This is no documentary about Nazis or Hitler’s 2nd in command Hermann Goering in particular, but it’s a story about the origins of pleasure and how we experience it differently.

The day Hermann Goering discovered evil through a painting

Paul Bloom gives in this TED talk the example of a famous painting by the Dutch artis Vermeer which Goering buys for what would now be around 10 Million Dollars and becomes his favorite painting. After WW2 when he sits in Jail he discovered, that his Vermeer was nothing but a forgery. According to his biographer

he looked as if for the first time he had discovered there was evil in the world

So the history or story behind an object is a major part of what gives us pleasure or makes something “valuable” for us. This is the same for expensive wine, music by a popular musician or a shoe that has once been thrown at G. W. Bush at a press conference.

The origins of pleasure

Paul Bloom at TED Talks


  1. What a boring and unimaginative talk that basically recycles commonplace theory. How obvious is it in a practical sense that people will invest more in original art works than forgeries. Original paintings especially have intricacies that will differ from attempts at forgery and clearly someone would prefer to know that the specific work is that of the particular artist. When looking at the work you can envisage the encounter that the artist had – the creative event, which various philosophers, such as Gilles Deleuze have discussed. Perception is perceiver determined so everything that we sense is mediated by our own faculties and dispositions. There’s room for collectivity here but still a uniqueness to the individual. This guy’s basically espousing 101 cognitive theory that’s been around for decades if not longer. If anyone’s interested in reading real and “authentic” scholars then check out Walter Benjamin’s Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Imanuel Kant’s critiques or any perceiver determined communication theory. This guy should be teaching at middle school.

  2. Given the limited time Paul had to cover such a vast and complex idea I feel this was very interesting, to the point and extremely well presented talk. Thanks Paul.

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