Coming Soon: Inception and Philosophy

One of the things that makes Inception such a compelling, fascinating movie-going experience is that it plays upon the boundaries of the possible and the impossible. Malleable physics and gravity-bending dreamscapes. Impossible architecture and strange loops. There’s plenty of opportunity for reflection on a number of weighty philosophical topics, which makes Inception one of the rare movies that rewards re-watching.

The question of paradox in Inception is a very interesting one. “In a dream you can cheat architecture into impossible shapes. That lets you create closed loops. Like the Penrose Steps. An infinite staircase,” Arthur says to Ariadne, as they discuss dream architecture.

“See? Paradox.”

You might recognize the Penrose Steps from M.C. Escher’s well-known print, Ascending and Descending. The Penrose Steps are a matter of perspective. Looked at from a certain perspective, the stairs seem to go up or down, infinitely in a never-ending loop. But in this scene, looked at from a different perspective by Arthur and Ariadne, they seem to abruptly terminate into nothing. The visual paradox lies in this illusion created by this seemingly-impossible architectural structure.

So, what are paradoxes exactly? Are they really possible? What do paradoxes mean in Inception? And what can we learn by thinking about them? These are some of the things covered in Inception and Philosophy is set to hit bookshelves in November. Check out more information at the Blackwell Philosophy and Popular Culture website:


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