What is a Matrix? What does the word mean? What are people referring to to when they talk of ‘the Matrix’? Why use the story of the film as a metaphor? Let’s shed some light on the topic and see why a science fiction story can serve as a useful illustration of modern life.
Firstly, let me say that I do not propose we live in a computer generated virtual reality dream world. The metaphor usefully illustrates the relatively unconscious mode of existence of the vast majority of humanity. For example, few people are aware of the philosophical convictions that underpin their attitudes, their mindset and their thinking, and therefore their choices, their actions and their lives. Few are aware that they are not politically free, or of the way in which they are economically exploited through taxation and inflation.
The Oxford English dictionary informs us the word originates in Late Middle English from the Latin for ‘breeding female’, or ‘womb’, from mater, matr- ‘mother’.
Oxford English dictionary definition of Matrix
- The cultural, social, or political environment in which something develops.
- A mass of fine-grained rock in which gems, crystals, or fossils are embedded.
- Biology The substance between cells or in which structures are embedded. ‘the lipid matrix of olfactory cells’.
- Fine material used to bind together the coarser particles of a composite substance.
‘the matrix of gravel paths is hoed regularly’
- A mould in which something, such as a record or printing type, is cast or shaped. ‘her two duets with Isobel Baillie were never issued and the matrices were destroyed’.
- A rectangular array of quantities or expressions in rows and columns that is treated as a single entity and manipulated according to particular rules. ‘this formula applies for all square matrices’.
- An organizational structure in which two or more lines of command, responsibility, or communication may run through the same individual. as modifier ‘matrix structures are said to foster greater flexibility’.
We can see from this and other dictionary definitions that the commonly agreed meaning of the term ‘matrix’ is the cultural social or political environment in which something develops. It is also is a kind of a mould shaping the outcome. It can also be a rectangular mathematical array of quantities or data treated as a single entity and manipulated by the same rules. And it can be an organised structure where two or more lines of command, responsibility or communication run through the same individual.
Bear these aspects of its meaning in mind during what follows.
In the context of referencing the film and using the term as a metaphor for modern life, I use the following definition. The matrix means the context of the control of ideas and propaganda and its subsequent resulting mental framework for the interpretation of events and understanding the world that predominates in the mainstream narrative irrespective of and separate from the diversity of interpretations that exists in active and independent minds.
The Matrix film
The title of my Podcast refers to the 1999 Science-fiction film “The Matrix” that depicts a dystopian future in which a slave race of humans are unconscious of the greater context of their lives. They ‘live’ in a computer generated reality dream state made by machines (or Artificial Intelligence), or at least this is where their consciousness has experiences. Meanwhile, the heat and electrical energy from their bodies is harvested. The lead character, Neo, meets a group of rebels who have broken out of the dream state and he joins them by choosing the Red Pill (singifying wanting to know). Once on the outside they then struggle for freedom against the AI machines in the grim ‘reality’ of a devastated and spoiled Earth.
Why use the Matrix as a metaphor for modern life?
In reality, the typical citizen of the UK neither knows nor cares much about the greater context of their lives. It is the same across much of the western world. Few people understand that we are not politically free. We cannot be free if our property rights are violated through taxation under threat of imprisonment. Most prefer to believe the propaganda that claims we live in a free world and are governed by consent.
The vast majority consult their familiar social group for their understanding of reality or their political convictions, and few really arrive at any original thoughts or insights of their own. The so-called ‘education system’ of the western world discourages thinking and dumbs down successive generations into mindless automatons that are unable to think in principles and therefore achieve any conceptual understanding of the context of their lives.
The Matrix is the prison of conventional thinking. It is going with the flow and believing what those in control want you to believe. It is declining to judge, to discern, to choose, what is right and what is not. The Matrix is a mindset, it is a habit of not really being bothered enough to find out about stuff, a habit of evasion, or non-enquiry, of non-curiosity. Because the model is acceptance of the group view without question this results in the widespread support for socialism, collectivism, and in men living to serve others. It is conformity and the opposite of individually pursued and achieved self-initiated goals.
Socialism is on the rise rooted in the dominant (and unquestioned) morality of altruism. Mysticism is also gaining ground. Although traditional religions are losing support a secular form of mysticism is replacing it. People believe that they create their own reality, that they have a higher self out there somewhere, that everything is an illusion. I examine Mysticism and Altruism elsewhere, but for now, the point is that the dominant cultural theme is one in which people download their worldview subconsciously from the surrounding social environment rather than forming it independently. It is a culture of conformity. Furthermore, it is loaded with presumptions and premises that do not serve humanity because they are not true.
We live in an objective reality. This means that reality is an objective absolute that we are born into. It is already here when we arrive. We do not create it. Existence exists independent of any consciousness; yours, mine, supernatural, divine or anything. Things are what they are. Reality is what it is. A is A. The reality we find ourselves in was not created by a supernatural being. Existence exists and only existence exists.
