05 November 2004

Precis II

I finally submitted the fellowship application I've been sweating over for the past month and a half. When I returned to the precis I thought I had finished (the precis I had posted here), I realize it needed to me sexier. Here's the new version. Again, I'm curious what you think (for long comments, try using the twin site at www.dolor.blog-city.com or emailing me).
Pain is a fundamental evil. Understanding pain and its place in human life is a fundamental religious and ethical concern. From Pandora, to Job, to the Buddhists' first Noble Truth that all life is suffering, to modern secular questions about the value of life, all philosophical and religious traditions have struggled with pain's evil. From the source of our moral obligations and our understanding of what makes life good, to the role of suffering in redemption and the idea of a just god, making sense of pain is making sense of humanity. Yet, despite its central place in our understanding of ourselves and of what matters most, virtually everyone has misunderstood what pains are and therefore wherein their evil lies. I shall give a new account of both.

This is a dissertation on pain's intrinsic badness. It is also a dissertation on the nature and sources of value. The account I shall give yields insights into perennial philosophical questions including, inter alia, the ubiquity of reasons to alleviate other's pains; the nature of rationality; the role of subjective desire in ethics; the possibility of reducing value to natural properties; the value of autonomy; the nature of torture; and the normative significance of animals' pain.

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