The Following is Entirely Paraphrased from the work of Daniel Kahneman (“Thinking Fast and Slow”)...
You have been given the option to take a vacation. For the price of only two weeks of your earnings, you can go anywhere you choose for two weeks. You will not have to spend a single penny more no matter how extravagant your choice. The caveat is that when you return, all pictures and videos will be destroyed. You will take a pill that will remove the entirety of the vacation from your memory. You will have no recollection of the vacation.
So you must face the question – is it worthwhile to spend the money knowing that you will have an amazing time at a considerable bargain, even though after the fact, the only thing you will be aware of is that some decision you made cost you two weeks of your earnings? There is no question that after the fact, the elimination of memories of this vacation significantly reduces the value. Yet if you could leave tomorrow for two weeks of bliss, even knowing you will forget all of it, you would likely have a difficult time passing on the opportunity.
Tale of Two Selves
You have two distinct interpretations to consider. Though you may enjoy the next two weeks immensely, you also will certainly not enjoy losing your money with nothing to recall in return. You are forced to weigh the pros and cons of two versions of yourself – your “experiencing self” versus your “remembering self” Yet paradoxically you are the same person.
There is an inverse scenario based on the same struggle between ideas that drives home the difficulty of this choice. Suppose you are facing a major operation. You are offered the equivalent of two weeks earnings if you are willing to remain conscious during your operation. You will experience all the extreme pain and agony that accompanies the operation. Like before, you will take a pill and not remember any part of the experience once the operation is complete.
Yet again, you are left having to compare the pros and cons of two versions of yourself. Are you willing to let your present self suffer to benefit your future amnesic self? Do you recognize the oddity of treating both selves as though they were strangers to each other?
You may have passed off such questions as unrealistic, but that isn’t so. There are people living with Alzheimer’s disease who actively participate in life yet do not recall what they experience. If you were to reach old age, would you prefer to have a lifetime of memories, yet be physically unable to do anything? Or would you prefer to be physically able, yet remember nothing.