The Experience Machine
One of Robert Nozick’s most common arguments links to his stance against any manner of thinking that gives priority to the pleasure of mental state above everything else. In this connection, he confers that humans will strive to retain certain facets of reality, even if this in itself limits room for the attainment of pleasure. As such, according to this philosopher, even though happiness matters, other things may take precedence depending on the situation. Further, he restates that rather than have pleasure maintained in absolute levels, what is important to humans is that pleasure is increased or not lost rather. To back this idea, the philosopher additionally confers that rational analysis of every situation is always assessed relatively, and not in an absolute manner. In light of this, Nozick then developed the experience machine concept; all to validate his concerns.
Nozick's Experience Machine
1.What is the thought experiment?
Thought experiments are imaginative devices that are employed to gain deep insight into reality. The idea behind them, therefore, is to learn more about reality, and invoke certain intuitions just by thinking. To this extent, the experiments put the human mind in a position to view everyday experiences and occurrences in an entirely different manner. Thus, these experiments can as well be explained as speculations that ideally remove the mind far from reality, and enable people to make individual verdicts based on the same.
2. The experience machine- an overview
The experience machine is depicted as a thought experiment in which an illusory machine is used to give a human any experience they desire. Once human plugs in this machine, they can through it, stimulate some sensory input and in the process, enter some form of virtual reality. While in this virtual world, the individual can then encounter experiences that will help them attain maximum pleasure, even though unreal in the real sense. Still, even as this remains the case, the user of the experience machine will be unable to differentiate that experience from reality.
The application of this experiment elicits certain ideas. The most central one of these issues is that pleasure can only be experienced owing to the fact its qualities can be felt. Second, is that if humans are naturally unable to experience the highest level of pleasure due to practical issues, then they can by using the machine, experience a state of undisrupted happiness. As such, the question that the philosopher Nozick purposes to raise herein is whether or not the use of this machine can be appealing for use by any human in the long run. Where its application is proven not be appealing, then the principle of hedonistic utilitarianism can be disproven on those grounds. This is because even though humans will in such a case have the chance to experience absolute pleasure, they will not do so; and will only purpose to justify the same theoretically.
Robert Nozick Experience Machine
3. Why, according to Nozick, wouldn't we plug into the experience machine
In considering the issues highlighted above, Novick states that people would not willingly plug into the experiment machine. He puts forward a number of reasons to justify this. First, he claims that humans do not solely seek pleasure in life. Rather, they constantly pursue actual realities which he sums up as truths. By plugging on the machine, the individuals would lose such actualities. The fact that they will be unable to actualize experiences will, therefore, deter them from using the machine. Taking that into consideration, he vividly explicates the first reason and says that no one would use the appliance. This is because every human wants to physically engage in doing particular things, rather than simply have thoughts of having done them.
Secondly, this philosopher argues that by plugging in, humans will deem it as a form of suicide. Indeed, it is in this context, further depicted that humans will not trust themselves to resolve the problem. The fact that they wish to be certain about their actions will, therefore, keep them from taking that step and turning the plug on. This particularly considers the fact that the person has to make their choice before getting into the machine. As such, this denotes that they have to be prepared to deal with things regardless of how they go, as the machine will basically determine the direction their lives take from then on. The associated uncertainty will thus make them hold back in this case, even if they are promised of nothing but good experiences henceforth. Besides, the idea that one will have to do nothing but only live in a virtual reality of good things, and then die, is not satisfactory for the human mind. This point therefore further supports the idea that humans love pleasure, but even though this is the case, there are still other things that they consider just as important, if not more important.
4. What is this thought experiment is supposed to show (what's the point of it?)
The thought experiment as illustrated by Novick is meant to convey some concerns. To begin with, it aims to negate the ideals of hedonism. Next, is that humans place a lot of value on both ‘being’ and ‘doing.' People as well put just as much value on really living life by themselves where they can experience reality.
Given that, the first issue mainly proves that hedonism can only be accurate if humans live for nothing but pleasure. Since they do not, then, its truthfulness is voided. This links to the fact that the experience machine is solely meant to enable one build on desirable hence pleasurable experiences. If people are unable to use this machine despite being given this information at the outset, then it means they hold other issues dearly other than just experiencing pleasure in any form.
In looking at the second point, it is also clear that a majority of people would choose not to get into the machine as it would only promise them of maximizing pleasure after entry. The fact that one would have to make such a judgment while still experiencing the pleasure in the actual world would raise issues of uncertainty. Specifically, there would be no way to assure the user that the pleasure they would experience later would be more than that experienced in present time. Similarly, nothing would assure them that the pleasure then would be at a higher level than the current one, and that to be experienced altogether. This vagueness will thus prevent them from using the machine.
In light of this then, even if every person would be plugged in one world, and left unplugged in another, the latter alternative would still be regarded as the better option. The reason for this is that in the present state, people are convinced that their needs and desires are satisfied. Therefore, it would be of no use to get into the world where they are not ascertained that things will be better than they already are.
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