Epiphenomenalism is a position on the mind–body problem which holds that physical and biochemical events within the human body (sense organs, neural impulses, and muscle contractions, for example) are causal with respect to mental events (thought, consciousness, and cognition). According to this view, subjective mental events are completely dependent for their existence on corresponding physical and biochemical events within the human body and themselves have no causal efficacy on physical events. The appearance that subjective mental states (such as intentions) influence physical events is merely an illusion. For instance, fear seems to make the heart beat faster, but according to epiphenomenalism the biochemical secretions of the brain and nervous system (such as adrenaline)—not the experience of fear—is what raises the heartbeat. Because mental events are a kind of overflow that cannot cause anything physical, yet have non-physical properties, epiphenomenalism is viewed as a form of property dualism.
During the seventeenth century, Rene Descartes argued that animals are subject to mechanical laws of nature. He defended the idea of automatic behavior, or the performance of actions without conscious thought. Descartes questioned how the immaterial mind and the material body can interact causally. His interactionist model (1649) held that the body relates to the mind through the pineal gland. La Mettrie, Leibniz, and Spinoza all in their own way began this way of thinking. The idea that even if the animal were conscious nothing would be added to the production of behavior, even in animals of the human type, was first voiced by La Mettrie (1745), and then by Cabanis (1802), and was further explicated by Hodgson (1870)  and Huxley (1874).
Thomas Henry Huxley agreed with Descartes that behavior is determined solely by physical mechanisms, but he also believed that humans enjoy an intelligent life. In 1874, Huxley argued, in the Presidential Address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, that animals are conscious automata. Huxley proposed that psychical changes are collateral products of physical changes. He termed the stream of consciousness an "epiphenomenon;" like the bell of a clock that has no role in keeping the time, consciousness has no role in determining behavior.
Huxley defended automatism by testing reflex actions, originally supported by Descartes. Huxley hypothesized that frogs that undergo lobotomy would swim when thrown into water, despite being unable to initiate actions. He argued that the ability to swim was solely dependent on the molecular change in the brain, concluding that consciousness is not necessary for reflex actions. According to epiphenomenalism, animals experience pain only as a result of neurophysiology.
In 1870, Huxley conducted a case study on a French soldier who had sustained a shot in the Franco-Prussian War that fractured his left parietal bone. Every few weeks the soldier would enter a trance-like state, smoking, dressing himself, and aiming his cane like a rifle all while being insensitive to pins, electric shocks, odorous substances, vinegar, noise, and certain light conditions. Huxley used this study to show that consciousness was not necessary to execute these purposeful actions, justifying the assumption that humans are insensible machines. Huxley's mechanistic attitude towards the body convinced him that the brain alone causes behavior.
In the early 1900s scientific behaviorists such as Ivan Pavlov, John B. Watson, and B. F. Skinner began the attempt to uncover laws describing the relationship between stimuli and responses, without reference to inner mental phenomena. Instead of adopting a form of eliminativism or mental fictionalism, positions that deny that inner mental phenomena exist, a behaviorist was able to adopt epiphenomenalism in order to allow for the existence of mind. George Santayana (1905) believed that all motion has merely physical causes. Because consciousness is accessory to life and not essential to it, natural selection is responsible for ingraining tendencies to avoid certain contingencies without any conscious achievement involved. By the 1960s, scientific behaviourism met substantial difficulties and eventually gave way to the cognitive revolution. Participants in that revolution, such as Jerry Fodor, reject epiphenomenalism and insist upon the efficacy of the mind. Fodor even speaks of "epiphobia"—fear that one is becoming an epiphenomenalist.
However, since the cognitive revolution, there have been several who have argued for a version of epiphenomenalism. In 1970, Keith Campbell proposed his "new epiphenomenalism", which states that the body produces a spiritual mind that does not act on the body. How the brain causes a spiritual mind, according to Campbell, is destined to remain beyond our understanding forever (see New Mysterianism). In 2001, David Chalmers and Frank Jackson argued that claims about conscious states should be deduced a priori from claims about physical states alone. They offered that epiphenomenalism bridges, but does not close, the explanatory gap between the physical and the phenomenal realms. These more recent versions maintain that only the subjective, qualitative aspects of mental states are epiphenomenal. Imagine both Pierre and a robot eating a cupcake. Unlike the robot, Pierre is conscious of eating the cupcake while the behavior is under way. This subjective experience is often called a quale (plural qualia), and it describes the private "raw feel" or the subjective "what-it-is-like" that is the inner accompaniment of many mental states. Thus, while Pierre and the robot are both doing the same thing, only Pierre has the inner conscious experience.
