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The Representation of Bodily Pain in Late
                        Nineteenth–Century English Culture$
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Lucy Bending

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198187172

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198187172.001.0001

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The Question of Shared Human Sensibility

The Question of Shared Human Sensibility

(p.177) 5 The Question of Shared Human Sensibility
The Representation of Bodily Pain in Late Nineteenth–Century English Culture

Lucy Bending

Oxford University Press

If animal pain was discounted by vivisectionists in the face of physiological knowledge, then the pain of particular groups of humans could also be discredited and denied. This chapter deals with the ways in which the pain of individual human sufferers was read in accordance with particular preconceptions, rather than in the light of suffering endured in the body. The first section lays the groundwork for such discrediting of suffering as it broadly asks: what do we see when we look at pain? and how do we know that it is real? The second section picks up on the terminology used to phrase the questions of the first by asking what basis the word ‘we’ could have in such a context. It demonstrates the fluidity of pain as a sign, and its openness to conflicting interpretation, as its basis as a shared component of human experience is variously upheld or rejected.

Keywords:   pain, human suffering, bodily pain, physical pain, pain infliction, human experience

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