Everything that exists has an identity and it is the task of our consciousness to identify that which exists. We know this from our everyday experience. The better we know reality, the better we conceptually understand it, the more successfully we can manipulate it and the better our lives can be. There are still things we do not understand but they must be clearly identified as such with no attempt to substitute invention for enquiry.
The ideas of Ayn Rand are very helpful in understanding this basic truth and getting it firmly written in our subconscious minds. It is vital to connect with reality effectively, and to the extent that we entertain ideas that do not correlate with reality is the extent to which we are off track and cause ourselves suffering. Schizophrenics and insane people disregard the facts of reality in preference for their own subjective feelings and delusions – to their bitter cost. More functional people are rational to varying degrees and implicitly acknowledge reality as an objective absolute in the majority of their behaviour. But few people are exclusively and consistently rational.
The Red pill or the Blue pill?
One theme of the film is that of volitional choice. Neo, the hero, makes a choice ‘to know’. This is the human condition. Do you want to know or are you happy to follow everyone else? Our choice in life, like Neo’s in the film, is to decide whether or not we want to know and understand our world in the fullest sense of the meaning. This means taking responsibility to think and to judge.
Sanity means being in touch with reality, using your senses your conceptual faculty and checking the empirical evidence. We must be careful not to adopt philosophical ideas wrapped up in slogans that contradict our day to day experience and undermine our sanity – our connection to reality.
There are many ideas promulgated on the web and Youtube that do not stand up to scrutiny. Like the ideas listed below many are distractions masquerading as truth. To the extent you take them on board they will blind you to reality and leave you in the dream world some people claim they wish to escape. If we do not wish to exhibit the same mental habits as Schizophrenics and the inmates of Asylums we must make it a priority to connect with reality and discount ideas for which there is no evidence or ideas that are contradicted by the evidence.
- Your infinite source or your ‘higher’ self – exists somewhere else and is not a part of the conscious YOU.
- The Matrix is just one game of many – or one reality of many!
- Everything is an illusion, none of it exists.
- Things seem real but that has nothing to do with reality.
- You must raise your frequency.
- You live multiple lifetimes.
- We are all one.
- Reality is whatever you believe it to be.
- If you vibrate at a lower frequency in the ‘lower plains’ you will experiences unpleasant things.
- Your frequency determines what you experience in this illusory 3-d virtual reality dream state.
- If you are at a lower frequency you give power to the Matrix to create more evil.
- You can get the answer to any question using a pendulum to access infinite source truth.
- We live in a computer-generated virtual reality.
- Fear will trap you in a lower frequency
Outside the Matrix a truly human life is possible
Men can exist as slaves but it is not a truly human life, one proper to man. The masses can exist as zombies but that is not a fully human life proper to man. People can survive for a limited time in a state of sickness, anxiety and depression, but that is not a truly human life. A truly human life proper to the nature of man can only be lived in conditions of political freedom where men have the right to exist for their own sake and to keep the products of their own efforts. It is only made possible when men are free to think and to reason and to act upon their judgment. This is the condition when men are able to flourish. But more than this, they must then choose to think (so as to identify the facts of reality) and to act in accordance with their rational conclusions. Only when these two factors combine will men thrive.
When I say Outside the Matrix I mean outside the mindset of the majority. One has to reject the mainstream Matrix philosophy, the metaphysics of mysticism and the morality of altruism in order to identify the vales and conditions and actions necessary for human flourishment.
Peace lies outside the Matrix
The non-aggression principle requires that we do not use force against our fellow men. The essence of peace is the non-initiation of the use of force. Self-defence is another matter, the use of force is entirely moral when used in response to aggression initiated against us. But our present mainstream culture is all about violent coercion. Force dominates the way we are parented and the way we are governed. Outside the matrix, rational men respect the non-aggression principle. They negotiate using reason and persuasion, they do not force and coerce. Reasoning is the way of peace. It is the way of human adults in full consciousness acting in their rational self-interest.
Freedom lies outside the Matrix
The recognition of man’s right to own his own life and to live according to his judgment is the essence of freedom. Within mainstream western culture, man is held to be his brother’s keeper and, accordingly, socialism is widely regarded as a good idea in spite of its historical record of abject failure. Soviet Russia, Chairman Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia are all examples of where socialism leads. But still, the mistaken notion persists resting upon a seemingly unshakeable philosophical conviction – altruism. Outside the Matrix rational men respect the right of the individual to own his own life and to live for his own sake. Outside the Matrix altruism is rejected in favour of rational self-interest.
