epiphenomenalism

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English[edit]

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Noun[edit]

epiphenomenalism (countable and uncountable, plural epiphenomenalisms)

  1. (philosophy, psychology, uncountable) The doctrine that mental states and processes are simply incidental effects of physiological events in the brain or nervous system and cannot themselves cause any effects in the material world.
    • 1997, Victor Caston, "Epiphenomenalisms, Ancient and Modern," The Philosophical Review, vol. 106, no. 3, p. 310:
      The textbook account of epiphenomenalism goes something like this. Although our thoughts, desires, and other mental states seem to affect what happens in the world, by bringing about changes in our behavior or subsequent mental states, this is only an appearance, cast off by the real physical sequence of cause and effect that underlies our mental life.
  2. (philosophy, psychology, countable) Such a doctrine, as advanced by a particular thinker or school of thought.
    • 1926, Stephen C. Pepper, "Emergence," The Journal of Philosophy, vol. 23, no. 9, p. 241:
      The theory of emergent evolution has been largely developed as a corrective of mechanistic theories with their attendant psycho-physical dualisms and epiphenomenalisms.

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References[edit]

  • Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1989.
  • Random House Webster's Unabridged Electronic Dictionary, 1987-1996.