1) What to you are the central themes in Plato’s allegory of the cave? What are the ways by which the film closely resembles the allegory of the cave? Conversely, what are the ways by which the film differs from it?
– The Allegory doesn’t solely represent our own misconceptions of reality
– Plato’s vision of what a solid leader should be. The prisoner is expected to return to the cave and live amongst his former prisoners as someone whom can see better than all the rest, someone whom is now able to govern from truth and goodness. He is expected to care for his fellow citizens
In a way, all the characters within a dream state created in the movie are the prisoners for they only see what the “architect” creates for them. They may be able to think on their own but that one person is the only one who truly knows what is out there in its entirety – thus, the architect of the dream is the one prisoner who is let out.
– Cobb orchestrated the mission for personal gain; however, this jeopardized all the other members of his team, which is a sign of selfishness. This disagrees with Plato’s allegory of the cave, because the enlightened prisoner went back to the cave to enlighten and teach his fellow prisoners. Cobb, on the other hand, did not reveal the all the dangers that his team would be facing on their mission. He only revealed it when the situation arose.
2) How does the mind separate false reality from true reality? Enumerate instances (key scenes) where the film clearly delineates “false” reality from “true” reality.
– Based on Mal’s experience/situation, you can’t distinguish false reality from true reality. You can only ‘trick yourself’ into believing that you are currently in ‘true reality’.
*Mal & Cobb in Limbo
True reality can only be realized when a person wakes up from a dream or gets out of the false reality. If there is no change happening then it is assumed that the person is in true reality.
Key scenes where the film clearly delineates false reality from true reality:
- The use of Cobb’s totem clearly shows the difference between false reality and true reality. He is in true reality when he spins his totem then stops after a while. On the other hand, he is dreaming is his totem keeps spinning forever.
- In addition to the use of totem, Arthur also explained to Araydne the use of his totem to determine true reality from false reality. He is the only one knows the difference of how his dice performs in a dream and in reality.
- In the first part of the movie, Saito knows that he is still dreaming because when he was laid to the ground, he realized that the carpet is different. He knows that the material of the carpet in his reality is wool but in the dream it is polyester.
- In false reality, the dreamer can manipulate space in the dream. This was shown when Araydne went to her first workshop on designing a dream with Cobb. This is not possible in true reality.
- The wedding ring is also significant to Cobb. He wears the wedding ring in reality but not in a dream.
3) If someone can infiltrate your dreams in order to make you behave a certain way, do you really have free will? Is free will that easily manipulated?
– In the movie, one would be able to enter another’s dream and insert images or ideas into the dream; however, this would cause the dreamer’s subconscious to attack the other person. The ideas and images would still remain in their minds. If we relate this to a person’s ability to make decisions, a person initially has their own beliefs; however, this initial idea may be manipulated by another person simply by stating an idea or image. This then justifies that free will may be easily manipulated since no one actually knows what goodness truly is.
Free will is defined as the ability to choose how to act or the ability to make choices.
In practical situations, decisions made by a person or way of thinking can somehow be affected by a lot of factors. Influences made by friends, family, colleagues, mentors and many more. With this, there is still free will because in the end, the person’s decision is still his/her. Nothing is being forced into the person’s mind. Although the influences may be misleading ones or guidance for the person.
In the case of the movie, it is said that through inception, a simple idea is planted into a person’s mind then this idea can grow and either define or destroy a person. If this inception really is possible, then the process of influencing a person is easier since the person is forced to believe in the certain idea. With this, there would be no such thing as free will since the ability to choose will not be possible. Every decision is affected by the planted idea. The idea can manipulate the person and all of the person’s beliefs and ideals in life will revolve to that.
4) Discuss how Cobb’s actions follow closely either some of the 4 Noble Truths or all of them.
– Suffering: Cobb was suffering throughout his life because he had to live with the guilt of his wife’s death since he planted the ‘idea’ in her mind
– Desire: Cobb and Mal lived in limbo for 50 years. During those times, the two were free to do whatever they wished to do. They did not need to go through the sufferings that reality entails.
– Path away from Suffering:
* Cobb – Cobb’s suffering would end through closure and if he was able to finally forgive himself. This is why he decided to accept Satto’s offer to ‘get him back home’.
* Mal – Since Cobb placed the idea that everything around them wasn’t real, they didn’t want to live with the idea that they were just being fooled. The only way she believed to escape was to ‘wake up’ or in other words, kill themselves, as they did while they were stuck in limbo.