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Essay on Philiosophical Analysis of Eternal Sunshine

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‘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 Ma...


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...like I’m disappearing… nothing makes sense to me.’ It may be argued that Clemantime is encountering a secondary experience, an experience which resembles its primary version but is not recognised by memory. ‘The experience itself is in a sense being used in our thinking, and so, is present in us. For this reason exercising a phenomenal concept will feel like having the experience itself. (Papineau, )’ This ‘antipathetic fallacy’ is described by Papineau as a deep-seated intuition that shows a distinction between the physical and conscious state. It creates the fallicious impression that material ways of thinking about past experiences fail to refer to the actual felt experiences themselves.



Works Cited

Douglas, G. R. (2007) Faith, Film and Philosophy: Big Ideas on the Big Screen. Intervarsity Press
Mackie, J.L. (1976) Problems from Locke. Oxford: Clarendon Press



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