Why do people like the things they eat? Why do people like the things that they see? Do they really understand the scientific reasoning behind their own likes and dislikes? When it comes to the things we like, people don’t fully understand why. I chose to read this book because I wanted to find those answers. Pleasure is anything but straightforward. There are obviously many different outlooks and opinions on this topic, but Paul Bloom's idea about pleasure goes against the traditional views. Such as liking a food because of it’s taste, liking music because of its sound and from liking a piece of art or a person because of how it looks. Most people think they like something because it sparks their senses. Which is partially true; Bloom says “Pleasure is affected by deeper factors, including what the person thinks about the true essence of what he or she is getting pleasure from.” (Bloom, 30) When people pay big bucks for a tissue that a famous person used or treasure their kids sloppy artwork, it is because they believe something about that person's “essence” exists inside of the object. This concept is crazy when it comes to famous people, that others would be willing to pay for something just because someone else used/touched it. But once they figure out that the object is a hoax, it no longer has the same meaning to them.
Although not everything people enjoy, is pleasurable right away. “Few people enjoy, at first, coffee, beer, tobacco, or chili pepper.” (Bloom, 89) This is also a weird concept to think of; if at first these things don’t bring pleasure to someone, why do they continue to use these substances? With the idea that they will like these things after continual uses. Or because someone told them it would help with stress. Coffee for example, to help them stay awake in the morning. In How Pleasure Works, Bloom analyzes how our minds have evolved cognitive tricks that help us negotiate through the world - and how those tricks lead us to certain pleasures in unexpected places. Some people don’t even know what their pleasures are. Everyone’s pleasures are different, and it can be hard to know. Which is why college students change their major so many times. People think they know what they are interested in, but they prove themselves wrong. It’s okay to discover what you once found pleasure in, no longer makes you feel the same way. But if people could figure this out sooner and wrap their finger around how pleasure works, it would make life less stressful and a lot easier.
Bloom also brings up the topic of sex. Why individuals are attracted to each other; and it’s not only because of how someone looks - although that is usually the starting point. “Regardless of their sex, good-looking faces light up the brain” (Bloom, 77) Sensory pleasures is only the start of our likes and dislikes according to Bloom. Pleasure is grounded in our beliefs about the deeper, complexed nature on a certain thing.
Bloom's theory that people naturally assume things today have invisible ideas of what makes people who they are. People take things of faith rather than of fact. “We have evolved essentialism to help us make sense of the world, but now that we have it, it pushes our desires in directions that have nothing to do with survival and reproduction.” (Bloom, 102) Before we could reason our way through the world, we had to believe our way through it. God wills it, is the reasoning people used to use. But people still fall for the tricks our minds once played on us long ago, before discovering what we know today.
I think people's pleasures, likes and dislikes would be more clear if everyone today fully understood all of the psychology and science studies that show why we like what we do. As of right now human psychology has only been partially understood by the everyday person. Do you think the happiness of a person would change if they knew how and what makes them happy? Would the world as a whole be a better place if everyone knew how to control not only the happiness of themselves, but of others as well? The real question that needs to be answered is; How does pleasure work?