The book Inception and Philosophy: Because It's Never Just a Dream, aims to explain the different theories of the movie, Inception, from a philosophical standpoint. The first theory is the most real theory where Cobb and his crew exist in real time except for when we are clearly told they are entering dream states. Cobb’s wife, Mal, is dead, having killed herself as she tried to “wake up” from her real life, which she believed was a dream. The movie ends with Cobb and Saito exiting Limbo and Cobb finally able to return home to his children in reality. The second theory is the mostly real theory where just like the most real interpretation, except that Cobb and Saito do not fully awake into reality, but into some other part of Limbo or some other dream. Thus, Cobb does not make it back to his children in reality. The third theory is the mostly dream theory where what Cobb thinks is reality is reality, including Mal’s death. However, when he tries out Yusuf’s heavy sedative in his basement, he gets trapped in a dream that is the rest of the movie. And the final theory is the full dream theory that The entire movie is a dream, which takes place on several different dream levels, all in Cobb’s head. When Cobb and Mal woke up from Limbo, they only woke up into a layer of dreaming they had created to enter Limbo in the first place. They spent so long in Limbo that they forgot, and only because Cobb had incepted Mal in Limbo did Mal think it was a dream, attempt suicide, and wake up. (Perhaps she woke up in reality, perhaps in another layer of dreaming.) None of the other characters are anything but projections of Cobb’s subconscious. Even if Cobb did return to what he thought were his real children, in the real world, he is still only dreaming. In discussing which theory is real, the text discusses how deciding a theory to be true of an artwork can be determined two different ways. The first way is intentionalism, where the view that the artist’s intention determines the meaning of the artwork. The second way is multiplism, When various views can simultaneously be correct all at once. The text also discusses why letting an artist decide an artwork's meaning is and with three reasons. The first reason is the Collective Ownership Problem where some philosophers argue that artworks must be understood in relation to other artworks. This view requires a clear rejection of the intentionalist view of artwork meaning because, in this view, the meaning of a work comes partially from other works, rather than from the artist. The second problem is the Interpretively Static Problem. On this view, once the artist has set the meaning of the work, that meaning is fixed for the life of the artwork. This view thus denies one of the features that we tend to value about art. And the third problem is the Epistemic Problem. This objection stems from the problem that if the meaning of an artwork is rooted in the intention of the artist, we are left with an interpretive hole regarding many works of art. This means that if Nolan (director) gets to set the meaning of the work, the rest of us will simply never know the “right answer” regarding the way we ought to interpret the film. I believe in multiplism because I believe that an artwork can hold multiple truths all at once.
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