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March 9, 2020
6275 Bunche Hall

Otniel Dror, Hebrew University and UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics

“Supra-Maximal Super-Pleasure”

This talk presents the discovery of a new post-World War II “supramaximal” “super-pleasure” region in the brain (of laboratory rats). This discovery of an instantaneously-produced insatiable self-perpetuating super-pleasure captured the imagination of contemporaries and of generations to come. It inaugurated a major transformation whose repercussions and off-shoots are very much still with us today, including the development of a neurophysiology of decision making, risk taking, addiction, affective neuroscience, and more. I argue that the excessiveness of the newly-discovered supramaximal super-pleasure challenged existing models of organisms, of the self, and of nature and society. It challenged basic conceptions of the self and of organisms by presenting a pleasure that disrupted the fundamental and necessary balance between pleasure and pain. I reconstruct the laboratory enactments and models that constituted this new pleasure as “supramaximal,” instant, and insatiable, suggest several postwar contexts that situate the new pleasure, and examine expert and vernacular reactions to the new super-pleasure.

March 9, 2020, 4:00PM | Bunche 6275