drugs &/as culture

| April 8, 2012

Evolutionary and cognitive scientists are currently working to identify the brain areas engaged in the activities of assessing value, judging equivalence, and detecting cheaters, which are involved in any relation of social exchange.[39] It would thus appear that we’re hard-wired for trade―whose adaptive value is unquestionable e.g. procuring by barter the food that will balance our diets. And this fact allows the psychologists to regard money as a drug, in just the sense that I have applied to ‘transcendence’ as human culture generally: ‘a stimulus,’ they write, ‘that is of no biological significance in itself, but has motivational properties because it produces the same neural, behavioral or psychological effect as some other stimulus that is biologically significant. A drug in this extended sense is any functionless motivator, obtaining its motivational effect by a parasitic action on a functional, evolutionarily adaptive system.’ In other words: money plugs in to our desire to expand and alter our material possibilities by trading, just as education plugs in to our desire to expand and alter our mental possibilities by learning. And both constitute pleasure.

via A Theory of Almost Everything – Critical Inquiry.