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On Pain, Its stratification, and Its Alleged Indefinability / Über den Schmerz, seine Schichtung und seine vermeintliche Undefinierbarkeit

Saulius Geniusas
  • Department of Philosophy, 4/F Fung King Hey Building, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
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Published Online: 2017-12-21 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/gth-2017-0023


This paper develops a phenomenological approach to the concept of pain, which highlights the main presuppositions that underlie pain research undertaken both in the natural and in the sociohistorical sciences. My argument is composed of four steps: (1) only if pain is a stratified experience can it become a legitimate theme in both natural and sociohistorical sciences; (2) the phenomenological method is supremely well suited to disclose the different strata of pain experience; (3) the phenomenological account offered here identifies three fundamental levels that make up the texture of pain experience: pain can be conceived as a prereflective experience, as an object of affective reflection, or as an object of cognitive reflection; and (4) such a stratified account clarifies how pain can be a subject matter in the natural and sociohistorical sciences. Arguably, the natural and sociohistorical sciences address pain at different levels of its manifestation. While the natural sciences address pain as an object of cognitive reflection, sociohistorical sciences first and foremost deal with pain as a prereflective experience and as an object of affective reflection.

Keywords : Definition of pain; naturalism; pain research; phenomenology; social constructionism


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About the article

Published Online: 2017-12-21

Published in Print: 2017-11-27

Citation Information: Gestalt Theory, Volume 39, Issue 2-3, Pages 331–348, ISSN (Online) 2519-5808, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/gth-2017-0023.

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© 2017. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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