Epiphenomenalism

related topics
{theory, work, human}
{system, computer, user}
{disease, patient, cell}
{law, state, case}
{album, band, music}
{food, make, wine}
{film, series, show}
{car, race, vehicle}

In philosophy of mind, epiphenomenalism, also known as Type-E Dualism, is a view according to which some or all mental states are mere epiphenomena (side-effects or by-products) of physical states of the world. Thus, epiphenomenalism denies that the mind (as in its states, not its processing) has any influence on the body or any other part of the physical world: while mental states are caused by physical states, mental states do not have any influence on physical states. Some versions of epiphenomenalism claim that all mental states are inert, while others claim that only some mental states are inert. The latter version often claims that only those types of mental states that are especially difficult to account for scientifically are epiphenomenal, such as qualitative mental states (e.g., the sensation of pain).

Contents

Background

The history of epiphenomenalism goes back to the post-Cartesian attempt to solve the riddle of Cartesian dualism, i.e., of how mind and body could interact. 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).[1] Huxley (1874) likened mental phenomena to the whistle on a steam locomotive. However, epiphenomenalism flourished primarily as it found a niche among methodological or scientific behaviorism. 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. However, 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.

Full article ▸

related documents
Confirmation bias
Sociology of religion
Spirituality
Category of being
Ethics
Rationalism
Paradigm shift
Age of Enlightenment
Substance theory
Classical education movement
Cybernetics
Educational perennialism
Polymath
Altruism
Averroes
Socialist realism
Agnosticism
Mortimer Adler
Theosophy
Technology
Erich Fromm
Fallacy
Power (philosophy)
Bob Black
Philosophy of perception
Darwin's Dangerous Idea
Historiography
Philosophy of religion
Nominalism
Secular humanism