Pain and pleasure  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Some philosophers, such as Jeremy Bentham, Baruch Spinoza, and Descartes, have hypothesized that the sensations of pain and pleasure are part of a continuum.

There is strong evidence for biological connections between the neurochemical pathways used for the perception of pain and those involved in the perception of pleasure and other psychological rewards.

These probably involve dopamine and endorphin pathways.


Pain and pleasure on a continuum

Arguments for pain and pleasure on a continuum

It has been suggested as early as 4th century BC that pain and pleasure occurs on a continuum. Aristotle claims this antagonistic relationship in his Rhetoric:

“We may lay it down that Pleasure is a movement, a movement by which the soul as a whole is consciously brought into its normal state of being; and that Pain is the opposite.”[1]

He describes pain and pleasure very much like a push-pull concept; human beings will move towards something that causes pleasure and will move away from something that causes pain.

Common neuroanatomy

On an anatomical level, it can be shown the source for the modulation of both pain and pleasure originates from neurons in the same locations, including the amygdala, the pallidum, and the nucleus accumbens. Not only have Leknes and Tracey, two leading neuroscientists in the study of pain and pleasure, concluded that pain and reward processing involve many of the same regions of the brain, but also that the functional relationship lies in that pain decreases pleasure and rewards increase analgesia, which is the relief from pain.

Arguments against pain and pleasure on a continuum

Asymmetry between pain and pleasure

There is asymmetry in the motivating forces, because it is so much more important to stay away from harmful environmental factors than to work towards a pleasure causing factor.

See also



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Pain and pleasure" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools