Grudtseva E.V. Strategies for Mastering Suffering in Culture


Elena V. Grudtseva
Candidate for a Degree, Department of Philosophy and Theory of Law, Volgograd State University
Prosp. Universitetsky, 100, 400062 Volgograd, Russian Federation
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Abstract. The article is devoted to the study of suffering as a component of human subjectivity. The factors that determine the unavoidability of suffering in human life are highlighted. The dynamics of the meanings of the word "suffering" are shown from the original meanings associated with the concepts of "death" and "hard work" to modern meanings grouped around the experience of pain, death, and guilt. At the same time, the essential features of existential suffering are a lack of freedom and destructiveness. The features of the strategy of avoiding suffering as an experienced state are analyzed: at the early stages of historical development; in religious concepts; in Epicurean philosophy; in hedonistic theories. Using the example of the analysis of archaic initiation practices that determined the life cycles of an individual and society, the ambivalent role of the painful trials and sufferings that accompanied them is described: as an indicator of readiness to transition to a new status and as a factor of coercion in an undesirable social role. The tendencies of rethinking suffering in the period of Axial time are shown (the formation of a "suffering person"; voluntary acceptance of suffering; the appearance of a bundle of "suffering and redemption" in the Abrahamic religions). A feature of religious strategies of escape from suffering is the withdrawal of a state without suffering beyond the real world and the promise of existence without suffering after death. The consequences of the reinterpretation of suffering, characteristic of modern society, as an existential experience that adjusts a person to a passive life position and the living of pleasures are considered. The positive and negative aspects of suffering are highlighted, as well as the dual relationship of suffering with meaning: on the one hand, suffering itself assumes the existence of a meaning that must be discovered; on the other hand, the subject himself is called upon to fill the meaning of the suffering situation. The meaning here is what helps to survive the irremediable suffering. Giving a situation of suffering meaning changes the personal attitude of the sufferer, increasing his chances of overcoming the situation and, more importantly, ensuring his moral safety. Personal strategies for understanding suffering are described. The conclusion is made about the ambivalence of the phenomenon of suffering, its dialectical connection with pleasure, its dependence on the spiritual mood, as well as the influence of meaningful suffering on the processes of personal development.
Key words: suffering, existential suffering, meaning of suffering, suffering person, strategy of avoiding suffering, strategy of voluntary acceptance of suffering, positive and negative aspects of suffering, suffering as a factor of personal development.

Citation. Grudtseva E.V. Strategies for Mastering Suffering in Culture. Logos et Praxis, 2024, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 75-81. (in Russian). DOI:

Strategies for Mastering Suffering in Culture by Grudtseva E.V. is licensed under Attribution 4.0 International

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