Total Recall Paper PHIL 2003-013 Usually at least once in a lifetime a person will question whether a dream was reality or not. It is rare to think “l am Just dreaming” in a dream. In the 1990s movie Total Recall the director, Paul Verhoeven, attempts to illustrate the puzzling question of “what is reality and what is not? ” With Arnold Schwarzenegger in this futuristic flick, the director cleverly confuses the audience about what is “real” in the movie, making one doubt each previous scene.
Total Recall begins with the main character, Douglas Quaid, on a mission to decipher a reoccurring dream that takes place in Mars. His curiosity and frustrations take him to ReKall Inc. who has a specialty in a very unorthodox practice. There at ReKall Inc. , they have a machine that will replace memories. When the memory-replacing process begins, something goes wrong–he begins to recover erased memories and realizes that what he thought was his entire life was a sham. He had been a secret agent and an enemy of the current totalitarian government.
The dictator, Cohaagen, had earlier played Judge and Jury and ordered that he be given a false life”his wife and friends were not who they seemed. The device itself goes against numerous human rights and is ethically wrong, but that did not stop the movie’s antagonist, Cohaagen, from utilizing its special abilities for diabolical purposes. This movie illustrates some controversial ideas from two philosophers, Rene Descartes and Christopher Grau, about reality and how one knows what is real and what is not.
This is most obviously illustrated in the onclusion of the movie with Schwarzenegger’s line, “I Just had a terrible thought. What if this is all a dream? ” (Total Recall) Rene Descartes is a very interesting philosopher due to the extremes he utilized in order to fgure out what is real and what is not. The tactic that Descartes used is called Skepticism. Skepticism is the idea that one should doubt all beliefs almost entirely in order to obtain real knowledge.
He explained why he decided that skepticism was a good strategy when he states that “[He] can Justify the rejection of ll of [his] beliefs if [he] can find some ground for doubt in each” Now, Descartes seemed to be deeply religious and one of the few things he beheld as truth was that God exists. His belief in God even affected his theories on reality. One of his theories was that he was being deceived by a conniving and mischievous demon that was hell-bent on distorting his reality. The demon could be comparable to the evil dictator and the memory replacing machine in Total Recall.
Despite the evil demon, Descartes did manage to reveal one very true thing and that is that he must exist if e truly is being deceived by the evil demon because ne needs to exist in order to be deceived. He later summarizes this into his famous phrase “l think, therefore, I am. “(Descartes 136). The second philosopher that analyses the problem of what is reality and what is not in the Introduction to Philosophy textbook is Christopher Grau. Grau, in his essay, expands on Descartes idea of the “evil demon” by basing it off of The Matrix with his theory, The Brain in a Vat Theory.
The theory is Just like it sounds. Just like in Total Recall, an extremely intelligent device has the ability to give humans and gives them a false reality ofa life. What Grau is purposing is that we, as people, could quite possibly be hooked up to a super computer and given false memories and experiences as well. In conclusion, Total Recall is a psychological thriller based in a very sobering dystopia. It illustrates Rene’s key points about how nothing can ever truly be known if one can summon even the slightest doubt as well as Christopher’s Brain in a Vat theory.
It calls for unending and increasingly complex questions that cannot truly be solved using logic or science at this time. I truly do not know if I am writing this paper, but I do know, by using my senses, that my back only hurts like this when I sit in a library chair for a few hours and I know from my three empty cups of coffee beside me that I have been in the library a very long time, so I must have worked hard on this paper. But, when applying Descartes’ theory, that could Just be the evil demon talking.
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