Today I suddenly remembered a hypothetical question from my Philosophy 171 (Ethics) class last year.

Suppose that you were privileged to choose the manner in which you will live. You could just continue with everything you have started and experience the ‘normal’, conventional life. On the other hand, a virtual world awaits you, where everything you want to obtain and experience can be found.

Definitely I’m not a philosopher, not even close to becoming a Philosophy geek. I find it a bit hard to explain it in such light or approach. An enthusiast might be more appropriate.

Of course, the unimaginative me stated the usual answer of those who never cared to condition their minds to adopt another perspective. Or maybe they did but refused to utilise that view. Or they opted to focus on the present.

Putting high value on the importance of experience in idea formation and knowledge generation, I chose the first track, the ‘normal’ one, predicated to the assumption of this world constituting the reality. I can hold different items that I see. I can feel them. I can hear what people say about me with some music playing in the background. I can feel the embrace of my family, friends and special someone.

I laugh hard when a friend cracks a joke. I’m sad upon hearing a bad news. I experience dilemma and enchantment. I argue and steadfastly stick to my ideals. I show compassion to people who need comfort. I’ve learned valuable knowledge and skills from the educational institutions I went at. I commit mistakes during an exam. I interact with other individuals to be able to access other types of knowledge. Through different emotional states, I learn and form a unique blend of ideas about the world and what comprises it.

From these activities, I deduce, process and verify knowledge and ideas. Now this world is real, isn’t it? Somehow, I swayed on my side the empiricists.

Prior to answering that, of course you can contest the usualness of the answer.

Just today, I was thinking of adopting a different take.

Why not try the virtual world, where everything is pre-programmed and customised according to your needs, wants and goals? This assumes the absence of pain. Seems artificial? How reality is perceived in such world cannot be contested since that lies beyond of one’s realm. Some can only say that it’s a dream because they weren’t there. The more relevant question is if it can be actually done. I’m inclined to think that the reality and the dream in that setting is indistinguishable. Remember our dreams, they seem so real until we open our eyes.

If everything looks real, if I’m happy over the things I’m experiencing, if I see whatever pleases me, if I’m attaining everything I want, then those aspects in the ‘virtual’ world have the full capability to delude me from the conventional cautiousness of entering and staying in such world. How will I able to contest the learning I’m getting when in the absence of pain and mistakes I achieve the end I’ve envisioned before entering the virtual world?

Again, at this point, I’m not giving any clear-cut arguments. These are just random musings from a physiologically sleepy but mentally active man. I need to form a better discourse, but it’s always nice to know I’m thinking.

In the end, we really don’t exactly know what lies beyond the marble-coloured, life-supporting planet of the Solar System. We might be living in a pre-programmed world (minus the absence of pain) without us being aware of it.

See, rationality can sometimes be irrational.