Pains, Bodily Sensations, & Strong Intentionalism
In due consideration of recent empirical research, I aim to show in different subprojects that there exists no property common to all pains and pains only. This is due to the substantial variation across pains and the systematic similarity between pain and other phenomena, including emotions and other bodily sensations. In particular, I thereby argue against strong intentional theories presuming the existence of a certain type of intentional content necessary and sufficient for pains. On the one hand, I aim to show that strong representationalist theories of bodily sensations – inlcuding pain, itches, hunger, and sexual feelings – do not provide convincing evidence in terms of causal covariance and biological function. On the other hand, strong imperative theories have clear advantages in highlighting the relevance of action, but cannot tell an overall conclusive story for the introduction of an intentional content satisfying the criteria of necessity and sufficiency.
Coninx, S. (forthcoming): Strong Representationalism and Bodily Sensations: Reliable Causal Covariance and Biological Function. Philosophical Psychology.
II. Suffering: Situated & Social
In my recent research, I adress the more general phenomenon of human suffering, connecting my previous research on pain with knowledge concerning phenomena, such as grief, loneliness, or depression. This research field is of particular relevance in its application to pathological disorders. I am therefore increasingly concerned with the interface between philosophy and psychiatry, whereby the influences of enactive theories come into play concerning concepts of affordances and scaffolds.
In cooperation with Peter Stilwell I address the question of how pain affects the perception of our body, ourselves, and the environment. For this purpose, we apply the concept of a dynamically changing field of affordances that allows us to account for the intimate relation between pain and action.
Moreover, in my posdoctoral project, I address the question of the extent to which environmental conditions can be actively used to enable emotional regulation. My focus is thereby on virtual realities as affective scaffolds.