Mind is not brain – but mental states are brain states

what_is_pain

Is mind the same as brain? Consider a pain. Pain is personally unpleasant, but nowhere in physical space. However, brain states all occur in physical space (the physical brain), and none of them are unpleasant. So pain cannot be a brain-state, which means mind is not the same as brain.

It is true that what happens in the brain during pain is not itself unpleasant. But, a state of personal pain is also not itself unpleasant, and based on neuroscientific evidence, occurs in the brain.

Pain is a certain state of experience, which we call ‘being in pain’, or ‘having a pain’. When I observe you in pain, I can use the same expressions to characterise your personal experience. So, the word ‘pain’ refers to an experience type, not an object type. A pain is not an abstract object, but a sensory, emotional and cognitive experience, which is unpleasant, hurtful, surreal, burning, throbbing, typically accompanied by injury, and so on.

In migraine headache, being in pain is not located in the head, but a state of migraine is identical to a brain state. Pain is neither an object, nor a thing, but a personal event, and the language of pain may obscure this.

But I think it is correct to say that the painfulness of pain characterises the appearance of a body-part or bodily portion; in the case of migraine, the apparent location of the migraine directs my attention to my actual head. Note that the phrase ‘appearance of a body-part/bodily portion’ is ambiguous because the phrase also applies to events of pain in body-parts when the apparent body-part referred to does not exist (e.g., phantom pains). Pain locations are qualitative locations.

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