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Publisher's Summary

The choice is yours, and you'll have to live with the consequences for at least the rest of your life. Will you take the blue pill - put this audiobook back and go on thinking of The Matrix as just a movie? Or will you take the red pill - listen to this book, and find out just how far down the rabbit-hole goes?

Is the world around us truly as it appears or are we inert bodies in tanks, our brains electronically stimulated to create a make-believe world which is all we know? This old philosophical puzzle has become cutting-edge cool with the appearance of the Keanu Reeves cult sci-fi movie, The Matrix.

The Matrix is the most philosophical film ever made, every step of its fast-paced plot pivoting on a philosophical conundrum. If the world as we know it is nothing more than our dream, does this make the dream real? If we had the choice to step out of our world into a more real but less pleasant one - to take the red pill - would it be a moral failure not to do so? Why do humans have a value above that of intelligent electronic mechanisms? Can the mind live without the body or the body without the mind?

In The Matrix and Philosophy, professional philosophers analyze The Matrix from many angles: metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, and aesthetic. They uncover hidden depths in this intricate work of art, and often reach disturbing conclusions. Those who take the red pill never look at 'the real world' the same way again.

The Matrix and Philosophy is also available in print from Open Court Books.

Executive Producer: Laura Wilson
Producer: Paul Ruben
Cover concept and design: Lisa Fyfe
Back cover design: Randy Martinaitis
(P)2002 Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Whatever your philosophical cup of tea, The Matrix and Philosophy is your teahouse." (Lou Marinoff, author of Plato Not Prozac and Philosophical Practice)

What members say

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  • Overall

Be prepared for serious philosophical thinking

With the recent release of "Matrix - Reloaded" I was interested in learning more about the philosophical foundations of the original movie and the writers' deeper messages. This book really has a lot of thoughtful essays by philosophy professors that explore The Matrix from a number of perspectives. Some of the articles are witty and others are too full of technical jargon (like an essay's continual use of the phrase "the big Other" -- whatever that is supposed to mean!) If you enjoyed reading Plato, Kant and Aquinas, you'll love this collection of essays. But if splitting hairs over whether something is representative of existentialism or some other esoteric branch of philosophy reminds you of a required Freshman humanities class, then you won't be able to maintain your concentration to understand what the essayist is trying to say. The premise of the book is good, but the selection of authors could have been better. Overall it was worth the time listening, but it's not for philosophical novices.

33 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Daniel
  • Pittsburgh, PA, USA
  • 06-04-03

The Matrix and Philosophy

Some people may find this book "long winded", but I did not. This book may not be for the Matrix fan who liked the movie for the action and kung-fu alone. This book is more for the fan who after seeing The Matrix, asked themselves the same philosophical questions addressed by this book. Is The Matrix possible? Am I dreaming, waiting to be awoke? There are many questions that The Matrix evokes in us who saw the movie not only for it's action sequences and special effects, but also for it's philosophical implications.

I would highly reccommend this book for those with questions and looking for answers.

33 of 35 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Thought Provoking

This book consisted of multiple philosophy professionals giving their own personal views of how themes throughout the Matrix movie tie into the teachings of philosophy. Because of this "Multi-Author" format, some were better than others. The book links the scenes from the movie with anything from traditional Greek philosophy to feministic ideas of penetration in a male dominated world. Using parts of the movie as philosophy examples is a good way of introducing the subject to someone who may otherwise never get the opportunity to learn about it or even care about it for that matter. If you are the type that would like to think more profound thoughts than your grocery list or what's on TV tonight, then this book is for you.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


Well - here is a collection of essays talking about the philosophical issues raised by the matrix. Yes it is many essays so there is repetition. The thing that really kills this version though is that it is abridged. Following the arguments about different schools of philosophy and why we shouldn't believe one or should believe another is really difficult when parts of the essays are gone! Don't waste your time, read the full version instead, it is much better.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Robert
  • 06-29-03


Nowhere in the description did it state that this book was really a collection of essays. Since the essays were written independently of each other, they all cover some of the same ground in summarizing the plot and the characters. Thus, many parts of the book were repetitive, enticing me to fast-forward. Another problem for me is that all the essays were written by philosophy professors. Thus, you need to be a philosophy student to really appreciate (or understand) the contents. In a nutshell, the first essay was the most interesting and informative, where the author describes the parallels between the lives of Neo and Socrates. In other words, the Matrix is sort of a sci-fi adaptation the life of Socrates.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Ron
  • Sydney, Australia
  • 11-10-09

Too many cooks spoil the broth

The problem with combining multiple authors who right about the same topic is the risk of repetition. And unfortunately this one suffers from it greatly. I am not saying there was nothing to gain from reading this book. There are many great insights into the human condition and the massive number of symbolic references the movie boasts are certainly brought to light and justified well. But there are too many instances where one essay goes to explain one theory and the next essay by a different author encompasses the same views.
Overall, I did enjoy this book regardless of the same thing said over and over.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jose
  • CAYEY, PR, United States
  • 03-09-11

Tremendo Libro

Este libro es un Resumen completo de la primera parte. Para las segunda y tercera necesitas comprarMore Matrix and Philosophy: Revolutions and Reloaded Decoded. Lo recomiendo.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mirek
  • Lodz, Poland
  • 11-28-09

When a movie becomes an object for philosophers

When first released in March of 1999, "The Matrix" of Wachowski brothers, immediately gave rise to philosophical interpretations.

While majority of viewers watched it for stunning and violent action, critics and film makers - for sound and visual effects, the philosophers noticed the non-trivial references to various schools of thought from Buddhism, through cartesianism, to existentialism and postmodernism.

The book surprised me positively. First and foremost, the authors whose essayes are in the book are really distinguished philosophers. Let me only name few: William Irwin, Jorge Garcia, Theodore Shick or Slavoj Zizek from about 20 names.

Second - the authors mostly took The Matrix as the inspiration of some deeper philosophical analysis. These analysis are very interesting and deep, but what is the most important fact is that it is the iconic movie of modern culture that ignited the fire of millenia long dilemmas.

It is impossible in short review to analyse the actual thoughts and polemicize with them.
There are fantastic passages about Platonic ideas, about Rene Descartes "Devil" or about Kant forms of perception.

Let me, however, look closer at the article "Popping a Bitter Pill: Existential Authenticity in The Matrix and Nausea" by Jennifer L. MacMahon. She analyses the transition undergone by main characters of The Matrix (Neo) and Sartre's "La Nause?" (Roquentin). In both cases is is about authenticity.

The another worth mentioning essay is "Real Genre and Virtual Philosophy" by Deborah Knight and George McKnight.

It is very important because it uncovers how many of The Matrix philosophical motives could rather be attributed to specific genre it is deeply rooted.

The general conclusion is, that while The Matrix itself is certainly not philosophical fairy-tale and is full of contradictions and serious simplifications - it ignited much deeper discussion...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Erynn
  • Seattle, WA, USA
  • 07-29-03

More Philosophy, Less Matrix

This is a decent look at philosophy, using the Matrix as a model. Many times, it seems less the philosophies behind the matrix, but more how the philosophers would view the film. Not a good introduction to philosophy, but a good companion to an intro class or book.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

An in depth philosophical analysis of The Matrix

An in depth philosophical analysis of The Matrix, that towards the end derails into an unhealthy feminist rant that sexualises anything and everything to suit the authors predisposition. Nonetheless I listened through it all.

I very much enjoyed the first few chapters. After that the book became quite repetitive with each essay overlapping the previous.