Epiphenomenalism is a dualist theory of mind. Chalmers describes it as Type-E dualism. According to epiphenomenalism, all mental events are causally dependent upon physical events. Brain events thus cause mental events, but not vice versa. Mental events have no causal influence on brain states or the behaviour of physical bodies.
Sounds a bit like crappyphenomenalism which holds that mental shit is a fundamentally different sort of shit and arises from physical shit. Obsolete, and deprecated by Defecatory Fatalists, as there is only physical shit in one form or another.
Not directly, no. For that, you’ll have to invoke dippyphenomenalism, which holds that a magical timeless supernatural transcendent substance of perfect purity accounts for the universe’s cohesion across all space, time and consciousness. Bringing this substance to mind affords a flawless view along all of those dimensions but leaves the viewer sounding like a gibbering dolt. Hence the name.
That is the way I see it.
Our thoughts do not have a material existence and can therefore not impact on the brain. They are merely a display window that makes it easier for us to interpret the brain. The question now arises how one can reason - how one thought can lead to the next. The only explanation I can offer is that the reasoning infact happens in the brain. There are no thoughts popping out and back into the brain - no interaction.
The problem with wikipedia pages is that people tend to pick out bits of information they find meaningful to themselves - as opposed to reading the whole page, understanding the content, and forming an opinion of their own relating to the topic.
Epiphenomenalism in itself is of no interest in a conversation or debate, since it simply refers to a particular stance/opinion a particular individual supports with regard to consciousness and free-will.
The interesting question is not about Epiphenomenalism, it is about free-will and consciousness, and whether or not certain - if not all - aspects of consciousness are epiphenomenal in nature. In other words, Can we be active agents in the world, doing all the things we regularly do, without being conscious of it? If so, and knowing that we are conscious, is this consciousness a mere by-product of physical and chemical events in the brain? Are we simply spectators in a cinema, watching our own lives unfold? If so, are ALL our actions and motivations beyond our control? Does this mean we have no free-will? etc…
These are the questions I should like to talk about. Epiphenomenalism is simply an attempt to answer these questions, and it is one of many attempts to do so in the fields of science and philosophy. Knowing myself, I do not always know about all the technical philosophical and scientific theories and ideas published and debated among the professionals, so instead of talking about ONE of the attempts, I would like to know what everybody here thinks about the phenomenon that Epiphenomenalism as a stance/viewpoint is attempting to explain.
Personally, I think that parts of Epiphenomenalism seem reasonable and seem to be supported by the experimental results, but other parts are mere speculation. And what people are saying about the concept of Epiphenomenalism seems to me to be a red-herring in this forum. Let’s not get distracted by a diversion and talk about what we think about the questions above…
I agree. My view is that “thoughts exist” only in the broader context of the meaning. Mintaka says they exist “notionally”, if I recall correctly. Calling it “epiphenomena” is similar. But yes, thoughts are just the way we perceive brain events.
Since you like Bertrand Russell you might find it interesting to compare par. 10 (Type E Dualism or epiphenomenalism) and par. 11 (Type F Monism, based on Russell) in the Chalmers article. Personally I find the latter a bit too theoretical.
OK, only got about half-way and I’ve lost interest already. I’m pretty sure I could spot a zombie if my life depended on it, but until such time I’ll just give all potential zombies who act like people the benefit of the doubt.