Gilbert Ryle
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Rene Descartes
Gilbert Ryle
William Lycan
John Searle
Group Project #2


I. What is "The Official Doctrine?"

A. "With the doubtful exceptions of idiots and infants in arms every human being has both a body and a mind."

1. Body and mind are harnessed together, but after death the mind may continue to exist.


1. Mind is internal, body is external (metaphorically speaking, because minds are non-spatial, non-material entities).

2. The workings of the mind are wholly private in two respects:

a. First, a person's mental experiences can only be experienced by that person; there is no way for scientists to observe mental phenomena.

b. Second, even the agent herself cannot explain how the mind is able to affect the body.

3. Minds exist in time, but not in space. They are wholly insulated from one another (my mind cannot think your thoughts, or affect your thoughts, except through my body).

4. Persons possess the ability to "introspect" what is occurring in their minds. What occurs in the mind is usually explained by the terms knowing, believing, hoping dreading, intending, shirking, designing this or being amused by that, etc.

II. THE ABSURDITY OF THE OFFICIAL DOCTRINE -- Ryle will argue that this doctrine is entirely false, not in detail but in principle. It is a category-mistake.

A. Definition of a category-mistake:

1. Illustrations: seeing the buildings, faculty, students of AC, but then wondering where the college is; seeing the battalions, batteries, squadrons, etc., but wondering where the division is; hearing that the Average Taxpayer pays 15% of his income to the government, and then asking to meet the Average Taxpayer, etc.

a. Hence a category-mistake occurs when one does not know how to use a certain concept (e.g. College, Division, Average Taxpayer), allocating these terms to a logical type to which they do no belong. The College just IS the campus, faculty, students, and staff; it does not exist separately from the parts that make it up.

B. The Category-mistake within the Official Doctrine

1. Ryle argues that Descartes makes a similar mistake by thinking that there is something called the "mind" over and above a person's behavioral dispositions. When we see a person strumming their chin, eyes turned to the ceiling, we say they are "thinking." We commit a category-mistake when we then suppose that there is something going on OTHER THAN the strumming of a chin and eyes looking upward, something called "thinking." For Ryle, thinking is nothing more than a certain set of behavioral dispositions (to strum one's chin and look upward) -- there is no further mental event called "thinking' going on.


A. If Descartes accepted Galileo's theories about causality in nature, then human nature (being caught within the natural world) couldn't be free. To avoid this, Descartes (and others) posited the existence of the mental, which is not subject to mechanical laws.

1. The differences between the mental and the mechanical, however, were represented within the common framework of categories, such as "thing, stuff, attribute, process, change, cause, effect" etc. Minds were thus like those elements of nature (they were "things", made of some "stuff" that had various "attributes" that could "cause" certain "changes", etc.) in that we could talk about them using the same categories, but they were different in that they weren't bound by the same rules as those things in nature. [HEBERT: by using the categories of the physical, talk about minds gained a false sense of legitimacy. Since we know about causes in the physical world, to talk of a cause in the mental world suggests that we know something about such causes. But all we can say about them is that they are not like physical causes...]



The following excerpt is taken from xrefer, reference text web site containing a variety of dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc. Here's the exact URL:  

"Behaviorism means different things to philosophers and psychologists. In philosophy, Analytical Behaviorism is usually formulated as the doctrine that statements about the mental have the same meaning as (are analytically equivalent to) statements about behavior. Those who contrast private, introspectible mental phenomena such as pains and publicly observable behavior are mistaken. For, to give a crude example, the behaviorist holds that the statement 'she is in pain' means the same as (is analytically equivalent to) the statement 'she is manifesting aversion behavior'.

If behaviorism were true it would solve the mind-body problem. For if statements about the mental have the same meaning as statements about behavior, then (presumably) mental phenomena would just be behavioral phenomena. Being in pain would just be manifesting aversion behavior. But the relation between behavior and the body is unproblematic. So if behaviorism were true, the relation between mental phenomena and the body would be unproblematic.

Philosophers have two main objections to behaviorism. First, behaviorists hold that statements about the mental mean the same as statements about behavior, but it seems obvious that mental phenomena cause behavior. Pain cannot be identified with aversion behavior; 'she is in pain' cannot mean the same as 'she is manifesting aversion behavior', because pain causes aversion behavior. The second objection depends on two thought experiments. Consider a race of 'Super Spartans' who do feel pain, but behave as though they do not. It will sometimes be true of a 'Super Spartan' that 'she is in pain', but false of her that 'she is manifesting aversion behavior'. Therefore, these two statements do not have the same meaning. Now consider a group of perfect actors. They do not feel pain, but act as if they do. So it will sometimes be true of a perfect actor that 'she is manifesting aversion behavior', but false of her that 'she is in pain'. Therefore, these two statements do not have the same meaning.