The Purpose of Pain

Dr. Moreau argues that pain is needless for humans. He says plants and lower animals do not feel pain. Men feel pain but do not need to. We are more intelligent than simple-minded beasts and do not need pain to keep us out of harmful situations. Evolution will eventually phase out pain because it is unneeded.

 I believe pain has a number of important uses. If we couldn’t feel pain we wouldn’t know a sprained ankle had been sprained. We would continue to walk on it and worsen the injury. We also may put our hand on a hot stove and seriously burn ourselves because we couldn’t feel the throbbing caused by the heat. It seems without pain, there would be many more serious injuries.

 Additionally I do not think man, especially a child, will reach a point where he is intelligent enough to know what a painful situation may be and avoid it. I know when some situations may be harmful but that is because I learn what is harmful. Beside human dispositions like fear of snakes and heights, we are not born with the knowledge that fire is harmful. One thought may be that we develop fear dispositions to everything that is potentially harmful. But realistically that will never happen. A four year-old only knows through experience what is painful. He usually first burns his hand and learns to associate hot stove with pain. Most learning when you are a child is through trial and error or being told by an adult what is right and wrong.

 I do wonder why lower animals and plants do not feel pain the same way we do. It may be because even if they did they couldn’t do much to prevent the pain. They may be lucky they don’t suffer through pain or it is a disadvantage because they are unable to learn what is harmful to them.

– Rufio

~ by jamespvcross on January 19, 2014.

One Response to “The Purpose of Pain”

  1. Like you said, the sense of pain evolved, and it was preserved by evolution because it was advantageous to know when something was wrong. There are diseases that cause total insensitivity to pain, but most people suffering with this do not live on into adulthood because of life threatening injuries that go unnoticed (no pain from bruising, internal bleeding, infection, etc.)

    But consider the idea of pain: Pain only exists in the brain. It’s a mental state, but it also correlates with more than just the physical, as it has become incorporated into the collective human experience. To feel pain is equated with humanity, and a lack thereof is sociopathic. I agree, and think Moreau is wrong – pain is necessary and quintessentially human. In a world with different cultures, beliefs, practices, pain can unite.

    Also, without pain, what is pleasure. I don’t mean only biologically – you don’t need to taste dirt to know that chocolate is delicious – but to what extent is our perception of love colored and formed by our perception of pain. In the human experience, as a product of consciousness, pain has evolved from a mere biological alarm to a larger entity. Not only with evolution not rid our species of pain (because humans that don’t feel pain as I mentioned before would be selected for and thus thrive, which is not the case) I think that overtime, human mating selection (a modern vehicle for selection) will favor pain.


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