Paul Bloom disproves the idea that sexual pleasure se logra by merely the proper stimulation of various genitalia with the following Gedankenexperiment:
- Imagine you find out that the person you had sex with last night is not who you thought they were.
Maybe you learn that the charming gentleman is the author of white-supremacist hate literature.
Maybe you find out that the beautiful woman was your long-lost sister. The feeling of wanting to crawl out of your own skin and leave the ugly husk of your body behind wouldn’t be out of place.
That such tropes appear in literature we’ve found from millennia ago suggests people have long felt this way: sexual pleasure must be tied in with not only the body of your partner, but with their spirit and inherent nature as well.
Pleasure is complicated. Economists know this but usually choose to forget the fact. The study of where individual demand curves come from would be a new discipline, although ink has been spilled on the topic.
However, the questions of pleasure and satisfaction are relevant to the engineering of society. If the objective function is set to:
maximise output, but people derive pleasure from achieving increasingly difficult goals and receiving even artificial rewards, then the world of work is not optimised for happiness but the world of school is.
Getting more practical than grand critiques of “society”, anyone who manages more employees than herself would benefit from knowing which free-or-cheap buttons she can push to motivate and reward the people “under” her. Even more pedestrian: I know that sitting down feels better after a physical labour or constitutional, but I haven’t a quantitative knowledge of how to engineer my habits and routines to take fullest advantage of that fact.
Sound the trumpet again for a department of happiness studies.