In his argument against hedonism, philosopher Robert Nozick used the thought experiments based on “the direction of happiness” and “the experience machine” as he attempted to answer this question. The notion of hedonism, which is manifested by the belief that pleasure should be the ultimate purpose of life, disregards the provisions of a meaningful life. By showing that there are more values to life than happiness, this paper will answer the two thought experiments and discuss what happiness is and whether a happy life is the same thing as a meaningful life. Nozick uses the model of a machine capable of giving people the experience of whatever their desires and pleasures are, which cannot be distinguished from those that can be experienced apart from such machines. People would have a choice to live inside the machine and experience all their pleasures or outside in a lower degree of pleasure. Under such circumstances, where hedonism would opine that the sole intrinsic value is pleasure, most people would choose to remain plugged in to the experience machine. That would show a preference of a more pleasant but less meaningful life than a less pleasant and more meaningful one. However, according to the concept of direction of happiness, the amount of happiness in different lives is exactly the same, only that one tends to slope upwards with increasing happiness while the other slopes downwards with declining happiness. Mistakenly, people would still choose the life with happiness that slopes upwards. It is a mistaken choice because people still care and are concerned about their connection with reality, and it is the factor that the experience machine lacks. People still want their experiences to develop from reality rather than fantasy even if both feel the same. From this, it can be said that what people ultimately seek in life are not merely feelings of pleasure, but also to be in a particular way. Feelings of happiness and pleasure are desirable but not enough. People would want to go beyond the simple experience of doing things and actually do them. Therefore, there are more values than happiness and experiences of doing things. The experiences of the experience machine only limit people to their own man-made realities that are constructed within the confines of their perceived important values. Although the experiences of reality may be simulated by the experience machine, no contact is made with deeper and meaningful reality. When one envisages an experience machine and then appreciate that they would not use it, they learn that there are other things that matter more than experiences. The definition of happiness provides that it must contain meaning, pleasure and engagement. The part of meaning is in reference to the contribution to a broader cause while pleasure comprises the part of feeling good. Although a happy life and meaningful life have overlapping aspects, they are fundamentally distinct and a happy life is not necessarily a meaningful one. Happiness may occur as either or both emotional and mental well-being that is characterized by pleasant and positive feelings, which have different meanings to different people because it is quite a subjective matter. It can be a spontaneous feeling caused by positive emotions and last for a moment, as well as a continuous one. The overlap between a happy and meaningful life is mainly manifested by the fact that meaningfulness is among the causal factors
Name: Instructor: Course: Date: The Direction of Happiness and the Experience Machine There is a general consensus among most philosophers that the only wholly valued thing for its own intrinsic good is happiness. All other things that people perceive to be good are so-called because of their connection to happiness…
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