This paper gives a descriptive analysis of what Ryle calls Descartes-Myth and arguments for it. Gilbert Ryle and the Adverbial Theory of W. Which of the following is Ryle’s disparaging name for what he calls “the official doctrine”? a. The dogma of the Unmoved Mover b. The dogma of Immanent. PDF | On Nov 1, , Desh Raj Sirswal and others published Gilbert Ryle on Descartes’ Myth.

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Besides being currently supplied with these alleged immediate data of consciousness, a person is also generally supposed to be able to exercise from time to time a special kind of perception, namely inner perception, or introspection. Smart, “Extreme and Restricted Utilitarianism”. Finally, the assumption was made that if bodies are rigidly governed by mechanical laws, then minds must be rigidly governed by non -mechanical laws.

Ghost in the machine – Wikipedia

Mental processes hardly seem to be governed by any laws at all. University of Chicago Press. Armstrong, “The Nature of Mind”.

This notorious crux by itself shows the logical mould into which Descartes pressed his theory of the mind. Freedom of the Will”. Because, as is true, a person’s thinking, feeling and purposive doing cannot be described solely in the idioms of physics, chemistry and physiology, therefore they must be described in counterpart idioms.

Paul Grice Nicholas St. As a man of science, Descartes could not help but accept the tried and tested mechanics of Galileo, but he could not accept that these rigid laws also applied to human nature.

David Velleman, “So it Goes”. Theorists correctly assumed that any sane man could already recognise the differences between, say, rational and non-rational utterances or between purposive and automatic behaviour. THERE is a doctrine about the rye and place of minds which is so prevalent among theorists and even among laymen that it deserves to be described as the official theory. Conceptions of self Metaphors. The dogma is therefore a philosopher’s myth.

He had mistaken the logic of his problem. He would be shown his mistake by being told that in watching the battalions, batteries and squadrons marching past he had been watching the division marching past. Finally, a foreigner watching a game of cricket may ryke the bowlers, the batsmen, etc, but wonder where the player is who is responsible for team-spirit. Their puzzles arose from inability to use certain items the English vocabulary.


Stoic-Augustinian theories of the will were embedded in the Calvinist doctrines of sin and grace; Platonic and Aristotelian theories of the intellect shaped the orthodox doctrines of the immortality of the soul. The workings of one mind are not witnessable by other observers; its career is private. On the other side, one person has no direct access of any sort to the events of the inner life of another.

Chisholm, “Human Freedom and the Self”. Gilbert Ryle, “Descartes’s Myth”. So a man’s bodily life is as much a public affair as are the lives of animals and reptiles and even as the careers of trees, crystals and planets.

Minds are things, but different sorts of things from bodies; mental processes are causes and effects, but different sorts of causes and effects from bodily movements. He cannot do better than make problematic inferences from the observed behaviour of the other person’s body to the states deacartes mind which, by analogy from his own conduct, he supposes to be signalised by that behaviour.

Broad Michael Burke C. Susan Stebbing George F.

They are theoretical shuttlecocks which are forever being bandied from the physiologist back to the psychologist and from the psychologist back to the physiologist Underlying this partly metaphorical representation of the bifurcation mytb a person’s two lives there is a seemingly more profound and philosophical assumption. There is a doctrine about the nature and place of the mind which is prevalent among theoriststo which most philosopherspsychologists and religious gilbedt subscribe with minor reservations.

As a necessary corollary of this general scheme there is implicitly prescribed a special way of construing our ordinary drscartes of mental powers and operations. One of the chief intellectual origins of what I have yet to prove to be the Cartesian category-mistake seems to be this.

Since mechanical laws explain the spatial motion of bodies in space, other laws must explain the non-spatial workings of minds. Only his own privileged access to this stream in direct awareness and introspection could provide authentic testimony that these mental-conduct verbs were correctly or incorrectly applied.


His body and his mind are ordinarily harnessed together, but after the death of the body his mind may continue to exist and function. As to the question of what knowledge can actually be secured from the inner workings of the mind, there are two basic schools of thought. A foreigner watching his first game of cricket learns what are the functions of the bowlers, the batsmen, the fielders, the umpires and the scorers.

Gilbert Ryle, “Descartes’s Myth”

My destructive purpose is to show that a family of radical category-mistakes is the source of the double-life theory. A visitor to Oxford University, after seeing the colleges, libraries, playing fields, etc, would make a category mistake if he is still waiting to see the University.

Saint Anselm, “The Ontological Argument”. Holders of the official theory tend, however, to maintain that anyhow in normal circumstances a person must be directly and authentically seized of the present state and workings of his own mind.

The events in the first history are events in the physical world, those in the second are events in the mental cescartes.

For example, the idealist theory of mind makes a basic category mistake by attempting to reduce physical reality to the same status as mental reality, while the materialist theory of mind makes a basic category mistake by attempting to reduce mental reality to the same status as physical reality.

I completely agree that it is a gross error to assume that because bodies are rigidly governed by mechanical laws that minds must also be rigidly governed by non- mechanical laws. He then says ‘But there is no one left on the field to contribute the famous element of team-spirit. It is not merely an assemblage of particular mistakes.

Only through the medium of the public physical world can the mind gilbwrt one person make a difference to the mind of another. Blaise Pascal, “The Wager”.