What is happiness? I think anyone who has ever given the question serious thought realizes that there is no one simple answer.
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I would say that Amencia’s first example is defective though. If the man hooked up to the machine is watching terrible things but isn’t enjoying it while it’s happening, then the machine isn’t successful in its purported ability to “to perfectly simulate any feeling” (emphasis mine).
The rest of the dialog does resonate with me, particularly the part about being motivated to do things without necessarily weighing your predicted state of resulting happiness or unhappiness. For example, many times in my life, I’ve been compelled to understand things, even when I knew that the answer would probably not make me happy, such as understanding how small and inconsequential humanity appears to be to the overall workings of the universe. You could argue that the satisfaction in knowledge is a type of happiness, albeit an uncomfortable one, but this just shows how malleable and slippery the concept of happiness actually is.