Inception as Philosophy: Choose Your Dreams or Seek Reality

  • David Kyle JohnsonEmail author
Living reference work entry


Christopher Nolan’ Inception is more than its folding cityscapes and mind-bending ambiguous ending. It’s a film that makes its viewer question the very nature of reality. Not only is it possible that the entire movie is a dream, but multiple viewings of Inception leaves one wondering whether the same might be true of one’s experience. Indeed, according to the author of “The Fiction of Christopher Nolan” Todd McGowan, Inception calls its viewers to abandon any concern they have for knowledge of reality and instead choose to believe what they want. But does this moral hold up? Is it philosophically defensible? In this essay, after a close inspection of the movie itself, this moral will be identified and evaluated. An examination of a number of related arguments by important philosophers will reveal that, although knowledge of reality is sometimes difficult to attain, it should always be sought.


Inception Quest for reality Knowledge of reality True belief Christopher Nolan Dom Cobb Hans Zimmer Edith Piaf’s “Non, Je Ne Regette Rien” Film ambiguity Rene Descartes The dream problem The skeptical problem Descartes’ evil demon Kierkegaard’s leap of faith Jacques Lacan Plato’s cave allegory Nozick’s experience machine Abduction Kantian categories Pascal’s wager William Clifford David Hume Problem of induction Fictionalism 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.PhilosophyKing’s CollegeWilkes-BarreUSA

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