philosophy of mind

mat mats_trash at hotmail.com
Mon Jan 14 10:07:26 EST 2002

> No one. The press releases ARE the awareness.
OK. I'm with you up to here.

> > And if you regard
> >consciousness or awareness as an epiphenomenon then not only does that
> >have inherent dualistic overtones (if its not the neuronal firing that
> >constitutes awareness what does?)
> Huh? I just said it was. Awareness is an epiphenomenon to causality
> not to neuronal firing. It results from neuronal firing but has no
> effect on further neuronal firing.
mmmmm. beginning to get tangled here. Epiphenomenon to causality?  Now
you have changed causality from a property of something into a 'thing'
itself.  But then you immediately say it does result from neuronal
firing.  Is it an epiphenomenon of a causal firing pattern?  In which
case our views differ only by the epiphenomenon! :)

> >but also it means you have difficulties when you try and link
> >awareness to decision making.  
> I thought I explicitly said it has nothing to do with decision making.
OK. But thats a very different definition of awareness to most people.
 Most people consider awareness to be the very property that allows
them to make informed decisions.

> >If its an epiphenomenon how does it
> >become causally effective in producing actions?  or are you saying
> >that awareness does not contribute to decision making, and all that
> >goes on at a lower level; we are simply informed of it after the
> >event?
> Yes, the latter is my view. The only way awareness affects actions is
> indirect perhaps in affecting how memories are encoded, and encoded
> memories then affect future executive function (which may not be
> aware).

You still have the problem I mentioned.  If its an epiphenomenon then
it can have no causal effects whatsoever, memory making included. 
Indirect action would still have to be mediated by a direct step from
epiphenomenon to biological substrate at some point.

I still have the essential difficulties with your argument.  Not only
do you multiply entities beyond necessity (if it isn't causal then its
not needed unless of course you think qualia need explaining). 
Further you arguably make your theory much more diificult to
investigate.  I think you would agree that just saying awareness is an
epiphenomenon is not enough of an explanation, just as much as when I
say causal firing patterns are awareness isn't enough. The theory
needs to be deepened and its fine structure elucidated.  However, how
would you begin to investigate an epiphenomenon?

More information about the Neur-sci mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net