Is happiness more than just pleasure?

Hedonism is the philosophy that pleasure is the most important pursuit of mankind and the proper aim of human life. Talking about pleasure, I came across another stimulating thought experiment. This one is called, β€œThe Experience Machine”.

The Experience Machine is a special device that can give us any experience we would like to endure. For example, if I were to choose something, perhaps it would be: Becoming a famous writer, entering a candy world, being around hundreds of adorable animals, or meditating at the top of a mountain. The experience machine would make me believe that these scenarios are actually happening, while in reality, I’m floating in a tank with electrodes attached to my brain. The question now, is, would I want to be plugged into this machine for the rest of my life? If yes, my life would be preprogrammed to maximise my pleasure. I would be able to live my fondest dreams β€œfrom the inside”, and experience what it’s like to live a perfect life. While being plugged into this machine, I would think it’s all real.

The purpose of this experiment is to make us wonder: What is happiness? We all know that this simply structured question isn’t the easiest to answer, in fact philosophers have been debating upon it for years – whether happiness is more than just pleasure.

While reading and putting ourselves into the experiment, I think for some of us it seems as if pleasure might be sufficient for happiness (meaning, we believe in hedonism). But The Experience Machine can actually challenge this idea. If pleasure was enough, I would plug myself into the machine without thinking twice. But most of us would be hesitant. According to Robert Nozick, the American philosopher who created this thought experiment, this is because we want more in life. We all have projects, tasks, activities, and life goals we wish to achieve. And, being plugged into this machine and living a fake life is not a way to fulfil those. This seems to suggest that hedonism is wrong. What do you think?


– SaaniaSparkle πŸ§šπŸ»β€β™€οΈ

321 thoughts on “Is happiness more than just pleasure?

  1. Yea. This actually makes hedonism seem way off. Pleasure is not equal to happiness. Joy is equal to happiness because it is a state of inner connectedness with being. Pleasure is derived from external sources that is why it can not be sustained because once you remove this external source you are left with emptiness or pain. Pleasure is an emotion, part of the dualistic mind which is subject to the law of opposites but joy or peace are states of being and as such, have no opposite. Hence, temporary happiness can be experienced as pleasure but true Happinness surpasses pleasure to become joy.

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  2. I like your “what do you think” questions for each post. Hedonism would be considered physical pleasure, in my view. At one time it was forbidden but people did it anyway and then became suppressed by moral codes and punishment. If one could look at it as persistence on a given path through barriers and obstacles, achieving success towards a known goal, it would feel right to me. That would be the simplicity of it.

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  3. I think the greatest happiness is something that transcends. Forgive me for using theological language but it’s just easier: Finding God and how God actually works in our lives. That is the highest happiness. Most world religions agree. Not just Xity. Hindus, for instance, make a distinction between sreya and preya. Sreya is spiritual experience. Preya is worldly experience. The one is higher and lasts forever. The other is lower and ephemeral. πŸ™‚


  4. This is a really interesting topic. I think that there is some validation in headonism but sometimes it’s about the journeys we go through, the darkness d some of those journeys that can really bring us joy when we come to the pleasure of getting through that bad experience that can teach us greater joy and bring us greater joy in some respects. That’s what I’ve found anyway

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