Frank Jackson (1982), for example, once espoused the following view:
I am what is sometimes known as a "qualia freak". I think that there are certain features of bodily sensations especially, but also of certain perceptual experiences, which no amount of purely physical information includes. Tell me everything physical there is to tell about what is going on in a living brain... you won't have told me about the hurtfulness of pains, the itchiness of itches, pangs of jealousy....
According to epiphenomenalism, mental states like Pierre's pleasurable experience—or, at any rate, their distinctive qualia—are epiphenomena; they are side-effects or by-products of physical processes in the body. If Pierre takes a second bite, it is not caused by his pleasure from the first; If Pierre says, "That was good, so I will take another bite", his speech act is not caused by the preceding pleasure. The conscious experiences that accompany brain processes are causally impotent. The mind might simply be a byproduct of other properties such as brain size or pathway activation synchronicity, which are adaptive.
Some thinkers draw distinctions between different varieties of epiphenomenalism. In Consciousness Explained, Daniel Dennett distinguishes between a purely metaphysical sense of epiphenomenalism, in which the epiphenomenon has no causal impact at all, and Huxley's "steam whistle" epiphenomenalism, in which effects exist but are not functionally relevant.
A large body of neurophysiological data seems to support epiphenomenalism. Some of the oldest such data is the Bereitschaftspotential or "readiness potential" in which electrical activity related to voluntary actions can be recorded up to two seconds before the subject is aware of making a decision to perform the action. More recently Benjamin Libet et al. (1979) have shown that it can take 0.5 seconds before a stimulus becomes part of conscious experience even though subjects can respond to the stimulus in reaction time tests within 200 milliseconds. The conclusions of this experiment have begun to receive some backlash and criticism, mainly by neuroscientists such as Peter Tse, who claim to show that the readiness potential has nothing to do with consciousness at all. Recent research on the Event Related Potential also shows that conscious experience does not occur until the late phase of the potential (P3 or later) that occurs 300 milliseconds or more after the event. In Bregman's auditory continuity illusion, where a pure tone is followed by broadband noise and the noise is followed by the same pure tone it seems as if the tone occurs throughout the period of noise. This also suggests a delay for processing data before conscious experience occurs. Popular science author Tor Nørretranders has called the delay the "user illusion", implying that we only have the illusion of conscious control, most actions being controlled automatically by non-conscious parts of the brain with the conscious mind relegated to the role of spectator.
The scientific data seem to support the idea that conscious experience is created by non-conscious processes in the brain (i.e., there is subliminal processing that becomes conscious experience). These results have been interpreted to suggest that people are capable of action before conscious experience of the decision to act occurs. Some argue that this supports epiphenomenalism, since it shows that the feeling of making a decision to act is actually an epiphenomenon; the action happens before the decision, so the decision did not cause the action to occur.
The most powerful argument against epiphenomenalism is that it is self-contradictory: if we have knowledge about epiphenomenalism, then our brains know about the existence of the mind, but if epiphenomenalism were correct, then our brains should not have any knowledge about the mind, because the mind does not affect anything physical.
However, some philosophers do not accept this as a rigorous refutation. For example, Victor Argonov states that epiphenomenalism is a questionable, but experimentally falsifiable theory. He argues that the personal mind is not the only source of knowledge about the existence of mind in the world. A creature (even a zombie) could have knowledge about mind and the mind-body problem by virtue of some innate knowledge. The information about mind (and its problematic properties such as qualia) could have been, in principle, implicitly "written" in the material world since its creation. Epiphenomenalists can say that God created immaterial mind and a detailed "program" of material human behavior that makes it possible to speak about the mind–body problem. That version of epiphenomenalism seems highly exotic, but it cannot be excluded from consideration by pure theory. However, Argonov suggests that experiments could refute epiphenomenalism. In particular, epiphenomenalism could be refuted if neural correlates of consciousness can be found in the human brain, and it is proven that human speech about consciousness is caused by them.
Some philosophers, such as Dennett, reject both epiphenomenalism and the existence of qualia with the same charge that Gilbert Ryle leveled against a Cartesian "ghost in the machine", that they too are category mistakes. A quale or conscious experience would not belong to the category of objects of reference on this account, but rather to the category of ways of doing things.
