Pain, Amnesia, and Qualitative Memory: Conceptual and Empirical Challenges

Journal of Consciousness Studies 27 (11-12):126-133 (2020)
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Barbara Montero considers whether or not we are able to remember what pain feels like. In order to properly answer this question, she introduces a new type of memory called 'qualitative memory', which seems common to exteroceptive sensations. Having concluded that there is arguably no qualitative memory for pain and other bodily sensations, Montero considers possible philosophical implications for areas including rational choice-making and empathy. In addressing the relationship between pain and memory, the paper raises an issue that has not received much attention and indicates various interesting fields of research for which the apparent inability to remember pain might prove relevant. My comment primarily focuses on the core concepts of pain and qualitative memory which are foundational for the paper. I argue that a deeper engagement with some key aspects of these concepts is necessary. A more fine-grained discussion could have made Montero's argument more convincing.
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First archival date: 2020-12-22
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