Locating and Representing Pain

Philosophical Investigations 42 (4):313-332 (2019)
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Two views on the nature and location of pain are usually contrasted. According to the first, experientialism, pain is essentially an experience, and its bodily location is illusory. According to the second, perceptualism or representationalism, pain is a perceptual or representational state, and its location is to be traced to the part of the body in which pain is felt. Against this second view, the cases of phantom, referred and chronic pain have been marshalled: all these cases apparently show that one can be in pain while not having anything wrong in her body. Pain bodily location, then, would be illusory. I this paper I shall defend the representational thesis by presenting an argument against experientialism while conceding that the appearance / reality distinction collapses. A crucial role in such identification is played by deictics. In reporting that we feel pain here, the deictic directly refers to the bodily part as coinciding with the part as represented. So, pain location is not illusory. The upshot is that the body location is part and parcel of the representational content of pain states, a representation built up from the body map.
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