The 2010 film Inception is a philosophically provocative film that’s been very popular with teenagers. The film is about an “extractor,” Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), someone who is able to take ideas out of people’s minds when they are dreaming and at their most vulnerable. On the run from the authorities, Cobb is hired by a business magnate to perform “inception,” in which an idea is planted in someone’s mind instead of extracted from it. This is done by creating a dream world and bringing the subject of the inception into that world, who then fills it with his or her subconscious. Along with a team he has assembled, Cobb creates a multi-layered dream to carry out the contracted inception.
Action-packed, Inception would be a wonderful film to show in a high school or undergraduate philosophy class. It raises many philosophical questions, including:
How do we know that our sensory experiences are real?
How do we distinguish dreams from waking life?
Can ideas cause physical events?
What is the relationship between memory and dreams?
Can we imagine things we haven’t experienced?