Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Please draw your pain

We had an interesting discussion in the first of this term's classes for the finals ancient philosophy paper 'Pleasure'. We were discussing Ryle's contention (‘Pleasure’ in his Dilemmas, (Cambridge, 1954)) that -- broadly speaking -- although pains are locatable and 'clockable', pleasures are not. I found one of the pain description charts that are often used by patients trying to describe pain to doctors as an aid to diagnosis and pain-relief (click on the thumbnail for a larger version). Can you imagine an analogous version for 'pleasure'? 'How many hours of the day do you feel pleasure?' 'Please draw your pleasure, indicating its location and expressing its quality...'

1 comment:

RJR said...

But you couldn't draw the opposite of pleasure there either. I couldn't draw on it, for example, the way the form's use of apostrophes made me feel, which I might describe as ouch. Obviously I don't really know what I'm talking about here, but I would want to split them into physical pleasures and physical pains, and contrast these with emotional/mental pleasures and emotional/mental pains, and see it as a linguistic or lifestyle thing that when we say simply "pain" we are usually describing a physical pain, and when we say "pleasure" we are usually talking about a nice mental or emotional state. I could draw the feeling of a hot-water bottle on my feet, though I couldn't draw a more typical pleasure in my life, like reading a good book; but might it not be that that's saying something about how I live rather than about anything instrinsic to pleasure and pain themselves? It may not, but it's a possibility.