Reflection on the complex phenomenon called pain goes back to the beginnings of humanity and has certainly been alive since the inception of philosophical thought. But this theme is now gaining new attention from scholars – not only from philosophers, but perhaps especially from cognitive scientists, biologists, psychologists and physicians, who are usually less directly concerned with ‘subjective’ or ‘qualitative’ issues.
To be sure, epistemological reflection on medicine has long been addressing the problem of how to understand pain, and indeed this renewed interest in this universal but certainly unpleasant aspect of human existence may well be motivated to a large extent by the growing concern of doctors for the fact that suffering is turning from being an inevitable fallout of the disease to being an autonomous pathology, especially in connection with the aging of the population. The International Association for the Study of Pain, which publishes the leading international journal Pain, was founded in 1973 and now has more than 7,000 members from 133 nations, 90 national offices, and 20 special interest groups dedicated to as many topics related to general research on pain.
It is clear that the question of understanding pain reopens a chapter in the more general debate on what experience is, and in particular on whether consciousness plays a role in it or not. But the communication of pain experience, which is not necessarily linguistic, is another aspect that should be considered. Many questionnaires for the assessment of personal pain experience involve an evaluation of facial expressions or gestural behaviour, for instance when a meaningful verbal exchange with the suffering person is precluded. In this sense the body ‘speaks’ even if it does not use language.
These two issues are clearly interconnected, leading to an epistemological debate on the more general problem of what experience is, and in particular of how its phenomenal aspect, in this case connected to suffering, should be understood in relation to a more or less clearly conceived bodily or material substrate. In the end, the experience of pain reopens the Pandora’s box of the contrast between dualism and monism and therefore the big question of the relationship between mind and body. Perhaps, however, the investigation of pain can offer a different perspective on these traditional issues.
This issue of Discipline filosofiche aims to address the wide and complex issues relating to the experience of pain by bringing to it multiple, and sometimes very different, approaches, in order to bring out the variety of the forms of suffering, as well as to probe the philosophical significance of pain, in the light of the common belief that it represents a crucial subject of investigation for its epistemological and ontological value.
Suitable topics for submission of manuscripts include but are not limited to:
1) Epistemological issues relating to the qualitative and/or quantitative assessment of the pain experience;
2) Issues relating to the status of corporeality as the experiential basis of pain;
3) Issues concerning the relationship between phenomenal consciousness and its unconscious (cognitive and/or psychoanalytic) substrate in the experience of pain;
4) Issues concerning the relationship between philosophy and the natural sciences (in particular biology and medicine) with respect to the treatment of pain;
5) Topics concerning the narrative dimension of the experience of pain in its connections with the epistemological status of biomedical sciences.
Guidelines for the authors: Submissions should not exceed 9,000 words including abstract, refer-ences and footnotes. Manuscripts may be submitted in Italian, English, French, German, or Spanish. They must be sent as an email attachment in .doc or .docx format, along with a .pdf version, to Luca Vanzago (firstname.lastname@example.org). Submitted manuscripts will be sent to two independent reviewers, following a double-blind peer review process. The reviewers may ask authors to make changes or improvements to their contributions in view of publication. Authors are kindly requested to attach both an anonymous version of their contribution entitled “Manuscript” and a separate “Cover Page” stating their name, academic affiliation and contact details. Manuscripts must include an English abstract of less than 150 words and 5 keywords. Any property of the file that might identify the author must be removed to ensure anonymity during the review process. A notification of receipt will be issued for each submission. In drafting their text, authors can adopt any clear and coherent style, but should the text be accepted for publication, they will be required to send a final version in keeping with the style guidelines of the journal (please refer to the style guidelines at https://www.disciplinefilosofiche.it/en/norme-redazionali/). Submission of a manuscript is understood to imply that the paper has not been published before and that it is not being considered for publication by any other journal. Should the manu-script be accepted for publication, the author will be required to transfer copyrights to the University of Bologna. Requests to republish the article may be made to the Editorial Board of the Journal.
Deadline for the submission of manuscripts: December 31, 2021
Notification of acceptance, conditional acceptance, or rejection: February 15, 2022
Deadline for the submission of the final draft: March 31, 2022