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A philosophy of pain / Arne Johan Vetlesen ; translated by John Irons.

  • Vetlesen, Arne Johan, 1960-
  • Books

About this work

Also known as

Smerte. English


"'Living involves being exposed to pain every second - not necessarily as an insistent reality, but always as a possibility', writes Arne Johan Vetlesen in A philosophy of pain, a thought-provoking look at an inevitable and essential aspect of the human condition. Vetlesen addresses pain in many forms, including the pain inflicted by torture; the pain suffered in disease; and the pain of anxiety, grief and depression. He examines the dual nature of pain: how we attempt to avoid it as much as possible in our daily lives and yet, conversely, obtain a thrill from seeking it. Vetlesen looks at pain within areas of modern life such as family and work, and he specifically probes a common modern phenomenon, the idea of pushing oneself to the limit. Engaging throughout with the ideas of thinkers such as Kierkegaard, Freud, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Horkheimer, Adorno, Sontag and Klein, A philosophy of pain explores the concept and possibility of empathy, as well as providing an analysis of the place of pain in modern culture."--Page 4 of cover.


London : Reaktion Books Ltd, 2009.

Physical description

167 pages ; 20 cm

Bibliographic information

Includes bibliographical references (pages 161-167).


"First published in 2004 by Dinamo Forlag"--Title page verso.


Pain in extremis: torture -- Lasting pain: illness -- Psychic pain -- A critique of Sartre's existentialist view -- Pain as a phenomenon -- Anxiety and depression -- The unalterable fundamental conditions of existence -- Transportation of psychic pain -- The role of culture in dealing with pain -- Pain and evil -- When pain is imitated and enacted: violence in culture -- Pain as compulsive choice in a multi-option society.

Language note

Translated from the Norwegian.


  • English

Where to find it

  • LocationStatus
    History of Medicine
    Open shelves

Permanent link



  • 9781861895417
  • 1861895410