Independence and Connections of Pain and Suffering

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Is a phenomenal pain a conscious primitive or composed of more primitive phenomenal states? Are pain experiences necessarily or only contingently unpleasant? Here, I sketch how to answer such questions concerning intra-phenomenal metaphysics using the example of pain and unpleasantness. Arguments for a symmetrical metaphysical independence of phenomenal pain and unpleasant affect are presented, rejecting a composite view like the IASP definition and dimensional views. The motivating intuition of these views is explained by common binding mechanisms in consciousness and characterized as fallacious if generalized. There are, however, underlying commonalities between pain perception and unpleasant affect, e.g. formal content or evolutionary ancestry.

Keywords: IASP definition; Pain; affect; evolution of pain; neurophenomenology; phenomenological argumentation; suffering; unpleasantness

Document Type: Research Article

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Publication date: January 1, 2011

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