Pain beneficial to human beings
In recent scientific advancements, neuroscientists have had to single out the area responsible for memory retention in our minds. Such memories may be pleasurable or painful; they could remind us of the day we graduated kindergarten or be the painful idea of the passing of a relative. What if doctors were capable of giving you a drug allowing for the mental liberation of your worst fears, excruciating events and most menacing habits?
Scientists have been conducting experiments on small mice, studying their capacities to retain memories, as well as how they formulate their behavior around things that cause them panic or fear. These scientists have created a drug capable of blocking the activity of a substance within the brain that is needed for recollection. It's assumed to say that the millions of people living in fear and pain may be quick to erase such memories. Yet the ethical question that arises here is: What would such a process do to the preservation and significance of human nature? Furthermore, what would happen to our other memories, perhaps those that had been foundational upon the painful feeling of the targeted memory? Would the capability of having memories erased be something that we should accept in order to evolve our human nature? Or does such a thing serve as a detriment to our Darwinian advances?
Would ethical values have less meaning in the moral aspects of our world? Say I knew I could have painful memories eliminated by a doctor through some form of medication; would I be more compelled to act immorally or come to various forms of addiction if I knew I could do away with the cerebral consequences so easily? Or would there have to be legal requirements regarding what is an acceptable memory to erase and which is not?
I feel as though creating a process that eradicates our worst memories and the consequences that come along with them would almost allow for us to be maximally in control of our autonomies. Autonomy is the power to act in accordance with an individual's own intended ends or goals in life. Such a thing only has moral importance when it is used in correlation with our moral responsibilities. If we could manipulate our own ethical choices and mental problems through such a drug, it appears that the purpose of free will and human nature immediately loses all importance and significance. As humans, we have an underlying responsibility to act as morally and as ethically as possible through a series of duties and experiences that we achieve through our actions of free will. This sort of responsibility gives meaning to all actions and purposes in human history and nature. When we give self interest more worth than that of moral responsibility, it appears to me that we will lose the purposefulness that we feel completes us and gives us a sense of pride and worth within our world. If we eradicate bad feelings and habits and never know the satisfaction of overcoming them — how will we be able to appreciate the good memories and accomplishments of everyday and even monumental moments of our lives?
Aristotle boasts that the aim of all rational beings is a good life. We need to have some sort of rational deliberation about the virtues that we apply to our moral conquests. If we replaced rational deliberation regarding experiences and addictions with the temptation of being able to erase them so quickly, we would no longer be individuals of choice. Most importantly, moral virtue is the disposition to be able to have and behave in the right manner by navigating through deficiencies and vices; such bad experiences are a necessary evil created in order for us to appreciate moral aspects! Such temptations to behave poorly and eradicate all inklings of feeling immorally about them will be done through a corrupted pursuit of pleasure; such pleasure will only lead us astray if we continue to implement such a defective character.
In conclusion, I leave with you a notion of Friedrich Nietzsche. It may seem that our past histories may cause detriment to advancement and hinder us personally as we go through life feeling the pain as a result of our actions. This disadvantage paves way for the personal gains that we receive through the simplest satisfaction of achieving good after having had been through terrible circumstances. Appreciate how history guides you — it should teach you all you need to know.
Nicole D'Amore is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in philosophy.