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Help Me Grapple With It.

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Posted by Paul R. Martin on April 16, 2001 04:33:27 UTC

Hi Brian,

I don't want to ask you to grapple with this question if you are not inclined that way, but I am interested in grappling with it just for fun.

So to help me out, I would appreciate an explanation of what you meant when you said "The only mechanism [idea or metaphysical hypothesis?] avialable to keep this line of reasoning from imploding on itself, is to declare that "thoughts" are an epiphenomenon of matter, energy and the physical laws."

To start with, I am not sure what an epiphenomenon is. Doesn't that mean that it sort of arises out of something? I.e. in this case that thoughts sort of arise out of configurations of matter, energy and physics? If I'm not mistaken, that is how Dennett claims to explain consciousness. If I'm wrong in my understanding, I would appreciate a description or definition of 'epiphenomena'.

If I am right in my understanding of the term, and if thoughts are not an epiphenomenon of matter, etc., then how do you see this line of reasoning imploding on itself?

My hunch is that consciousness and thought did not arise from matter, energy, and physics, but instead are primary to them. I think that matter, energy, and the laws of physics are consequences of thought. This is consistent with your proposal that thought is immaterial. It seems to me that this line of reasoning can lead to a fruitful, parsimonious theory, and I don't see how it might implode. Am I headed for a problem that I don't see?

I would like your thoughts, but don't let me drag you into anything you don't want to grapple with. Thanks in advance.

Warm regards,


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