Jul 30, 2011

Paul Bloom: The origins of pleasure

Why do we like an original painting better than a forgery? Psychologist Paul Bloom argues that human beings are Essentialists (as in Essentialism) -- that our beliefs about the history of an object profoundly change how we experience it, not simply as an illusion, but as a deep feature of what pleasure (and pain) actually is.

Paul Bloom is a Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale University. His research explores how children and adults understand the physical and social world, with special focus on language, morality, religion, fiction, and art. Paul Bloom's latest book is called How Pleasure Works - which is indicative of the kinds of questions he looks at, the big basic ones:  Why do we like some things and not others? How do we decide what's fair and unfair? How much of our moral development, what we think of as our mature reasoning process, is actually hard-wired and present in us from birth? 

I strongly recommend Paul Blooms' introductory course on Psychology (Psych 110 - delivered at Yale) available as a serial webcast on youtube. I've done it and its awesome!!

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