When given the honour of eating the worm from the tequila by some Mexican locals, he observed: “It’s like me neck knows what’s happening. It’s going “no, I’m not letting it in””.
Karl Pilkington, although not a bona fide philosopher, provides some interesting philosophical questions. If it is Karl’s perspective that his neck ‘knows’ and ‘thinks’, can we dismiss him and tell him he is wrong?
You may think the answer to the above is obvious but ultimately he is sharing his own take on his experience.
It is this first-person perspective and phenomenology that brought people to the inaugural Le Pub Scientifique on what must have been the most sweltering night of the Summer.
Thirsty for knowledge, and an ice cold drink, everyone settled into the Chesterfield sofas in the upstairs room of The Prince Regent, London. We proudly introduced Dr Mick Thacker, a physiotherapist, MSc programme director and neuroscientist with a PhD in molecular neuroimmunology in pain. With a background in the ‘physical sciences’ Mick and Lorimer Moseley, in their recent article, suggest that it is now time to “bring philosophers to the table” in the search for better treatments and understanding for people in pain (and they don’t mean Karl Pilkington...).
Mick began the evening lecture bringing us back into the real world. He reminded us of the essence of why we are researching, assessing and treating people in pain by introducing us to first-person neuroscience. Scientists, clinicians and philosophers are interested in different questions but ultimately in the same theme. How to use their different approaches, to better explain what we want to explain, gives first-person neuroscience its validity.
With the current trend for a neurocentric view of exploring and understanding pain, including fancy techniques such as functional MRI scanning, Mick highlighted that in these circumstances we are only ever talking about pain in the third-person and therefore objectifying a subjective experience.
He brought us back to the fundamentals that in isolation these methods are not enough to tell us about pain. First-person neuroscience gives equal emphasis to the subjective experience of someone living in their life-world together with these quantifiable third-person measures. These aspects together generate different questions and hope for more rounded answers and directions for research and understanding of pain.
It is an exciting time to observe that the world of pain science is ever expanding and inclusive of a variety of physical, social, psychological and philosophical perspectives.
For a look at first-person neuroscience as the “science of experience” check out:
Northoff, G. & Heinzel A. (2006) First-person neuroscience: a new methodological approach for linking mental and neuronal states. Philosophy, Ethics and Humanities in Medicine, 1:3, doi:10.1186/1747-5341-1-3 PDF
For an interesting (and hilarious) perspective on the world:
An Idiot Abroad