There are two arguments against the position that the psychogenic efficacy
of consciousness would be limited to the realm of the mind itself. The
first of these has already been mentioned in the paper Exit
Epiphenomenalism which defends a general efficacy of consciousness (i.e.
not limited to the mind).
Intraphysical physicalism makes it impossible to specifically
talk and write about consciousness
If consciousness has no (direct or indirect) impact upon physical
processes, it becomes impossible to specifically talk or write about
consciousness. In other words, we would have personal reasons to believe
in the existence of subjective experiences but we would be unable to
express those reasons psychomotorically by speach or writing. However,
the position of an efficacy of consciousness that would be limited to
psychopsychical causation implicitly claims to be a position that can be
expressed in words, as otherwise it could not exist within the realm of
interpersonal or collective philosophical debates. Therefore, the
position of limited efficacy is an incoherent position.
The exclusively somatogenic causation of consciousness is
inherently incompatible with psychopsychical efficacy.
Implicitly, the notion of an efficacy of consciousness which would be
limited to psychopsychical causation is part of a theory according to
which consciousness would be a product of neural processes, i.e. it
would be caused by the brain.
At the same time, consciousness would have an impact upon the mind,
but not upon the brain. This implies that some processes of the mind
would be caused by consciousness, while they would at the same time be
the product of neural processes. The problem is that during the mental
conceptualisation of consciousness, the supposed neural processes
(that would ‘support’ consciousness) or “substrates” cannot themselves
be based upon any (direct or indirect) impact of consciousness.
They can never follow the cognitive direction of specific
considerations that are part of this specific (psychopsychical)
conceptualisation of consciousness. There seem to be two possible
- Either this psychopsychical process is not specifically supported by
specific (computational) neural processes, which goes against the
notion of the content of consciousness as something which is always
specifically caused by the brain. The problem with this escape is that
it is very strange that exclusively psychopsychical conceptualisation
would not be specifically supported by neural (computational)
processing, whereas all other psychological processes would. Within
intraphysical physicalism, there is no way for the brain to notice
whether a specifically psychopsychical process takes place, as
registration of such a process would entail a psychogenic effect upon
brain processes during such a registration (and any psychogenic effect
on the physical world is incompatible with intraphysical physicalism).
The brain would never ‘know’ when it should specifically
(computationally) support mental processes and when it shouldn’t.
- Or consciousness is in fact never influenced by neural processing.
Within the theory I discuss here, this is impossible, as it would
imply a type of parallellism which entails that we can have no reason
to believe in a physical world, whereas the existence of a physical
world is a precondition for intraphysical physicalism. Only in the
case of ontological idealism is it possible to deny any type of
psychophysical and physicopsychical interaction.
The (ultimate) efficacy of consciousness, both intrapsychically and
psychophysically is logically entailed by the recognition of the
reality of consciousness defined as irreducible, qualitative and
6533 RT Nijmegen
In this paper or Exit Epiphenomenalism we haven't explicitly mentioned all
recent versions of epiphenomenalism, such as that of
, because the apects we've focused on aren't specific for these
recent versions. They belong to any form of epiphenomenalism, i.e. to the
very essence of the epiphenomenalist position.