Abundance lies outside the Matrix
Property rights are the only practical implementation of individual rights and are therefore fundamental. Without them being respected, no other rights can exist. A free market is the result of universal respect for property rights and thus wealth creation is enabled. However, taxation, licensing and regulation are the norm within the mainstream culture (the Matrix). People have forgotten that the coercive expropriation of any percentage of one’s wealth and income is theft. The mainstream culture ignores the fact that to give 50% (or any percentage) of one’s income every month amounts to slavery. Without this institutionalised theft and with property rights respected the essential conditions for freedom would exist and wealth and abundance could (and would) then result. Outside the Matrix rational men respect each other’s right to keep the products of their own effort.
Justice lies outside the Matrix
When property rights are respected and governments cease to expropriate wealth from individuals and businesses capitalism (the forgotten socio-economic system of freedom) can prevail. Capitalism is a system with justice as its guiding principle. A fair price is struck between two parties according to their voluntary participation and judgment.
Happiness can only be achieved outside the matrix because it is an effect. you have to be free to act on your own judgment to be happy because you have to be free to select and pursue your own goals free from the interference of others by means of force. Here in England, I am not even free to build myself a house on my own land. The government of the UK requires me to have their permission in order to build a home. It is a discretionary favour handed out to some but not others according to various arbitrary criteria.
It is important to know the difference between happiness and pleasure and to understand the roots of lasting happiness. It results from being free to pursue one’s own self-initiated goals. It requires freedom. Freedom is something that we do not yet have. The illusion of freedom is sold, but until men are allowed to live for their own sake, and allowed to act upon their own judgment and allowed to keep the products of their own effort we will not be free.
The way out is to become more conscious. But how do we do that?
Our uniquely human form of consciousness enables us to enjoy conceptual awareness through the ability to see patterns in reality, to generalise, and to form abstract concepts. We have the ability to conceptualise or to put similar things into groups that we call concepts. This is how we gain knowledge of reality. No other living organism that we know of possesses this ability. This is why we are at the top of the food chain. Every other living organism has to adapt to its environment or perish. Man has the ability through his conceptual faculty to adapt his environment to his needs.
Our conceptual faculty gives us an ability unique among living organisms to zoom out ever further from our immediate surroundings, to conceive of the passage of time that is a human life and to see the ever-larger context of our existence. We can plan, anticipate, and see the bigger picture. Our faculty of reason and capacity to integrate our acquired knowledge into a non-contradictory sum enables us to test ideas against reality and to join dots so that we can figure out how to do things. Our power of imagination enables us to conceive of things that do not even exist yet! This gives us the power to create things we need and to invent new technologies and products by harnessing the ability to reshape matter enabled by our conceptual understanding of objective reality.
It is the act of using our uniquely human ability to conceptualise that makes us human. And this is the way out of the matrix. It is to become more human and less like animals. To think more. To be rational and to build our conceptual awareness – meaning our knowledge. This is the process by which we come to understand such complex abstract concepts as justice, freedom and individual rights. And these are what is required for a future of peace freedom and abundance.
Becoming more conscious
To become more conscious means to become more conceptually aware. There is no other route to knowledge. Knowledge is the correct identification of some aspect of reality in conceptual form. Our ability to conceptualise and see ever-greater patterns, in reality, is unlimited and it enables us to gain potentially vast knowledge both from our own experience and from others before us.
The senses cannot be ‘turned up’ as it were, they either function to their full potential to give us information about reality or they do not. We are either tuned in to our world or we are not. We either pay attention or we do not. But our conceptual faculty has no such limits. By forming mental abstractions we can mentally zoom out creating ever wider abstractions or mentally zoom in creating ever-narrower ones. Thus potentially gaining an ever-increasing knowledge of reality. This is the route to becoming more conscious. This is the only path open to humanity if it is ever to evolve in consciousness at all.
The way out of the matrix then is to increase this conceptual awareness and thus gain knowledge. It is then to use the art of reasoned argument to explain what we have learned to others. This is the only way to spread sound ideas rooted in reality and thus create a peaceful and free world.
There is so much disinformation out there in the world and much of it is deeply entrenched in the minds of the masses. For example, the anti-capitalists and those who espouse collectivism and socialism. These ideas are the enemies of freedom.
Philosophy is the subject area that deserves specific attention because it is fundamental. It is the mother of all sciences that we must rediscover if we are to ensure that we are thinking independently and in accordance with reality. There are many different philosophical schools of thought, and many of them are duff steers by design. No other area of knowledge is so important and therefore so afflicted by sophistry, propaganda and outright nonsense. We all need a philosophy that is true, one that guides us correctly to identify reality. That philosophy is objectivism.
Once we are thinking independently and we have achieved intellectual sovereignty, we are up-and-running as fully functional human beings. This may seem harsh to all those who are not so. But you cannot claim to be a fully functional human being if you are not independently using your rational faculty and your thinking mind.
Feel free to join in the conversation and leave a comment below.
Live the life you love