ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Of Pain and Human Suffering

Pain, especially the chronic kind, is a social and cultural construct and not just a symptom

Pain is a construction rooted in culture as well as the experiential state and the knowledge of the individual

René Descartes spoke of mind–body dualism where the mind has an identity separate from the body. Immanuel Kant also talked about the mind as a thinking “thing.” But, in this dualism lay the seeds of the modernist construction of the body. Mind, as a thinking entity, must think. Its products are “thoughts” that are, again, abstract and different from the physical entity. Thus, thoughts became the abstractions, removed from reality. 

The most abstract “things” that the mind ­produced was philosophy and mathematics. Since, philo­sophy always explores that which ­remains unanswered and unstructured, mathematics became the first definitive abstractions of the mind. The laws of mathematics were applied to the physical universe. These generalisations became the foundation of physics and physical laws after Isaac Newton and assumed a sense of universality. The universe, which was an unknown entity, suddenly started to reveal itself as a mechanical model before the laws of physics. For the first time, the entire physical ­universe could be thought of as a “model.” The moment one speaks of a “model,” one is reducing the entire being to a predictive and explanatory entity. The universe was, thus, a thing that could be explained and predicted on the basis of Newton’s laws of motion and his gravitational law. From a small particle to the solar system, all were now slave to the fundamental mathematical equations of Newton.

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Updated On : 17th Sep, 2018
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