By Arne Vetlesen, John Irons

“Living comprises being uncovered to ache each second—not unavoidably as an insistent fact, yet regularly as a possibility,” writes Arne Vetlesen in A Philosophy of Pain, a thought-provoking examine an inevitable and crucial point of the human situation. the following, Vetlesen addresses ache in lots of types, together with the ache inflicted in the course of torture; the soreness suffered in affliction; the discomfort accompanying anxiousness, grief, and melancholy; and the ache introduced through violence. He examines the twin nature of soreness: how we try to prevent it up to attainable in our day-by-day lives, and but conversely, we receive a thrill from looking it.

Vetlesen’s research of soreness is revealing, plumbing the very heart of a lot of our such a lot extreme and complex feelings. He appears to be like at soreness inside of various arenas of contemporary lifestyles equivalent to relations and paintings, and he particularly probes at a really universal glossy phenomenon, the belief of pushing oneself to the restrict. attractive all through with the information of thinkers similar to Søren Kierkegaard, Sigmund Freud, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Alice Miller, Susan Sontag, and Melanie Klein, A Philosophy of Pain asks which got here first, considering or feeling, and explores the concept that and threat of empathy.

Vetlesen bargains an unique and insightful standpoint on whatever that every one people endure and endure—from a sprained ankle to a damaged center. even though soreness is in itself disagreeable, our skill to believe it reminds us that we're alive.

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Extra resources for A Philosophy of Pain

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Sartre’s relevance for our theme consists in his assertion that my psychic reality is my own work and therefore completely my own responsibility. But have I not advanced precisely the same view above? In fact my view differs from that of Sartre, and now we must look more closely at the resulting consequences in order to understand what psychic pain is. For Sartre, feelings – like moods and mental states – are something chosen and willed by the individual. When, for example, some people claim that they ‘were overcome with fear’, Sartre’s comment is that such people are what he would call ‘in bad faith’.

But nothing has been said or shown about the feeling as such. It simply is there, like a fact in the world Sartre depicts (locates) the person as an observer of, and therefore always at a certain distance from. This means that Sartre loses sight of how the feeling arises. g. suppress it or 47 inflate it. The feeling – seen in terms of affect as opposed to thought and evaluation – as I am in it is to be seen as prior to, indeed a prerequisite for, the split between me and my feeling, which is what Sartre bases himself on from start to finish.

In cases of fundamental nonrecognition this is a symptom of psychopathology, of mental illness. From a clinical and therapeutic perspective, a far advanced ability, or even urge, or experience of coercion to lay aside an actual feeling (it could be shame, but also something positively charged, such as joy or pride) in order to take it up again later is not an innocent theoretical point about what it means to feel something (as Sartre believes). If anything, a person’s urge to go in and out of his own emotional state, according to whatever for some reason or other (unconscious as well as conscious) is judged to be ‘suitable’ in the situation, can be a warning sign that the person is living out his feelings in an unauthentic way, more as an observer of them than one who completely is them.

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