Explaining impossible and possible imaginings of pain

Paul Noordhof


Abstract: Jennifer Radden argues that it is impossible to imagine sensuously pain and explains this by noting that pains are sensory qualities for which there is no distinction between appearance and reality. By contrast, I argue that only basic sensuous imaginings of pain from the first person perspective are, with some qualifications, impossible. Non-basic sensuous imaginings of pain from the first person perspective are possible. I explain the extent to which imagining pain is impossible in terms of the conditions required for representing the painfulness of pain. I outline some difficulties with Radden’s favoured explanation and note how imagining pains may have a role in depression and, to that extent, keep open the option that it may have a partly delusional character.

Keywords: Imagination; Pain; Depression; Action; Delusion


Spiegare l'impossibilità e la possibilità di immaginare il dolore

Riassunto: Jennifer Radden sostiene come l’immaginazione sensoriale del dolore non sia possibile e lo motiva facendo notare come i dolori siano qualità sensoriali per cui non c’è distinzione tra apparenza e realtà. Per converso io sostengo come sia impossibile solo l’immaginazione sensibile di base del dolore dalla prospettiva della prima persona, con alcune specificazioni. L’immaginazione sensibile non di base del dolore dalla prospettiva della prima persona è possibile. Illustro fino a che punto l’immaginare il dolore è impossibile in termini di condizioni richieste per rappresentare la dolorosità del dolore. Sottolineo alcune difficoltà della spiegazione proposta da Radden e faccio notare come l’immaginare il dolore può aver un ruolo nella depressione e come, per questo, resti aperta l’opzione che il dolore possa avere in parte carattere illusorio.

Parole chiave: Immaginazione; Dolore; Depressione; Azione; Illusione

Parole chiave

Imagination; Pain; Depression; Action; Delusion

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4453/rifp.2021.0015

Copyright (c) 2021 Paul Noordhof

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