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Sensory Pain and Conscious Pain

Julian Jaynes
Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 1985, 8: 61-63.
Reprinted in Marcel Kuijsten (ed.), The Julian Jaynes Collection (Julian Jaynes Society, 2012).


... If this is the case, then certain dramatic predictions follow. If consciousness was learned sometime after 1000 B.C. (as I argue, Jaynes 1976), there should be no evidence of conscious pain or chronic pain in texts around or before that date. Indeed, in ancient Proto-Indo-European (before 2000 B.C.) there is no word for pain or hurt at all, although there are words for wounds and cuts. And in the oldest parts of the Iliad, written down about 850 B.C. but relayed by oral tradition from earlier times, there are extremely gory descriptions of bloody woundings and terrible disembowelments, but hardly any notice of discomfort so caused. Rachlin is right for ancient Troy: Pain is merely pain behavior. In contrast, one should look at Plato's Philebus of about 350 B.C. for a quite modern-sounding discussion of pain and suffering (as well as a remarkable description of itching beginning at 46D). ...