noun (plural epiphenomena /-ˈnämənə/)
1A secondary effect or byproduct that arises from but does not causally influence a process, in particular.
- But he saw monopolistic distortions largely as epiphenomena resulting from an undue concentration of wealth and power whose ultimate source lay in the ‘great problem’ posed by private land ownership.
- The epic contest between capitalism and socialism, in Huntington's view, thus turned out to have been an epiphenomenon masking the real struggle among the followers of Jesus, Mohammed, Vishnu et al.
- Others see crying as a so-called epiphenomenon, a secondary event that serves no real function.
1.1 Medicine A secondary symptom, occurring simultaneously with a disease or condition but not directly related to it.
- Further research is needed to establish whether oxidative stress has an active role in the pathogenesis of asthma, or whether oxidative stress might be an epiphenomenon of the disease.
- For example, if an infectious disease is associated with high levels of a factor X in the blood, it is often difficult to know whether this is of pathogenic importance or simply an epiphenomenon of the disease process.
- It is unknown whether the staining of hemoglobin reflects a pathologic response or is an epiphenomenon.
1.2A mental state regarded as a byproduct of brain activity.
- By the same token, the critics of the sense-datum theory argued that the mistaken pictorial view of mental images arises mainly from our confusion about ordinary language and claimed that mental images are epiphenomena.
- Functionalism therefore holds that it is in the nature of certain mental states to have certain effects; therefore there can be no mental epiphenomena.
- What he wished to avoid was a materialism that saw mental states as only epiphenomena, and an idealism not open to scientific investigation.
- Example sentences
- But the talk is largely epiphenomenal (an afterthought).
- If all causation is physical, then the epiphenomenal mental state (if it even exists) is irrelevant to the act of causation.
- But I know enough to say with confidence that a trade deficit, though it may be epiphenomenal to other economic difficulties, cannot itself be deemed a problem.
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