Noble Purpose and Nozick's Virtual Reality

First: William Damon, in his "Why Purpose is Crucial for Thriving Throughout Life", argues that having a "noble purpose" is essential for living well. What do you think your "noble purpose" is? Second: What is Nozick's "experience machine"? Do you think you would enter it? Why or why not?

What my noble purpose might be

In trying to determine what my noble purpose in life might be, I had to recall times when I felt most fulfilled or passionate about something. It turns out that some of the most gratifying work I have done in the past involved sharing knowledge and training people. At work, I enjoyed walking new hires through their responsibilities, instructing them on the company policies and procedures, and providing them with the tools and resources they needed in order to succeed at their new job. Despite being an introvert, I felt energized whenever I conducted Excel training for lawyers and legal assistants.

As a student association volunteer, I found pleasure in engaging with other students through social media, whether it was disseminating communique, answering questions, or providing guidance on how they may best find the information they sought. I may not ever have the honor of educating future generations inside a classroom. But, knowing that my modest contributions may have a positive impact on society, no matter how small, makes me feel like I am living my life well.

Ideas on a Blackboard

The Experience Machine

In Nozick's "experience machine" you float inside a tank while your brain is connected to electrodes through which a pre-programmed life of your choosing is transmitted for you to experience. You enter alone and, while inside, you will not be aware that you are in fact confined within the machine. Through this device you would be able to experience a desirable life, which you could renew or exchange for another kind of ideal life after a couple of years.

This is not a life I would choose for myself. I believe that part of what makes life worthwhile is the journey itself, the process by which we actually experience things, including the obstacles and challenges along the way. For it is by living through the good, the bad, and even the unknown parts of life that we grow and develop into the kind of people we ultimately become. Having a predetermined path robs us of this opportunity. Moreover, in the machine, we would be deprived of experiencing life with our loved ones.

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One of the graded activities in my ethics course this summer was the Short Writing Exercise (SWE) in which we were prompted to reflect upon a recent reading, or answer questions regarding the latest topics we have covered in class. The responses to each SWE had a strict word limit, usually between 200 and 350 words. In total, we had seven SWEs during the 7-week summer program, and I have selected three of them to publish on my site, with permission from the instructor. The post above was in response to SWE4, submitted on 12 July 2022.