human suffering

GC: n

S: Wired – (last access: 1 February 2019); NCR – (last access: 1 February 2019).

N: 1. – human (adj): mid-15c., humain, humaigne, “human,” from Old French humain, umain (adj.) “of or belonging to man” (12c.), from Latin humanus “of man, human,” also “humane, philanthropic, kind, gentle, polite; learned, refined, civilized.” This is in part from PIE *(dh)ghomon-, literally “earthling, earthly being,” as opposed to the gods (from root *dhghem- “earth”), but there is no settled explanation of the sound changes involved. Compare Hebrew adam “man,” from adamah “ground.” Cognate with Old Lithuanian žmuo (accusative žmuni) “man, male person.”
– suffering (n): “patient enduring of pain, inconvenience, loss, etc.,” mid-14c.; “undergoing of punishment, affliction, etc.,” late 14c., verbal noun from suffer (v.). Meaning “a painful condition, pain felt” is from late 14c.
2. Human suffering is not primarily a metaphysical problem. It is also that, and such metaphysical conundrums are immensely important in many ways. But these philosophical and theological dilemmas are always secondary.
3. The meaning of human suffering is never primarily The Meaning of Human Suffering. The meaning of human suffering is to be relieved.
Hunger, for example, is not a metaphysical problem. It is an acutely, urgently physical problem. The meaning of hunger is not to be found in theodicy or philosophy or mysticism. The meaning of hunger is to be fed.

S: 1. OED – (last access: 1 February 2019). 2 & 3. Patheos – (last access: 20 September 2015)


CR: international humanitarian law, pain.