Full text: Ownership as interpersonal dominance

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because it contains objects and beings appropriate for the facilitation of gratification. This 
nervous system is capable of preserving memory traces of whether or not gratification 
followed certain actions. This preservation, a learning process, is for the most part 
socio-culturally conditioned. (Laborit, 1978, p.738) 
Cognitive processes lead not only to protective possession and the avoidance of novelty, 
but also to acquisition and the search for novelty. The desire for knowledge can be a basis for 
acquisitiveness. In the first textbook on experimental social psychology, Murphy, Murphy & 
Newcomb (1937) argued that acquisitive behaviors are caused by adience (the drive to move 
towards a stimulus) and are determined by cognitive associationistic processes. Here 
Descarte’s ‘passion’ to acquire and Hume's ‘association of ideas’ are expressed in the 
vocabulary of behaviorism: 
Activity once aroused tends to perpetuate itself....If an object arouses our response and if 
the response Is blocked, yet to some degree still active, we have the germs of curiosity. If, 
indeed, some reminder of the object which has disappeared is still present, e.g., to the cal 
the scent of the mouse which has slipped through the hole in the floor, or to the man the 
memory image of his lost fortunes, one may continue to seek the object. If the objects 
which one has acquired and brought within his control give rise to images or other symbols 
portraying more of the own kind, we have acquisitiveness. If all these principles operate at 
the same time, the animal, the chiid or the man may be curious to discover more about the 
object which stimulates him, may go closer and inquire, may be sensitive to cues which 
symbolize more objects of the same character, may thus develop an insatiable demand for 
acorns, stamps, or dollars. This interpretation would, in fact, explain why the “collecting 
instinct” is so specific. (Murphy, Murphy & Newcomb, 1937, pp. 103-104) 
Thus, the desire to know can lead to acquisitiveness. This is also the case in Eigen’s (1973) 
discussion of “The Recoil on Having Another Person”: 
In both clinical practice and everyday life one frequently encounters persons who quickly 
lose interest in others once the other is known, “solved” or “had”. Itis as though the other 
is interesting as long as he is far, little known, or perceived as unattainable. Once he is 
near, known, and in Some sense mastered ...he tends to become a dead spot in one’s 
interest and passed by as no longer live currency. (Eigen, 1973, p. 52) 
Sartre (1943/1956) also described curiosity as motivated by a desire to master, conquer and 
consume. Another cognitive motivation for acquisition is the cognitive aesthetic of completion. 
James (1890) mentioned that hoarders choose items to complete a collection. Walls, Moxley 
and Gulkus (1975) studied school children’s collection preferences and found a very strong 
motivation to acquire objects that finish a set. 
Finally, knowing is clearly related to owning when it comes to the possession of cognitive 
objects, such as thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. Spencer (1875; 1897/1978) made the Lockean 
argument that incorporeal property rightfully belongs to the person who did the mental labour 
to create it. His purpose was to defend patent and copyright. Lowie (1928) and Thorndike (1940) 
have illustrated the ownership of incorporeal property with examples from ethnographic

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