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What the Body Commands


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Arguably, the most thought-provoking, resourceful, and imaginative book on pain written by a philosopher in recent decades. Klein develops a novel philosophical account of pain -- imperativism -- that brilliantly manages to be both empirically informed and theoretically insightful. Well-argued and clearly structured, devoid of excessive professional jargon, lucid and often quite witty -- this is a must-read book for any curious mind, not just for philosophers. -- Murat Aydede, Professor of Philosophy, University of British Columbia; editor of Pain: New Essays on Its Nature and the Methodology of Its Study Pain is such a bizarre life experience, and philosophers are appallingly bad at elucidating its fundamental nature. Colin Klein is the rare exception. His imperative theory of pain is at once a deeply profound idea and a simple one. What the Body Commands is the rare masterwork: it musters a clear, cogent, extended case for why Klein is right -- and it is sheer delight to read, to boot. -- Valerie Gray Hardcastle, Professor of Philosophy, Psychology, and Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, Scholar-in-Residence of the Weaver Institute of Law and Psychiatry, and Director of the Medicine, Health, and Society Program, University of Cincinnati; author of The Myth of Pain

About the Author

Colin Klein is a Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at Macquarie University, Australia, an Associate Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and Its Disorders, and an ARC Future Fellow.


Klein offers a detailed, realist account of the semantic contents of pain imperatives. And he makes clear that he believes this content (alone) explains both the phenomenology and primary motivating role of pain.

-Matthew Fulkerson, Philosophical Reviews

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