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Encyclopedia > Gilbert Ryle
Western Philosophers
20th-century philosophy
Name: Gilbert Ryle
Birth: August 19, 1900
Death: October 6, 1976 (aged 76)
School/tradition: Analytic
Main interests: Language, Ordinary language philosophy, Philosophy of mind, Behaviourism, Meaning, Cognition
Notable ideas: Ryle's Regress, Ordinary language philosophy, The Ghost in the machine
Influences: Descartes, Schopenhauer, Wittgenstein
Influenced: J. L. Austin, A. J. Ayer, J.R. Searle, R.M. Hare, Wilfrid Sellars, Daniel Dennett

Gilbert Ryle (born August 19, 1900 in Brighton, died October 6, 1976 in Oxford), was a philosopher, and a representative of the generation of British ordinary language philosophers influenced by Wittgenstein's insights into language, and is principally known for his critique of Cartesian dualism, for which he coined the phrase "the ghost in the machine". He referred to some of his ideas as "behaviourism" (not to be confused with the psychological behaviourism of B. F. Skinner and John B. Watson). Image File history File links This work is copyrighted. ... is the 231st day of the year (232nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Äž: For the film, see: 1900 (film). ... is the 279th day of the year (280th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1976 Pick up sticks(MCMLXXVI) was a leap year starting on Thursday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Analytic philosophy (sometimes, analytical philosophy) is a generic term for a style of philosophy that came to dominate English-speaking countries in the 20th century. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... A Phrenological mapping of the brain. ... Behaviorism (or behaviourism) is an approach to psychology based on the proposition that behavior is interesting and worthy of scientific research. ... The introduction to this article provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject matter. ... Look up Cognition in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... In philosophy, Ryles regress is a classic argument against cognitivist theories, and concludes that such theories are essentially meaningless as they do not explain what they purport to explain. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... For other uses, please see Ghost in the Machine (disambiguation) Ghost in the Machine is the fourth album by The Police, released in 1981 (see 1981 in music). ... René Descartes René Descartes (IPA: , March 31, 1596 – February 11, 1650), also known as Cartesius, worked as a philosopher and mathematician. ... Arthur Schopenhauer Arthur Schopenhauer (February 22, 1788 – September 21, 1860) was a German philosopher born in Gdańsk (Danzig), Poland. ... Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (IPA: ) (April 26, 1889 in Vienna, Austria – April 29, 1951 in Cambridge, England) was an Austrian philosopher who contributed several ground-breaking ideas to philosophy, primarily in the foundations of logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of language, and the philosophy of mind. ... John Langshaw Austin (March 28, 1911 - February 8, 1960) was a philosopher of language, who developed much of the current theory of speech acts. ... Alfred Jules Ayer (October 29, 1910 - June 27, 1989), better known as simply A. J. Ayer (and called Freddie by friends), was a British philosopher. ... R.M. Hare Richard Mervyn Hare (March 21, 1919 – January 29, 2002) was an English moral philosopher, who held the post of Whites Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Oxford from 1966 until 1983. ... Wilfrid Stalker Sellars (May 20, 1912 - July 2, 1989) was an American philosopher. ... Daniel Clement Dennett (b. ... is the 231st day of the year (232nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Äž: For the film, see: 1900 (film). ... Brighton is located on the south coast of England, and together with its immediate neighbour Hove forms the city of Brighton and Hove. ... is the 279th day of the year (280th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1976 Pick up sticks(MCMLXXVI) was a leap year starting on Thursday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Oxford is a city and local government district in Oxfordshire, England, with a population of 134,248 (2001 census). ... A philosopher is a person who thinks deeply regarding people, society, the world, and/or the universe. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), pictured here in 1930, made influential contributions to Logic and the philosophy of language, critically examining the task of conventional philosophy and its relation to the nature of language. ... Cartesian dualism was Descartess principle of the separation of mind and matter and mind and body. ... For other uses, please see Ghost in the Machine (disambiguation) Ghost in the Machine is the fourth album by The Police, released in 1981 (see 1981 in music). ... Psychology (from Greek: ψυχή, psukhÄ“, spirit, soul; and λόγος, logos, knowledge) is both an academic and applied discipline involving the scientific study of mental processes and behavior. ... Behaviorism (also called learning perspective) is a philosophy of psychology based on the proposition that all things which organisms do—including acting, thinking and feeling—can and should be regarded as behaviors. ... Burrhus Frederic Fred Skinner (March 20, 1904 – August 18, 1990), Ph. ... John Broadus Watson (January 9, 1878–September 25, 1958) was an American psychologist who established the psychological school of behaviorism, after doing research on animal behavior. ...


