Like a Splinter in Your Mind: The Philosophy Behind the Matrix Trilogy

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9781405125246: Like a Splinter in Your Mind: The Philosophy Behind the Matrix Trilogy

Like a Splinter in Your Mind leads readers through the myriad of philosophical themes within the Matrix trilogy, helping them to gain a better understanding of the films and of philosophy itself.


  • Offers a way into philosophy through the Matrix films.
  • Covers thirteen of the biggest philosophical questions in thirteen self-sufficient chapters suitable for course use.
  • Demonstrates how each of these questions is illustrated through the events and characters of the films.
  • Considers whether sentient machines are possible, and whether we should expect them to face the same existentialist issues that we do.
  • Familiarises readers with key issues in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, philosophy of mind, race and gender, existentialism, Taoism and mysticism.
  • Includes a chapter that explains some of the technical elements of the films and confusing aspects of the plot.
  • Also includes a Matrix glossary, and a cast of characters and their related symbolism.

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Book Description:

Like a Splinter in Your Mind leads readers through the myriad philosophical themes within the Matrix trilogy, helping them to gain a better understanding of the films and of philosophy itself. The book examines 13 core philosophical problems and demonstrates how each is illustrated through the events and characters of the Matrix trilogy. We see how Morpheus manifests Kierkegaard's philosophy of faith; how libertarian, determinist, and compatibilist views of free will find expression in the characters of Neo, the Merovingian, and Ghost; and how Neo's belief in objective values is challenged by Agent Smith. The book focuses squarely on the Matrix films, with plenty of quotes and other tie-ins, but it is also packed with philosophical content. By the end of the book, readers will be well acquainted with key issues in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, philosophy of mind, race and gender, existentialism, Taoism, and mysticism.

From the Back Cover:

It’s the questions that drive us.


  • What is real?
  • How do you know what is real?
  • Can we be certain that we are not in a Matrix ourselves?
  • Does free will exist inside the Matrix? Does it exist outside the Matrix?
  • Are our minds just our brains?
  • Are sentient machines possible?
  • Is it ever best to take the blue pill?


It’s the questions that brought you here.


The Matrix films are not just about Kung Fu and special effects. Rather, they are about knowledge, reality, consciousness, freedom, fate, foreknowledge, good, evil, faith, enlightenment, and the very meaning of existence. In short, they are about philosophy – with some impressive special effects on the side.


Like a Splinter in Your Mind guides you through thirteen of the core philosophical questions that are explored in the Matrix films. You will see how Morpheus manifests Kierkegaard’s philosophy of faith, how Neo, the Merovingian, and Ghost exemplify the three major positions on free will, how the objectivity of value judgments are challenged by Agent Smith, and much more.


Matt Lawrence brings a philosopher’s insight to all three of the Matrix films, giving us a better appreciation of the trilogy, and a solid grasp of key issues in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, philosophy of mind, race and gender, existentialism, Taoism and mysticism. And while his focus is squarely on the films, he also shows us how these questions relate to our own lives and our own philosophical journeys.

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