Philiosophical Analysis Of Eternal Sunshine

1147 words - 5 pages

‘Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind’ is a philosophically provocative film which tracks the relationship of two main characters, Joel and Clemantine, in their search for happiness. Saddened with the heartbreak from ending their relationship, they both undergo a memory removal proceedure to erase their memory of each other in order to eliminate their emotional suffering. As the film unfolds, it becomes clear that having a ‘spotless mind’ does not ensure ‘eternal sunshine’, contrary to what the title suggests. Instead, there is a sense of tragedy and loss which prevails as the unfortunate consequences of their decision transpires throughout the film. This essay attemps to analyse whether utilising such memery-removal technology can be justified as a good or bad thing; whether ignorance truly is bliss or if it is better know the truth and suffer. It will also explore the affects of erasing memories on ones personal identity by discussing the concepts of philosophers such as John Locke and Thomas Reid.
Questioning the use of memory removal technology as morally good or not may elicit a utilitarian response. Utilitarians would look to the consequences to decipher an answer. John Stuart Mill argues that for an action to be morally correct it must maximise overall happiness while avoiding suffering and pain. “If a memory-removal proceedure can function in such a way that it brings about more happiness than would otherwise be possible, the use of such a proceedure is not only justified, but in fact morally required on utilitarian grounds (Grau, ).” However, this may be disputed by the value placed on truth. Nozick refutes utilitarianism and other theories valuing happiness and pleasure in his thought experiment known as the Experience Machine. Nozick questions whether or not people would plug in to an experience machine to gain false but pleasurable experiences. He argues that many would refuse the opportunity since people place great value on being and becoming. Humans have a basic desire for truth and entering the machine would only allow for an illusory satisfaction. This illusion may seem more desireable during emotionally difficult periods however it will ultimately hinder ones self-identification. People are reluctant to accept deceipt as it is human nature to seek truth and knowledge; wanting to know that they living their own life and not a lie or illusion. Memories, even negative ones should never be deliberately removed as they are important to our being; they provide life lessons and experience to improve our decisions in the future. If knowledge and truth derives from experience, then removing events from ones memory creates a distorted view of the world and a detachment from reality. Memory removal is reagarded as morally problematic due to this conflict between fundamental values.
Furthermore, it may be argued that using memory removal technology may undermine a person’s dignity. Kant states that ‘persons are unique’ and so they should...

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