All events and actions are subject to the laws of fate, live according to the laws of nature. Epictetus believes that man has control of nothing, save his judgment and outlook of the events fate places before him. Looking through the eyes of Epictetus a sympathetic and somewhat understanding gaze falls upon Cypher because all things are pre-fated. However, Cypher is lacking one understanding that will cause undue pain, and that is the laws of nature and natural things cannot be changed.
While Cypher is free from the prison of the matrix, he is not by any means on a luxurious vacation. Life as a member of a rebel group of fighters isn’t easy, and Cypher definitely doesn’t have a stoic outlook on things. Cypher is upset with the way of life, the food isn’t appetizing, living quarters are barely livable, and he can’t get the girl. “It is not things that upset people, but rather ideas about things.” Epictetus says in Enchiridion. Cypher’s pessimistic outlook on his predetermined fate would not bode well with Epictetus. It is in the negative perception that Cypher has about his situation that Epictetus would condemn him.
Cypher unhappy with what he has and unable to obtain the things he thinks will make him happy with his current position, decides to make the deal with Agent Smith. By simply betraying his fellow fighters and giving the machines what they ask for, Cypher in turn gets an “ignorance is bliss” false reality full of fame and riches. “For it is better to attain freedom from sorrow and fear and the die of hunger than to live lavishly in vexation.” Epictetus goes on to say, “For since the essence of the good lies in the things up to us, neither jealousy nor envy has a place.” In Epictetus’ mind, Cypher would be better off conquering his fears and unhappiness and bearing with the inadequate lifestyle in a stoic manner, than to lavish himself with external material items.
Epictetus believes that humans do not have freedom of actions and that everything happens according to fate. According to this believe Cypher could only have made his traitorous decision, for that was the way of nature. Epictetus may look at the situation sympathetically, the choice that Cypher had to make was not an easy thing to do. However, Epictetus would not be proud of the misery Cypher put himself through along the way. “Whoever, therefore, wants to be free, let him neither wish for anything, nor avoid anything, that is under the control of others; or else he is necessarily a slave.” In other words, Cypher became an agonized slave by wishing for what he could not have, he created his own hell filled with jealousy and greed.
Mill’s beliefs are that all actions are determined, but people and in this case Cypher, are free to make choices determined on their character and will. Mill believes that a person’s character will determine the choices or actions one makes. Within these choices, a person is controlled by the strongest preference or motive. Punishment and reward are examples of the strongest preference or motive. Through the eyes of Mill, Cypher is faced with the choice to give up reality for the matrix, and Cypher’s character along with the rewards of deal effect the decision Cypher will make in the end.
Although Cypher is inevitably faced with the choice to be plugged back into the matrix, it is his character and the person he has become on his own behalf that will lead to the decision. With regards to character Mill says, “His character is formed by his circumstances; but his own desire to mold it in a particular way is one of those circumstances.” In this situation, Mill would attribute Cypher’s feelings about being plugged back in partially to the circumstances. Cypher has been out of the matrix for several years and life is not easy, the reward of living a ritzy false life rather than struggling in real life definitely influences the decision. However had Cypher had the will to mold his character and focus on being a part of the militant force trying to take down the machines, perhaps then he would have never considered reentering the matrix.
When considering the strongest preference or motive of Cypher’s decision Mill may be sympathetic. Mill believed that an action or a decision, though fully determined, is free if it “flows from the agent’s character.” Cypher was a free man making a free choice, based on the character that was partially made for him and partially made by him. Although Cypher’s choice meant giving up the real world for prison and a mentally generated fantasy, the strongest preference was unavoidable.
Mill suggests that we as humans have the ability to make choices and that we should be held responsible for those choices or actions we commit to. Mill says, “Given the motives which are present to an individual’s mind, and given likewise the character and disposition of the individual, the manner in which he will act might be unerringly inferred.” Everything leading up to the final decision Cypher made influenced his character and the person he was. Inevitably, Cypher became unwilling to fight the good fight, he grew tired of the painful life outside of the matrix. His attitude, perception of what life should be, and the situation he was in, all contributed in forming his character and ultimately, his character fell victim to the strongest motive.