This discussion will require you to have carefully read Chapter 5 of the textbook, as well as the assigned portions of Aristotles (1931) Nicomachean Ethics. If you recall from Week 2/Chapter 3, John Stuart Mill (2008) defines happiness as the experience of pleasure and the avoidance of pain, which means that happiness is very much a matter of how I feel on the inside. However, Aristotle (1931) holds a rather different view of happiness (or in his terms, eudaimonia). One way that we think about this difference is to conduct a thought experiment in which we imagine that we have certain inner experiences, but outwardly things are quite different. One such thought experiment is provided by the philosopher Robert Nozick in his description of the experience machine: Suppose there were an experience machine that would give you any experience you desired. Superduper neuropsychologists could stimulate your brain so that you would think and feel you were writing a great novel, or making a friend, or reading an interesting book. All the time you would be floating in a tank, with electrodes attached to your brainOf course, while in the tank you wont know that youre there; youll think its actually happeningWould you plug in? What else can matter to us, other than how our lives feel from the inside? (Nozick, 1974, p. 43) In the course of the weeks discussion, you will need to do the following (not necessarily in this order): Engage with the text: Using at least one quote from the assigned texts, explain Aristotles notion of eudaimonia. Then, discuss whether Aristotle would consider someone hooked up to the experience machine to be happy in the sense captured by that notion of eudaimonia. Reflect on yourself: If you had the chance to be permanently hooked up to the experience machine, would you do it? Explain your choice. For example, if you would not hook up, you may discuss the kinds of goods or aims that would be lost by hooking up, or you may discuss the core, essential features of your life (or of human life in general) that are undermined by being in such a state. Reflect on human life: Based on your response, do you think that we can describe aspects of a telos (in Aristotles sense) that applies to humanity in general, or at least most people? Correspondingly, could there be a difference between feeling happy and being happy? Do you think that people can be wrong about happiness? (Notice that this isnt asking whether there are different ways in which people can find happiness; its asking whether some of those ways could be mistaken.)
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