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Monday, October 25, 2021


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Thank you, Bill, for these posts. The first of which led me to reread Philip Larkins', "Myxomatosis:"

Caught in the center of a soundless field
While hot inexplicable hours go by
What trap is this? Where were its teeth concealed?
You seem to ask.
I make a sharp reply,
Then clean my stick. I'm glad I can't explain
Just in what jaws you were to suppurate:
You may have thought things would come right again
If you could only keep quite still and wait.

It seems to me that pain as an evil can be integrated with Augustine's thesis though. Wouldn't you agree that the pain is supervenient upon an absence? There's no pain felt if I didn't actually have a cavity in my tooth (phantom pain seems reducible to a psychological dysfunction, so I don't think it constitutes a counter example), and the treating of that lack of health makes the pain go away.

Does the problem actually arise if the positive evil is dependent on more fundamental ones which are absences?

I also want to turn the tables here. Suppose your somatic nerves are damaged and you're incapable of pain now. Also suppose we both burn our hand on a hot stove. I might let out a scream, but immediately take my hand away, getting away with minor damages, that are of course unpleasurable, but I prevented further injuries. You however are absentminded, only realizing that your hand is burning to a crisp when you smell burnt meat. The hand can't be rescued. Isn't it here the absence of the pain that is the evil? If so the analysis of pain as positive evil can't be made general. And if not, it seems that the problem can't be that serious if we such a good use for it.

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