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It is appropriate for an organism to heed the most pressing demands of survival, and the imminence of injury or death is as pressing as a demand can be, so it is altogether to be expected that a strongly entrenched pain network, essentially including appropriate responses of withdrawal, should be inherited. Moreover, as personal experience reveals, the behavioural reactions to pain are more difficult to overrule than any other behavioural tendencies. Genuine pain behaviour is compulsive, involuntary, and only with great ‘will power’ or special training can man or beast keep from reactions to pain.

The situation is like that in decision theory: just as we cannot infer beliefs from choices without also inferring desires, so we cannot decide what a man means by what he says without at the same time constructing a theory about what he believes. In the case of language, the basic strategy must be to assume that by and large a speaker we do not yet understand is consistent and correct in his beliefs – according to our own standards, of course. Following this strategy makes it possible to pair up sentences the speaker utters with sentences of our own that we hold true under like circumstances.

Pain could not appear until organisms began avoiding it. The question before us now is whether pain is something (some thing) in addition to the physical operations of the pain-network. An analysis of our ordinary way of speaking about pains shows that no events or processes could be discovered in the brain that would exhibit the characteristics of the putative ‘mental phenomena’ of pain, because talk of pains is essentially non-mechanical, and the events and processes of the brain are essentially mechanical.

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