The Subject of Pain: Husserl’s Discovery of the Lived-Body

in Research in Phenomenology
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The paper aims to develop a phenomenology of pain on the basis of the insights introduced in Husserl’s phenomenology. First, I suggest that pain is given to intuition as an indubitable and a bodily localizable experience. Since these two characteristics are incompatible with each other, I argue that the experience of pain is paradoxical. Second, I contend that philosophy of pain provides six ways to resolve this paradox: semiological, causal, associationist, representational, perceptual, and phenomenological. Third, my central goal is to develop the phenomenological resolution and to show that it culminates in the realization that the subject of pain is neither the disembodied consciousness nor the physiological body but the lived-body, conceived as the field of sensings. Fourth, I offer a phenomenological account of the structure of pain experience. I suggest that this structure could be characterized as the already appropriated body’s inner protest against its constitutive appropriation.




See Carl Stumpf, “Über Gefühlsempfindungen,” Zeitschrift für Psychologie und Physiologie der Sinnesorgane 44 (1907): 1–49, and Stumpf, “Apologie der Gefühlsempfindungen.” Zeitschrift für Psychologie und Physiologie der Sinnesorgane 75 (1917): 330–50.


See Hermann Lotze, Outlines of Psychology (Toronto: University of Toronto Libraries, 2011).


See Gilbert Ryle, The Concept of Mind (London: Routledge, 2009).


D. M. Taylor, “The Location of Pain,” The Philosophical Quarterly 15, no. 58 (1965): 53–62.


Michael Tye, “Another Look at Representationalism about Pain,” in Pain: New Essays on Its Nature and the Methodology of Its Study, ed. Murat Aydede Cambridge, ma: The mit Press.


Godfrey N. A. Vesey, “The Location of Bodily Sensations,” Mind 70 (1961): 25–35, here 30.


Ibid., 33.


Vesey, “Baier on Vesey on the Place of a Pain,” Philosophical Quarterly 15, no. 58 (1965): 63–64.


K. Baier, “The Place of a Pain,” The Philosophical Quarterly 14, no. 55 (1964): 138–50, here 139.


See Edmund Husserl, “Umsturz der Kopernikanischen Lehre,” in Philosophical Essays in Memory of Edmund Husserl, ed. Marvin Faber (Harvard: Cambridge University Press, 1940), 307–25; translated by F. Kersten and revised by L. Lawlor as “Foundational Investigations of the Phenomenological Origins of the Spatiality of Nature: The Originary Ark, the Earth, Does Not Move,” in Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Husserl at the Limits of Phenomenology, ed. L. Lawlor and B. Bergo (Evanston, il: Northwestern University Press, 2002), 117–31.


See Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), 7–8.


Taylor Carman, “The Body in Husserl and Merleau-Ponty,” Philosophical Topics 27, no. 2 (1999): 205–26, here 208–10.


Ibid., 26.


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