Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Jessica Berry

Second Advisor

Dr. Eddy Nahmias

Third Advisor

Dr. Sebastian Rand


Many interpreters read Nietzsche as an epiphenomenalist. This means that, contrary to everyday “felt” experience, consciousness has no causal influence on our actions. In the first half of this paper I show that an epiphenomenalist interpretation proposed by Brian Leiter is unsupported by Nietzsche’s texts. Further, contemporary research does not conclusively support epiphenomenalism, as Leiter claims. In the second half of the paper I present the novel, causally efficacious view of consciousness that is supported by Nietzsche’s texts. This view of consciousness does not present consciousness as a self-caused faculty that is in some way separate from the rest of our mind and body, but rather views consciousness as a non-essential property of certain mental states. I trace the development of this idea through two key passages and show that, in the danger it presents as well as in the promise, consciousness is clearly causally efficacious.

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Philosophy Commons