The assimilation of pain into normal life happens to be a major preoccupation of thePhilosophical Investigations. Wittgenstein suggests that philosophy, with its damaging quest for certainty, has needlessly alienated us from ordinary life. Here is a parenthetical example of such alienation, from Elaine Scarry’s The Body in Pain: “To have great pain is to have certainty; to hear that another person has pain is to have doubt. (The doubt of other persons, here as elsewhere, amplifies the suffering of those already in pain.)” In such cases, skepticism about another’s pain can engender sadism. “I like a look of Agony, / Because I know it’s true,” as Emily Dickinson wrote, jokingly, one hopes.
Saturday, April 26, 2014
… Pain and Parentheses by Christopher Benfey | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)