non-adaptation in the given organism to the various stimuli which irritate it. The reconstruction which follows this conflict, when it indeed follows, is of course a new and better adaptation; so that what involves the pain may often be a process of training which directs reaction into new and smoother channels. But the pain is present whether a permanent adaptation is being attained or not. It is present in progressive dissolution and in hopeless and exhausting struggles far more than in education or in profitable correction. Toothache and sea-sickness, birth-pangs and melancholia are not useful ills. The intenser the pain the more probable its uselessness. Only in vanishing is it a sign of progress; in occurring it is an omen of defeat, just as disease is an omen of death, although, for those diseased already, medicine and convalescence may be approaches to health again. Where a man’s nature is out of gear and his instincts are inordinate, suffering may be a sign that a dangerous peace, in which impulse was carrying him ignorantly into paths without issue, is giving place to a peace with security in which his reconstructed character may respond without friction to the world, and enable him to gather a clearer experience and enjoy a purer vitality. The utility of pain is thus apparent only, and due to empirical haste in collating events that have no regular nor inward relation; and even this imputed utility pain has only in proportion to the worthlessness of those who need it.
Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/236
Jump to navigation Jump to search