“Engaging, evocative. . . . [Bloom] is a supple, clear writer, and his parade of counterintuitive claims about pleasure is beguiling.”—NPR
Why is an artistic masterpiece worth millions more than a convincing forgery? Pleasure works in mysterious ways, as Paul Bloom reveals in this investigation of what we desire and why. Drawing on a wealth of surprising studies, Bloom investigates pleasures noble and seamy, lofty and mundane, to reveal that our enjoyment of a given thing is determined not by what we can see and touch but by our beliefs about that thing’s history, origin, and deeper nature.
Bloom (Descartes Baby), a psychology professor at Yale, explores pleasure from evolutionary and social perspectives, distancing himself from the subject s common association with the senses. By examining studies and anecdotes of pleasure-inducing activities like eating, art, sex, and shopping, Bloom posits that pleasure takes us closer to the essence of a thing, be it animal, vegetable, or mineral. He argues that humans seem to be hard-wired to give, as well as receive, pleasure. A study using mislabeled, cheap bottles of wine, wherein Forty experts said the wine with the fancy label was worth drinking, while only twelve said this of the cheap label, demonstrates the complicated sociological components behind what we find pleasurable. Bloom even briefly examines positive reactions to very hot food and other controlled doses of pain. And a study where rhesus monkeys chose pictures of female hindquarters and high-status monkeys over fruit juice allows the author to surmise that Two major vices pornography and celebrity worship are not exclusively human.
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How Pleasure Works
This book was a huge disappointment. Poorly written and really doesn't answer the question, "How does pleasure work?" Quite a bit of rambling here and no attempt to tie it all together and come to a believable conclusion. I had to struggle to NOT put it down.