2019-03Forum
A Subaltern Pain: The Problem of Violence in Philosophy’s Pain Discourse

Abstract:

The scientific and philosophical approach to pain must be supplemented by a hermeneutics studying how racism has complicated the communication of pain. Such an investigation reveals that not only are non-white people seen as credibly speaking their pain, but also pain “science” is one of the ways races have historically been constructed. I illustrate this through a study of Frantz Fanon’s clinical writings, along with eighteenth- and nineteenth-century slave-owners’ medical manuals and related documents. I suggest that, with this history, what philosophers understand as the problem of pain is best framed as the problem of colonial violence.

Keywords:

IASP definition of pain, Frantz Fanon, subaltern, philosophy of mind, racism

How to cite:

Harfouch, John. “A Subaltern Pain: The Problem of Violence in Philosophy’s Pain Discourse.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 3, no. 3(9) (2019): 127-144. https://doi.org/10.14394/eidos.jpc.2019.0034.

Author:

John Harfouch
Department of Philosophy, University of Alabama-Huntsville
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8705-8680

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