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epiphenomenalism

n. the position that bodily (physical) events produce mental events, such as thoughts and feelings, but that mental events do not have causal power to produce bodily (physical) events. Thus, causality between the mental and the physical proceeds in one direction only. A more radical form of the same position would add that mental events lack causal efficacy to produce anything, including other mental events. The term was coined in 1902 by James Ward, but the concept itself predates his usage. For example, British philosopher Shadworth H. Hodgson (1832–1912) and British biologist Thomas Henry Huxley (1825–1895) wrote about it some 30 years earlier, with Huxley in 1874 famously likening mental events (e.g., consciousness) to the steam whistle of a locomotive: They are by-products of the locomotive but cannot affect the locomotive itself. Huxley’s term for the concept was conscious automatism. See also mind–body problem; reductionism.

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March 2nd 2024

guilty but mentally ill (GBMI)

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