Undesirable, negative feeling or feelings, related to various kinds of
experiences and states of the body or the
pleasure, is hard to define adequately, and a
fundamental quality of human experience.
Much of what could be said about pains - such as that they come in
different kinds - is quite similar to what can
be said about pleasure, to which I refer the
reader, except of course that pains normally are judged negatively and
avoided, usually, if they are not part of a condition to achieve
But this is not true of all kinds of pain, since it seems some find a
sort of pleasure in exhausting, difficult or dangerous sports (running
the marathon, climbing mountains, bungy-jumping), whereas some mild
pains, like those involved in teasing or tickling, may be found
pleasurable or may be found to cause pleasure.
Then there is also a rather paradoxical quality to pain, especially
strong and excruciating pain. Namely: While it makes sense to assume
that - at least some physical - pain exists to warn the body about what
might damage it if it continues some activity, it seems a rather
serious faulty 'design' that many pains can be extra-ordinarily severe,
while they may relate to little real damage (tooth-ache; pulling out a
nail). Life certainly would be less unpleasant if instead of pain one
would have a mental warning system that just warned, instead of also
hurting. (Or, as probably many men and women have concluded through the
centuries: I could have given the dear Lord - or our divinities - some
rather useful advice concerning the design of the world and of human
beings, simply based on the experience of what it feels like to be
And related to this point there is the fact that whereas one may
doubt many things, including one's own existence ('am I not a brain in a
vat?'), it seems very difficult or impossible to
doubt that one is in
pain, if one is.
Furthermore, it would seem - though I do not know whether this has
ever been seriously investigated, nor do I know how one could do this -
as if painful emotions (fear, threats, physical pain) are stronger
motivators than pleasurable emotions, possibly because the former help
one to keep alive, while the latter merely make the life one leads more
pleasant. Indeed, it would seem as if people do more
to decrease pain than to increase pleasure: Pain is always
bad and to be
avoided, but pleasure is satisfactory also in small amounts.
For more, see pleasure.