The Experience of Suffering
Philosophical, Cultural, and Social Dimensions

International Conference. Department of Philosophy and Austrian Science Fund Innsbruck, June 22—23, 2017, Claudiana, Herzog-Friedrich-Straße 3, Claudiasaal

Organization: Noelia Bueno-Gómez and Anne Siegetsleitner

Ramón Muriedas, Mother of the Emigrant. Photo: Félix Amorín

The entire experience of suffering and the way in which we make sense of it is influenced by cultural and social patterns. Therefore, a phenomenon like suffering can only be understood from a holistic and an interdisciplinary approach. Suffering is at the same time a personal and a social experience. It affects people and their relationships at an existential, psychological, and physical level. Human suffering has always been treated through symbolical performances (rituals), narratives of meaning, religious explanations, and technical interventions in human cultures. A holistic approach to suffering should take into account all these dimensions in order to put them together and design a general interpretation of what causes suffering, of how it affects human beings (and also non-human animals) and of how they face it. The aim of this conference is to bring together experts from different research areas (particularly social and cultural philosophy, bioethics, anthropology, and biomedicine) who are working on the topic of suffering in order to stimulate an interdisciplinary discussion and an exchange of ideas. We will focus on the experience of suffering in its different dimensions, its perceptions, interpretations, expressions, and managements.



♦ How do cultural and social elements influence the experiences of suffering?

What are the main contemporary resources for individuals in different societies in order to deal with suffering?

♦ How does techno-science determine the experience of suffering? Which resources and limitations does it entail?

Is it desirable to abolish suffering?

How does religion influence the management of suffering?

What is the role of suffering in philosophical and moral theories?

How do different philosophical approaches interpret suffering?

What are the bioethical challenges of the current biomedical management of suffering?

Suffering, self, and subjectivity

♦ Suffering and non-human animals

Biopolitics and social suffering

♦ Suffering and the mind-body Problem



Thursday, June 22

9:00           Addresses of welcome   
                  (University of Innsbruck)

9:15           Silke Schicktanz, Medical University of Göttingen     
                  The Patients' Perspective in Bioethics. Normative and Methodological Considerations

10:15         Gabriele Werner-Felmayer, Medical University of Innsbruck
                  There Ain't no Cure: Biomedicine and the Persistence of Suffering

11:15         Coffee break

11:45         Patrik Vandermeersch, University of Groningen
                  The Ritual of Self-Flagellation: A Challenge for Interpretation

12:45         Lunch

14:00         Noelia Bueno-Gómez, University of Innsbruck    
                  Teresa of Avila and the Mystic-Ascetic Christian Management of Suffering

14:30         Submitted paper session 1 
                  Tine Van Osselaer, University of Antwerp
                  On Suffering and Compassion: Visiting Stigmatic Women in Europe, 19th and 20th Centuries

15:00         Submitted paper session 2
                  Maria Heidegger, University of Innsbruck
                  Expressing Emotional Pain in Early Tyrolean Psychiatry (1830 ̶ 1850)

15:30         Coffee break

16:00         Submitted paper session 3  
                  Christiane Vogel, University of Halle-Wittenberg
                  Self-Writing and Textual Embodiment in Breast Cancer Journals

16:30         Submitted paper session 4
                  Ilse Somavilla, University of Innsbruck
                  Wittgenstein´s Sufferings in his Search for Personal and Philosophical Perfection

20:00         Conference dinner at the Restaurant Dengg  
Riesengasse 13, Innsbruck


Friday, June 23

9:15           Jayandra Soni, University of Innsbruck
                  The Concept of Suffering in the Indian Philosophy

10:15         Asunción Herrera-Guevara, University of Oviedo
                  Suffering: A New Concept of Justice that Includes Nonhuman Animals

11:15         Coffee break

11:45         Phil C. Langer, International Psychoanalytic University Berlin
                   Narratives of Suffering and Notions of Solidarity among Young Women in Afghanistan

12:45         Lunch

14:00         Submitted paper session 5
                  Marina Acero, CIESAS (Mexico City) 
                  Overflowing Modernity and Social Suffering: Self-Destructive Masculine Identities and Emotional Healing in San   
                  Cristóbal de las Casas

14:30         Submitted paper session 6
                  Florian Schmidsberger, University of Vienna
                  The Body as the Medium of Emotional Suffering. A Phenomenology of Emotions and the Body

15:00         Submitted paper session 7 
                  Dominik Koesling, University of Jena
                  Is Suffering a Bad Thing?

15:30         Coffee break

16:00         Submitted paper presentation 8
                  Başak Keki, İstanbul Gelişim University
                  Nietzsche and Levinas on Suffering

16:30         Submitted paper presentation 9  
                  María Martín-Gómez, University of Salamanca 
                  The Hermeneutics of Human Suffering. Faith and Agony in Spanish Philosophy

17:00         Submitted paper presentation 10 
                  Esther Redolfi, University of Innsbruck
                  Simone de Beauvoir´s Existentialistic Perspective on Life, Suffering, Death, and Fate

17:30         Closing



Dr. Noelia Bueno-Gómez 
Department of Philosophy, University of Innsbruck
Innrain 52d, A-6020 Innsbruck
+43 512 507 40210


Research Project

This conference is part of the research project The Experience of Suffering. From the Mystic-Ascetic Christian Tradition to the Techno-Scientific Approach, funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF): [M 2027-GBL]

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