Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Pleasure, Happiness and the Experience Machine
In particular, you might recall the discussion we had on pleasure and happiness. Are they the same? Is having pleasure equal to being happy? There have been sound arguments put forward by members of the class, both maintaining that pleasure is happiness and, alternatively, holding that there is more to happiness than a feeling. Happiness is then seen as a state of being, or a continuing project in one's life.
As we think about this debate, here is something to consider--a thought experiment known as "The Experience Machine"(written by Robert Nozick in Anarchy, State, and Utopia):
"Suppose there were an experience machine that could give you any experience you desired. Scientists could stimulate your brain so that you would think and feel you were writing a great novel; or making a friend, or reading an interesting book [or any other experience you want to pick for yourself]. You can pick and choose from a large library of experiences, selecting your life experiences for the next two years. After two years have passed, you will have ten minutes or ten hours outside of the machine to select the experiences for your next two years. Of course, while in the tank you won't know that you're there; you'll think it's all actually happening...Would you plug in?" Explain why or why not?
Posted by Michael at 2:41 PM