The Value of Suffering

An Interdisciplinary Investigation of the Nature, Meaning, and Role of Affective Experiences

Welcome to the Value of Suffering Project. This project is a three-year investigation by a team of philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, and clinicians into the nature and role of suffering and affective experience in general. The project will comprise workshops, conferences, published outputs, and outreach activities including the Suffering Blog which we hope you’ll participate in.

We invite you to look around, come to our events, participate in our interactive blog, and contact us with any questions or suggestions!

Project Snapshot

Affective experiences — those that feel positive and negative—are of the utmost importance to us all. Our bodies break and become diseased. Our feelings get hurt, loved ones die. So too, pleasure is an important and salient feature of our lives: the pleasures of taste, touch, sound and smell, and the emotional satisfactions of love achievement, and friendship.

These affective experiences provide richness and significance in our lives. Suffering, however, can also incapacitate, and even make us wish to die. But is suffering also good? Encompassing both physical pain and emotions such as grief and disappointment, suffering is almost universally considered bad. We aim to illuminate the complex and frequently neglected ways in which suffering is also good.

While research into suffering and affective experience more generally is growing in the sciences and humanities, significant holes in our knowledge remain, and there has been a failure to integrate what has been learned across the disciplines.

With the Value of Suffering project, we hope to contribute to our understanding of this central part of life, important to us all.