A meme pic led me to check the wiki page of The Matrix, and it pointed out lots of philosophical (etc) references in the movie (i don’t even consider the latter two of the trilogy a part of the “trilogy”, they are worse than fanfics).
One was the brain in the vat thought experiment, which is a very fascinating problem – but is it really a problem? From the perspective of the brain in the vat, it’s impossible to tell if what it senses is really reality or just an image sent by a computer. If the Matrix was perfect (no bugs, no hacks), then it no one could ever notice that something was wrong. Most of humankind didn’t notice anyway.
This has been a problem in philosophy since forever, one that’s related to pretty much all fields of thought. I think my path in philosophy ended when i faced it and i noticed that it doesn’t matter. Our own perspective is the only thing that we know. Is this the real world? Is this just fantasy? You can just consider all the possibilities (if you have the time). I don’t think that it’s possible for us to get perfectly accurate mental images based on reality, because of our limitations – and those are what they’re called anyway: images.
Your brain translates it all. There’s a sensation, your senses pick it up, your brain translates it and that’s what you conceive in your mind. Then you act based on it, your brain translates it back, and that’s why your actions match the reality you conceive. (This is why you fall when you’re drunk: the translation engine gets fucked up.)
Of course any of us may be the God that’s dreaming this world, but as long as you can’t change the world at your will so that others can see that change too, it doesn’t make a difference. We may even all be just superintelligent creatures who lock their conscience in this limited form while the rest of their minds are imagining the world sub- or sup-consciously, and none of us can alone change it, because the others are preventing the change.
There might be a way to explain a mental state or image to another person perfectly, but there is no way to confirm that in that person’s mind the image is as you “see” that same image in your own mind. Consider invading someone’s mind and seeing through their eyes for a moment, while you still have your own mental images.
For example the color blue is objectively identical to us all, but the way we see it might be different. The way i see blue might be the way red looks to you, but as this difference is a step after the translation process, it makes no difference in how we sense the world or how we interact with it.
I’ll rather not even get into the quantum problems, when perceiving (measuring) something actually changes the result. It might be the case with everything, reality included. Pharmacists have known this for ages: it’s called the placebo effect in that case.
Imagine a special light beam (for the sake of simplicity, suppose that you can’t see anything else) that damages your eye in a way. It is conceivable that that light beam would change in a way that would precisely match the change in your eye, causing you to perceive the beam as unchanged, while from a different point of view it is changing.
I like this kind of philosophy.