Re: Epiphenomenalism (was: more, briefly)

Massimo Pigliucci (
Tue, 14 Apr 1998 09:31:07 -0400

Dear Glenn

sorry to "target" you today, but that's life. You wrote:

> I remember an example given by Penfield of a woman whose brain he was

> stimulating during surgery. Her arm would move up in response to the
> stimuli. Penfield told her to try not to let her arm move. She used
> her
> other hand to hold the arm down! some have interpreted this as an
> example
> of where will acted as a causative agent to override the mechanism of
> the
> brain arm circuitry. In otherwords, we couldn't be reduced to a
> mechanism.

What? It's simply an example of one type of mechanism/impulse overriding
another one! Where do you see the soul in action there? And by the way,
no, epiphenomena are NOT vitalistic, or simply a label. Again, go back
to Kauffman for a pretty decent treatment of what they are and how can
be analyzed. I don't see what you consider vitalistic in chaos and
complexity theory.


Massimo Pigliucci, Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolution
Society for the Study of Evolution "Dobzhansky" Awardee
Dept. of Botany, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996-1100
phone 423-974-6221 fax 0978

Lab page Science & Society Darwin Day Rationalists of East Tennessee

"I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this." -- Emo Phillips ******************************************************************