The concept of whether or not we have volition is a highly debated subject amongst philosophers. This subject is often brought up in many forms of media, such as the film, “The Matrix”. The characters and their actions in this film portray three different views of metaphysics. These are, fatalism, determinism, and existentialism.
Fatalism is the view that we are powerless to do anything besides what we actually do. Fatalism says that no matter what one does, their future is pre determined. Nothing they say or do will change it. They have no freedom and no say in the events that happen throughout their life. In the film “The Matrix” there is a character referred to as “The Oracle”. She can predict the future in this movie. She has a power to see in to the future, and she shares her gift with our protagonist Neo. In order for the Oracle to be able to predict the future, they must live in a fatalist universe. If the world was not pre determined, this Oracle could not predict the future.Through out the rest of the movie, our protagonist will ponder the question of Fatalism, and he will base his future actions upon what the Oracle has told him. Determinism is the concept that everything that happens has a sufficient cause for happening. Determinists believe that every choice, decision, and event are a result of a cause. This is like a billiards table.
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One ball is hit, and it hits another, causing it to move and hit another ball. In “The Matrix” the Oracle says to Neo, “Don’t worry about the vase.” Neo is rather confused by her statement, and turns around looking for this vase. He hits the vase and knocks it over. This scene could argue the determinist views. The reason Neo hit the vase was the Oracle telling him not to worry about the vase. The cause was her words, the effect was the vase being broken. The Oracle poses the question, “Would you still have broken it if I hadn’t said anything?” This puzzles not only Neo, but all of mankind. Would the same event have occurred if it was not for her saying that? This is one of many main problems existentialists face. Another thing that they have trouble figuring out is what the first cause was. The cause that started the chain-reaction that lead to today. When Neo hits the vase it was an act of cause and effect in a determinists mind.This is a prime example of determinism and it shows it being applied in everyday life.
Neo is an existentialist in the beginning of the movie “The Matrix”. An existentialist believes that the individual person has freedom in determining their own actions. They believe in volition and free will. They do not believe in pre determination. Existentialists believe that each person is in control of their own actions. Existentialists would not believe in something like predicting the future. The Oracle would be a joke to an existentialist. Neo likes to believe that he is in control of his actions and his choices. Existentialism also says that there is no pre determined meaning to life. That existence precedes essence. Neo does not believe that he was pre determined to be the “chosen one”. This makes Neo an existentialist. Therefore, Neo does not believe in the Oracle in the beginning of this film. He thinks that it is completely fake and laughable. Neo shows a great example of what an existentialist believes.
The debate over volition is arguably unsolvable. There are many views on this subject and none of them can be proven. This debate is very controversial and seems to be a reoccurring theme in many forms of media. In the film “The Matrix” multiple views of volition are portrayed. The Oracle is a fatalist, Neo is an existentialist, and his actions show determinism. However, these three views can not coincide. They can not all be fact. Philosophers have been debating volition for centuries and will be for centuries to come.