The Economy Of Pain -- By: Henry Hayman
BSac 45:180 (Oct 1888) p. 585
The Economy Of Pain
For Human Infliction Of Pain, The Only Curative Treatment Is Moral
Although the cases in which we can directly trace individual pain to personal misconduct may be only the minority, yet it appears from the foregoing remarks that there may be an indefinitely large class of sufferings which have their antecedents in the ever-accumulating total of human misconduct at large. And here should be specially noticed the vast amount of gratuitous suffering caused to men by men, with a more or less clear foresight of the consequences. Of wide-spread sufferings caused by purely human agency, destructive wars may be taken as the standing type, although slave-hunting and all the desolating tyrannies of savagery should also be noted. These, again, often concur with natural agencies of destruction, as seen in the famines and pestilences often arising from war. Now of this gratuitous infliction by man on man, the known remedial agencies are exclusively moral. Such are the purifying of the passions, the setting before men worthier or less immoral objects, the development of the affections, the growth of the moral sense, and the stimulus given to some of these by various religions, but to all these means by Christianity above all religions. Now the fact that for so large a class of sufferings only moral remedies are possible, is a further strong confirmation of the moral aspect and disciplinal uses which we have ascribed to pain. Nay more, the fact that even wars have often concentrated and called out the higher energies of a nation or
BSac 45:180 (Oct 1888) p. 586
race, and thus given them a moral elevation which they had not before, is a testimony to the same thing.
Exceptional Character Of Sufferers Whose Pain Is Intense
And we may now turn to consider, by way of contrast to some foregoing strictures on supposed emendations of the moral scheme, the results of the distribution of pain, unequal and not calculable beforehand, nor individually to be accounted for afterwards—in short, promiscuous, as regards antecedents and especially moral deserts, as we in fact find it to be. Just as the results of an equal pain-tax all round, whether light or heavy, were found to be either absurd to the verge of the ludicrous, or else a serious propaganda of selfishness and isolation; so, on the other hand, the concentration of pain in comparatively rare cases, but with massive proportions and impressive tenacity, enforces attention to the derangement, whether physical or moral, of which it forms a permanent evidence. And further, the absence of any obvious reason in many cases why the individual afflicted should be thus selected to suffer, stamps such cases with a mystery which makes them ineffably impre...
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