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Mid-Term Philosophy Paper

Mid-Term Philosophy Paper
 

For many centuries people, regardless of their occupation, are trying to understand what happiness is. A lot of them spend all their life looking for it and cannot find the answer to this question. However, each thinker considers it a duty to give some definition to this feeling. Thus, in the early 18th century, Jeremy Bentham became deeply engaged in the study of happiness, and in 1789 he proposed a new moral principle, which stated that happiness should not be judged by the intentions to do anything, but by the consequences they lead to (Veenhoven, 2008). Even if in the future scientists developed a technology that would allow a person to implement devices causing happiness enabling people to feel it instantly, even then this method would not correspond with the greatest happiness principle in spite of technical perfection of the action.

First of all, it should be said that the concept of happiness is quite elusive in many ways. It has no precise definition and mostly relates to empirical categories, where every opponent is able to put forward suggestions on the subject. Strictly speaking, the number of definitions is as big as the number of people who reflect on the issue. That is why the feeling of happiness, which the person who created the technology that delivers the sensation via Deep Brain Stimulation experiences, will not coincide with that of others.

Accordingly, a guarantee of obtaining happiness becomes quite doubtful. Therefore, devices that generate happiness do not fulfil the basic requirement of the greatest happiness principle, namely – the final result. Properly speaking, it is not difficult to imagine that one person can define happiness with any degree of certitude, but the probability that such a formula will be suitable for everyone is very low.

Moreover, evenif the absolute definition could be found, as the technology suggests it, there is another issue. What kind of happiness will a machine produce? As a rule, technical devices and, more specifically,  microprocessors or chips that will be implanted into the brain, have a mechanical nature, and are able to provide a human with an impulse, which is a short-term action. Theoretically, according to the apparatus idea, by connecting all impulses, people will feel happiness. However, in this case, these short-term “flashes of happiness” should cause a wide range of emotions, as well as multiple defined  conditions. Moreover, the device will rather cause a state of pleasure or satisfaction that cannot be compared with happiness.

 

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A person can be in deep depression, can feel frustration, despair, sadness or grief, and, nevertheless, consumption of a delicious meal or a hot shower can bring him or her a great pleasure, but this does not mean that he or she will become happy. Such actions are as short-termed as the impact of the mechanism. Jeremy Bentham  determined the state of happiness as the sum of pleasures and pains. Thus, it is equal to some kind of “fullness” of life, while generated pleasures will not be able to substitute it.

Thus, the influence of the device can be called a stimulating one. In order to experience the pleasure all the time, a person will be required to constantly stimulate him or herself. It is similar to the effect of drugs, alcohol and, generally speaking, has the nature of addiction, which, no doubt, introduces a person to an even more illusory condition. In this context, such an invention can be viewed as a convenient tool for manipulation. In terms of conspiracy theories, if such machine can cause pleasure, it is able to evoke any other feeling, be it aggression, annger, hatred, and so on.

Such technologies are very useful for the management of society as a whole, because they are able to make people who are, when stimulated appropriately, ready to perform certain actions, be it placing vegetables on the shelves in the stores, working as a programmer or a driver. In addition, the election of the state government, imprisonment and other legal issues will also be controlled. But eventually, it would lead to the establishment of a totalitarian society and the dictatorship of one person, whose power will not be limited by anybody. Under these conditions, the results of the stimulation do not correspond to the greatest happiness principle.

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Returning to the definition of happiness proposed by Jeremy Bentham, it is worth saying that the described “fullness” of life is composed of many elements, which are caused by external and internal events. Stimulating electrodes cannot restore the balance between them, being primarily an external irritating and alien body. Moreover, Bentham was referring to the qualitative content of  life, where seemingly simple feeling of happiness consists of a large number of components. So, the stimulation creates a flat reflection of reality, which substitutes only a part of the happiness that a person is able to experience in reality.

Eventually, many studies show that happiness is too complex to be measured (Burns, 2010). However, they agree that it has a chaotic nature, which can be caused by completely unpredictable reasons. Some modern scientists believe that happiness is a personality trait. Either way, this state triggers not only debates around its definition, but also defies any control at all, so creation of artificial electrodes does not fit into the well-known concept and does not have solid ground for it.

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