pain n 1 the sensation of acute physical hurt or discomfort caused by injury, illness, etc 2 emotional suffering of mental distress 3 on pain of: subject to the penalty of 4 pain in the neck, or (taboo) pain in the arse (informal) a person or thing that is a nuisance
v (transitive) 5 to cause (a person) distress, hurt, grief, anxiety, etc 6 (informal) to annoy; irritate
Etymology: C13: from Old French peine, from Latin poena punishment, grief, from Greek poinē penalty
When the notion of pain comes to my mind and I seriously think about it, I cannot help to wonder if the source of our humanity does not always link back to what aches us; further, pain is perhaps the most direct way to express what is it to being human. Under this interpretation, I propose a new definition of the sensation – the feeling, the expectation, the exaltation perhaps – of pain; reaching further than the Collins’ definition transcribed above.
Since mankind has taught itself the art of drawing and writing, we have hints and indications that pain was already a central issue for our ancestors – and I argue it continues up to modern days. Ancient Greeks created tragedies to record and replay painful moments. They also pioneered the emergence of great thinkers, who quickly moved away from questions of cosmogony (how the world as we know it was created) to asking this question about our humanity: what makes us different from the animal world? Although sentience and intelligence are what physiologically place humans on top of the food chain, these attributes must be used, else we would be intelligent primates and probably be living up on trees.
I mentioned the Ancient Greeks and their theatrical tragedies, a way of introducing the idea that the arts originate in the notion of pain, of its interpretations by audiences or its impacts on people’s (character’s) lives. But isn’t this equally true of religions? From the ‘old’ religions (in Ancient Egypt, the pre-Christian Roman Empire, paganism, etc.) to the religions of the holy ‘books’, the concept of salvation and of a godly judgement directly emerge from the idea of dealing with the pain encountered during our earthly existences. And what to say of Buddhism, which founding teachings revolve almost entirely on the notions of pain and suffering, and how to deal with these?
Therefore I wonder, is life is a miracle (in the pragmatic sense) as we intelligently walk the Earth, or is life such that elevating (exalting) ourselves above any pain the only true miracle?