The Infinite Vanilla Soy Latte

Posted by M ws On Wednesday, November 14, 2012 0 comments

I heard the infinite vanilla soy latte problem at a Stanford philosophy class. The credit for it goes to Professor Bobonich, but I'm not sure if it's his originally. It was a story to explaining why being immortal is not necessarily all that awesome. I heard it about 8 years ago, so I might be a bit off.

Imagine you love your low-fat double vanilla soy latte. You love it so much that you go to your favorite Coffee Shop (Coupa Cafe in my case) every morning to get your fix. The flavor is awesome. It's not too sweet, and has a good kick to it. You would never consider getting any other drink. Not now, not ever. You will always stick to your low-fat double vanilla soy latte.

Now imagine you've had your low-fat double vanilla soy latte every day for a couple of years, maybe 10 or so. Imagine you continue to have it for the rest of your life. Eventually, you will grow tired of the low-fat double vanilla soy latte. You haven't yet? Don't worry, wait a couple of more lifetimes and the low-fat double vanilla soy latte will get boring (assuming you live forever).

Now, let's go beyond the low-fat double vanilla soy latte. Imagine everything you love follows the same pattern. And now imagine that being immortal is really forever and ever. Eventually you will get tired of everything you love. Forever (Infinity) is such a long time, that you will eventually run out of stuff you love. Even if you mix it up, you will get tired of every possible combination (I know that number if big, and the universe will eventually end - but this is a philosophy problem, math and physics are not allowed).

In short, immortality is overrated. Limits help us cherish experiences and choose them wisely. Death helps us appreciate life. Go ahead and have a vanilla soy latte.

Written by Michael Landau

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