Why is life worth living? For most of us, the answer boils down to one happy little word: pleasure.
Some of its many forms, like lust and a love of fine food, are obvious evolutionary throwbacks – tricks that speed our genes to the next generation.
But what was the first purpose of art, music, play, or laughter?
And, even if such things have long-lost "Darwinian" origins, isn’t that merely the beginning of an explanation of why we still value these things today? Exactly how do they translate, deep in our brains, into thoughts and feelings we feel compelled to repeat over and over again?
Just what makes pleasure a pleasure? And why are so many pleasures so puzzling? Why do we enjoy scaring ourselves to death rattling round on rollercoasters? Why do we pig out on cream cake instead of healthy options like spinach and kale? And why is so much of pleasure in the anticipation rather than the reward? Can the many puzzles of pleasure offer insights into how it works and why it exists in the first place?
From sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll to dance, play, and comedy, Enjoy? lifts the lid on our minds to explore 10 forms of modern pleasure and the fascinating science behind them. Each chapter opens with a short journalistic “adventure” (a first-hand encounter with the topic), which gradually unfolds into a fascinating, satisfying explanation based on cutting-edge neuroscience and the latest psychological research.
Though many of us treat pleasure as an easy escape from taxing or humdrum lives, what we learn from this book is that it's precisely the opposite. Far from mindless hedonism, it evolved to fire our curiosity and power the survival of our species, and, in so doing, it gives us an ever-richer, ever-new experience of the world.
Chris Woodford had his first national magazine article published at the age of 13 and has been writing about science and technology ever since. After graduating from Cambridge University with a degree in Natural Sciences, he started his career in IBM's publishing division, then trained as an advertising copywriter in London with legendary maverick John Gillard. Quickly concluding that crisp packets and junk mail could never do justice to his literary ambitions, he moved into educational publishing as an editor at Dorling Kindersley (DK) just as it was pioneering electronic books in the mid-...
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