The Paradox of Pain

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Bodily pain strikes many philosophers as deeply paradoxical. The issue is that pains seem to bear both physical characteristics, such as a location in the body, and mental characteristics, such being mind-dependent. In this paper I clarify and address this alleged paradox of pain. I begin by showing how a further assumption, Objectivism, the thesis that what one feels in one’s body when one is in pain is something mind-independent, is necessary for the generation of the paradox. Consequently, the paradox can be avoided if one rejects this idea. However, doing so raises its own difficulties, for it is not obvious how anything can possess all of the features we typically associate with bodily pain. To address this puzzle and finally put the paradox of pain to rest, I develop the Embodied View, a novel metaphysical account on which pains are constitutively mind-dependent features of parts of a subject’s body.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)717-737
Number of pages21
JournalThe Philosophical Quarterly
Issue number4
Early online date18 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

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  • bodily awareness
  • bodily sensations
  • pain
  • paradox of pain
  • sensible qualities


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