Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Random Philosophical Question

Question for thought and discussion*:

Would you pay for a pleasure that you will not remember after having experienced?

Example: You are offered the choice of two meals, equal in nutritional value. One is entirely bland- not unpleasant, not pleasant. The other is extremely yummy. You can pay a small sum of money and receive the second, which you will enjoy quite a lot. The catch: as soon as you have finished eating, you will not remember what decision you made and will have no memory of any pleasure you experienced. Would you pay for the pleasure?

If yes: Would you pay to have a really pleasant dream that you will not remember upon waking?

If no: What if you remembered your decision for ten minutes following the meal? Twenty? An hour? A day?

Would it make a difference whether there was an objective record of your decision which you could not access? What if you could access the record or otherwise deduce which decision you made but you would still not remember the experience of pleasure? Does it matter whether or not you notice and/or derive pleasure from the money saved? Does the kind of pleasure make a difference? In continuity a factor- does it matter if you will remember a point when you remembered the pleasure without memory of the pleasure itself?

I have absolutely no answers, myself. And I'm not looking less for philosophical answers than for some clues as to how people are wired, because it is a fact that we pay for pleasures that we know we will remember only in the short term- is this merely because we choose to ignore that fact in making our pleasure-related choices or is the experience of pleasure itself sufficient without any impact on later memory?

*preferably in my comments, because I love comments


Halfnutcase said...

wow, thats a hard question.

in terms of the first example I'm not completely sure but there are some mitigating factors. biggest of these is the question of whether the cook or someone who cares about me will see and remember my obvious pleasure in the food. In the cooks case he will be able to shlep nachas from watching someone enjoy his food. If the latter, a friend or other close person may be happy to watch me enjoy a good meal, and may remember it with their own sense of pleausure, and so yes, I would do so. Otherwise, I am not sure. Maybe I would, maybe I wouldn't, it would probably depend on what else I might spend the money on.

In terms of the dream I'll say an unequivicable yes. Most dreams that we have we do not remember, at yet we find that pleasant dreams have decided effects on our well being, even when we do not remember them. Similarly with some other pleasures, like being close to someone you love. For these things the emotional and psychological changes they create stay with you whether or not you remember them, and thus are probably worth doing so and not remembering.

But lots of other things I would not do.

If it was to pay to have my child legitimately earn a good grade, yes I'd pay for that nachas even if I didn't remember it.

Somethings however I do not think that I would pay for, if I knew that I would have record of it but would not remember it. Anything that would have the potential for misbehavior I would not, because I know my self well enough to know that I would later crucify my self on account of anything that I might have done wrong, but I did not used to answer this way.

Tobie said...

Okay, that's interesting, but you didn't really address the main question I was trying to get out, which was the value of pleasure that will not have any positive effects afterwards. Ever. Nobody will see you eat the meal or derive pleasure from it, you will have neither memory nor lingering emotion from the dream. Are the pleasures still worthwhile for their own sake?

Halfnutcase said...

I don't know. sometimes I think yes, and sometimes I think I'd rather use the money for something else.

although maybe it depends on the value of the particular pleasure. If I could forfeit some money to Get a hug from my besheret, even though I would have absolutely no memory or other benefit from it al all, then I think yes. anything else? not likely.

sorry for not being particularly helpful.

Tobie said...

Oh, don't apologize, you'll notice that I supply no answers at all...the convenient thing about being the one who gets to make up the questions ;)

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, people will pay much more money for a good experience right before they die - even though the memory will last a short time. There's no rational way to combine the two preferences, but they both clearly exist.
Allowing for an afterlife with intact memory doesn't solve the problem - people can get gourmet meals everyday in Heaven - so there's little value to getting one now.


Tobie said...

True, but money is similarly of less value just before death, so maybe there is some rationality there.

anonym00kie said...

i think i would pay for a pleasure i wouldnt remember. i pay to go see a show, to go to an amusment park, to eat yummy sushi.. and eventhough i might feel good afterwards, i dont think im paying for the memory, - im paying to enjoy the experience in the moment.. not to remember.. ( i dont recall ever sitting around day dreaming of a juicy piece of sushi i ate 5 years ago!)

actually.. im a liar.. i just realized that i wouldnt pay for a dream.. and considering that a dream is basically an experience you live thru without having memories afterwards, my answer above makes no sense...

if i wouldnt pay for the dream than why would i be wiling to pay for an experience i dont remember??

hmm interesting :)