Artificial Paradise Revisited
Reading Gary S. Becker with the help of Charles Baudelaire and getting some knowledge of gambling: Following the economic theory of addiction the paper takes addiction not to be the exception to the rule but rather the paradigm of life. Unsteady equilibrium, adjacent complementarity, and hyperbolic discounting identified by economic theory as the conditions for addiction to develop are at the same time tantamount to a preference for the present as the future becomes more and more uncertain. The paper starts from Charles Baudelaire’s observations on artificial paradises produced by the intake of opium and hashish and looks at what reasons Baudelaire lists to both be acquainted with drugs and to refrain from them. A culture of gambling is described as a way to keep in touch with the fascination for addiction without actually falling for it. Modern culture is seen to be a culture of artifice, which for any of us is difficult to tell apart from a culture addicted to itself: pdf.