The Analogy of “Choice”

10 Jun

Freedom, Determinacy, and the Analogy of “Choice”:  Back into the Matrix


We’re not here because we are free, we’re here because we’re not free. … There’s no escaping reason, no denying purpose, because … without purpose we would not exist.

Matrix Reloaded


The power of “choice”, the core principle behind any discussion of freedom or free will, is framed in a paradoxical relationship.

You can’t be “free” in a deterministic ontology or setting of reality; and yet free choice is itself “determined” by the very circumstance of the chooser making a decision, choosing one or more option over others, the context in which the choice is made, AND those factors outside one’s control that led up to the situation of the choice to begin with.

That’s a mouthful!  But it’s important to point this fact out, because if it isn’t, you can easily be confused into thinking either (1) there’s no choice, or (2) vis-a-vis choice, there’s no determinacy when it comes to the ‘freedom-will’ issue.

Again the POMO-based literary view of the Matrix movie helps us here to think about this dicey freedom-determinacy issue.

We have choice, but it’s not complete, lasting, or metaphysically permanent.  It’s couched in the terms of our psychologies and environment.  But it is our power of choice nonetheless.  And, that makes it unique for it’s both a control and an open variable.

We are choosing!  … But, by virtue of the stream of events that lead us up to our choice and our decision, “we’ve already made the choice” (to quote the metaphor of the “Oracle” character from the story).

Furthermore, we’re ‘controlled’ here or are ‘determined’ by what itself has conditioned our psyche to see as its puzzle – namely the problem of why we need to select option “A” or option “B” and have a solution over not doing anything at all.  ‘Choice’ and the act of ‘choosing’ are thus both ‘determined’, even as they are ‘open-ended’ and ‘freely-made’ from the context of what frames them.

“No one can see past a choice they can’t understand” (Oracle, Matrix Revolutions), and yet from the vantage point of what inevitably brings us to ‘choice’ and what inevitably must come from our choices, we do live in a determinable world.


My open offer to others in this conversation over free will and determinism.  Already here, I’ve used literary concepts to illustrate my points in the discussion.  I invite others to do the same using novels, movies, music, or whatever media they choose in making their points.

I realize people’s hesitation over doing it, but if it helps carry the conversation forward and better frame ideas, then it is well-advisable to do.  Therefore, I hope you’ll contribute with your own considerations into literary theory and join me in exploring ideas from science, history, and social thought through literature and other literary media.  I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with!


One Response to “The Analogy of “Choice””

  1. Luke Rondinaro June 10, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

    The Analogy of “Choice”
    (More Matrix philosophy links)

    Here are some other sources on the philosophy of the Matrix story. I hope they’re useful for getting people up to speed on the ideas being expressed through these movies. To comment on these or suggest others, please email me at Thanks.

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