The problem I see here, Mitchell, is that you can’t jump from evidence that some conscious activity is non-causal to concluding that all consciousness is epiphenomenal. Perhaps you aren’t?
I’ll agree that consciousness is not causal in the way it presents itself some of the time. I’ll agree that consciousness is not causal in the way it presents itself most of the time in most people. Are you claiming that consciousness is not causal in the way it presents itself in all people all of the time?
In that case, I think the evidence is against you.
Besides some thousands of years of a few spiritual disciplines that try to bring impulse into consciousness and the whole psychoanalytic thing over the last 150 years there’s the following:
- Kahneman’s fast and slow thinking. (Another commenter mentioned that.) Some actions are impulse and post hoc commentary. Some actions are the result of, oh say, weeks of thought and filling out a matrix of advantages and disadvantages. Kahneman, btw, got a Nobel for pointing out that we aren’t rational actors and that our typically unconscious cognitive schemas shape our perception of value. So he’s not ignoring the non-conscious components of our makeup.
- The failure of Skinners Behaviorism based therapy. It morphed into Cognitive Behavioral Therapy because of its failure relative to a therapy that worked to utilize consciousness as a lense, tool to change our stories and perception, and driver of behavioral change. CBT, while not for me, is the current gold standard for evidence-based treatment.
Looking forward to reading more of your thesis on consciousness and religion. A side note: there seems to be a bunch of folks that think ‘plant medicines’ booted up human consciousness so your view has hippie wing as well:-).