Cartesian Dualism In Gilbert Ryle's 'Descartes Myth'

Good Essays
Cartesian Dualism, or substance dualism, is the belief that the mind and body are separate and distinct. In 1949, Gilbert Ryle harshly critiqued the concept of dualism in his book, The Concept of Mind and, more specifically, in his essay ‘Descartes’ Myth’. The purpose of Ryle’s essay was to demonstrate that dualism (which Ryle believed at the time was widely accepted and dubbed it dogmatic) commits a fatal mistake, namely a Category-Mistake. The purpose of this essay is to show that Ryle’s argument against dualism in his essay is not fatal to dualism.

II. Methods and Presuppositions

In order to show that Gilbert Ryle’s argument against dualism is not fatal, I will attempt to show that Ryle’s position, as a behaviorist, does not allow for any dualist accounts. It will also be argued that Ryle commits the fallacy of irrelevant conclusion in his argument. Finally, I will argue that dualists do not necessarily commit a category mistake.

This essay presupposes that the concept of dualism is entirely sound. It will also presuppose that any objection to dualism, other than the category-mistake, is answerable. This essay will also presuppose that the reader has basic knowledge of psychology and logic.

III. The Text’s Argument
…show more content…
Dualism, or “The Official Doctrine” as Ryle dubs it, has two distinct and separate substances: mind and body. These two exist as two sides of the same coin. Every human, with some exceptions, has both a mind and a body. Bodies are subject to mechanical laws, physical, mortal and a “public affair”, as Ryle puts it. Minds, however, are the direct opposite of bodies. Minds are not subject to mechanical laws, mental instead of physical, eternal and a “private

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    Nonphysical beings don’t have spatial location, so they cannot involve the event of energy transformation. Second, Only a thing has energy can cause the transfer of energy. Because the physical universe is an energetically closed system. That is to say, the total amount of energy in the physical universe is fixed. Energy only transfers from one thing to another, but do not add or minus from the physical universe.…

    • 772 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    There is nothing in thought, or its manifestation as ideas, which contains any content that can also be found in extended bodies. Similarly, it makes no sense to speak of a body in terms of ideas and thought, which by definition must exclude…

    • 1580 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    While this is a strategic approach, it is not strong. It does a better job trying to disprove other theories than actually doing anything to prove its own theory. On the other side, nihilism uses error theory and different arguments to attempt to prove its merits. Objectivism is basically the exact opposite of nihilism, which says that there are no true moral claims. Objectivism is a strong proponent of saying that some moral claims can be true, but it is never specific in its claims of what these “some” cases really are.…

    • 1071 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    This is simply because a universal explanatory theory is only true if it can be justified in various empirical reasons that are well outlined, and thus, achieved by assuming the truth and credibility of particular test statements or observational judgment. By coming up with a simple well-structured experiment so as to clearly prove an explanatory theory, will largely bring out a significant induction, however, this must be a widely agreed i.e. universal theory so as to bring some uniformity in…

    • 1356 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The meditator is assured of this conclusion because he denies that it is possible for an attribute (e.g. his thinking) to be without being tethered to some substance that exists in reality. Because the essence of the meditator is his thinking and does not involve any sort of extension into space, he can make the conclusion that his essence does not include material substance. Therefore, the meditator can infer that any mental substance is separate and independent of any material substance (Heil…

    • 1650 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Carruthers arguments against the oppositions are that no one else can feel in the same way about the things that he feels. Therefore you cannot say when my conscious and brain are or aren 't identical. In conclusion, Carruthers restates the fact that he conscious, which he uses synonymously to mind, is identical with brain-state. He then makes his position very clear. “..there is good reason to believe the identity thesis to be true, and no good reason to believe it false…”(Carruthers.335).…

    • 1017 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Some of the best questions in philosophy arise from the nature of the mind. What makes up the mind and whether or not the mind is something more than just a brain is something tough to answer. Although in 1949, Gilbert Ryle disrupted this understanding of dualism by claiming this belief is a “ghost in the machine” and commits a “category mistake” (Ryle). Ryle intends to challenge dualism, not fight against it. He rewrites some of the fundamental language of dualism so that he can more clearly point out the problems with what others have said about it.…

    • 1496 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Therefore, making them two completely separate things. He states that the mind cannot be shaped or motioned and the body cannot sense things like the mind can, therefore, making the mind pretty much “invisible” and isolated from the body. There is no real thing or experience…

    • 968 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    However, upon a closer and more rigorous examination, it is revealed that this argument is not as unsubstantiated as it seems to be. In order to understand how Descartes justifies his assertion, the concept of “clear and distinct idea” needs to be understood. Descartes’ “clear and distinct idea” involves the argument that an idea becomes clear when sharp intellectual perception is applied to it, similar to how a physical object becomes visually clear when sharp visual perception is applied to the physical object. Furthermore, the idea is distinct if it is not only clear but also excludes all other ideas that does not belong to it (Skirry). Thus, Descartes argued that the body is distinct from the mind because, after applying acute intellectual perception, Descartes perceived that the idea of the mind excludes the idea of body and the idea of the body excludes the idea of the mind therefore the mind is separate and different from the body (Skirry).…

    • 1742 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    He initially states that primary and secondary qualities are sensations that only exist in the mind and have no resemblance to anything material existing outside the mind. Berkeley suggests that matter is just a figment of the mind. He argues that matter is impossible because all ideas derive from what we directly experience. Hence, the concept of matter has no empirical content, and is meaningless. He concludes that ideas and matter cannot resemble each other, only ideas can resemble…

    • 575 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays

Related Topics