Compelling talk from Dr Alex Cahana at a TEDx a few years back
“…Pain is not something that you feel…
it is something that you DO”
Dr Cahana is an Affiliate Professor in Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine and a Professor in Science, Technology, Education and Health Studies at the University of Washington. He’s written some interesting papers taking a phenomenological look at pain, including his PhD thesis – Why Does Pain Hurt? Husserlian Phenomenology as a Method to Investigate the Experience of Pain, and on the ethics of pain treatment. Dr Cahana wrote a Clinical Update for the IASP on Pain and Philosophy of Mind which is a good read, if you are into that kind of thing…
Despite the fact that everybody knows intuitively that pain hurts, neuroscience today is incapable of explaining (knowing) why this is so. To bridge this gap, a new approach is needed. This approach (referred to by some as the “enactive” approach) posits that cognitive science, with its array of new concepts, models, and experimental techniques that advance knowledge of the mind beyond earlier stages of psychology and philosophy, has lost its grounding in the human subjective experience. This loss has created an unbridgeable chasm between the subjective mental state of the whole person and the subpersonal cognitive routines implemented in the brain. This breach between mind and meaning, subjectivity and consciousness is not trivial. It impedes progress in understanding consciousness in general and pain in particular.
There’ll be a bit more philosophising in some coming posts.