Monday, June 12, 2017

The Experience Machine*

Imagine you are given the opportunity to plug into a virtual reality machine that would be preprogrammed with all your dreams, creating for you an imaginary life where you can be and do whatever you want. If you have noble ideals, perhaps your world would be programmed so that you, through trial and error, much work and research, discover the cure for cancer. Maybe you would write the greatest novel ever written. Maybe you would go full-hedonism and just lay around on a beach, drinking pina coladas. That would be your entire reality.

You would have no idea that your body was really floating in a vat of liquid with electrodes attached to your brain. Your reality was what you were experiencing in your brain.

Would you do it?

Or what if you woke up today and found out that your life has been lived in an experience machine, and nothing is real? How would you feel?

Is there value in living an authentic life, striving to be honest with oneself? Or is a pretend life better if it means one can be "happy"?

* The Experience Machine is a thought experiment developed by American philosopher, Robert Nozick.

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