Sunday, July 3, 2011

Eternal Pleasure - A Type of Suicide

My senior year of high school I took an intriguing philosophy course. I adored soaking up the beliefs and ideals of philosophers throughout the ages. One philosopher, Robert Nozick, proposes a thought experience called "The Experience Machine."

He attacks the belief that pleasure is the only experience that we want. He asks the reader to imagine a machine that can stimulate a person's brain to imagine experiences that one cannot separate from reality. He asks the reader if we would prefer the machine to reality. He proposes that people would not choose the life of the machine for several reasons.
  1. We want to do things to do them, not just to have the experience of doing them.
  2. We want to be a certain person.
    1. If we are in a tank and our actions are outlined for us, who are we? 
  3. Plugging into a machine limits us to only man-made situations.
This particular situation has always intrigued me, and it goes back to a situation in The Matrix when Cypher wants to go back to his ignorant bliss rather than live in harsh reality.

"You know, I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy, and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss."

In a way ignorance is bliss. Many of us wish to be a smiling-laughing-child once more, with no worries. A sad day was one in which someone stole our lolly-pop. But at the same time, there are so many lessons that we learn during each moment of our lives. And trading any of that for an ignorant, blissful life is a type of suicide.

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