Pains At The Brains
Posted by Tanas Gjorgoski on January 31, 2008
Seeing:Rabbit = X:Pain
As I’ve said in previous posts, I think that X=feeling, and that pain isn’t any more “private” than rabbits are. But, I will return to those issues once again, motivated by the post Is pain an intentional state? over at Brains.
We have a way to access pain, which we call feeling, same as we have a way to access rabbits which we call seeing. Same as the rabbit can be there and we can’t see it, the pain can be there, and us not to feel it. Sometimes, for example in cases of prolonged pain, we get distracted and “forget about it” for specific time, and then we think – Is the pain still there? By focusing, similarly to other cases of perception, we then figure out if the pain is still there or not. The most striking similarity is with the presence of some sound with bugs us – I think that both cases are very similar. And the similarity also covers that issue that both the pain and the sound affect us negatively – they bug us. But as in cases of pain asymbolia we know that this ‘hurting us’ part is not essential part of that thing that we feel – namely of the pain. However this is little hard to talk about, as usually “pain” is related to both the thing that is felt and how it affects us, so if we are gonna distinguish the felt pain from how it affect us, that we might need different terms.
Anyway, I said also in the comments, as rabbits are not mental states but something that we see, also pains is not mental states but something that we feel. Also, seeing rabbits is not a mental state (‘John sees a rabbit’ is literally true only if there is a rabbit that John sees), but even which includes the rabbit, John, the photons bouncing off the rabbit, and whatnot. So, I’m inclined to think that feeling pain is not mental state also.
Feeling pain is an intentional ACT. Of course ‘intentional’ here doesn’t mean that it is intended, but in Brentano’ speech, that it is act which relates the subject from the one side, and the object (the pain), from the other. In the other sense of ‘intentional’ (that is, everyday sense), feeling pain is mostly unintentional, that is, we don’t really want to focus on the pain, the pain attracts our attention. But, this is not different from outer perceptual modalities, where for example a clown jumping suddenly in front of you will attract your attention, as much you don’t want to put focus on him.
But what about the pain itself? What kind of object is it if it is not a mental state? I actually think that the pain is potential aspect of the parts of our body which we can access by that intentional act of feeling. And that it as an aspect it usually correlates with the aspect of tissue damage. What is the relation of those aspects, I’m not sure (maybe they are both aspects of the one and the same thing? Or maybe the presence of the one aspect causes the presence of the other through some contingent relation?). In any case this works for me as I don’t think that the body is reducible to the physical, instead think that the physical is merely one aspect of our bodies, so I can think that there are further aspects (like pains) which can be present in our bodies in reality, without the need to push those under the rug called ‘mental’ (that is what people usually do, if we are aware of something in the reality which doesn’t seem to be able to be nicely defined/explained/reduced through physics, they push it under the rug called ‘mental’). To say that pain is aspect of our bodies, of course doesn’t mean that there are such things as pains which may exist unrelated to anything else. Same as there are not forms, without there being things which have those forms, and same as there are no distances without objects, at least imaginary, between which there are those distances.