The Polysemy View of Pain

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Philosophers disagree about what the folk concept of pain is. This aricle criticises existing theories of the folk concept of pain, that is, the mental view, the bodily view, and the recently proposed polyeidic view. It puts forward an alternative proposal—the polysemy view—according to which pain terms like “sore”, “ache” and “hurt” are polysemous, where one sense refers to a mental state and another a bodily state, and the type of polysemy at issue reflects two distinct but related concepts of pain. Implications with respect to issues in philosophy of pain are also drawn.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalMind and Language
Early online date5 Oct 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Oct 2021


  • folk concept of pain
  • pain
  • polyeidic view of pain
  • polysemy


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