Phenomenology 2010

Volume 3, 2011

Selected Essays from the Euro-Mediterranean Area

Agustín Serrano de Haro
Pages 386-395

Is Pain an Intentional Experience?

My paper focuses on the main categories that phenomenology has employed to describe physical pain. I try to show that the early assumption of Stumpf`s concept of “affective sensations” (Gefühlempfindungen) faced strong descriptive difficulties, that seem to point to a sort of noematic character of pain: pain in its bodily location is the pole of a central attention, or at least of a conscious co-attention. But at the same time it is impossible to avoid the evidence that pain consciousness is not a perceptive grasp of one’s body, but a feeling of instantaneous or continuous hurting. The provisional thesis may be that the three main categories of Husserlian analysis of intentionality: hyletic layer, noetic intention, and noematic kern are needed in the basic description of pain experience, but they are required without any internal division—and this is the very core of the problem.