He was born in Brighton, England in 1900 and educated at Long Bennington and then Brighton College, like his brothers John and George (In later life, Gilbert was a governor of Brighton College and the school named a dayboy house in his honour). A capable linguist, he was recruited to intelligence work during World War II, after which he became Wayneflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy at Oxford, and published his principal work, "The Concept of Mind" in 1949. He was president of the Aristotelian Society from 1945 to 1946. Brighton is located on the south coast of England, and together with its immediate neighbour Hove forms the city of Brighton and Hove. ... For other uses, see England (disambiguation). ... Ğ: For the film, see: 1900 (film). ... Brighton College is an independent co-educational public school in Brighton, United Kingdom. ... Brighton College is an independent co-educational public school in Brighton, United Kingdom. ... Military intelligence (abbreviated MI, int. ... Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000... Magdalen College, Oxford endows four professorial fellowships named in honour of the college founder William of Waynflete, who had a great interest in science. ... 1949 (MCMXLIX) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1949 calendar). ... The Aristotelian Society for the Systematic Study of Philosophy (more generally known as the Aristotelian Society) was founded at a meeting on 19 April 1880[1] which resolved to constitute a society of about twenty and to include ladies; the society to meet fortnightly, on Mondays at 8 oclock...

Contents

The Concept of Mind

In The Concept of Mind (1949), Ryle admits to having been taken in by the body-mind dualism which permeates Western philosophy, and claims that the idea of Mind as an independent entity, inhabiting and governing the body, should be rejected as a redundant piece of literalism carried over from the era before the biological sciences became established. The proper function of Mind-body language, he suggests, is to describe how higher organisms such as humans demonstrate resourcefulness, strategy, the ability to abstract and hypothesize and so on from the evidences of their behaviour. In his prominent work, The Concept of Mind (1949), the philosopher Gilbert Ryle describes the fundamental mistake made by Descartes dualism and much of western philosophy of the 17th and 18th centuries. ... 1949 (MCMXLIX) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1949 calendar). ... Western philosophy is a modern claim that there is a line of related philosophical thinking, beginning in ancient Greece (Greek philosophy) and the ancient Near East (the Abrahamic religions), that continues to this day. ...


He attacks the idea of 17th and 18th century thinkers (such as Descartes and La Mettrie) that nature is a complex machine, and that human nature is a smaller machine with a "ghost" in it to account for intelligence, spontaneity and other such human qualities. While mental vocabulary plays an important role in describing and explaining human behavior, neither are humans analogous to machines nor do philosophers need a "hidden" principle to explain their super-mechanical capacities. (16th century - 17th century - 18th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 17th century was that century which lasted from 1601-1700. ... (17th century - 18th century - 19th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 18th century refers to the century that lasted from 1701 through 1800. ... René Descartes René Descartes (IPA: , March 31, 1596 – February 11, 1650), also known as Cartesius, worked as a philosopher and mathematician. ... Julien Offray de La Mettrie (December 25, 1709 - November 11, 1751) was a French physician and philosopher, the earliest of the materialist writers of the Enlightenment. ... This article is about devices that perform tasks. ...


Ryle asserted that the workings of the mind are not distinct from the actions of the body. They are one and the same. Mental vocabulary is, he insists, merely a different manner of describing action. He also claimed that the nature of a person's motives are defined by that person's dispositions to act in certain situations. There are no overt feelings, pains, or twinges of vanity. There is instead a set of actions and feelings that are subsumed under a general behavior-trend or propensity to act, which we term "vanity."


Novelists, historians and journalists, Ryle points out, have no trouble in ascribing motives, moral values and individuality to people's actions. It is only when philosophers try to attribute these qualities to a separate realm of mind or soul that the problem arises. Ryle also created the classic argument against cognitivist theories of explanation, Ryle's Regress. The word cognitivism is used in several ways: In ethics, cognitivism is the philosophical view that ethical sentences express propositions, and hence are capable of being true or false. ... In philosophy, Ryles regress is a classic argument against cognitivist theories, and concludes that such theories are essentially meaningless as they do not explain what they purport to explain. ...


