The Economy Of Pain -- By: Henry Hayman

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 045:177 (Jan 1888)
Article: The Economy Of Pain
Author: Henry Hayman

The Economy Of Pain

Rev. Henry Hayman

A Glance At Pleasure And Pain In General

Pleasure and Pain have, since the dawn of ethical inquiry, had a twin place in every moral system. Some have regarded them as opposite extremes, and both as, therefore, evils alike. Some have regarded them as stimulants from opposite sides to the practical principle, and therefore as both necessary alike. Others have regarded them as the one congenial, the other contrary to nature, and have therefore bidden man devote his energies to maximizing the one and minimizing the other. Aristotle, who investigates a definition of pleasure, omits giving any of pain, and apparently devotes an over-large sphere of influence to the former, regarding the latter in his tenth book, which is the seat of the question, only in a fashion supplementary to that former. As regards definition I shall follow his example, and suppose pain with its physical and moral extensions, such as helplessness, prostrate debility, wearying exhaustion, depression of spirits, agonizing anticipation, and the like, sufficiently familiar to

require for my present purpose no definition.1 If I say, Pain is nature’s signal of distress, the figure of speech used prevents this from being a definition; but it may help my argument so to illustrate it. Let us take it as primarily so. My standpoint being pain, and for simplicity’s sake, in the first instance, physical pain of the sensitive nerve, I shall refer to pleasure for only illustrative purposes; and, firstly, in a discussion dealing only with the broader aspects of human nature, I may dismiss intellectual pleasure as that of which comparatively few are capable. The capacity for it which education confers, so far as it does confer it, is on that very account a late development, slowly matured. And not only so but, because there being no such thing as intellectual pain, it would have no direct bearing on my subject. Moral pleasures are not usually designated as such. Not that the gratifications which follow particular moral temperaments are less real than those of intellect or of sense, but in any complete scheme of pleasure they must have their place. Thus the good-natured and the malignant or cynical character have each their pleasures which follow their energies. But no such scheme of pleasure is to my present purpose, and, if it were, I should probably only confuse established nomenclature, if I assigned them their due. And now one must, for illustration and contrast, mix the subjects of the pleasure and pain of sense, and present them in juxtaposition.

Capacity For Pain Is Distinct From Actual Pain, Which Has, ...
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