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Virtual Reality A philosophical investigation Introduction The questions regarding the reality of our world has been a topic of important debate through out the centuries Plato argued in his theory of forms and allegory of the caves that the world and things within the world are not real but shadows of the form of what is real Descartes in his philosophy considered the possibility of an evil demon who created the illusion of an external reality by controlling all that we see and hear In more recent years we can see a development of philosophies by Dennett Tipler etc who explore the possible links between computers and the mind Recent blockbuster movies such as The Matrix eXistenZ The Thirteenth Floor and The Trueman Show have all explored the philosophical questions regarding what is real and the problems which may emerge from artificial realities In the 21st century physical science itself through the technology of virtual reality will provide the means to create such illusions as those discussed by Plato Descartes and newer philosophers such as Dennett Video gamers and cybernauts alike can strap themselves into virtual reality goggles and body suits for stints in artificially created worlds whose fundamental mechanisms are completely different from the quantum fields that constitute our physical world Computer technology and its capacity to provide us with virtual reality also raises questions about what the real is or can be A kind of hyper reality is suggested where individuals live in the virtual communities of the Internet have cybersex shop in virtual malls explore virtual environments and construct their own genders and identities in new forms of cyberspace interactions Best Kellner 108-9 In the realm of the hyper real experiences are amplified artificially and can easily be avoid ed repeated and sterilized so that one can live in a fully personalized world Science fiction has been an extremely popular genre in recent decades
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