Gilbert Ryle ‘Concept of Mind’ In Brief

Gilbert Ryle has produced one interesting theory in his book “Concept of Mind” (1949). It has cleared the important misconceptions that the philosophers believe to have followed. No doubt, his work has brought a tremendous change in the style of thinking that people adopt.

Cartesian Dualism

It is the most popular theory given by Descartes. It popularizes the view that ‘mind’ and ‘body’ are two different substances. Therefore, the body is made up of material elements and the mind is made up of mental elements. While material elements are easily provable through various methods of experimentation and observation. The mental elements are most likely to fail in providing accurate proof.

Descartes ‘cogito ergo sum’ means I think therefore I am’. This means the mental elements influences the physical elements and physical elements influence the mental elements. The problem of mind-body was resolved somehow by providing clear definitions of both this as existing as an independent entity.

Rejection of Cartesian Dualism

Gilbert Ryle has rejected the most popular concepts of Cartesian Dualism. He strongly affirms that such concepts are vague. It is an error in linguistic analysis. The body could be attributed to the substances made of materialistic particles. But, the mind has no proof to arise from the mental substances.

In his book, ‘concepts of mind’, Gilbert Ryle has given important terminology to define the Descartes concepts of mind-body dualism. He called the concepts of ‘mind’ in the ‘body’ as ‘ghost in the machine’. The one who doesn’t understand the mechanical concepts of the working of machines would most likely to consider the machine as run by some forms of ghosts sitting inside it.

The use of ‘mind’ in the complete work process of the body is comparable to the concepts of ‘ghost in the machine’. Without any proof, the mind is given the credit for the entire work of the machine. It is the major error we are committing in defining the structures and functions of the body.

No doubt, the concepts of Gilbert Ryle has brought major changes in the cognitive theory of Psychology. It would not be wrong to credit the long gone philosopher with the major development in the area of cognitive sciences.

Category Mistake

The category mistake is defined as the misplacing of one category into another one. Gilbert Ryle has used this term to highlight the offences people are making to consider the mind and mental elements as in the same category. According to him, the mind isn’t made of immaterial substances. It’s just our wrong way of taking the things.

To clarify more, we do consider the terms ‘university’ and ‘college’ as same. The ‘college’ is the physical form of a building where people go and study whereas ‘university’ is a mental form in which multiple set of colleges are grouped to be. While ‘college’ has got a physical presence, the term ‘university has got no physical presence. We can’t show university to the one asking about it. But, we can definitely show the ‘college’ in physical form.

The ‘time crawled’ is the wrong metaphorical use occasionally used in a sentences form. Time is a non-physical entity and crawling is used for physical beings. The mixing of two terms could bring irregularities to the actual senses of the sentences.

Gilbert Ryle explains the concepts further by telling the condition of a blind child whom we have to tell about the different colours. We can definitely tell him about the colour ‘blue’ and the thing which has got blue colours. But, we could never make him experience the truth and depths of the colour in the real sense. He may regain his blind-sight, but he may not be able to apply completely what he has learned about the colour blue. He would definitely commit the category mistakes.

To Summarize, the category mistake is the ‘major flaw’ in the use of the terms which we are considering to be true since time being. This category mistake needs to be rectified so that we could understand the concepts of Mind in a more fairer and sensible way.

Author: Madhvi

A philosopher, Writer, Traveler, PhD Scholar, Vegan and pet-lover.

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