How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like Hardcover – 24 Jun 2010
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"Reading his book is like stargazing with your favorite cool professor while high"-- Newsweek
The internationally acclaimed psychologist Paul Bloom explores one of the most fascinating and fundamental engines of human behaviour - the new science of why we like what we likeSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
It is not, really, what I was looking for. I was looking for the factors that make us experience pleasure, both biochemical as well as psychological.
It is true that our value systems impact on our experience of pleasure. He rightly points out that our experience of a fine wine, for example, is in good part a consequence of our expectations, in turn a result of our value systems - it was an expensive wine so we 'know' it will taste good.
But covering just one aspect of pleasure makes the book too one dimensional for me, with the bulk of many chapters used to build long arguments to explain a single value system. What about the role of neurotransmitters? What about the pleasures we experience that are at odds to our value systems? What about the relationship between pleasure and happiness?
Maybe my expectations created disappointment. But this book reads far too much like a book on psychology with too weak a link to pleasure.
There are some interesting thought experiments (along the lines of why is a mass-produced object which once belonged to someone famous more valuable than an identical object which didn't)
The author does tend to reel off lists of research which has supported this-or-that hypothesis but without much background detail, so you're kind of taking it all on trust. I don't disagree with his conclusions, but wonder whether they couldn't have been drawn just as well in an article in New Scientist for example.
What this book in fact is about, is how we allocate "Value" to an item, such as a pen once owned by Albert Einstein, a sweatshirt once owned by a film star, a painting made by a famous artist, or a favourite toy owned by a child as opposed to an identical toy the child is not familiar with. Whilst the authors theory of "essence" is interesting in itself and does have considerable value, the book does not answer the questions that it sets itself, such as why do some people self harm?, why do some individuals become addicts whilst their sibling does not? why would an individual enjoy watching a football match?
This is a set of essays on "Value" as defined by the "Essence" model of the author - interesting, but not as in-depth or informative as it might pretend to be in the introduction or on the cover.
Unless you have definitive and unshakable answers to the above, you should read this book. Twice. Backwards if you need to.
Accessible and brilliant in simplicity, that which is otherwise so elusive to many of us, this book unravels what lies at the source of our pleasures, not always in a flattering way, but more often than not, in a revealing way.
Not too sure who you are and what you are really after? This book will change the nature of the questions you will be asking yourself.
Does this work? On the plus side, we value things that have belonged to other people or are produced by their essence. We may decide in extreme cases to eat other people to acquire their essence. Certainly we'd like to acquire their clothing (and not dry-cleaned first, please!) And children do seem to have this view that eg 'boys are just made of different stuff inside from girls'.
Throughout this book is very learned, and discusses a wide range of theories ('display' theories based on sexual election in the case of art clearly have at least something going for them; and are very persuasive when it comes to the learning of Latin!). That's part of its charm. But to look at just one chapter, on attraction, mating and love.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Simply a great read - entertaining and smart. Just the way to teach us science.Published 12 months ago by Jeppe Sinding Jensen
but maybe i have to re-read it. it didn't answer my question on where pleasure comes from. but again, i may have to read it again.Published on 5 May 2013 by LEO DE CLERCQ
This is the second book by Bloom I have read and in this he continues the application of research into psychological essentialism with wit and aplomb to the varied pleasures... Read morePublished on 7 April 2012 by L. Farrell
Having listened insatiably to Paul Bloom in his captivating Yale course to Introductory Psychology (available free on iTunes and YouTube), when I tracked down his literature on... Read morePublished on 31 Oct. 2010 by Glenn Chapman