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Earlier in the week I was hanging out with my friends Jake, Alissa,… - philosophyfucks: what? [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
cunts talking about kant

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[May. 2nd, 2009|06:51 pm]
cunts talking about kant

philosophyfucks

[markos]
Earlier in the week I was hanging out with my friends Jake, Alissa, and Amanda and somehow the topic of simulated reality came up, to which I referenced and gave an account of Robert Nozick's famous Experience Machine thought experiment.

Basically, the argument goes like this: Hedonists argue that pleasure is the highest good and the only thing that possess intrinsic value. Well imagine that, argues Nozick, that we could plug ourselves into a machine that would produce, indefinably until our deaths, a simulated reality of the sort of life that we want the most.

If youre a hedonist then this sort of life is a life of boundless pleasure and sensory happiness. If youre a hedonist you might think that things like honor and and virtue are artifices that either limit our ability to achieve our true ultimate end or are simply confusions about what our true ultimate ends are. On this view, one should have absolutely no qualms about stepping in and programing an artificial life full of boundless sensory gratification. But, Nozick argues that most people would reject this sort of life, because the majority of people think that there is more value to actually doing something, rather that having the simulation of doing something.

I disagree with Nozick about a lot of things, but this is one of those things I find myself in agreement with. Jake, however, was not entirely convinced, and argued that the end result of the Experience Machine and the end result of a life of happiness are the same. Even if we think that a life of struggle and triumph is nobler than a life of pleasure, we can simply program the machine to be suited for a life of struggle and achievement. And we would be none the wiser. And this is entirely true.

The trouble though, with this sort of conclusion, is that it does not map reality and the way we actually think and feel about our actions. The belief that it is better to actually do something rather than have it simulated is more than a hollow phrase, and I feel that people who think otherwise are either not fully realizing the ramifications of Nozick's machine, or are in the strictest sense true sociopaths.

Imagine though, that you truly did have an opportunity to use the Experience Machine, to be hooked up and have a simulated life ready designed to achieve your innermost desires. Now, when you imagine this situation, dont imagine it like a thought experiment where you are detached and this is playing out in some hypothetical situation. No, instead pretend that in the next five minutes RIGHT NOW you will have to choose whether or not to enter the machine. Would you? I wouldnt.

I wouldnt because I truly do find value in actually doing something and having actual friends and actual loved ones. Sure, I can program my beliefs about the good life, along with my very same family members and my very same friends into the machine, and I wouldnt know then. But I know right now. The idea that I will never actually talk to my mom, or my dad, or my brothers, my friends, or anyone, but will instead only dream of them in a way that I wish, fills me with disgust.

What say you? Would you enter into Nozick's Experience Machine?

Crossposted to my own journal.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: essius
2009-05-03 12:37 am (UTC)
Hell no. Give me the things-in-themselves.
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[User Picture]From: markos
2009-05-03 12:41 am (UTC)
I cant. I can only give you things as they appear. The things in themselves are in an unknowable world.

That is what I would say if I was still a Kantian.
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[User Picture]From: essius
2009-05-03 12:43 am (UTC)
No, if you were a Kantian you would say "I Kant."

So what are you now?
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[User Picture]From: essius
2009-05-03 12:53 am (UTC)
I meant your metaphysical views, not your ethics, politics and philosophy of law.
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[User Picture]From: markos
2009-05-03 12:54 am (UTC)
I'm still working that out, or trying to. Ive recently read the last bit of Aristotle's physics and I'm sort of on board. I've tried reading the Metaphysics but...wow. Just wow.
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[User Picture]From: upanishadic
2009-05-04 04:24 am (UTC)
there are no things-in-themselves
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[User Picture]From: essius
2009-05-04 04:31 am (UTC)
The rest of the animal kingdom disagrees with you. What makes you the enlightened one?
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[User Picture]From: upanishadic
2009-05-04 04:41 am (UTC)
regarding humans, an appeal to popularity is not a substantial proof for an argument. also, if you really take a look at the process of perception, you will realize there is only something continuous about experience of apparent existence, but as Hume has shown, there is only a "constant conjunction" of sense-data. More so than this, the neurological processes of perception has shown us that perception is really a compromise of sense-data and impositions ("hallucinations" is a term that comes to mind) of the mind on reality.


in fact, i can ramble all day about ontological idealism. i am currently stocking my argumentative arsenal right now; i'm reading a book called "quantum enigma: where physics meets consciousness". interesting book.
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[User Picture]From: upanishadic
2009-05-04 04:42 am (UTC)
regarding "the rest of the animal kingdom", did you ask them?
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[User Picture]From: coldstilllife
2009-05-03 01:20 am (UTC)
Sometimes I wonder if I'm a hedonist because my ideal life would be to live in the wilderness surrounded by good music and food and great friends with no need to worry about finances.
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[User Picture]From: markos
2009-05-03 01:32 am (UTC)
Well, it depends on why you think this is a good life.
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[User Picture]From: coldstilllife
2009-05-03 01:35 am (UTC)
because it would make me immensely happy and fuck all else
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[User Picture]From: markos
2009-05-03 01:55 am (UTC)
If a life of rape and murder made you immensely happy and fuck all else, would that too be a good life?
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[User Picture]From: coldstilllife
2009-05-03 01:56 am (UTC)
Maybe to me, but no.
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[User Picture]From: daruba
2009-05-03 02:02 am (UTC)
hmm, normally i'de joke and say yes, i'd enter the damn thing, what the hell, i'm a heonist at heart. But the reality, and you express it so well, is i'd miss all the randomity real people bring with them, with their own inner lives and turmoil and consciousness...
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[User Picture]From: markos
2009-05-03 03:17 am (UTC)
I dont think anyone is really a hedonist at heart. Unless of course theyre sociopaths.
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[User Picture]From: daruba
2009-05-04 12:50 am (UTC)
ok, mostly a hedonist at heart.
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[User Picture]From: upanishadic
2009-05-04 04:23 am (UTC)

truth is stranger than fiction...

i like the simulated reality we have now. sure there's suffering and conflict, but they're part of the cosmic drama that makes the whole ride interesting. and if i ever really need to escape into fantasy land, i already have the means of creating my own "experience machine"; i can daydream foolishly. however, i can also sharpen my desires down to fit my reality and be more content in that regard.
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