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How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Likeby Paul Bloom
Synopses & Reviews
"This book is not just a pleasure, but a revelation, by one of psychology's deepest thinkers and best writers. Lucid and fascinating, you'll want to read it slowly and savor the experience."--Daniel Gilbert, author of "Following the path of pleasure, Bloom leads us through a menagerie of human strangeness. By the end of the trip, the 'magic inside us' begins to make sense. This book is a pearl, a work of great beauty and value, built up around a simple truth: that we are essentialists, tuned-in to unseen order."--Jonathan Haidt, author of "Paul Bloom is among the deepest thinkers and clearest writers in the science of mind today. He has a knack for coming up with genuinely new insights about mental life--ones that you haven't already read about or thought of--and making them seem second nature through vivid examples and lucid explanations."--Steven Pinker, author of "How Pleasure Works has one of the best discussions I've read of why art is pleasurable, why it matters to us, and why it moves us so."--Daniel Levitin, author of "In this eloquent and provocative book, Paul Bloom takes us inside the paradoxes of pleasure, exploring everything from cannibalism to Picasso to IKEA furniture. The quirks of delight, it turns out, are a delightful way to learn about the human mind."--Jonah Lehrer, author of
"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.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
Book News Annotation:
Bloom (psychology, Yale University) explains recent theories on the sensation of pleasure. While to most people it may seem that there is a wide variety of different forms of pleasure, Bloom argues that there is a fundamental similarity among them. Some activities, such as eating and sex, are hardwired in us for survival. However, even those are subject to what he calls "essentialism," the need to experience something in its essence. This is both biological and cultural so that for instance, bottled water seems to taste better than tap to some, even if they are from the same source. Many of the examples presented here begin with how children perceive the world in order to demonstrate this nature/nurture paradox. This book is intended for general readers and is entertainingly written. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Yale psychologist Paul Bloom presents a striking new vision of the pleasures of everyday life.
Yale psychologist Paul Bloom presents a striking and thought-provoking new understanding of pleasure, desire, and value.
Some teenage girls enjoy cutting themselves with razors. The average American spends more than four hours a day watching television. The thought of sex with a virgin is intensely arousing to many men. Abstract art can sell for millions of dollars. Young children enjoy playing with imaginary friends and can be comforted by security blankets. People slow their cars to look at gory accidents, and go to movies that make them cry.
In this fascinating and witty account, Paul Bloom examines the science behind these curious desires, attractions, and tastes, covering everything from the animal instincts of sex and food to the uniquely human taste for art, music, and stories. Drawing on insights from child development, philosophy, neuroscience, and behavioral economics, How Pleasure Worksshows how certain universal habits of the human mind explain what we like and why we like it.
The thought of sex with a virgin is intensely arousing for many men. The average American spends more than four hours a day watching television. Abstract art can sell for millions of dollars. People slow their cars to look at gory accidents, and go to movies that make them cry. Pleasure is anything but straightforward. Our desires, attractions, and tastes take us beyond the symmetry of a beautiful face, the sugar and fat in food, or the prettiness of a painting. In , Yale University psychologist Paul Bloom draws on groundbreaking research to unveil the deeper workings of why we desire what we desire. Refuting the longstanding explanation of pleasure as a simple sensory response, Bloom shows us that pleasure is grounded in our beliefs about the deeper nature or essence of a given thing. This is why we want the real Rolex and not the knockoff, the real Picasso and not the fake, the twin we have fallen in love with and not her identical sister. In this fascinating and witty account, Bloom draws on child development, philosophy, neuroscience, and behavioral economics in order to address pleasures noble and seamy, highbrow and lowbrow. Along the way, he gives us unprecedented insights into a realm of human psychology that until now has only been partially understood.
About the Author
Paul Bloom is a professor of psychology at Yale University. He is the author of Descartes' Baby and How Pleasure Works. He has contributed to The Atlantic, the New York Times, Science, and Nature. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.
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Health and Self-Help » Psychology » Cognitive Science