The Compass of Pleasure

July 13th, 2011

If it’s true, as Di Vinci said, that "the noblest pleasure is in understanding," then perhaps we get double the pleasure from understanding pleasure itself. How is it that the things that bring us pleasure are so powerful, yet often so transitory? How is it we value reason and common sense above all else, yet often succumb to pleasures that we know are not good us? What are the material ways in which our brain, our biochemical system and our culture works to shape the way we experience pleasure?

David J. Linden, in his new book The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good, explains why we feel the way we do. My conversation with David Linden: