Saw The Matrix Reloaded last night; it met my expectations, which is an impressive achievement.

As I am clearly in the target audience, the entire movie, from characters to costumes to soundtrack to visual effects to plot, seems to be authored to suit my tastes. More interesting, though, is the sense I get that I’ve been studying for the experience. I’ve been listening to Furious Angels a lot, as it has easily floated to the top of my collection. That alone contributed a sense of familiarity to the film.

What made the story seem personally relevant, though, is the theme of inevitability, and the meaning of choice in a deterministic world. This is precisely what I’ve been spending spare neurons on lately, as I read Freedom Evolves. In it, Dennett considers how a clearly deterministic universe might still have room for the concept of free will. One of his conceptual tools, the set of “possible worlds,” seems to be an inspiration for one of the final scenes (with the Architect).

That scene, btw, adds a point that Dennett wisely avoids directly bringing up: the concept of a higher power does not make “choice” any more powerful than a pure naturalist conception of determinism.

Of course, the movie series seems to be heading towards the meaningless, populist cop-out of “human choice empowers us.” Not that it matters, since most of the audience doesn’t even see the subtexts anyway.

I posted this in May 2003 during week 1523.

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