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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Under Cartesian dualism, we could not justifiably characterise anyone as intelligent, prudent, virtuous, stupid, hypocritical, cowardly, and so on, because we had no cognitive access to their mental processes. In the succeeding chapters I try to prove that the official theory does rest on a batch of category-mistakes by gilebrt that logically absurd corollaries follow from it.

A man would be thought to be making a poor joke who said that three things are now rising, namely the tide, hopes and the average age of death. Yet even Freudians maintain that in normal circumstances a person is completely aware of the present state of his or her own mind. He would be supposing that a division was a counterpart to the units already seen, partly similar to them and partly unlike them. This notorious crux by itself shows the logical mould into which Descartes pressed his theory of the mind.

Ghost in the machine

Only I can take direct cognisance of the states and processes of my own mind. 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 descates a special dedcartes of perception, namely inner perception, or introspection.

The official doctrine, which hails chiefly from Descartes, is something like this. Carritt, “Criticisms of Utilitarianism”. Frankfurt, “Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person”. Daniel Dennett, “Where Am I?


He then says ‘But there is no one left on the field to contribute the famous element of team-spirit. As the human body is a complex organised unit, so the human mind must be another complex organised unit, though one made of a different sort rype stuff and with a different sort of structure. In short, our characterisations of ‘persons and their performances as intelligent, prudent and virtuous or as stupid, hypocritical and cowardly could never have been made, so the problem of providing a special causal hypothesis to serve as the basis of such diagnoses would never have arisen.


Mental states and processes do not exist tilbert occur in the same sense as physical states or processes exist or occur. Bodily states and processes are subject to observation, while mental states and processes are private. Freedom of the Will”. One benefit bestowed by the para-mechanical myth was that it partly superannuated the then prevalent para-political myth.

When Galileo showed that his methods of scientific discovery were competent to provide a mechanical theory which should cover every occupant of space, Descartes found in himself two conflicting motives. The workings of one mind are not witnessable by other observers; its career is private.

Gilbert Ryle, “Descartes’s Myth”

It is, toughly, the keenness with which each of the special tasks is performed, and performing a task keenly is not performing two tasks. The idea that human nature differs only in degree of complexity from clockwork was not a proposition that Descartes wished to accept. Betrand Russell, “The Value of Philosophy”. Since mental-conduct words are not to be construed as signifying the occurrence of mechanical processes, they must be construed as signifying the occurrence of non-mechanical processes; since mechanical laws explain movements in space as the effects dfscartes other decartes in space, other laws must explain some of the non-spatial workings of minds as the effects of other non-spatial workings of minds.

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 of a person’s two lives there is a seemingly more profound and philosophical assumption. He then asks ‘But’ where is the University?

It is, namely, a category mistake. A student of politics mythh learned the main differences between the British, the French and the American Constitutions, and has learned also the differences and connections between the Cabinet, Parliament, the various Ministries, the Judicature and the Church of England. I hope to prove that it is entirely false, and false not in detail but in principle.

How can a physical change in the optic nerve have among its effects a mind’s perception of a flash of light? It is particularly critical of B. They indicate two different senses of ‘exist’, somewhat as ‘rising’ has different senses in ‘the tide is rising’, ‘hopes are rising’, and ‘the average age of death is rising’. Jonathan Lowe John R.


The onlooker, be he teacher, critic, biographer or friend, can never assure himself that his comments have any vestige of truth. Such in outline is the official theory. Material objects are situated in a common field, known as ‘space’, and what happens to one body in one part of space is mechanically connected with what happens to other bodies in other parts of space.

It is a necessary feature of what has physical existence that it is in space and time; it is a necessary feature of what has mental existence that it is in time but not in space. Higher Education Comment Card. Direct access to the workings of a mind is the privilege of that mind itself; in default of such privileged access, the workings of one mind ‘are inevitably occult to everyone else.

Frankfurt, “Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility”. It was the self-same mould into which he and Galileo set their mechanics. Even if he prefers to believe that to other human bodies there are harnessed minds not unlike his own, he cannot claim to be able to discover their individual characteristics, or the particular things that they undergo and do.

Descartes was reformulating already prevalent theological doctrines of the soul in the new syntax of Galileo.

But minds are not in space, nor are their operations subject to mechanical laws. It will be argued here that the central principles of the doctrine are unsound and conflict dscartes the whole body of what we know about minds when we are not speculating about them.

On the other side, one person has no direct access of any sort to the events of the inner life of another. Although they admit certain theoretical difficulties in it, they tend to assume that these can be overcome without serious modifications being made to the architecture of the theory His body and his mind are ordinarily harnessed together, but after the death of the body his mind may continue to exist and function.