Enjoying an academic discourse - with pleasure

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 January, 2005, 12:00am

'The Case for Pleasure' - who would expect a talk like that at an academic conference? We had no high expectation when Polytechnic University sent us its press release for a symposium on 'Functional Foods and the Future of Asian Health' to be held next week, until we read the abstract from Georges Halpern (pictured), the university's professor of pharmaceutical sciences.

'While stress may make you sick and belief could make you well, there's more than self-help guides to consult - and trust,' the professor writes.

'We only eat what we like, and the healthiest concoction will take a shortcut to the garbage bin if it does not titillate our senses. Sweetness induces analgesia at all ages. Chocolate beats Prozac and wine beats Valium - because we enjoy them!'

LoDown takes exception to that last statement - a good many people I am acquainted with actually prefer otherwise, but I digress.

'Pleasure is a fundamental part of our animal life. It is just as difficult to define as spirit, but nonetheless humans are very conscious of it. Pleasure is a potent drive, inducing forms of behaviour adapted to physiological needs, for example, sensory pleasure is an incentive to useful behaviour, and maximisation of pleasure the answer to physiological conflicts.'

They teach you that in pharmacy classes nowadays?