On Tue, Sep 25, 2012 at 3:34 PM, Jason Resch <jasonre...@gmail.com> wrote:

> If it has no causal efficacy, what causes someone to talk about the pain
> they are experiencing?  Is it all coincidental?

There is a sequence of physical events from the application of the
painful stimulus to the subject saying "that hurts", and this
completely explains the observable behaviour. We can't observe the
experience itself. If the experience had separate causal powers we
would be able to observe its effects: we would see that neurons were
miraculously firing contrary to physical law, and explain this as the
immaterial soul affecting the physical world.

> I find the entire concept of epiphenominalism to be self-defeating: if it
> were true, there is no reason to expect anyone to ever have proposed it.  If
> consciousness were truly an epiphenomenon then the experience of it and the
> resulting wonder about it would necessarily be private and non-shareable.
> In other words, whoever is experiencing the consciousness with all its
> intrigue can in no way effect changes in the physical world.  So then who is
> it that proposes the theory of epiphenominalism to explain the mystery of
> conscious experience?  It can't be the causally inefficacious experiencer.
> The only consistent answer epiphenominalism can offer is that the theory of
> epiphenominalism comes from a causally efficacious entity which in no way is
> effected by experiences.  It might as well be a considered a
> non-experiencer, for it would behave the same regardless of whether it
> experienced something or if it were a zombie.

The experiencer would behave the same if he were a zombie, since that
is the definition of a zombie. I know I'm not a zombie and I believe
that other people aren't zombies either, but I can't be sure.

> Epiphenominalism is forced to defend the absurd notion that epiphenominalism
> (and all other theories of consciousness) are proposed by things that have
> never experienced consciousness.  Perhaps instead, its core assumption is
> wrong.  The reason for all these books and discussion threads about
> consciousness is that experiences and consciousness are causally
> efficacious.  If they weren't then why is anyone talking about them?

The people talking about them could be zombies. There is nothing in
any observation of peoples' behaviour that *proves* they are
conscious, because consciousness is not causally efficacious. It is
emergent, at a higher level of description, supervenient or
epiphenomenal - but not separately causally efficacious, or the
problem of other minds and zombies would not exist.

Stathis Papaioannou

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