In Descartes’ “Of The Things of Which We May Doubt”, he questions his understanding of reality from the standpoint that perception, through the body’s senses, is based on deception. Throughout his work he confronts reality as an illusion that is indiscernible from the state of dreaming—a reality that exists only within out minds. It is difficult to conceptualize his posits just from his writings. However, the 1999 movie “The Matrix” provides us with a lens to understand them.
“The Matrix” is a science fiction movie that depicts a world in which reality exists only within the consciousness of a computer program. It is a world where the human race lives only within their minds, and are subject to the laws of programming just as we are subject to the laws of physics. Only a small number of people are actually conscious outside of the program. It is through this movie that Descartes’ deceived perception of reality becomes evident.
In Meditation I: “Of the Things of Which We May Doubt,” the correlation between Descartes’ musings and the 1999 movie The Matrix are pretty easy to see: both address the perception of reality and determining and deciding truth and falsehood in that reality. Both delve into the idea that our very senses are capable of deceit, to the point that we could be asleep, trapped in a virtual reality constructed by an indeterminate power.
Descartes is determined to challenge his past perceptions about reality by deciding to reject anything but that which is devoid of doubt (#2), building up to a conjecture about the suspicion of the actuality of reality. He also notes that our culpability to this lie is in proportion to the power of the deceptive party (#10); in the movie, the robots have taken over the world and stuck humans in pods that prevent them any type of contact with the real world, except for groups like Morpheus’s crew.