Contemporary Analytic and Linguistic Philosophies

By E. D. Klemke | Go to book overview

23. Descartes' Myth

Gilbert Ryle


1. The Official Doctrine

There is a doctrine about the nature and place of minds which is so prevalen among theorists and even among laymen that it deserves to be described as the official theory. Most philosophers, psychologists and religious teachers subscribe, with minor reservations, to its main articles and, although they admit certain theoretical difficulties in it, they tend to assume that those can be overcome without serious modifications being made to the architecture of the theory. It will be argued here that the central principles of the doctrine are unsound and conflict with the whole body of what we know about minds when we are not speculating about them.

The official doctrine, which hails chiefly from Descartes, is something like this. With the doubtful exceptions of idiots and infants in arms every human being has both a body and a mind. Some would prefer to say that every human being is both a body and a mind. His body and his mind are ordinarily harnessed together, but after the death of the body his mind may continue to exist and function.

Human bodies are in space and are subject to the mechanical laws which govern all other bodies in space. Bodily processes and states can be inspected by external observers. So a man's bodily life is as much a public affair as are the lives of animal and reptiles and even as the careers of trees, crystals and planets.

But minds are not in space, nor are their operations subject to mechanical laws. The workings of one mind are not witnessable by other observers; its career is private. Only I can take direct cognisance of the states and processes of my own mind. A person therefore lives through two collateral histories, one consisting of what happens in and to his body, the other consisting of what happens in and to his mind. The first is public, the second private. The events in the fint history are events in the physical world, those in the second are events in the mental world.

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Contemporary Analytic and Linguistic Philosophies
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Preface 9
  • Acknowledgments 11
  • Introduction - The Rise of Analytic Philosophy 15
  • Notes 20
  • The Pre-Analytic Tradition 21
  • Introduction 23
  • Idealism 31
  • Reality and Idealism 31
  • Selected Bibliography 53
  • Pragmatism 55
  • How to Make Our Ideas Clear 55
  • Notes 69
  • Pragmaticism 71
  • Selected Bibliography 78
  • American Realism 79
  • The Program and First Platform of Six Realists 79
  • Notes 86
  • The Approach to Critical Realism 87
  • Notes 104
  • Selected Bibligraphy 107
  • Analytic and Linguistic Philosophies 109
  • Introduction 111
  • Notes 119
  • Realism and Common Sense 121
  • The Refutation of Idealism 121
  • Note 137
  • The Subject-Matter of Ethics 138
  • Notes 162
  • A Defence of Common Sense 163
  • Proof of an External World 184
  • Note 201
  • Selected Bibliography 203
  • Logical Atomism 205
  • Facts and Propositions 205
  • Note 212
  • Particulars, Predicates, and Relations 213
  • Note 222
  • Excursus into Metaphysics What There Is 223
  • Note 232
  • Selected Bibliography 233
  • Logical Positivism 235
  • The Elimination of Metaphysics 235
  • Notes 246
  • The Futiction of Philosophy 247
  • Notes 252
  • The a Priori 253
  • Notes 264
  • Truth and Probability 265
  • Notes 270
  • Critique of Ethics and Theology 271
  • Notes 284
  • Selected Bibliography 286
  • Conceptual Analysis 287
  • Systematically Misleading Expressions 287
  • Wittgenstein's Lectures in 1930-33 307
  • Notes 319
  • Philosophical Perplexity 320
  • Notes 331
  • Philosophy, Anxiety, and Novelty 332
  • Notes 337
  • Gods 338
  • Notes 351
  • Descartes' Myth 353
  • Selected Bibliography 365
  • Logico-Metaphysical Analysis 367
  • Logical Positivism, Language, and the Reconstruction of Metaphysics 367
  • Note 377
  • On What There Is 378
  • Notes 390
  • Two Dogmas of Empiricism 391
  • Notes 409
  • Selected Bibliography 410
  • Linguistic Analysis 411
  • Performative-Constative 411
  • Notes 419
  • Intention and Convention in Speech Acts 421
  • Notes 436
  • What is a Speech Act? 437
  • Notes 451
  • Selected Bibliography 452
  • General Works on Analytic Philosophy 453
  • Sources of More Complete Bibliographies 454
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