Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities
2012—2013 Forum on Peripheries
The Limits of the Language and Ethics of Pain in Becoming a Body without Organs
How do we understand the essence or ontological status of pain? What can scientific knowledge, ethnographic studies, and the philosophy of mind tell us about the experience of pain? Ethnographic studies of clinics and communities reveal, for example, that a "phenomenology of pain," or the use of science and philosophy to pin down what it means to experience pain, does not adequately explain how many people deal with and use pain. Ethnographic studies also reveal how for certain marginalized populations, societies discount some types of suffering. This marginalization tends to occur in the realm of language first. This free play of the language of pain disturbs cohesive ethical theories for considering pain. In this study, Gilles Deleuze's "body without organs" is used as a framework for explaining how individuals may succumb to and use pain. Annemarie Mol's "logic of care" is used as a model for suggesting real world clinical practices.