Is there a scientific theory that explains the quality of pain in terms of the physical universe?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Speakpigeon, Dec 19, 2018.

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Is there is a scientific theory that explains the quality of pain in terms of the physical universe?

Poll closed Jan 18, 2019.
  1. Yes

    42.9%
  2. No

    14.3%
  3. I'm not sure either way.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. The question doesn't make sense.

    42.9%
  1. kx000 Valued Senior Member

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    4,624
    Would you allow danger into heavenly nature?
     
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  3. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Animals know about danger, ask the wildebeest which makes a yearly some 1800 mile trip across some of the most dangerous areas in the world. What do they threaten? The grass? Ah, no grass in heaven, sorry wildebeest, you're out.....

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    What about "man's best friend"? No? Too dangerous? What about man? No? Too dangerous?

    What about half the angels who are "dangerous". Shall we kick 'em all out, like Lucifer?

    Yeah, let's send all dangerous souls back to earth, they deserve to suffer. Serves 'em right!
     
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  5. Speakpigeon Registered Senior Member

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    Oh, sure, but that's at best observed correlation, and that's only for the subject himself. The subject can observe how his own body has reacted to pain even before he could have possibly made up his mind consciously as to how to react to it. As such, it's no even clear the reaction has anything to do with the painful subjective quality of pain as consciously experienced by the subject. All which is evident is correlation. And correlation between the painful quality of pain and observed behaviour is only observed by the subject himself. The outside observer can only correlate something else, i.e. observed behaviour, perhaps objective tissus damage and such, and the subject's reports, which may or may not be truthful, accurate etc. And some subjects seem to react to pain without reporting pain so the same range of behaviour may apparently occur even though the subject is not reporting the experience of the painful quality of pain.
    People speak as if observed behaviour was pain itself, as if characteristics of said behaviour was the quality of pain. These are just logical short cuts you shouldn't take literally. Nothing is easier to realise for anyone who experienced the painful quality of pain because he was in pain.
    EB
     
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  7. kx000 Valued Senior Member

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    It's not a punishment.
     
  8. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    11,162
    The body not only recognizes pain, but also recognizes another person experiencing pain. Empathic responses.
    The "mirror neuron network" seems to be responsible for the automotor response to the concept of pain.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2900004/

    And IMO, the MNS transforms all sensory information into knowledge. We just proved the visual aspect of the "mirror response function".

    But as I understand it, mothers can pick out their baby's cry from a chorus of other crying babies. IMO, that would be an auditory aspect to the "mirror response function".
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2018
  9. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    11,162
    It's a party? If Hell is not punishment, then what is it? An eternal correctional institution?
     
  10. kx000 Valued Senior Member

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    4,624
    Its a place to be for the down trotted.
     
  11. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    11,162
    Add insult to injury?
     
  12. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    5,126
    I'm inclined to question whether the experience of pain is a matter of knowledge. In other words, I'm inclined to question whether pain (or red) has any ineffable and indescribable "quality" that (arguably) constitutes an object of knowledge that will always lie beyond the reach of natural science. Does Mary (the world's foremost color scientist who can say everything that can possibly be said about color, despite not being able to see color) really know anything more after seeing colors than she did before she could? Or should the situation perhaps be described in another, less misleading, way?

    It can (arguably) transmit everything that can be known about pain, every fact about it. My suggestion is that experiencing pain shouldn't be conceived as a matter of acquiring knowledge at all. So the challenge for that view is to explain what (if it isn't knowledge) it is that Mary gains when she can suddenly see color as opposed to just talking about it.

    I thought up my idea independently when I was a university student, and was very pleased that the formidable David Lewis had a very similar idea. Wikipedia's account of his views on qualia describes them this way:

    "Lewis agrees that Mary cannot learn what red looks like through her monochrome physicalist studies. But he proposes that this doesn't matter. Learning transmits information, but experiencing qualia doesn't transmit information; instead it communicates abilities. When Mary sees red, she doesn't get any new information. She gains new abilities."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qualia#David_Lewis

    She can intuit the color of visual objects, recognize the experience of red on multiple occasions, imagine objects as if they were red and so on. Those are all abilities as opposed to accounts of perceiving occult non-physical objects with the soul's mysterious inner eye. All of these abilities are at least potentially open to neuroscientific explanation, even if we don't possess those explanations today.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2018
  13. Speakpigeon Registered Senior Member

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    926
    As I see it, we know pain when we are in pain, just as we know any quale when we are experiencing it.
    I also see whatever theories we may have on the physical world as essentially not knowledge, but mere beliefs. Scientific theories are certainly extremely well supported by plentiful objective evidence, but this only makes them more believable than say, the existence of God or the reality of magic.
    So, I would agree that there is an epistemic difference between pain and General Relativity, but I see it the other way round compared to you. It is Russell who coined a vocabulary for it. He called any knowledge of our "sense-data" as he called it, which I take to mean qualia, "knowledge by acquaintance". He called any knowledge about the material world, "propositional knowledge". I think it's a crisp terminology and it does capture the essence of what we mean by knowledge.
    That being said, many people have tried to explain how propositional knowledge would work but I don't think it does. If you want to argue about that, you better start a thread on it.
    I think our experience of qualia is precisely what we mean by knowledge. There is no actual knowledge outside our experience of qualia. This can be understood just by looking at how people talk when they talk about what they think they know, scientists included. Again, start a thread on this if it's of interest to you.
    I think we call pain the thing which has the quality of being painful as we experience it subjectively.
    Even if that wasn't the case, the problem would remain. We certainly experience something painful subjectively, call it "painful qualia" if you prefer, and we still have no scientific theory on that.
    EB
     
  14. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    11,162
    Define brain knowledge. Memories are stored chemical codes. It always comes down to eletrochemical information and a best guess by the brain, but that is not emotional.
    The emotion is a product of chemical responses, not of the knowledge itself.

