Descartes and Christopher Grau found similar difficulties in putting full faith in perceived realities. Descartes set these down in his series of Meditations. Grau used them as the foundation of the film The Matrix. Both men sought the answer to the same question. They wanted to find a method by which individuals could be sure that the reality perceived did reflect the real world. Descartes decided to fix his thinking by rejecting everything knew and rebuilding on an honest foundation. In reach the truth, he needed a way to rule out every other possibility.
Like Descartes trying to decide if he was dreaming, someone watching The Matrix is can start to wonder, “How do I know I’m not in a Matrix?” In constructing The Matrix Gray pointed out that if you cannot be sure if you are in the real world or a computer simulation, you cannot know your beliefs about the world are real you can try ensure your reasoning is sound. People want to believe in free will. They want to know they are the authors of their lives and are interacting with real people and they want to know if they are in a created or in the real world. This is one of the reasons behind the popularity of the multiple player on line games, although the environment of the games are not real, real people create the characters and the interactions are “real.” Although the attraction of a game world shared with real people is fun people do not want to live in a created environment.
The idea of a simulated world raises the problem of how individuals can reassure themselves their experience, is in the real world, with real people, in real time.
Looked at on a surface level it might be easy to convince one individual that she or he sat in a room with other students. A brief dream state construct would suffice for that. It would be harder to convince an entire room of students that they were indeed together in a lecture hall listening to an instructor if all they did was listen and later down load the lecture note. However, using a single set of down loaded lecture notes would confirm the illusion and ease any doubts about the reality.
The supposition to refute this is; a total deception of all students as to the physical reality would also include altering their notes. Then, when the students reviewed the notes, the individual notes and the downloaded lecture would all refer to the same exact series of events, lecture, and questions. That would perpetuate the false world in such a way that the students could remain unaware of the deception and see it as participation in a real time shared experience. Christopher Grau relied on logic and reasoning to carry through to reality and fracture the dream world. The more people participated in this the easier it became. When people got together and discussed reality it weakened the illusion. For that reason, people giving mutual support and inter-personal actions shattered and brought down the matrix.
This simulated experience does not and cannot take into consideration that fact that individuals are not just the sum of their senses and their thoughts. They are also creatures of emotion. Information does not just have an intellectual impact there are emotional repercussions as well. These repercussions are not subject to simulation of or later falsification the way other experiences are.
If the emotional content of each individuals reaction to the information is examined the probability level of unreality drops even further. For example, if a student is asked “what did you think when we heard that we could all be living in a dream or computer simulation?” They might rely on notes to recall that information. However, when asked that same question asked about how they felt the reaction would not be a part of the programed notes because it would be internal and individualistic.
Descartes created the ground rules that he needed just one reason to doubt his current opinions to look for better foundations for knowledge. Rather than do this for each one of his opinions individually, he decided he could cast them all in doubt if he there was a reason to doubt the foundations and principles on which he founded his opinions. Previously he based everything on his senses although but the senses could deceive regarding small or distant objects he trusted his ability to discern the truth up close. The exception when he dreamt. He realized under certain conditions like the dream state and divine or diabolical intervention he could not be sure. Since dream images come from waking experience, he concluded that although he can doubt composite things, he could not doubt the simple and universal parts and elements such as size, shape, and quantity. That did not apply if God or a demon were deceiving him, so he decided to trust nothing.
Furthermore, it seems that shared realities are more likely to help dispel deception. Emotional responses are another factor in Grau’s realities. The bonds of love and friendship were not subject to the same level of simulation that purely experiential reality was.
Close examination, logic and reason are three elemental tools to determine reality. Shared experience and discussion are two more ways to dispel fallacies. Since it is even harder to falsify is how those details make individuals feel
Therefore, the least amount of deception would exist in a society of thinking, emotional individuals to remain convinced of an “unreal reality” if they freely exchanged their thoughts and discussed their emotional reactions to events. Perhaps that is why Abraham Lincoln said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”
Descartes, Rene. Meditations on First Philosophy. Ed. John Veitch. 1647 - 1901.
Oxford University Press. "Great Philosophical Aruments." 2014. Oxford University Press.