'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 emphathy, as well as providing an analysis of the place of pain in modern culture.
Vetlesen offers an original and insightful perspective on something that all of us suffer and endure from a sprained ankle to a broken heart. Although pain is in itself unpleasant, our ability to feel it reminds us that we are alive.