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Do we need pain?

  1. Sep 29, 2004 #1

    Is this possible? Is it possible to build a neural architecture based only on seeking certain outcomes (giving pleasure) without trying to avoid certain outcomes (giving pain)? What is the difference between pain and pleasure?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 29, 2004 #2
    Personally, pain is a necessity. But, i think if we didnt know what pleasure was better than, why would it be pleasurable. But also in theory, if the feeling was pleasurable, then it wouldnt matter if we knew pain or not.
  4. Sep 29, 2004 #3
    Of course we need pain. Pain is great.
    Pain is an important part of who you are and how you become. It is the signs that tell us what areas need attention. Both mental and emotional pains are equally important to the pleasures.
  5. Sep 29, 2004 #4
    Pain is the body's way of teaching itself how to protect itself from harmful external phenomena. It relates to the concept of the "soul" also. Human bodies need "souls" inside them that feel the pain and help the body learn. Seen this way, the soul is ironically but a means to the end that is the body.
  6. Sep 29, 2004 #5
    Ancient chinese saying: Running away is also running towards.

    Pain and pleasure are two sides of the same coin, just as up and down describe a single phenomenon we call a dimension. Hence, it is impossible for a neural architecture to express pleasure alone. Certainly their are neural architectures that specialize in pleasure, but these do not exist in a vacuum. If they did, then we would no longer recognize their output as pleasure.

    By definition, pleasure refers to stimulous that encourages certain types of behavior. Hence, the instinct of an ant to tend its young, in and of itself, does not constitute pleasure. Only if the ant is aware of what it is doing, no matter how limited this awareness, can it be said to enjoy the act.

    The purpose of these feelings of pleasure and pain is obvious. We are the belief makers, we give meaning to everything or make everything meaningless. Hence, the awareness required for pleasure and pain is, again, indivisible from these sensations.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2004
  7. Sep 29, 2004 #6
  8. Sep 29, 2004 #7

    you beat me to it.
  9. Sep 29, 2004 #8
    Also don't forget the famous quote by Friederic Neitzche: "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger."
  10. Sep 29, 2004 #9


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    This is an oft quoted statement that doesn't by any means always work. Just ask someone who has been struck by lightning and lived with years of disabling pain. It might be a nice platitude for a warrior, and it might be true some of the time. Maybe say what doesn't kill me makes me bitter. ;)
  11. Sep 29, 2004 #10


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    I'm not sure there is only pleasure or pain, one or the other. Maybe there is a middle state of mild nothingness. Pain is useful in that it keeps us away from body destroying danger. Pleasure is useful because it is like a reward for people who are sad. But mild nothingness can be a state in between, like when one is in deep sleep, where nothing is particulary pleasureable or painful. I dont think one needs pain to feel pleasure maybe, but pain can help one to appreciate pleasure.
  12. Sep 29, 2004 #11
    That could also work.
  13. Sep 29, 2004 #12
    What doesen't kill me costs my insurance company.
  14. Sep 29, 2004 #13
    In my rather fortunate and sheltered youth, I experienced very little emotional and physical pain, and what little I did experience was very short and very mild. Nevertheless, I loved life, cherished all of its pleasures fully, and couldn't wait to experience more of it when I climbed out of bed every morning. Life was wonderful. I did not need the experience of abject pain and suffering to appreciate extreme joy and pleasure. Now that I'm older, and life has dealt and is dealing me a sh1tload of pain and suffering, my perspective on pleasure and joy has not changed one bit, except that my memory of it is becoming hazier.

    So, for me, the idea that you can't have pleasure without pain, is either a masochistic fantasy, or a sort of emotional crutch designed to help people withstand the misery of life. For those of you who disagree with me, here's some advice that I'm sure you'll take: if you feel that your life is pregnant with happiness and joy, go out and experience some real pain and suffering (e.g. spend a few years in jail, contract a painful disease, shun your friends and family and live in complete solitude, go to your nearest invaded country and get tortured, etc etc), otherwise you won't be able to truly appreciate your wonderful life.
  15. Sep 29, 2004 #14
    I hope so because otherwise far too much of my life was wasted... :tongue:

    Depending on where you go the price is roughly equivalent :wink: . I view it something like a taskmaster directing our actions.
  16. Sep 29, 2004 #15


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    Pain is your friend; it is your ally. Pain reminds you to finish the job and get the hell home. Pain tells you when you have been seriously wounded. And, you know what the best thing about pain is? It tells you you're not dead yet!

    ~ Master Chief John Urgayle
  17. Sep 29, 2004 #16
    Pain also tells you what not to do. Like putting your hands in the fire when your cold is a bad idea.
  18. Sep 29, 2004 #17
    Pain is also an indicator of where you're allowed to touch women. :rolleyes: :tongue:
  19. Sep 29, 2004 #18


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    I don't think that pain must necessarily exist in order for there to be pleasure. There is probably a sense in which one's valuations of pleasure are affected by the pain they have experienced, and vice versa, but the experiences themselves appear to be intrinsically pleasing or painful. That is, if a given experience is pleasing, then it is so just in virtue of its immediate phenomenal character and not in virtue of the system of mental relationships it engages in (the relevant relationship here would be with memory).

    Here's a thought experiment. Suppose we have two volunteers, A and B. A has had a light, care-free, painless life. B has had a difficult and painful life. Now inject both of them with heroin. Will there really be a substantial difference between the kinds of pleasure they feel? Contrariwise, take both A and B, and cut their legs off. Will A really feel the pain any more intensely than B?

    On a less abstract note, my experience has been that undergoing pain does enhance pleasure, and vice versa, but only if the experiences are relatively intense, and even then the effect is not long lasting. For instance, after a few days of feeling very sick, when I recover it generally feels fantastic just to be back to 'normal' health. But the effect fades quickly, and once it has vanished, in general I do not seem to appreciate my normal health anymore than I would have had I never fallen ill at all.
  20. Sep 30, 2004 #19
    I have seen lots of people try to gain pleasures by hurting themselves, they may be seen as crazy by some people but for others, they are fine.
    I made an operation quite long ago, I had no pain at all, because I was sleping when they brought me into the room. But when I woke up and suddenly had a sneez, oh jeez, only god knows how hurt that cut was, that was a real physical pain I had ever had. you guys know I thought it was like the cut was reopened.
  21. Sep 30, 2004 #20
    Thats where mental and physical feelings collide. People who hurt themselves have mental reasons to why they do it. To have a sense of control, to see the reactions of others, or a way of self punishment. The reason is out of mental pleasure or pain which exceeds the physical pain of hurting oneself. Sometimes to avoid physical pain which exceeds the physical pain of hurting oneself is the reason also.
    Example: Some needs to remove a leg or hand in order to get out of a wrecked car that has a danger of exploding.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2004
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