Phil 264 - Ryle

Phil 264 - Ryle - Ryle's (1949) The Concept of Mind The...

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Ryle's (1949) The Concept of Mind The Significance of Ryle's Work: Ryle's The Concept of Mind provides a clear illustration of Wittgenstein's view (shared by so-called "ordinary language philosophers") that philosophers should regard traditional philosophical problems as spurious and as therefore problems to be dissolved , rather than solved . In the Concept of Mind , Ryle attempts to dissolve the centuries old problem of mind/body interaction. This problem (like other philosophical problems) can be formulated as a question: How is it possible for the mind and body of an individual to interact in such an intimate way, given that minds and bodies are radically different kinds of things? Ryle dissolves the problem by arguing, in effect, that it contains a false presupposition - namely, that the mind is a thing, an entity, a substance. So construed (Ryle argues) there is no such thing as a "mind." To have a mind is nothing more nor less than to be disposed to certain kinds of behavior - "intelligent" behavior - in certain kinds of situations. Once this fact is appreciated, one can see that the question, What is the nature of mind/body interaction?, simply makes no sense. 1. What is the official theory? By what other names does Ryle call it? All persons have both a mind and body. Human bodies exist in space and are subject to the mechanical laws that govern all other objects that exist in space. Bodily processes and states are publicly observable . Human minds exist in time (as do human bodies) but they do not exist in space. Nor are minds subject to the mechanical laws that spatial objects are subject to. Mental processes and states are not publicly observable. They are private in this sense: Only you can observe, via introspection, your own mental processes/states. Only I can observe, via introspection, my own mental processes/states. Ryle also refers to the official theory as: "the dogma of the ghost in the machine," "the double life theory," and "Descartes' Myth." (Do you understand why Ryle finds these names appropriate?) 2. What are the differences between mental and physical existences, according to this theory? It is a necessary feature of what has physical existence that it is in space and time. What has physical existence is composed of matter or is a "function" of matter. It is a necessary feature of what has mental existence that it is in time but not space. What has mental existence consists of consciousness or is a
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Phil 264 - Ryle - Ryle's (1949) The Concept of Mind The...

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