Pleasure and Well-Being from Fiona Moon's blog

Nozick offered a divergent idea of the experience machine that can give us any desired or pleasant experience that we want. The psychologists have found a way to stimulate the human brain by obtaining such pleasant sensations that a person cannot distinguish them from those that the machine will give him or her. The scientist also suggests that if pleasure is an inherent quality of a person, then a person should have the weighty reason for connecting to the experience machine, which will create preferential sensations as may be mentioned in narrative literature review

Ethical hedonism is a theory that states that an individual should strive to be happy. The formula of happiness is pleasure minus suffering. Ethical hedonism is used to confirm theories explaining how and why an act can be morally permissible and unacceptable. If the invention of the experience machine becomes possible, then from a hedonistic point of view, such a machine can replace all objective benefits and be more preferable than a life filled with suffering and trials in the struggle for happiness since it will generate a completely reliable illusion of reality and fill this reality with all sorts of pleasures. These images are designed to compromise the hedonistic subjectivist version of happiness bringing it to the point of absurdity.

Desire satisfaction theory is a theory that complicates the basic principles of hedonism with the concepts of meaningfulness and responsibility. However, an important condition of desire satisfaction theory is realism and awareness. According to this theory, a realistically oriented person strives for cognition and truth. He or she wants to adequately assess his or her position. Moreover, this theory states that an individual has the ability to prioritize, separate valuable and important from what can be sacrificed, set the right goals, and choose the right tools to achieve the desired satisfaction. In the experience machine, a person cannot be able to clearly understand himself or herself. It means that this mode of life could not be good for a person and his or her natural psychological development. Based on the main concepts of desire satisfaction theory, pleasure in human well-being adequately reflects the current mental state of a person.

Objectivism of well-being is not opposed by the individual concepts of happiness. Being correctly evaluated and understood by a person, the objective values also become the person's own values. The realization of their objectivity (importance for all people) only increases their significance in the individual’s eyes. It is absolutely opposite to what the experience machine offers. The objective theory proposes the general concepts for well-being and happiness. According to objectivism, people would not have better life in the experience machine since it gives a person only the “hallucination of life”, i.e., the already developed scheme for achieving pleasure. Thus, the theory of objectivism also undermines the subjective hedonistic orientation and turns the acquisition of happiness understood as pleasure into an unattainable and meaningless goal.

While the state of the flow and even simple pleasure directly affects the quality of life, material conditions are secondary circumstances. They affect people only through their perception. Health, money, and other material benefits can improve people's lives, but this may not happen. If a person has not learned to control his or her psychic energy, it is very likely that these external benefits will be useless for him or her.Over the years, the concept of happiness changed in the minds of people. The multiple psychological studies produced interesting results “materializing” this idea and giving it a less abstract meaning. Csikszentmihalyi was among the experimenters who brought a person closer to realizing their pleasures and ways to become happy. It can be said that science has presented all possible knowledge to increase people's happiness nowadays. However, there are still some issues that can slow down or cut off a person's path to happiness. Csikszentmihalyi highlights such concepts as the Universe and chronic dissatisfaction. As for the Universe, it constantly makes people face floods, earthquakes, fires, viruses, microbes, etc. These disasters cause a feeling of despair, chaos, and complete subordination to external circumstances. According to chronic dissatisfaction, it can be caused by failed attempts to achieve the set goal. The matter is that people often set too high goals not paying attention to the present. Thus, preferring a dubious future, people turn a blind eye to the beauty and attractiveness of the present moment. For example, trying to build a successful career in a short time and fully emerging into a strict schedule, an individual tries not to see what is happening around as he or she believes that this will only distract him or her from the set goal. However, as usual, this person receives opposite results. Not answering the calls of friends and not addressing the doctor in connection with the growing pain, a person becomes nervous and less sociable. His or her minor illness turns into chronic disease. In my life, I also became “a hostage” of rapid success. I paid attention only to my work and how to improve my career. As a result, I lost contact with many friends, missed a trip to the mountains, and received a chronic insomnia. On these examples, we can see how trying to become happy through a complete detachment from the present and a refusal to accept daily communication, a person makes his or her life even worse. Ignoring the beauty of the present moment, an individual receives the feeling opposite to pleasure and satisfaction. In other words, a person falls into a deep depression instead of complete happiness.

Happiness and pleasure are different concepts. Chiksentmihayi builds a detailed, harmonious, and experimentally confirmed theory with the idea of “autotelic experiences” or, to put it simply, the experiences of the flow. This is a state of complete merging with one's own business. Being in “flow” means feeling a constant surge of energy and self-confidence. In my case, the state of the flow is reached when I am drawing. This occupation absorbs my attention and thoughts so much that I forget to eat and do not want to sleep. At the moment of drawing, I feel calm and very satisfied. My body is filled with extra energy as if I was engaged in sports. In other words, drawing makes me feel like living.

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By Fiona Moon
Added Mar 8 '23



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