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, “The 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 “from 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 🧚🏻‍♀️

228 thoughts on “Is happiness more than just pleasure?

  1. To me I would say, if not just about the the outcome that makes us feel happy, but also the efforts put, and the journey that makes us feel the importance of state of being happy. That’s why I guess, this machine wouldn’t make us happy at all, if yes, for some moments but not forever. :)🙈

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Hi Sania, I think happiness is a result of many different things, pleasure is just part of it. Working hard towards a goal and achieving it is one, seeing a loved one overcome a trial, etc. I even think adversity plays a part. How can you really experience happiness if you never know the opposite? Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. In order to truly experience happiness, we need to live life. While I agree a machine like this is tempting (especially now) I would never do it because then I’d have to say goodbye to everything that makes me who I am. Interesting topic, Saania 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. A very interesting article Sannia, And you have touched upon a very interesting subject.. Most do not know they are already Plugged into this Machine… One only has to Look at the film the Matrix and take it context to see the world is not all as it seems.. This film I found explains very well how we are plugged into this reality… A reality which we ourselves create via our thinking..

    For if you look around you now… Every single thing was once someone’s thought even the paint upon your walls..
    So while we are here to experience the outer world…
    It is not the outer world that brings us happiness… For Happiness is a state of BEing and it is to be found within..

    Maybe this time we are all experiencing right now, has been created for us to go within and perhaps find out what makes us tick… As we have to go within to find what is really important in life…
    Love your thoughts and thinking for one so young…. The World could do with more deep thinkers … 🙂
    Sending love and well wishes your way Saania… Love and Blessings your way..
    Sue 🙏💚

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Hello Saania. I am not sure if you accept blogger awards on your site but I have Nominated you for the Vincent Ehindero Blogger Award. I hope you will reply with a blog post about this Award. This is on my page.
    Thank you.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Today, about a quarter of a million people disappeared and went on an evening vacation, as every day, none of them, be happy, that is exactly the most important thing, to have a life. Save your life, the greatest gift you will ever receive for free.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Hi! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    My first thought was, “sign me up for that machine!” But after reading further, I became hesitant.

    What makes happiness? I think it’s more on an individual basis. Ice cream makes me happy. But for someone who is lactose intolerant, that ice cream means a day of agonizing stomach issues.

    So in conclusion, maybe the answer is inside all of us. We just need to find the happy balance of healthy happiness and indulgent hedonism. 😁 And go for it!

    Thanks for reading! Take care!


    Liked by 2 people

  8. Maybe that’s why we need multiple life’s and reincarnation to enjoy the life to the fullest..maybe that void, dissatisfaction and desire in life is the reason that we are taking birth again as said by krishna

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Life can’t always be pleasure. We must work and do the hard things. BUT, you should enjoy your life. Many pleasures in a life. Travel, testing life and enjoying the nice things if you can. Oldest and wisest saying. “All work and no play, make Saania, a sad soul.” We must seek the things we love.

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  10. Hedonism is entirely narcissistic, as it pursues self-satisfaction to the exclusion of everything else. It ignores everybody around us, and the civilization we strive to enrich. Even from a purely theoretical standpoint, hedonism doesn’t work, as there’s no way one could obtain the isolation pure hedonism would require. We’re social creatures, and we yearn for interaction, which, by definition, mitigates hedonism.

    Hate to be a killjoy, but the pleasure machine wouldn’t work either. Suppose this device would make everything perfect. Fine. And exactly how long would it be before we no longer recognized happiness? When everything, absolutely everything comes up aces, everything becomes dull, repetitive, monotonous. Doesn’t sound very enjoyable to me.

    No, real pleasure comes from interacting, improving and overcoming. That last part is important. How luscious is the feast after you’ve been ravenous all day?

    Great discussion you’ve inspired, Saania! I definitely will be back for more!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Gosh. That’s interesting. I think I prefer bumbling about my own life the way I am….learning…growing…I dunno. Couldn’t tell You why! The journey is interesting….all of it. This is cool, Saania! It would be fun to be plugged in now and again! I’d take myself and my beautiful man to Fiji for a while and live in one of those small houses on the water. And visit SOOOO many places on the planet. And float out in the starts. And of course I’d tour Your candy world….because….WOW! Thanks for this post! Really cool. Cheers! 🤗❤️😊

    Liked by 2 people

  12. The last two years I have experienced that the greatest key to happiness means ‘health’. If this disappears (which is unfortunately the case with me), the rest suddenly no longer counts.
    Enjoy that health as long as you have them. If you can experience things even more intensely than with that hedonism, you should do this above all!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I once had a literature teacher with classics as his background. He used to refer to sensual gratification as opposed to authentic pleasure. Selfish pleasure as an end in itself leading to unhappiness! And happiness? What all the characters were seeking through authenticity! Good debate!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Quedo absolutamente desbordado. Pensé que el hedonismo no era algo sutancial para los mortales y mucho menos que debatir sobre ello pudiera hacerme mostrar interés por ello pero, claro, es imposible decir que no se practica cuando realmente se hace sin saber que lo haces.
    Tienes un blog muy interesante, se lo recomendaré a mi nieta y a mi hijo, que les encanta la filosofía.
    Un abrazo muy fuerte

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Happiness comes from within. What makes one happy? Different things for different people. Smelling a rose, being in the garden, reading and disappearing in a world of my own, socializing with my friends when I have the time. These things make me happy. I don’t want to be plugged into a machine where everything is perfect. That will be too boring. I want my brain to do some work, being challenged. It makes for a lively and meaningful existence. Great post!

    Liked by 6 people

  16. I think that if it is a experience machine and I have things that I need to experience in terms of projects, dreams and goals, all of it can be achieved being plugged into this machine. It’s just an experience right? I wouldn’t be aware of the fact that I am plugged in because I’d be too engrossed in the illusion to notice. But if I want to exist outside of what I want for my life, then there comes reality with all of it’s twists and turns and unpredictability, now you have the choice to choose to be happy which negates the idea that happiness is just a mere feeling. Thank you for this post, this is similar to mine and has certainly made me HAPPY this morning

    Liked by 3 people

  17. I definitely could not be attached to a machine even if it made me content…. though I wouldn’t be content as I have to move, walk, be active and actual do things! I would need to be on that plane actually dying and seeing all the people on the plane! I’d have to be in the busy airport and trying to figure out okay where am I going, who to talk to, get a can and find my destination…. it’s the action, exploring, discovery and the unknown that I love and feel accomplished by!!!! While reading this I was to say nope that’s not for me!!! Great post!!

    Liked by 4 people

  18. You think deeply, especially for someone your age. 🙂 The questions you ask are as old a mankind. The Sumerians, the ancient Egyptians, and the ancient Greeks all explored hedonism. Christians distinguish between happiness (the changeable emotional state, dependent on circumstance) and joy (peace/fulfillment grounded in a knowledge of God). One is temporary; the other, permanent. I wish you happiness and joy, both. ❤


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