Functionalists assert that mental states are well described by their overall role, their activity in relation to the organism as a whole. "This doctrine is rooted in Aristotle's conception of the soul, and has antecedents in Hobbes's conception of the mind as a 'calculating machine', but it has become fully articulated (and popularly endorsed) only in the last third of the 20th century." In so far as it mediates stimulus and response, a mental function is analogous to a program that processes input/output in automata theory. In principle, multiple realisability would guarantee platform dependencies can be avoided, whether in terms of hardware and operating system or, ex hypothesi, biology and philosophy. Because a high-level language is a practical requirement for developing the most complex programs, functionalism implies that a non-reductive physicalism would offer a similar advantage over a strictly eliminative materialism.
Eliminative materialists believe "folk psychology" is so unscientific that, ultimately, it will be better to eliminate primitive concepts such as mind, desire and belief, in favor of a future neuro-scientific account. A more moderate position such as J. L. Mackie's error theory suggests that false beliefs should be stripped away from a mental concept without eliminating the concept itself, the legitimate core meaning being left intact.
Benjamin Libet's results are quoted in favor of epiphenomenalism, but he believes subjects still have a "conscious veto", since the readiness potential does not invariably lead to an action. In Freedom Evolves, Daniel Dennett argues that a no-free-will conclusion is based on dubious assumptions about the location of consciousness, as well as questioning the accuracy and interpretation of Libet's results. Similar criticism of Libet-style research has been made by neuroscientist Adina Roskies and cognitive theorists Tim Bayne and Alfred Mele.
Others have argued that data such as the Bereitschaftspotential undermine epiphenomenalism for the same reason, that such experiments rely on a subject reporting the point in time at which a conscious experience and a conscious decision occurs, thus relying on the subject to be able to consciously perform an action. That ability would seem to be at odds with early epiphenomenalism, which according to Huxley is the broad claim that consciousness is "completely without any power… as the steam-whistle which accompanies the work of a locomotive engine is without influence upon its machinery".
Adrian G. Guggisberg and Annaïs Mottaz have also challenged those findings.
A study by Aaron Schurger and colleagues published in PNAS challenged assumptions about the causal nature of the readiness potential itself (and the "pre-movement buildup" of neural activity in general), thus denying the conclusions drawn from studies such as Libet's and Fried's.
In favor of interactionism, Celia Green (2003) argues that epiphenomenalism does not even provide a satisfactory 'out' from the problem of interaction posed by substance dualism. Although it does not entail substance dualism, according to Green, epiphenomenalism implies a one-way form of interactionism that is just as hard to conceive of as the two-way form embodied in substance dualism. Green suggests the assumption that it is less of a problem may arise from the unexamined belief that physical events have some sort of primacy over mental ones.
Donald Symons dismisses epiphenomenalism from an evolutionary perspective. He says that the view that mind is an epiphenomenon of brain activity is not consistent with evolutionary theory, because if mind were functionless, it would have disappeared long ago, as it would not have been favoured by evolution.