Legacy and Criticism

"The Concept of Mind" was recognized on its appearance as an important contribution to philosophical psychology, and an important work in the ordinary language philosophy movement. However, in the 1960s and 1970s the rising influence of the cognitivist theories of Noam Chomsky, Herbert Simon, Jerry Fodor and others in the neo-Cartesian school became predominant. Chomsky even wrote a book entitled Cartesian Linguistics. In philosophy the two major post-war schools in the philosophy of mind, the representationalism of Jerry Fodor and the functionalism of Wilfrid Sellars posited precisely the 'internal' cognitive states that Ryle had argued against. However as influential modern philosopher and former student Daniel Dennett has pointed out, recent trends in psychology such as embodied cognition, discursive psychology, situated cognition and others in the post-cognitivist tradition have provoked a renewed interest in Ryle's work. Ryle remains a significant defender of the possibility of lucid and meaningful interpretation of higher-level human activities without recourse to an abstracted soul. In his prominent work, The Concept of Mind (1949), the philosopher Gilbert Ryle describes the fundamental mistake made by Descartes dualism and much of western philosophy of the 17th and 18th centuries. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... The 1960s decade refers to the years from January 1, 1960 to December 31, 1969, inclusive. ... The 1970s decade refers to the years from 1970 to 1979, also called The Seventies. ... The word cognitivism is used in several ways: In ethics, cognitivism is the philosophical view that ethical sentences express propositions, and hence are capable of being true or false. ... Avram Noam Chomsky (Hebrew :אברם נועם חומסקי Yiddish: אברם נועם כאמסקי) (born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist, philosopher, political activist, author, and lecturer. ... Herbert Alexander Simon (June 15, 1916 – February 9, 2001) was an American political scientist whose research ranged across the fields of cognitive psychology, computer science, public administration, economics, management, and philosophy of science and a professor, most notably, at Carnegie Mellon University. ... Jerry Alan Fodor (born 1935) is a philosopher at Rutgers University, New Jersey. ... Philosophers and psychologists are described as being neo-Cartesian if they posit mind stuff as being different from brain stuff and if they posit internal cognitive states as having causal powers. ... A Phrenological mapping of the brain. ... Representationalism, or the representational theory of perception, is a philosophical doctrine that in any act of perception, the immediate (direct) object of perception is a sense-datum that represents an external object, which is the mediate (indirect) object of perception. ... Functionalism is a theory of the mind in contemporary philosophy, developed largely as an alternative to both the identity theory of mind and behaviorism. ... Wilfrid Stalker Sellars (May 20, 1912 - July 2, 1989) was an American philosopher. ... Daniel Clement Dennett (b. ... Psychology (from Greek: ψυχή, psukhÄ“, spirit, soul; and λόγος, logos, knowledge) is both an academic and applied discipline involving the scientific study of mental processes and behavior. ... Embodied philosophy (also known as the embodied mind thesis, embodied cognition or the embodied cognition thesis) usually refers to a set of beliefs promoted by George Lakoff and his various co-authors (including Mark Johnson, Mark Turner, and Rafael E. Núñez), which suggest that the mind can only be... Discursive psychology is a school of psychology developed in the 1990s by Jonathan Potter and Derek Edwards at Loughborough University. ... Situated cognition is a new movement in cognitive psychology which derives from pragmatism, Gibsonian ecological psychology, ethnomethodology, the theories of Vygotsky and the writings of Heidegger. ... Psychological movements are considered to be post-cognitivist if they are opposed or move beyond the cognitivist theories posited by Noam Chomsky, Jerry Fodor and others. ...


Aspects of Ryle's work have been an important influence on cultural anthropologists like Clifford Geertz who approvingly quote his notion of 'thick description.' This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Thick description is a phrase used most famously by the anthropologist Clifford Geertz to describe his own specific mode of practice. ...


Allan Bloom, the classicist and Greek scholar whose 1968 translation of Plato's Republic became the canonically preferred text in the second half of the 20th century, wrote of Ryle: Allan Blooms translation and interpretation, Second edition 1991. ... The Republic is an influential dialogue by Plato, written in the first half of the 4th century BC. This Socratic dialogue mainly is about political philosophy and ethics. ...

In themselves Ryle's opinions are beneath consideration, but they do deserve diagnosis as a symptom of a sickness which is corrupting our understanding of old writers and depriving a generation of their liberating influence...Such scholarship should give us pause, for Ryle is held by many to be one of the preeminent professors of philosophy in the Anglo-Saxon world.[1]

Bloom's central criticism indicts Ryle for anachronistically "Aristotelianizing" Platonic texts, thereby putting them through an artificial "analytic strainer." According to Bloom, this mediation vitiates the content of Plato's text by "torturing Plato to conform to a dogmatic starting point," rather than entering at the natural beginning.


Other writings

His other books are Plato's Progress (1966) and Dilemmas (1954), a collection of shorter pieces. He was also editor of the philosophical journal Mind from 1947 to 1971. Year 1966 (MCMLXVI) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display full calendar) of the 1966 Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1954 (MCMLIV) was a common year (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1947 (MCMXLVII) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display full 1947 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1971 (MCMLXXI) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display full calendar) of the 1971 Gregorian calendar. ...


A text which has influenced anthropologists is 'The Thinking of Thoughts: What is 'Le Penseur' Doing?' [1]


Notes and references

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Ryle (895 words)
Gilbert Ryle invented the term "ghost in the machine" to ridicule what he calls "the official doctrine," i.e.
Category Mistakes: Ryle (who was influenced by Wittgenstein) blames the official doctrine and its problems on what he calls a "category mistake." For instance, you can take a nap, take control, or take my wallet.
Logical behaviorism: Ryle’s solution is to argue that the correct use of words like "mind," "thought," "sanity," "pain," etc. is in connection with human behavior.
Gilbert Ryle at Erratic Impact's Philosophy Research Base (986 words)
Gilbert Ryle lived from 1900 to 1976 and was one of the most impressive British philosophers.
Ryle wrote many short essays on this subject.
According to Ryle, to have mental states is simply to have the appropriate pattern of activity in one's body.
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