An Interdisciplinary Symposium


PASCOM at the Interdisciplinary Symposium (Health and Phenomenology) at OXFORD UNIVERSITY, Torch Research Center

“On the 27th & 28th March, the Oxford Phenomenology Network hosted this inaugural conference at the Oxford Research Centre in The Humanities, bringing together a wide array of disciplines for a fascinating exchange of ideas, research, and critique within the context of medical and phenomenological studies in health. Its mission statement was to “explore the interrelations between phenomenology and health from a wide variety of perspectives” (event organisers Cleo Hanaway-Oakley and Erin Lafford; see Cleo’s post on the Life of Breath blog, ‘To breath is all that is required‘). This was certainly achieved, via talks on subjects from philosophical, medical, literary and scientific perspectives including the phenomenology of mental health; of disability; of motherhood; in literature; of living and dying; of breast cancer; in medical encounters, and many more. “

“Most of the talks were relevant to our project remit by virtue of the focus on phenomenology and health. However, some themes stood out, including link between chronic pain and breathlessness that runs through several previous posts (see, for example, Breathless in Cambridge and Signal Failure? Thinking outside the lung). Indeed, the conference provided refreshing opportunities to see how phenomenological insights have guided research. This was shown in Smadar Bustan and Sandra Kamping’s paper on combining phenomenology and experimental pain research. It reminded me of how models such as ‘total pain’ have been used to create analogous ‘total dyspnoea’ models, and how these alternative models incorporate a fuller picture of the impact of pain and suffering on the whole embodied and socially-situated person, rather than focusing on symptoms.”

Breathless in Oxford


Dr. Paul Dawalibi

Paul Dawalibi is a Lebanese philosopher, specializing in phenomenology, teaching at Saint Paul Institute (University) in Lebanon. Between 2008 to 2011, he was teaching philosophy to the preparatory classes at Stanislas College in Paris. Paul Dawalibi has also served as the Director of a prevention center for persons in situations of delinquency and prostitution  at Aux Captifs, La Liberation Association, Paris. His research has ranged over phenomenology, psychic and existential analyses, insecure identity, egoism, narcissism, birth and death, love theory, losing theory, vulnerability, suffering and pain, psychic suffering, existential suffering. Paul Dawalibi’s books in French include “L’Amour comme aban-don de soi” (2009), “L’identité aban-donnée, un essai sur la phénoménologie de la souffrance” (2011), “Métaphysique et psychanalyse” (2012).

Book Project:

What are the parallels between physical suffering and existential suffering?

{Co-writing with Prof. Rita Charon}

Sascha Benjamin Fink

Sascha Benjamin Fink is currently writing his PhD at the Institute of Cognitive Science in Osnabrück. After working as a nurse in a cancer ward, he studied philosophy, history of art, japanology, and biology at the University of Mainz, Tokyo’s Nihon University, and the Australia National University. He was awarded scholarships by the German National Academic Foundation and the Lichtenberg Society, and is a proud member of the young researchers network for philosophy of mind (MINDGroup) at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies, and of Minding Animals, where he crosses boundaries between animal sciences and animal ethics. Sascha analyses the search for neural correlates of consciousness from the philosophical perspectives of ontology, epistemology, statistics, and metrology; more specifically, he focuses on the role of introspection, phenomenology, and first-person reports in scientific experimentation and prediction. His main focus in publications so far is on the connection of pain to suffering and their evolutionary history, as well as the inadequacy of the IASP-definition of “pain” (see Independence and Connection of Pain and Suffering, 2011).

Book Project: Can pain and suffering be measured?

{Co-writing with Prof. Kenneth Craig }


Dr. Smadar Bustan

Selected Papers Online

Dr. Smadar Bustan is a philosopher, conducting in parallel experimental work in the field of pain research. She has a PhD in philosophy by both the Sorbonne University (France) & the University of Tel-Aviv (Israel). Her thesis concerned the relation between phenomenology and ethics. During her Sachs Fellow visiting position at the Philosophy Department at Harvard University, she focused on the bridge between European and American philosophies in collaboration with Hilary Putnam. In 2011, she joined the Psychophysiology and Neurophysiology Laboratory at Luxembourg University, working with Prof. Fernand Anton. Her project on pain and suffering is a long-term research plan, underlying her philosophical thesis on pre-reflectivity. Specifically, her theory on Pain and Suffering, currently tested in the context of the bilateral PASCOM project (FNR-DFG) intends to present a new framework of thought in proposing a diagrammatical reasoning which combines the sufferer’s inner world with his social world. This scientifically validated phenomenological mode of thinking will provide the different disciplines with a global way for explaining pain and suffering variations. In the long run, she hopes this could serve hospitals and clinics.

Photo by: Mireille Montmasson