descartes Could Have Appealed to the Assignment

After expressing confusion about dreaming and waking, Descartes claims that he can distinguish between his waking life and his dream life at the end of the Sixth Meditation. He relies upon the notion that memory cannot connect dreams with each other and with the course of life. Moreover, he discusses the discontinuity that is a feature of dreams and how people simply appear in dreams without the dreamer being able to know where he came from or where he goes to when he leaves the dreamer's presence. Being able to connect a perception of a person with other parts of his life is a feature that Descartes connects with being wakefulness.

If I were writing a script for a film that is meant to disprove Descartes' argument that he can distinguish from sleeping and waking, I would present a dream life that is substantially realistic, and a waking life that is substantially surreal, that it is impossible to distinguish between wakefulness and dreaming. Dennis Lehane's book Shutter Island does a really great job of creating this type of dual reality, though he does so in a variety of ways that do not involve dreaming. I would utilize some of those same techniques to present evidence that it is not possible to distinguish between dreams and wakefulness. Having a central character whose perception is altered, either intentionally or unintentionally, because of some type of hallucinogen would be one element of that script. Another element of the script would be having people intentionally trying to confuse the central character while he is awake.

3.

No; Neo-does not actually have any more reason to believe that once unhooked the reality he experiences is any more "real" than his previous environment was "real." If there were some type of Cartesian "evil genius" capable of filling a person with doubt and dread, then that genius could certainly conceive of having a system within a system scenario. In fact, if human beings have some type of desire to know what is beyond them, but would need to be used as fuel of some sort, like the characters in The Matrix, then it might be necessary for those controlling/using them to establish a scenario like Neo's so that people feel as if they are exercising some type of control over their own situations.

According to Descartes, being able to connect a perception of a person with other parts of his life is a feature that helps one distinguish between sleeping and wakefulness. Therefore, Neo-might be able to rely upon the idea that there is continuity, not only between the sequences when he is disconnected, but also between his being connected and being disconnected from the matrix. The problem with this scenario is that there is no real differentiation between his being connected and being disconnected; from Neo's reference point there is continuity from both systems. Moreover, one disconnected, Neo-is able to spot inconsistencies or "glitches" in the world of the Matrix. However, he did not spot those inconsistencies before; instead, they were explained away with human failure or perception issues, such as having the feeling of deja vu. Because Neo-was conditioned to expect those types of glitches as part of his daily perception, it seems unlikely that he would immediately acknowledge those types of glitches once disconnected; they might now even register with him. When one has been conditioned to accept that a dream-like state is "reality," and one's only real interaction with reality comes in one's late-20's, it would seem far more difficult to ever clearly differentiate between reality and dreams.

4.

The most important part of the question is the word "seem," because the characters seem to have some type of control over their experiences, but the stories are also being told from the perspective of those characters. Whether the characters actually have any control over their scenarios is not actually directly addressed in any of the films, because the audience does not see the story from the perspective of the omnipotent person who may or may not exist and may or may not be directing the action. To maintain a successful illusion, it would be critical to retain the perception of control. However, as the multiple layers in each film makes clear, even in the alternate "dream" realities; the characters feel as if they are exercising some type of control. Therefore, having the characters "seem" as if they are exercising control is compatible with the idea that their experiences are caused in the way described. Whether having the characters take actions that actually reflect a genuine level of control would be consistent with those actions depends heavily on how one interprets the descriptions of events presented in the narratives of each film.

5. At the end of Total Recall, the hero wonders whether the experiences portrayed in the film might be all hallucinatory. Was there a clue in the film clips shown that suggests an answer to that question (from the third-person perspective)?

The movie is very intentionally ambiguous about whether the events are a dream or are reality, and one can find support for either position at various points in the film. However, there is a scene prior to Quaid having his Rekall experience in which people are describing specific elements of what his experience will entail. Those elements do occur in his "adventure." For example, he describes Melina, a dark-haired beauty who looks nothing like his beautiful blonde wife, when talking about the type of woman he finds attractive, and the Rekall staff even show him a picture of her on the screen before the "adventure" begins. Moreover, the movie has a very unrealistic quality that supports the idea that it is a dream; some things are simply inconceivable even in a sci-fi alternate reality, and the incredibly fast pace of the movie and its repeated twists and turns suggest the type of frenzied and frantic elements that accompany dreamscapes. The best clue that it is a dream is when one of the men from Rekall appears on Mars and tells Quaid that he needs to take his pill and exit the dream. It is difficult to explain this element as part of the plot, since Rekall would not seem to employ agents/double-agents, because, if it had, then they would not have attempted to give Quaid his fantasy vacation, knowing that he was an agent who had experienced a memory wipe. Therefore, the fact that the Rekall person appears in the movie, like people from waking life sometimes make appearances in dreams when they are on the fringes of a dreamer's consciousness, strongly supports the dream interpretation of the movie.

6. When the Rekall man comes to Quaid to try to get him to take the pill because he has become trapped in the program, Quaid points out that the man is sweating and that there would be no reason for a computer-generated person to be sweating. He uses that as evidence to convince himself that the person is real. However, there is a difference between being realistic and being real. If the scenario is all a dream, there are so many things that… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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