04 October 2018

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Is pain stronger than happiness?

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Is pain stronger than happiness?

Is pain stronger than happiness?

How should we interpret this question? No doubt, what we mean here is
that pain creates in us a sense of urgency and panic which happiness
does not bring in us. We are in no hurry to cut short our periods of
happiness. And we can assume that a normal person would not panic if
they happen to be in a state of happiness. If they did, they would not
be normal.

We are familiar with the arguments that we strive to minimise our pain
experiences and maximise our pleasure experience, which we would qualify
as happy experiences. Unfortunately, today we know better that the
absence of pain is not necessarily a cause of pleasure and vice versa.
It seems that there is no causal link between pain and pleasure and even
less happiness.

So as a motivator of action, pain is indeed a stronger force for action.
But that's the nature of pain, we want the pain to stop immediately.
Pain is there to alert us that something is wrong with our body: it is
an alarm to battle stations. As far as I know there is no such desperate
rush to be happy even though Saturday nights can be quite hectic before
we leave home for our night out. We don't have a call to battle stations
for happiness.

We might be tempted to think that because pain is an alarm to action it
is, somehow, something for our good. The problem is that it is not clear
how good pain is as an alarm. One of the major problems with pain is
that we feel it when the damage has been done, sometimes to an extent
that this damage is beyond repair. We start feeling the pain of a simple
toothache long after the damage has been done to our nerve or gums.
Sometimes cancers and other diseases present pain at an advanced stage,
other killer diseases such as diabetes just don't activate pain until it
is too late. In effect pain as an alarm is as useful as a fire alarm
that goes off after a house has practically burnt down.

Indeed, we are lucky that we live in an age when (some) tests can detect
diseases or problems that are at an early stage and can be cured or
managed. In effect medical science has advanced enough not only to cure
some serious diseases but indeed to pre-emptively strike against the
manifestation of pain associated with these diseases. If we can detect
tooth decay and fix it before serious damage is done we prevent episodes
of toothaches.

I am inclined to argue that although pain is stronger than happiness it
is not necessarily a good friend of ours. But is pain bad evolution?

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
MeetUp https://www.meetup.com/PhiloMadrid-philosophy-group/
Gran Clavel (Café-Bar): Gran vía 11, esquina C/ Clavel, 28013—Madrid

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Is pain stronger
than happiness?

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