Volume 45, 2018
Philosophy of Cognitive Sciences
Abraham Sapien Cordoba
Valuable Pain: Masochism and Rituals
Recent research has focused on the affective dimension of pain and has tried to explain situations that, at first glance, appear counterintuitive: sometimes people search for pain. Although pain is usually considered as something unpleasant and, therefore, undesirable, there are situations that bring this idea into question such as masochism and ritual pain. In this essay I will discuss and make sense of these two cases. For this, I will proceed in three parts. Firstly, I will expose the contradiction between pain and masochism and I will offer three possible solutions to it. Secondly, based on anthropological research, I will describe situations where pain can be valued in ritual initiations. Finally, based on the former theoretical clarifications, I will propose a suitable way to interpret such rituals.