A friend of mine recently directed me to this article about Inception (SPOILER ALERT), which claims that the entire film is just one long dream. I can’t help but feel a little dissatisfied with this interpretation—if the whole thing is just a dream, what’s the point? That thought, in turn, made me consider what constitutes the difference between dream and reality, and why dreams, no matter how real they appear, just don’t feel as important as reality.
I was reminded of an essay I had read recently, Robert Nozick’s The Experience Machine. Nozick’s thought experiment asks readers to imagine a hypothetical machine that can simulate any experience we choose, and do it so realistically that we do not realize the experience is merely simulated. Furthermore, while we are in the experience machine, we will not know we are, and will think we are still living in reality. Would you plug in? If there is nothing to differentiate the experience machine from the real deal, why not?
|This guy would...|
But what do you think? Would you plug in? After all, once you’re actually inside the machine, all these objections are null and void. Elliot Sober claimed that we only prefer reality over the experience machine because we find the idea of living an ignorant life repulsive to our egoistic self-image. So even though we would be happier living in the experience machine, we simply think we would rather live in the real world. But in my view, it’s not about which situation would make us happier, but simply what we think is the better life, in a more objective sense.
So? Would you or wouldn’t you? Does it matter if we’re just living in an illusion, if it’s a damn awesome illusion?