The Experience Machine
Start writing a post

In Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia, the author makes an argument that pleasure doesn't have the virtue that actual experiences provide. To do this, he utilizes a thought experiment he calls the "experience machine." Nozick asks readers to imagine a machine that a human could enter, be in a comatose state, and feel the sensations of any experience the user desired.

Nozick uses this parallel to argue that people would refuse to enter into the machine, that they would choose to actually achieve things in reality, and that that is more desirable than just feeling sensations. People want to act, not just feel.

Nozick's argument seems valid, but falls short in the context of the real world. Nozick ignores the slue of instances where people actively try to escape their realities rather than live their lives. People who gamble or try their chances with the lottery would probably be the first to jump into the experience machine. Though personal achievement would be optimal, people who try their luck at a better life clearly are looking for an easier route there. Further, rampant drug use could be the closest real world example of an "experience machine." People choosing to escape reality through drugs are an obvious example of people who value sensation over feeling normal perceptions.

People want to escape reality, but what's the point? Robert Nozick's experience machine is a critique on hedonism, that pleasure is not an appropriate end to human action, and this is a view commonly propagated by mainstream society. Today people are pushed harder than ever to work hard and succeed, an aspect visibly noticeable on college campuses. Addiction to study pills, crippling anxiety and stress, and low self-esteem are all directed in the name achievement, when there is little discussion on the importance of happiness.

Eastern European countries enjoy high levels of leisure time and hobby activity, and it's no wonder Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Netherlands and Sweden are rated top 5 on the World Happiness Index and the United States trails at 17th. Nozick assumes that people wouldn't use the experience machine, that happiness has less virtue than achievement, and this unfortunate view is promoted by our society that drills work and success into the minds of the people.

This idea cannot become an assumption when in practice people are left gambling, abusing drugs and living in sadness. Not that achievement isn't important, but there needs to be a discussion about the goals we're supposed to set for ourselves. Pleasure and happiness shouldn't fall second to society's pressure to advance in position, and recognizing that will open up a new dialogue on what people's aims should be. I see a future where a person can be respected for their happiness rather than their power or position.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Featured

What Your Car's Color Says About Your Personality

Your color choice speaks volumes. It doesn't just emit an image for the car, it also says something about your style and personality! It's a form of self-expression. Are you confident? Are you sophisticated? Are you easy-going? Are you outgoing? Are you practical? As you're reviewing car sites for your next car purchase, what color will you opt for? Find out what certain color choices says about you!

22519

When it comes to car shopping you likely have certain preferences, including what color it should be. Your color choice speaks volumes. It doesn't just emit an image for the car, it also says something about your style and personality! It's a form of self-expression. Are you confident? Are you sophisticated? Are you easy-going? Are you outgoing? Are you practical? As you're reviewing car sites for your next car purchase, what color will you opt for? Find out what certain color choices says about you!

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

30 Songs On My Back-To-School Playlist For Walks To And From Class

Headed back to in-person classes means you need a pretty banging playlist to power you through those walks to class.

37919
Photo by Zen Chung on Pexels

I don't know about you, but I start each day off with a one-mile walk to class. I have to have good tunes flowing through my ears during those 20 minutes, not to mention the walks between classes and the walks home. So, here is my 30 song playlist to get me through this almost unfamiliar concept we call walking to class.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Be Kind to Yourself: 8 Mental Health Tips to Try

One way you can improve your quality of life is to take care of your mental health. As a result, you'll feel less depressed and be able to enjoy spending time with friends and family more often. These mental health tips might be just what you need to forget about your problems.

24990

One way you can improve your quality of life is to take care of your mental health. As a result, you'll feel less depressed and be able to enjoy spending time with friends and family more often. These mental health tips might be just what you need to forget about your problems.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Should You Own An SUV If You Live In A Snowy state?

There are many reasons to own an SUV. If you live in a cold state or a rural area, you will see that owning an SUV is very important.

31064

The gas and oil prices are too high to run in a smaller vehicle. You are better off with an SUV for hauling cargo and driving larger loads around the town. In addition, owning an SUV is more comfortable and safe than driving a smaller vehicle.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Understanding Why Dog's Lick You

It is a natural instinct for dogs to lick

53608

Why do dogs lick?

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments