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Recently someone asked:

Recently someone asked: I wonder about the notion of a masochist as somebody who enjoys suffering. Is it possible, logically, to enjoy suffering? Doesn't suffering necessarily preclude enjoyment and vice-versa? Would it be more accurate to say that a masochist enjoys something that non-masochists consider suffering? And a philosopher responded: I think that one definition of suffering is 'pain'. And someone could gain pleasure from pain, physical, or indeed psychological. So to say that a masochist enjoys suffering sees fine to me. Well.....I don't see much clarification here. Am I the only one? I think it might be just as hard for the question asker to imagine the relationship between suffering and pleasure and pain and pleasure. Maybe suffering is a larger category than pain that logically precludes pleasure so it's not hard to see a paradox there but with the narrower connotation of pain as a physical kind of suffering you can imagine that their can be an accompanying pleasure somehow. But the...

I think what may be tripping you up here is the vaguess of terms like "pleasure" and "enjoyment," which you seem to treat not only as equivalent, but also as univocal in their reference.

There are lots and lots of different kinds of pleasures: sexual, gustatory, aesthetic, and so on. There are lots and lots of enjoyments: some are pleasures, and others have to do with doing things we like (even when they are not accompanied by pleasant sensation--think of playing tennis when your knee hurts, but you are in a really great game and playing well.

So, one can have one kind of pleasure even when one is undergoing a different kind to pain. One can have one kind of enjoyment even when is undergoing another kind of suffering. A masochist (always measured by someone else's standard of what counts as a "healthy" or "wholesome" kind of enjoyment, mind you!) is thus one who has a certain kind of pleasure or enjoyment that is somehow linked to their also being in a certain (other) kind of pain or suffering. Nothing contradictory here!

I think what may be tripping you up here is the vaguess of terms like "pleasure" and "enjoyment," which you seem to treat not only as equivalent, but also as univocal in their reference. There are lots and lots of different kinds of pleasures: sexual, gustatory, aesthetic, and so on. There are lots and lots of enjoyments: some are pleasures, and others have to do with doing things we like (even when they are not accompanied by pleasant sensation--think of playing tennis when your knee hurts, but you are in a really great game and playing well. So, one can have one kind of pleasure even when one is undergoing a different kind to pain. One can have one kind of enjoyment even when is undergoing another kind of suffering. A masochist (always measured by someone else's standard of what counts as a "healthy" or "wholesome" kind of enjoyment, mind you!) is thus one who has a certain kind of pleasure or enjoyment that is somehow linked to their also being in a certain (other) kind of pain or...

In today's society, there are certain conceptual frameworks which change the way

In today's society, there are certain conceptual frameworks which change the way people perceive others in their everyday life. For example, history, since the times of slavery in America, has dictated that blacks are "irrational", or "incompetent", and that they are subordinate. This is obviously not true, if you perceive people in an intrinsic manner. There are many frameworks for other groups, such as women, homosexuals, etc. My question is, how are we to rid ourselves of this framework? Is there any way to do so, or are they too ingrained into our society?

I don't think it is humanly possible not to have any prejudices at all. So I don't think that ridding ourselves of this "framework" is a realistic goal. What we can and should do is to continue to subject our assumptions to free questioning and challenge. That's one of many good reasons why society needs philosophers!

I don't think it is humanly possible not to have any prejudices at all. So I don't think that ridding ourselves of this "framework" is a realistic goal. What we can and should do is to continue to subject our assumptions to free questioning and challenge. That's one of many good reasons why society needs philosophers!

In what ways do perceptions (what we see) and images (what we imagine) differ?