Animal consciousness, or animal awareness, is the quality or state of self-awareness within an animal, or of being aware of an external object or something within itself. In humans, consciousness has been defined as: sentience, awareness, subjectivity, qualia, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of self, and the executive control system of the mind. Despite the difficulty in definition, many philosophers believe there is a broadly shared underlying intuition about what consciousness is.The topic of animal consciousness is beset with a number of difficulties. It poses the problem of other minds in an especially severe form because animals, lacking the ability to use human language, cannot tell us about their experiences. Also, it is difficult to reason objectively about the question, because a denial that an animal is conscious is often taken to imply that it does not feel, its life has no value, and that harming it is not morally wrong. The 17th-century French philosopher René Descartes, for example, has sometimes been blamed for mistreatment of animals because he argued that only humans are conscious.Philosophers who consider subjective experience the essence of consciousness also generally believe, as a correlate, that the existence and nature of animal consciousness can never rigorously be known. The American philosopher Thomas Nagel spelled out this point of view in an influential essay titled What Is it Like to Be a Bat?. He said that an organism is conscious "if and only if there is something that it is like to be that organism—something it is like for the organism"; and he argued that no matter how much we know about an animal's brain and behavior, we can never really put ourselves into the mind of the animal and experience its world in the way it does itself. Other thinkers, such as the cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter, dismiss this argument as incoherent. Several psychologists and ethologists have argued for the existence of animal consciousness by describing a range of behaviors that appear to show animals holding beliefs about things they cannot directly perceive—Donald Griffin's 2001 book Animal Minds reviews a substantial portion of the evidence.Animal consciousness has been actively researched for over one hundred years. In 1927 the American functional psychologist Harvey Carr argued that any valid measure or understanding of awareness in animals depends on "an accurate and complete knowledge of its essential conditions in man". A more recent review concluded in 1985 that "the best approach is to use experiment (especially psychophysics) and observation to trace the dawning and ontogeny of self-consciousness, perception, communication, intention, beliefs, and reflection in normal human fetuses, infants, and children". In 2012, a group of neuroscientists signed the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness, which "unequivocally" asserted that "humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neural substrates."Australian philosophy
Australian philosophy refers to the philosophical tradition of the people of Australia and of its citizens abroad.Causal closure
Physical causal closure is a metaphysical theory about the nature of causation in the physical realm with significant ramifications in the study of metaphysics and the mind. In a strongly stated version, physical causal closure says that "all physical states have pure physical causes" — Jaegwon Kim, or that "physical effects have only physical causes" — Agustin Vincente, p. 150.Those who accept the theory tend, in general although not exclusively, to the physicalist view that all entities that exist are physical entities. As Karl Popper says, "The physicalist principle of closedness of the physical ... is of decisive importance and I take it as the characteristic principle of physicalism or materialism."Cosmology (philosophy)
Philosophical cosmology, philosophy of cosmology or philosophy of cosmos is a discipline directed to the philosophical contemplation of the universe as a totality, and to its conceptual foundations. It draws on several branches of philosophy—metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of physics, philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics, and on the fundamental theories of physics. The term cosmology was used at least as early as 1730, by German philosopher Christian Wolff, in Cosmologia Generalis.Danish philosophy
Danish philosophy has a long tradition as part of Western philosophy.
Perhaps the most influential Danish philosopher was Søren Kierkegaard, the creator of Christian existentialism, which inspired the philosophical movement of Existentialism. Kierkegaard had a few Danish followers, including Harald Høffding, who later in his life moved on to join the movement of positivism. Among Kierkegaard's other followers include Jean-Paul Sartre who was impressed with Kierkegaard's views on the individual, and Rollo May, who helped create humanistic psychology.Early modern philosophy
Early modern philosophy (also classical modern philosophy) is a period in the history of philosophy at the beginning or overlapping with the period known as modern philosophy.Epiphenomenon
An epiphenomenon (plural: epiphenomena) is a secondary phenomenon that occurs alongside or in parallel to a primary phenomenon. The word has two senses: one that connotes known causation and one that connotes absence of causation or reservation of judgment about it.Interactionism (philosophy of mind)
Interactionism or interactionist dualism is the theory in the philosophy of mind which holds that matter and mind are two distinct and independent substances that exert causal effects on one another. It is one type of dualism, traditionally a type of substance dualism though more recently also sometimes a form of property dualism.Knowledge argument
The knowledge argument (also known as Mary's room or Mary the super-scientist) is a philosophical thought experiment proposed by Frank Jackson in his article "Epiphenomenal Qualia" (1982) and extended in "What Mary Didn't Know" (1986). The experiment is intended to argue against physicalism—the view that the universe, including all that is mental, is entirely physical. The debate that emerged following its publication became the subject of an edited volume—There's Something About Mary (2004)—which includes replies from such philosophers as Daniel Dennett, David Lewis, and Paul Churchland.List of Slovene philosophers
Slovene philosophy includes philosophers who were either Slovenes or came from what is now Slovenia.List of philosophies
Philosophical schools of thought and philosophical movements.Mental world
The mental world is an ontological category in metaphysics, populated by nonmaterial mental objects, without physical extension (though possibly with mental extension as in a visual field, or possibly not, as in an olfactory field) contrasted with the physical world of space and time populated with physical objects, or Plato's world of ideals populated, in part, with mathematical objects.The mental world may be populated with, or framed with, intentions, sensory fields, and corresponding objects.
The mental world is usually considered to be subjective and not objective.
In psychologism, mathematical objects are mental objects.
