26 September 2007

Expressing suffering

Virginia Woolf:
English, which can express the thoughts of Hamlet and the tragedy of Lear has no words for the shiver or the headache....The merest schoolgirl when she falls in love has Shakespeare or Keats to speak her mind for her, but let a sufferer try to describe a pain in his head to a doctor and language at once runs dry. [On Being Ill, p.194]

Hobbes on pain

Hobbes on pain:

Of pleasure, or delights, some arise from the sense of an object present; and those may be called pleasures of sense....Of this kind are onerations and exonerations of the body; as also all that is pleasant, in the sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch; others arise from the expectation, that proceeds from foresight of the end, or consequence of things; whether those things in the sense please or displease: and these are pleasures of the mind of him that draweth those consequences and are generally called JOY. In the like manner, displeasures, are some in the sense, and called PAIN; others, in the expectation of consequences, and are called GRIEF. [Leviathan I, VI, 12]

This endeavour, when it is toward something which causes it is called APPETITE, or DESIRE; the latter, being the general name; and the other oftentimes restrained to signify the desire of food....And when the endeavour is fromward something it is generally called AVERSION. [Leviathan, I, VI, 2]

10 September 2007

Augustine on privation

From the Enchiridion:

For what is that which we call evil but the absence of good? in the bodies of animals, diseases and wounds mean nothing but the absence of health; for when a cure is effected, that does not mean that the evils which were present --namely, the diseases and wounds-- go away from the body and dwell elsewhere: they altogether cease to exist; for the wound or disease is not a substance, but a defect in the fleshy substance --the flesh itself being a substance, and therefore something good, of which those evils --that is, privations of the good which we call health-- are accidents. Just in the same way, what are called vices are nothing but privations of natural good. And when they are cured, they are not transferred elsewhere: when they cease to exist in the healthy soul, they cannot exist anywhere else.

Enchiridion XI

Homework assignment: Pains seem to be evil in and of themselves. Yet pains are real and definite things. How can Augustine account for the badness of pain? Is Augustine committed to the view that insofar as they are real, pains are themselves good? If pains were to be bad as privations, what would they be privations of? Discuss.

02 September 2007

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome

I mentioned Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome (RSDS) in an earlier post on the USC event. There's a lot of good information on the syndrome at the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association website.