Pleasure Machine

No, this isn’t about the Orgasmatron in Sleeper. The Life in Heaven thread seemed to suffer from nitpicking a definition of heaven; I remembered dealing with Robert Nozick’s pleasure machine in my ethics class in university, and thought it might cut through some of the ambiguity.</P>

The nub of the thought experiment is this: you have an opportunity to go into the pleasure machine, which is a complete sensory experience of unlimited, endless bliss for you, according to your relative definition of bliss. It could be joining a choir of angels to sing God’s praises; it could be a life of satisfying challenge and struggle; it could be an endless cycle of jonesing and shooting heroin; it could also change your experience of bliss to prevent boredom or repetitiveness. In short, it’s the spirit of the definition of heaven, not the letter.</P>

The trick is that the trip is one-way. You go in, but you can’t come back out. However, after going in, you may think you’ve decided to leave, and return to the phenomenal world, but you haven’t: whatever illusions are necessary to maintain the blissful state are provided, including meeting dead aunts and whatnot. You’re guaranteed that you’ll never regret the choice to go in, after you’ve gone in.</P>

In reality, you’ll be leaving behind friends, family, and the world, for selfish gain (though any resulting guilt would, of course, be expurgated from your consciousness once inside).</P>

I suspect Arg220’s original question, cast in this manner, would be: how could anyone not want that state, and do what’s necessary to attain it?</P>

Or in other words, religion is his drug of choice. Not only is he addicted, but he feels the need to addict everyone else bucause of his insecurities.

It does simplify things a bit. I would not enter.

Ahh, so that’s where the plot of Star Trek: Generations came from… :wink:

Thank you, hansel, for clarifying the definitions of the terms. I would just like to make one adjustment to it: We are not talking about a choice to remain where one is, or to enter that place of bliss. That would be suicide, literally, and it plays right into slythe’s “drug of choice” objection.

Rather: While still alive, we are given the ability to choose between

(A) When I die, I want to go to that blissful place.
(B) No comment.

No one is asking you to commit suicide and stop being a productive member of society. The question is What would you like to appen after you die?

Why would anyone not want a future such as Hansel described?

Actually, I think the question is:

(A)Do you believe you can go to a wonderful, blissful place when you die?

(B) Do you not believe you will go anywhere when you die?

If you don’t think it exists, it doesn’t matter how great it would be if you got there! Sure, if heaven exists, we’d all rather go there; but not everyone believes it does.

But if we wanted, it COULD be the Orgasmatron from Sleeper, right? Right?

Sorry, Gaudere.

I’ll admit that the point of the conversation shifts over time, but here is the exact Original Post from the “Life in Heaven” thread:

Please note that the Original Post stipulated that BELIEF in Heaven was NOT the topic, but rather why anyone might not want to go there.

the pleasure machine has several advatages over heaven though (least the heaven descrribed in the life in heaven post) I assume if you have complete control over the program/simulation/whatever you could put yourself in a situation where you might feel some pain (ie life of struggle). The machine also appears to manipulate the users mind more which would make the viability of the machine more likely if making the user slightly less then what they were when they entered it. I still have my doubts as to whther that could last forever without you wanting out though.

So, Keeves, the choice you are offering seems to be (going back to our pleasure machine/orgasmatron example): You can die (dead and gone forever and ever) or be eternally happy. Kinda like being forced into the pleasure machine at gunpoint. Yeah, I would chose heaven; heck, under those circumstances, I might chose hell, rather than be dead forever. Where there’s consciousness, there’s hope; heaven might turn me into a blissed-out zombie with no trace of my former self (rendering me effectively dead), hell might be so bad I constantly long for a death that won’t come…but I think I’d gamble.

Anyone out there rather be dead forever than eternally happy?

Didn’t I see this plotline before in The Matrix?

“I would prefer an intelligent hell to a stupid heaven.” - Victor Hugo