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Popular Culture and Philosophy #3: The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Realby William Irwin
Synopses & Reviews
"Even those contributors to the anthology who ought to be experts at tracking pop culture seem like slow, lumbering, herbivorous dinosaurs compared to the nimble, carnivorous and slightly terrifying Wachowskis. In fact, it's the more traditionally minded essays that feel the most rewarding in The Matrix and Philosophy....The philosophers contributing to The Matrix and Philosophy are not too interested in the guns and wall-walking, but they do find the implied and explicit ontological questions posed by the film intriguing....The first few essays in the anthology are lucid, readable summaries of classic responses to Cartesian skepticism, exactly what the armchair amateur is looking for....Less pleasing are the entries from Christian and Buddhist thinkers....The most disappointing essays come from the postmodernist, feminist and Marxist critics — there need to be stronger signs of intellectual rigor here, particularly if you're going to call your piece 'Penetrating Keanu: New Holes, but the Same Old Shit'..." Laura Miller, Salon.com
"The tacit goal here is to make philosophy fun for the general reader...so while some articles contain rather dense philosophical jargon, most are pitched at the level of a freshman intro course....The results are occasionally engaging...but they're too often dryly academic and liable to elicit no more than a drowsy 'whoa' from the movie's legions of fans." Publishers Weekly
The Matrix conveys the horror of a false world made of nothing but perceptions. Based on the premise that reality is a dream controlled by malevolent forces, it is one of the most overtly philosophical movies ever to come out of Hollywood. These thought-provoking essays by the same team of young philosophers who created The Simpsons and Philosophy discuss different facets of the primary philosophical puzzle of The Matrix: Can we be sure the world is really there, and if not, what should we do about it? Other chapters address issues of religion, lifestyle, pop culture, the Zeitgeist, the nature of mind and matter, and the reality of fiction.
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