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Wittgenstein At The Doctor

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Doctor: "Tell me Wittgenstein, on a scale of one to ten, how much pain are you in?"
Wittgenstein: "What do you mean?"

Doctor: "Just look at the chart, and tell me the number of what you are feeling."

Wittgenstein: "And you expect the answer i give you to relate in some way to my internal conscious experience of pain?"
Doctor: "Of course. The more pain you are feeling, the higher the number you say."

Wittgenstein: "But how is that possible? This is nothing more than a language game that we play in order to negotiate the next move in social situation of being in a hospital."
Doctor: "Uh..."

Wittgenstein: "Look, neither of us can know what is going on internally with each other, or anyone else. If i give a five, and the next patient gives a five, we can't compare them to see if we felt the same amount of “pain”."

Wittgenstein: "We can't even tell if we are feeling the same type  of thing. Their name for “pain” could be associated with an entirely different feeling, and that could never be discovered."

Wittgenstein: "But more than that, both of us are well aware of the fact that we have no grounding for the scale, and the fact that my answer influences your next move in this little game of ours."

Wittgenstein: "Say a young woman comes in with severe cramps. The day before she read an article in the paper that reported doctors systematically ignore or downplay women's pain."
Wittgenstein: "What do we expect she should do when answering this question? Relate the internal experience of pain to a unknowable scale? No! She will of course attempt to convince the doctor to treat her pain seriously."

Wittgenstein: "She may even play act at greater pain than she has and say an “eight” when she feels a “six”, not to make the doctor believe she is feeling more pain than she is, but only to get proper treatment, because she knows he is prone to believe she is exaggerating."

Wittgenstein: "The doctor may think he detects that she is play acting, and write down a “four”. What they are doing more closely resembles a game of poker than a scientist describing a fact about the world."

Wittgenstein: "So you see, the scale itself is merely part of the social game of doctors and patients interacting, and has nothing directly to do with pain at all! It is no different than a game of poker."

Doctor: "Right, so...I'm really just looking for a number from one to ten so I can write it down on the chart."

Wittgenstein: "Fine...a nine."
Doctor: "You aren't getting any morphine you know."

Wittgenstein: "Actually it is more like a ten."
Doctor: "You sprained your ankle, Wittgenstein, you just need to ice it."
Actually, the phrase "drug seeking behavior" doesn't denote anything in the world, per se...
Philosophers in this comic: Ludwig Wittgenstein
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