Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pleasure, Happiness and the Experience Machine

 
It has been a busy but rewarding few weeks! We have discussed the life of Socrates, friendship, happiness, justice, and the possibility of finding objective components of the good life (or, as we have sometimes called it, "the most excellent life possible for a human being"). We will see these topics come up again and again as we continue to seek the truth as philosophers.

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?

39 comments:

  1. Michael,
    My name is Josh Cottrell, and I found this Blog by way of Jana's Blog. I'm excited to have made contact with another person teaching philosophy, despite the fact that we are geographically so far apart.

    As I've looked over your Blog, some of what we are doing crosses over. I would love to talk to you more about what you are doing, what you've done that works. . .etc.

    This is my first time teaching a philosophy class, despite being a double major in philosophy and literature. For more information, see Jana's blurb on my class. And, if you want more information I'd be more than happy to send some. If we can start to share resources and e-dialogue it might be interesting and helpful for us, as well as our students. My email address is jcottrell@powayusd.com.

    Take care and I look forward to hearing from you.
    Josh

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  2. Pleasure is not equal to happiness because they simple fact that you can be happy without having pleasure. Happiness can be a key element of pleasure. Many people have many diffrent concepts of what pleasure and happiness is. Pleasure to me means to please to mind,body or soul. Happiness is an emotion/state of mind that can be caused by pleasure....So pleasure and happiness to me means to diffrent things. Its just that one can/cause the other......

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  3. I disagree that pleasure is equal to happiness. I believe that pleasure can cause happiness, but only for the moment. Happiness is a cause of pleasure therefore they can't be equal. Happiness can be reached without pleasure.

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  4. PLEASURE AND HAPPIENESS IS THE SAME TO ME BECAUSE HAPPIENESS IS JUST MOMENTARILY SUCH AS PLEASURE IS THE SAME. EVEN THOUGH THEY DON'T MEAN THE SAME THING THEY ARE CLOSELY RELATED.

    YES I WOULD PLUG INTO THE TANKM BECAUSE I WOULD WANT TO LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE THERE ISN'T ANY VIOLENCE AND TROUBLE AROUND THE CORNER. I WOULD DREAM OF ME BEING A MILLION DOLLAR TRUCK DRIVER ON THE OPEN ROAD IN MY OWN LITTLE WORLD WITH NO ONE TRYING TO BOSS ME AROUND AND NO ONE TO GET ON MY NERVES.

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  5. THE ONE AFTER ROBERT IS REGINALD JOHNSON JR.

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  6. i think pleasure makes happiness.not all the time but most of the time. pleasure can be a big thing in ones life you have to have pleasure to have happiness cus happiness cant just come at an instant i thin life should stay in front of you and stop lettin it get behind you. so i think pleasure makes happiness.

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  7. I think pleasure can lead to happiness. for example, if you have a friend that pleases you all the time you will be like being around them because they make happy all the time. Rondarius J.

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  8. Pleasure and happiness are not the same thing. Pleasure is something that makes you feel good for that moment. Happiness is a lifetime feeling. An experience machine has nothing to do with pleasure or happiness.

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  9. First off loved that novel.
    2nd people answer the question!
    3rd I would most likely plug in, because my mind is a constant state to know what is real or not
    and this is not me boasting.

    this has been a comment from the hated genius

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  10. I would participate in the experiment because every little bit of experience helps whether it is natural or not. It will still help you to know what it is like.Autumn Jones

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  11. I would plug in because there are somthings in life that i desire and i may never experience those things in my life time. i would take advantage of the opportunity i have and enjoy more out of life........

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  12. TIA BEAUTIFULL SHACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!September 14, 2009 at 2:06 PM

    UUUUUM I MOST DEFINITELY WOULD TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY OFLIVING MY LIFE IN THE FICTION OR MACHINE WORLD. MY REASONING WOULD ONLY BE SO THAT I CAN RECIEVE THE CHAENCE TO DO THIINGS THAT I WOULDNT USUALLY DO HERE ON EARTH WHILE BEING VISIBLE...

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  13. Well i do not htink happiness and pleasure is the same thing. pleasure is something that can only last for a hour,a month, a year, a second or a min,but never a life time. Happiness on the other hand is something that can last a life time even if its a different happiness its happiness soem may say you can't be happy every min of the day and thats true but if your doing something you love, your happy right cause you wouldn't be doing it if you wasn't happy with it or didn't like it so you don't necessarly have to be happy every second of the day to have happiness. I would plug in because there are a plethora of things i could experience that i never have experienced before and that i desire,so if i was given the opportunity why would i turn it down, a life time experience only comes around once

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  14. HAPPINESS AND PLEASURE ARE TWO DIFFERENT CONCEPTS. THEY MEAN TWO DIFFERENT THINGS. ONE THING MAY LEAD TO ANOTHER AND U MAY NEED ONE IN ORDER TO HAVE THE OTHER BUT STIL THEY ARE CONSIDERED TO DIFFERENT FEELINGS. EVERYONE DOES NOT GET A CHANCE TO EXPERIENCE HAPPINESS BUT WHAT THEY THINK IS HAPPINESS IS REALLY JUST PLEASURE.

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  15. I do not think pleasure and happiness are the same things. I would maybe plug in to the experience machine so that i could get a feeling of what happienss is all about and then i would realize that what i thought was happiness is not. i was only feeling one form of happiness and in reality, the only thing that was overcoming me was the pleasure for what was happening at that time. It takes a lot for one to achieve happiness and some live their entire life without ever experiencing it. Hapiness is only given to those who are true to themselves and live to live and not jus to please themselves and others.

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  16. Pleasure and happiness are not the same thing. Pleasure only lasts for moments, while happiness is longer lasting.

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  17. Most people know that pleasure and happiness are not the same but are related in some way. I would want to plug in to the experience machine just to see what it is like to become someone successful, experience new things in life, and travel anyhere I want to go without the obstacles that are in society now. After my two years have expired in the machine I would go back and choose my life the way that it is now because the pleasure and happiness that I felt while pluging into the machine was only temporary. I would like to have my own time without the machine to acheive the success of happiness and pleasure in my life.

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  18. I think that pleasure and happiness do come hand in hand. Pleasure is a feeling of brief compassion and so is happiness.

    I would not travel in a experience machine because I need to experience life as is. Life is a lesson and if you do not experience that then you do not have a life. Escaping to a imaginary world is not changing whats in reality. Da'Lasha Barlow

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  19. Nakia Brunson
    Pleasure is not equal to happiness. In some cases pleasure can LEAD to happiness, for example, a young lady is left with a broken heart caused by her previous boyfriend and is now thinking all dudes are the same. As time goes by, there is this one guy who is actually the one for her and she takes that chance and finds out that if it wasnt for her previous botfriens doing her wrong, that she would've missed out on the happiness that she now has with her new and improved boyfriend.



    In another case pleasure does not EQUAL to happiness. Example, a boy and a girl was together for quite some time. The girl found out that what she thought was a good relationship was actually a LIE. This boy breaks the girl's heart and now the girl is left with nothing but WHY quetions. Sooner or later after the break up the girl finds another boy she can talk to, to get her through her roughest days. She only with the boy for the time being of receiving PLEASURE from him and nothing MORE than that.

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