Origins of Art: A Psychological & Sociological Inquiry

By Yrjö J. Hirn | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER V
THE ENJOYMENT OF PAIN

WE have pointed out that enjoyment can be derived by sentimental reflection on moods of sadness. Such refined forms of the "luxury of grief" presuppose a certain intellectual development and a tendency to introspection, which cannot possibly be assumed in primitive man. But as the active forms of the socalled pain-emotions are highly appreciated--we may even say indulged in as enjoyments--by the lower tribes of man, there must evidently be some more immediate cause of this delight. And we are the more tempted to look for this cause in the emotional process itself, by the fact that even bodily pains, which do not admit of any sentimental interpretation, may be deliberately excited.

We remarked in our treatment of the simple emotional elements, that pleasure and pain can in no case be estimated by any absolute measure. Now that we have to find some explanation of the delight in pain, which applies to purely physical as well as to mental pain, we begin by admitting that the relative character of feeling probably accounts for many instances in which the pain is merely apparent. The same external stimulus which acts on one individual with hypernormal strength, and therefore evokes pain, may in the case of another

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