Is Our World a Computer Game?

I’m glad to announce I’ve expanded the below post into an entire book-length series that will be premiering in January 2019 on Partially Examined Life.  In the meantime, please enjoy this repost of the original.

I’m glad to announce I’ve been invited to write for The Partially Examined Life, a companion blog to the popular philosophy podcast of the same name. This week I took as my topic the question of whether or not we might be living inside a video game:

Technology is often thought of as a triumph of material realism (the concept that matter and the things made of matter exist in some fundamental ontological sense, independent of the observer). After all, it was the faith that matter has an objective existence governed by knowable rules that paved the way for the triumph of modern science and the technology that utilizes it.

Given that, it becomes a sharp irony that the advances of technology have also served to breathe new life into some of the oldest attacks on realism. For example, Descartes imagined that everything he experienced as “real life” might theoretically be illusions produced by a “malignant demon” powerful enough to deceive all of his senses simultaneously. This scenario was famously updated as the core conceit of the seminal movie The Matrix, in which a young man realizes his entire life is an illusion created not by a demon, but by a powerful, sentient computer.

Read the full essay here: Computer Games and the Solipsistic Fantasy

Other Posts about Games:

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