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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Gilbert Ryle and the Ghost in the Machine


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, Rex Whistler


Gilbert Ryle (1900-1976) was a British philosopher best known for his critique of Cartesian dualism. Scott Christensen and Dale Turner said,


"Ryle's book was a polemic against the Cartesian idea that mental states are states of an immaterial substance. This polemic, and the ensuing discussion, turned on the question of the reducibility of mental events to behavioral dispositions. Ryle's central argument was that we had misconceived the 'logic' of such words as 'belief', 'sensation', 'conscious', etc." (Folk Psychology and the Philosophy of Mind, 2013)


Wikipedia says,


"In The Concept of Mind, Ryle argues that dualism involves category mistakes and philosophical nonsense..." (Wikipedia: Gilbert Ryle, 8.12.21 UTC 07:00)


The rest of this post is some quotes from Ryle.


The Ghost in the Machine


"The dogma of the Ghost in the Machine... maintains that there exist both bodies and minds; that there occur physical processes and mental processes; that there are mechanical causes of corporeal movements and mental causes of corporeal movements. I shall argue that these and other analogous conjunctions are absurd." (The Concept of Mind, 1949)


"I shall often speak of it, with deliberate abusiveness, as 'the dogma of the Ghost in the Machine'. I hope to prove that it is entirely false, and false not in detail but in principle... It is, namely, a category mistake. It represents the facts of mental life as if they belonged to one logical type or category (or range of types or categories) when they actually belong to another." (The Concept of Mind, 1949)