While I enjoyed reading Nietzsche and your summary of his thoughts on pain, it seems clear to me that he vastly overstates the case.
The evidence seems clear beyond any reasonable doubt that pleasure and pain are systems that have evolved (by natural selection over some 4 billion years) for reasons of survival in a complex world, and have been coopted by cultural evolution to a variety of uses; and can be re-purposed by individuals to potentially infinite uses.
And there is certainly a strong case to be made for training one’s will to be able to master any external influence, pleasure or pain, and there is a sense in which any “distraction” can be used for such training, and pain is certainly one of the greatest “distractions”. I have endured many pains, and I don’t see any of them as being necessary in any sense, and they were what they were and had the effects and utilities that they did. And their utility seems to reside “merely” in the degree of distraction they provide, and the opportunity in that to develop one’s ability to focus in any context.
So while I acknowledge that there does seem to exist a certain metaphorical sense in which we can forge our will in the fire of pain, other fires also seem to hold similar utility for such purposes.
Thanks for the compliments, and I hope I can live up to them 😉
It seems to me that any activity, any set of sensory experiences, can act as distractions, things against which the ability to focus attention and will may be tested and honed. And certainly our biochemistry provides a basic set that are very powerful, in things like pleasure, pain, anger, jealousy, hunger, thirst, asphyxia, diseases, likes and dislikes at any level, etc, to which we can add things like music, puzzles, conversation, storms, earthquakes, etc.
Effects vary considerably as to context and degree.
One can get very creative with such things, with a little practice.