Descartes argued for a mental world as separate from the physical world. Debates regarding free will include how it could be possible for anything in the mental world to have an effect on the physical world. In various forms of Epiphenomenalism, the physical world can cause effects in the mental world, but not conversely. Behaviorists deny that a mental world can be meaningfully referred to.Reasoning laws about a mental world are different from the ones for a physical world. In particular, individuals with autism experience substantial difficulties in the former but perform relatively well in the latter.Mind–body dualism
Mind–body dualism, or mind–body duality, is a view in the philosophy of mind that mental phenomena are, in some respects, non-physical, or that the mind and body are distinct and separable. Thus, it encompasses a set of views about the relationship between mind and matter, and between subject and object, and is contrasted with other positions, such as physicalism and enactivism, in the mind–body problem.Aristotle shared Plato's view of multiple souls and further elaborated a hierarchical arrangement, corresponding to the distinctive functions of plants, animals, and people: a nutritive soul of growth and metabolism that all three share; a perceptive soul of pain, pleasure, and desire that only people and other animals share; and the faculty of reason that is unique to people only. In this view, a soul is the hylomorphic form of a viable organism, wherein each level of the hierarchy formally supervenes upon the substance of the preceding level. Thus, for Aristotle, all three souls perish when the living organism dies. For Plato however, the soul was not dependent on the physical body; he believed in metempsychosis, the migration of the soul to a new physical body.Dualism is closely associated with the thought of René Descartes (1641), which holds that the mind is a nonphysical—and therefore, non-spatial—substance. Descartes clearly identified the mind with consciousness and self-awareness and distinguished this from the brain as the seat of intelligence. Hence, he was the first to formulate the mind–body problem in the form in which it exists today. Dualism is contrasted with various kinds of monism. Substance dualism is contrasted with all forms of materialism, but property dualism may be considered a form of emergent materialism or non-reductive physicalism in some sense.Nomological danglers
Nomological danglers is a term used by Scottish-Australian philosopher J.J.C. Smart in his article Sensations and Brain Processes. He credits the term to Herbert Feigl and his article The "Mental" and the "Physical". It refers to the occurrence of something (in this case a sensation), which does not fit into the system of established laws. He thinks that systems in which such "nomological danglers would dangle" are quite odd. In his example the nomological danglers would be sensations such that are not able to be explained by the scientific theory of brain processes. Some mental entities for example in a phenomenological field, are not able to be found (and do not behave in the way that is expected) in physics. In the context Smart uses it, he is criticising dualism and epiphenomenalism as philosophies of mind, and the concerns over physical and causal laws they raise. Smart puts forward his own theory in the form of Materialism, claiming it is a better theory, in part because it is free from these nomological danglers, making it superior in accordance with Occam's Razor.Philosophy of dialogue
Philosophy of dialogue is a type of philosophy based on the work of the Austrian-born Jewish philosopher Martin Buber best known through its classic presentation in his 1923 book I and Thou. For Buber, the fundamental fact of human existence, too readily overlooked by scientific rationalism and abstract philosophical thought, is "man with man", a dialogue which takes place in the "sphere of between" ("das Zwischenmenschliche").Philosophy of film
The philosophy of film is a branch of aesthetics within the discipline of philosophy that seeks to understand the most basic questions regarding film. Philosophy of film has significant overlap with film theory, a branch of film studies.Philosophy of geography
Philosophy of geography is the subfield of philosophy which deals with epistemological, metaphysical, and axiological issues in geography, with geographic methodology in general, and with more broadly related issues such as the perception and representation of space and place.Property dualism
Property dualism describes a category of positions in the philosophy of mind which hold that, although the world is composed of just one kind of substance—the physical kind—there exist two distinct kinds of properties: physical properties and mental properties. In other words, it is the view that non-physical, mental properties (such as beliefs, desires and emotions) inhere in or supervene upon certain physical substances (namely brains). As a doctrine, 'property dualism' is epistemic, as distinct from ontic.
Substance dualism, on the other hand, is the view that there exist in the universe two fundamentally different kinds of substance: physical (matter) and non-physical (mind or consciousness), and subsequently also two kinds of properties which adhere in those respective substances. Substance dualism is thus more susceptible to the mind-body problem. Both substance and property dualism are opposed to reductive physicalism. As a doctrine, 'substance dualism' is ontic, as distinct from epistemic.Turkish philosophy
Turkish philosophy has long been affected by Islam and the country's proximity to Greece and ancient Greek philosophy.