Is pain a sensory modality?

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Abstract

The criteria to individuate the senses aim at answering two main questions: the metaphysical one investigates what is a sensory modality, while the classificatory one asks how a sensory modality can be distinguished from the others. In this paper, I discuss how the common sense criterion, the physical criterion, the physiological criterion, the experiential criterion, the experiential-ontological criterion and the subtractive criterion deal with pain. Pain can be used to exemplify what I call “extramodal grey area”. Each grey area gives the authors interested in the debate on the individuation of the senses a way to test the results obtained when the criteria above mentioned are applied to empirical cases. According to the extramodal grey area, the inclusion of some groups of perceptions in the catalogue of the senses may give rise to doubts: in the case of pain, it is not clear if it is a sensory modality in the first place, and, if so, if it is an autonomous sense.
Key words: pain; individuation of the senses; extramodal grey area; experiential-ontological criterion; subtractive criterion.