What would you do for ninety-two million dollars? In the movie Paycheck (based on the Philip K. Dick story of the same name), Michael Jennings agrees to give up three full years of his life-kind of. He loses three years of his mental life. To ensure confidentiality for his current client, the Rethrick Corporation, Jennings agrees to have all his memories of the three years he will work for the company removed. In return, Jennings will receive a large quantity of company stock options worth approximately $92 million. A good deal? Maybe, but I suspect most of us would be extremely nervous about trading three years of our mental lives for any sum of money. Why be nervous? Because our mental lives are a fundamental part of who we are. As Dr. Rachel Porter puts it to Jennings, "All we are is the sum of our experiences." To willingly give up our joys, and even our sorrows; to remove our recollections of what we did and why; to lose all our experiences is to commit mental suicide.
Copyright © 2011 Carus Publishing Company. This chapter first appeared in Philip K. Dick and Philosophy: Do Androids Have Kindred Spirits?.
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Goddu, G. C. "Will You Survive a Trip to Rekall, Inc.?" Edited by D. E. Wittkower. In Phillip K. Dick and Philosophy: Do Androids Have Kindred Spirits?, 65-75. Vol. 63. Popular Culture and Philosophy. Chicago: Carus Publishing Company, 2011.