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Why Humans Collect Things? - Robert Proctor & Lex Fridman

Video from Lex Clips

"GUEST BIO: Robert Proctor is a historian of science at Stanford University.

Lex Fridman Podcast full episode:" from video introduction.

"My current work centers around the history of scientific controversy, especially in 20th and 21st century science, technology, and medicine. I also work on the history of scientific rhetoric, tobacco and body history, Nazi science, expert witnessing, evolution and human origins, geology and gemstone aesthetics, and the cultural production of ignorance (agnotology). I am presently working on a book ("Darwin in the History of Life") arguing that the 19th century evolution revolution can be seen as an effort to historicize life. I am also finishing a book on the history of the lapidary art ("Agates Eyes") and a book on changing interpretations of the oldest tools ("The Acheulean Enigma")." from Stanford Dept. of History

hobby (n.)

c. 1400, hobi, "small, active horse," short for hobyn (mid-14c.; late 13c. in Anglo-Latin), probably originally a proper name for a horse (compare dobbin), a diminutive of Robert or Robin. Old French hobi, hobin, once considered possible sources, now are held to be borrowings from English.

The modern sense of "a favorite pursuit, object, or topic" is from 1816, a shortening of hobbyhorse (q.v.) in this sense, which is attested from 1670s. Earlier it meant "a wooden or wickerwork figure of a horse," as a child's toy or a costume in the morris-dance, the connecting notion being "activity that doesn't go anywhere." Hobby as a shortening of hobbyhorse also was used in the "morris horse" sense (1760) and the "child's toy horse" sense (1680s). from the article: Hobby

"Why do we collect things? Love, anxiety or desire

The many and varied psychological motivations for collecting are uniquely human

About a third of people in the UK collect something. Their reasons and manner vary hugely. For some, like the football fan who collects club memorabilia, it is a way to express loyalty; for others, like the stamp collector proud of rare finds, there can be an obsessive streak.

One psychoanalytical explanation for collecting is that unloved children learn to seek comfort in accumulating belongings; another is that collecting is motivated by existential anxieties – the collection, an extension of our identity, lives on, even though we do not. More recently, evolutionary theorists suggested that a collection was a way for a man to attract potential mates by signalling his ability to accumulate resources.

There is also a phenomenon known as the endowment effect, which describes our tendency to value things more once we own them. Another is the concept of contagion – some collectors are attracted to celebrity belongings because these objects are seen as being infused with the essence of the person who owned them..." from the article: Why do we collect things? Love, anxiety or desire | Life and style | The Guardian


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