Ryle: The concept of mind (Summary)

June 3, 2012

Gilbert Ryle

Summary of the work: The Concept of Mind by Ryle

The concept of Mind, by Gilbert Ryle, is one of the most important philosophy book of the 20th century, aside of Being and Time by Heidegger or Being and Nothingness by Sartre. Ryle revolutionnises our conception of the human conscious, etablished since Descartes, Kant and Husserl.

Ryle’s project consists in a sustained and punishing bombardment of the cartesian conception of man, characteristically labelled “the dogma of the ghost in the machine“. Ryle is trying to find how far he could push analytical behaviourism, the doctrine that psychological notions can be analysed in terms of actual or possible behaviour.

The concept of Mind,shows how we can eliminate the misleading language expressions in the broad sense (words, description, statements), that is to say the words that can make believe in the existence of objects or ‘species’. It is the source of this great book that is the Concept of Mind (1949). In this book, Ryle launches an attack against the deep design “Cartesian” the relationship between mind and body and particularly against the “ghost in the machine”, that is to say, the myth of the inner mental life. It attacks the common treasure of the Cartesian tradition and phenomenology, that of a “res cogitans” different from the empirical world, a set of images, processes, mental events separate from the public and observable behaviors. In an analysis of an extra-ordinary wealth, which is in itself a lesson in method, Ryle shows that it is possible to dispense with the language of men-tal life and translate the speech on the thin (mind) in terms of Behavior (behavior). After this bold enterprise, which aims to defend a less materialist thesis about the mind, as will the latest Australian philosopher Armstrong, to remove a type of metaphorical language, lifelong mental consciousness as intentionality Husserl is reduced to the capabilities, abilities, opportunities, know-how. What is intelligence? Mysterious process that takes place “in the head” or da ns avantque mind the student can not find the solution? Ryle shows that we can do without the double horns in the recital that “faculty” as simply an observable skills, which is a provision of behavior as being able to swim. Everything else is pointless.

Ryle’s metaphor, quite ambiguous, ultimately relies on the ordinary language that is thankfully free of unnecessary jargon, but he also wants to improve its spontaneous expression by reformulations that avoid a certain numberof traps. In fact, common sense left to itself, as the philosophy that claims of superior quality, are both victims of rash generalizations and fabrications. It is therefore important to find the expression the least misleading, that is to say, that which is best demonstrated the logical form of the situation, which requires a clear determination of beings which is made reference. Ryle wants to end the useless proliferation of bizarre objects and entities that do not exist in the world of empirical experience, and which leads, through language, to living ghosts.