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My understanding of this is that certain types of neurons are involved in the sensation we describe as pain.

These neurons do exist in other mammals & birds but do NOT exist in fish, cephalopods, etc. So even though they react to stimulations that we would call pain in the same manner as us, they do not in fact experience pain as we know it.

The question this begs is whether they in fact do experience pain if they don't have the biological mechanisms for pain?


I find the definitions of pain to open up their own unique can of worms. From the same source:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pain

Pain, in the sense of physical pain,[1] is a typical sensory experience that may be described as the unpleasant awareness of a noxious stimulus or bodily harm.

That's nice and generic and doesn't necessitate a particular organ or structure to sense pain. I think under this definition, one could argue that plants "feel" pain even without nerves, and I'm actually okay with that.

Pain is highly subjective to the individual experiencing it. A definition that is widely used in nursing was first given as early as 1968 by Margo McCaffery: "'Pain is whatever the experiencing person says it is, existing whenever he says it does".

From a nurse's perspective, who must deal with hypochondria and psychosomatic pains, this is also a great definition. But this one is much more human oriented, and does open up a new line of discussion.

Do animals feel psychosomatic pain? If an animal has a limb amputated, do some still feel the limb as described by human amputees?

If the brain is solely the sum of subconscious firings, where do these types of feelings come from?

Nociception, the unconscious activity induced by a harmful stimulus in sense receptors, peripheral nerves, spinal column and brain, should not be confused with physical pain, which is a conscious experience.

It looks like the guys at Wiki had no idea we'd be discussing pain and dualism.

I find myself floating in the moat. I am not a dualist, or at least I didn't think I was before this thread got going, but the current materialistic model that I do understand lacks a great deal of intuitive sense to me. There has to be something more to explain what clearly appears to be the ability of humans to think beyond the rudimentary bounds of instinct and past experience.

But then again, that may just be the illusion of my sense of self impishly at play, huh?
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