    Even the Mirror Neuron System works strictly on electrochemical input, which is mirrored in our brains with the production of chemical autoresponse motor functions.
    Pain is a chemical state.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2018
  15. pluto2 Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    908
    People who don't feel pain at all usually don't live very long because when they are injured there is no pain to warn them of further injury and therefore their injuries can go untreated and this can also lead to early death.

    According to Wikipedia pain is a protective signal crafted by millions of years of evolution:

    Pain is part of the body's defense system, producing a reflexive retraction from the painful stimulus, and tendencies to protect the affected body part while it heals, and avoid that harmful situation in the future.[2][52] It is an important part of animal life, vital to healthy survival. People with congenital insensitivity to pain have reduced life expectancy.

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

    https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/pain.html

    http://whoami.sciencemuseum.org.uk/...whatareyoursenses/whereareyou/whydowefeelpain

    The way I see it pain is simply nature's unpleasant but crucial way of warning us of danger.
     
  16. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    28,831
    Doctors use it for diagnosis.
     
  17. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    11,162
    This reflex mechanism is already present in single-celled organisms like the paramecium and the slime-mold. The interesting part is that they have no neural system, but do have microtubules which are tiny electro-chemical computers.
     
  18. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    12,119
    Mary has gained knowledge of an identifying property of apples. The redness of apples is experienced by her as real as opposed to just being an abstraction of words. This is part and parcel to knowing anything really. I mean what is consciousness doing if it isn't relaying information to us about our world? The redness of the apple, its roundness, its smell, its crunchiness, its flavor--are all qualities we experience AS constituting the apple. It is in this sense information about the apple. Without these qualia, there is no other way to know the apple as what it is. Mary can know abstractly all these properties of the apple, but until she experiences them perceptually, she will have only a theoretical understanding of the apple, and not real knowledge of it. Qualia answer the question "What is it that we are conscious of?"
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2018
  19. Truck Captain Stumpy Registered Senior Member

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    926
    I replied:
    The question doesn't make sense

    offered IMHO only:
    Pain isn't so easily defined considering the multiple aspects it can manifest, be it Mental, emotional, physical or sympathetic, though some would classify the emotional as menal or psychological in origin, it can also show physical changes and make physical alterations in the brain (As in: demonstrated neurobiological abnormalities in PTSD patients)

    Pain can often be subjective, but real. Or pain can exist when the site no longer does. Chronic pain patients as well as amputee's can feel pain that is either enhanced by mitigating psychological factors or that is found in a body part that doesn't exist, respectively.
    That is entirely subjective to the individual and not an objective measure of pain, though. It doesn't take into consideration objective measurements of the physiological reactions to ghost pain and sympathetic pain responses, IMHO

    From what I can see "pain" is incredibly complex, just like pain tolerance is incredibly complex and dependent upon what type of pain you're exposed to. Physical pain stimulus may well have cultural influences to exposure and tolerances, so the quality of pain can be said to be subjective, and I don't know of any objective pain measurement device or tool in use by medicine, including fMRI and SVM, as "GP regression models outperform state of the art support vector- and relevance vector regression"

    There are multiple approaches seeking an objective measurement of pain that can be utilised across cultural and other platforms (as noted above). Is there a single theory as yet? There are competing areas of Biochemical, Neurological and Psychological studies all attempting to narrow the focus in their perspective fields. Perhaps one day in the near future we will have a combined theory, but I can't see where we have a definitive theory of pain as yet.
     
  20. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    11,162
    Interesting excerpt;
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consciousness
     
    Truck Captain Stumpy likes this.
  21. Speakpigeon Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    926
    Sure, correlation.
    EB
     
  22. Speakpigeon Registered Senior Member

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    926
    We don't know that pain is acquisition of any knowledge. All we know is pain itself, pain as whatever we experience as painful.
    We can nonetheless at least assume as plausible that pain is normally correlated with some information in our brain. This is this information which we should take as the objective basis for how people behave when they experience pain, and hence for any possibility of science related to pain. It should be noted that this should work the same in somebody who doesn't experience pain at all as long as he has the information normally associated with pain in his brain.
    So, as I understand it, we can't possibly know that our qualia have any functional role. However, if our conscious mind is just the state of a group of neurons in our brain, then pain is just one aspect of this state and would thereby play a functional role. We can certainly assume that rationally but we don't actually know that it is true. This is just a consequence of the logical contradiction that's inherent in any actual model of reality. No need to make a fuss about that.
    EB
     
  23. Speakpigeon Registered Senior Member

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    926
    Please explain.
    Sure, but these are not theories about pain as the subjective quality of painfulness we experience it.
    EB
     

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