By Arne Vetlesen
“Living comprises being uncovered to ache each second—not inevitably as an insistent truth, yet constantly as a possibility,” writes Arne Vetlesen in A Philosophy of discomfort, a thought-provoking examine an inevitable and crucial point of the human situation. right here, Vetlesen addresses soreness in lots of kinds, together with the discomfort inflicted in the course of torture; the ache suffered in affliction; the ache accompanying anxiousness, grief, and melancholy; and the ache introduced by way of violence. He examines the twin nature of ache: 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 discomfort is revealing, plumbing the very middle of lots of our so much extreme and intricate feelings. He appears at ache inside varied arenas of recent lifestyles akin to kin and paintings, and he in particular probes at a really universal smooth phenomenon, the assumption of pushing oneself to the restrict. enticing all through with the tips of thinkers corresponding 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 discomfort asks which got here first, considering or feeling, and explores the idea that and threat of empathy.
Vetlesen bargains an unique and insightful standpoint on anything that every one people endure and endure—from a sprained ankle to a damaged middle. even if discomfort is in itself disagreeable, our skill to suppose it reminds us that we're alive.
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Additional resources for A Philosophy of Pain
Without meaning I cannot live but not any old meaning will do. My existence depends on the meaning I manage to see in that which happens, that I come into contact with and am affected by. When I no longer have any clear idea of what means something and what something means, my very existence is threatened. I am of course in this world in the physical sense but in the psychic sense I am ailing and my physical survival depends on my psychic survival, which in turn depends on the access to meaning.
And let me hasten to add: If I do not recognize myself, the distinctly personal, in my displayed repertoire of feelings, this is to be considered a sign of something being badly wrong with my self-relationship. 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).
But, as we also saw, how I interpret this situation plays an important role in my experiencing of this (physical) pain; I give it a meaning in my situation, I fear that it will stop me carrying out certain plans I had made, I experience that the injury bothers 50 me and that it ruins my good mood. It would be possible to go on giving examples like this of my leg injury, despite the fact that seen from the outside, considered in isolation and from a medical point of view it is ‘only’ a matter of – fully curable – physical pain, it pains me in ways that break with and go far beyond its purely physical nature.
A Philosophy of Pain by Arne Vetlesen