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The Experience Machine

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Rajpreet Gill-250231288

Philosophy 201G

March 4, 2005

The Experience Machine

As humans we are constantly in search of understanding the balance between what feels good and what is right. Humans try to take full advantage of experiencing pleasure to its fullest potential. Hedonism claims that pleasure is the highest and only source of essential significance. If the notion of hedonism is truthful, happiness is directly correlated with pleasure. Robert Nozick presented the philosophical world with his though experiment, "The Experience Machine" in order to dispute the existence and validity of hedonism. Nozick's thought experiment poses the question of whether or not humans would plug into a machine which produces any desired experience. Nozick weakens the notion of hedonism through his thought experiment, claiming humans need more than just pleasure in their lives. Nozick discovers that humans would not hook up to this machine because they would not fully develop as a person and consider it a form of suicide.

One of the main reasons humans would not devote their lives to this experience machine is because they would be giving up more than they were gaining. As humans we are constantly trying to be a certain sort of person. We all have differing traits and personalities which we spend much time discovering and refining for our entire lives. A person who enters into this machine is only, "someone floating in a tank as an indeterminate blob". Humans are the only species that can be so vastly different from each other. Being this blob diminishes our personalities and soul. Humans would not hook up to this machine because we could no longer answer what a person is like, or who they really are. Nozick suggests, "why should we be concerned only with how our time is filled, but not with what we are?" The truth is humans are not only concerned with what they do in life, but also with whom they become and are. The human personality develops by experiencing true and real events that are not resulted from a man made machine. We as humans have the ability to reason and understand life differently than everything else in existence. Because of this understanding of life, we understand that pleasure is not the only important thing to us. As human we have real life goals which need to be experienced through reality, not through some stimulation of our brain. Nozick makes it clear the pleasure is not intrinsically good because by denying this thought experiment, we are also denying that all we need is pleasure to live a good life.

Nozick also discovers that humans would not hook up to this machine because it is a form of suicide. Humans will never want to entirely reduce themselves to a man made realism. Nozick states, "There is no contact with any deeper reality, though the experience of it can be simulated". This statement explains that humans need to experience a connection with reality because it has importance to all of our lives. By humans agreeing to be plugged into this machine, they are indeed giving up who they are, which in reality is giving up your life. This idea of choosing illusion over reality truly is a form of suicide. Even with the assurance of positive illusions, people would still be unconvinced to hook up to this machine because true life is not being experienced. The few moments at which one would be awoken from these pleasurable experiences would allow one to see that ethically those experiences were wrong



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