In what ways do perceptions (what we see) and images (what we imagine) differ? Is a hallucination an image or a perception? How about a dream? Bob

I'm not quite ready to accept your terminology, but will try to respond in spite of that. I think the most obvious difference between ordinary perception and things like hallucinations and dreams is that the former sorts of experiences are reasonably assumed to be verific (that is, to tell us something true about the world), whereas the others are not verific, or at least are only very unreliably so. The fact that I dream that such and such is the case (assuming I have no reason to think that I am some kind of dream clairvoyant) is of course compatible with it really being the case...but gives me no grounds for believing that it really is the case. The fact that I perceive something to be the case does give me grounds for believing that it is the case. I am not claiming, of course, that perception is infallible, for it plainly is not. What I am claiming is that there is evidenciary value in perception that is lacking in hallucination, fantasy, dreaming, and other such experiences.

I'm not quite ready to accept your terminology, but will try to respond in spite of that. I think the most obvious difference between ordinary perception and things like hallucinations and dreams is that the former sorts of experiences are reasonably assumed to be verific (that is, to tell us something true about the world), whereas the others are not verific, or at least are only very unreliably so. The fact that I dream that such and such is the case (assuming I have no reason to think that I am some kind of dream clairvoyant) is of course compatible with it really being the case...but gives me no grounds for believing that it really is the case. The fact that I perceive something to be the case does give me grounds for believing that it is the case. I am not claiming, of course, that perception is infallible, for it plainly is not. What I am claiming is that there is evidenciary value in perception that is lacking in hallucination, fantasy, dreaming, and other such experiences.

Hello, my question is around the nature of reality.

Hello, my question is around the nature of reality. Is it reasonable to say that our only view of reality can be via experience (which I take to mean through the physical senses that I as an individual possess)? If this is true it raises a number of questions: 1. When we have no experience of something should we deny its existence - I have never visited the Taj Mahal so do I as an individual deny its existence? 2. People with more astute senses have a view of reality that is more accurat than someone with less astute senses ? If it is false, then are we saying that reality is formed from our thoughts and ideas BUT could this mean I imagine I have won lottery and behold I have ! Thanks for any insights. David McConville

I certainly do not think that our only view of reality can be via experience by our own physical senses. Human beings are magnificently complicated cognitive beings, capable of using not just our immediate senses, but also memory, interpersonal communication, abstract reasoning, and other processes by which to form beliefs. Of course, some of these are more reliable than others: wishful thinking is highly unreliable; vision is much more reliable. But the use of expert testimony--especially when corroborated by other kinds of evidence (as for example, regarding the Taj Mahal, where you can also find photographs of it, accounts of it in narratives, etc.) can also be highly reliable--otherwise, most of us wouldn't read newspapers, right?

So, I think my answer to your (1) should be clear--I think you can have very reasonable beliefs about the existence of the Taj Mahal even though you have never actually visited it. Indeed, some of those very reasonable beliefs might lead you to decide to visit the place someday. Such a decision could hardly be reasonable, indeed, if not having already been there left you with no good reason to suppose it actually existed!

As for your (2), as my own sight and hearing have started to fade from my younger days...I'm afraid I have to agree that, on some issues and lacking any other evidence, those with sharper senses are going to have more accurate views of reality than I can have. That's one of many reasons why the other sorts of evidence are useful!

As for your final comment, as I said, wishful thinking has proven to be a highly unreliable way to generate true beliefs. On the other hand, if it works for you in the way you suggest, my college always accepts donations!

I certainly do not think that our only view of reality can be via experience by our own physical senses. Human beings are magnificently complicated cognitive beings, capable of using not just our immediate senses, but also memory, interpersonal communication, abstract reasoning, and other processes by which to form beliefs. Of course, some of these are more reliable than others: wishful thinking is highly unreliable; vision is much more reliable. But the use of expert testimony--especially when corroborated by other kinds of evidence (as for example, regarding the Taj Mahal, where you can also find photographs of it, accounts of it in narratives, etc.) can also be highly reliable--otherwise, most of us wouldn't read newspapers, right? So, I think my answer to your (1) should be clear--I think you can have very reasonable beliefs about the existence of the Taj Mahal even though you have never actually visited it. Indeed, some of those very reasonable beliefs might lead you to decide to visit...