CFP: Pleasure and Pain

Submission deadline: March 20, 2014

Conference date(s):
June 20, 2014 - June 21, 2014

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

University of Essex
Colchester, United Kingdom

Topic areas


Pleasure and pain are highly contested concepts in the history of
philosophy. Yet these concepts simultaneously underpin modes of life; the
way we conceptualise and relate to pleasure and pain directly influences our
ethical and political action. But the precise nature of these concepts
remains problematic.

While for Aristotle pleasure was inextricably linked to happiness,
Hellenistic schools linked pleasure and pain to desire, and urged
non-attachment to the external world in order to transcend the painful
perils of everyday life and attain a higher state of tranquility.
Conversely, the problem of subjective or social suffering in terms of
individual and social pathologies has also been addressed by members of the
Frankfurt School in order to inspire to radical social change. Debate has
also raged as to whether pleasure and pain are on a continuum, or whether
they might co-exist as some kind of intensive magnitude. Certain practices
use extreme pain in order to produce pleasure — as we see in masochism, for

Pleasure and pain, then, are at once ethical, political, and personal. But
what is the contemporary status of these concepts? Without divine
retribution, or the promise of untold pleasures in an afterlife, are we
left, as Mandeville predicted, in some kind of hedonistic frenzy? Is
pleasure possible without suffering? What, if any, duties do we have towards
others to stop their pain and suffering?

We invite abstracts of around 300 words for presentations of 40 minutes on any topic related to pleasure and pain.

Submissions from graduate students working within all traditions of
philosophy are encouraged. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

•       Hedonism, Epicureanism, and Hellenistic philosophy
•       Philosophy of love, desire, and sex
•       Pain and pleasure in art and aesthetics
•       The role of the emotions in suffering and happiness
•       Psychoanalytic theories of pleasure and pain
•       Pleasure, pain, and the emotions in early-modern philosophy
•       Mental health, illness, and suffering
•       Masochism
•       Social pathologies and Critical Theory
•       The problem of evil
•       Death
•       Sacrifice and renunciation
•       Asceticism
•       Moral philosophy and the prevention of pain
•       Feminist critiques of pleasure and pain

Please send submissions to by March 20th, 2014.
Successful applicants will be notified by the end of March.

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