The underlying theme of this book is the question of the extent to which humans can come to understand the nature of the universe. In order to address this question John King considers whether a raindrop can be in pain. He considers this question from a number of different perspectives and explores the issue of exactly what it means to be 'in pain'. King considers whether one can perceive the pain of other humans, the issue of where one's own pain is located, and whether states of feeling could pervade the universe. He suggests that a raindrop cannot be 'in pain' but that it can contain states of feeling analogous to those in a human when that human asserts that they are 'in pain'.
From the Publisher
This is a book of two halves. The first part of the book focuses on the question of whether a human is perceptually barred from accessing the pain (and other states of feeling) of other humans; in other words, the focus is solely on other humans. The opposing views of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Elaine Scarry are outlined and contrasted. In the second part of the book the focus switches to one's own pain - the pain that one becomes aware of - and the question of where this is located. Various ideas are explored including the idea that one's feelings of pain are solely located in one's brain, that they exist in both one's brain and non-brain body, that they don't have a location, and that they can sometimes exist outside of one's body. These different views are contrasted and viewed from the perspective of the 'phantom limb' phenomenon. It is concluded that feeling states pervade one's body, that one cannot perceive the feeling states of parts of the universe that are not one, and that there are good reasons to believe that all parts of the universe (including raindrops) contain feeling states.