This now-classic work challenges what Ryle calls philosophy's "official theory," the Cartesians "myth" of the separation of mind and matter. Ryle's linguistic analysis remaps the conceptual geography of mind, not so much solving traditional philosophical problems as dissolving them into the mere consequences of misguided language. His plain language and esstentially simple purpose place him in the traditioin of Locke, Berkeley, Mill, and Russell.
This is, as from the author of The Concept of Mind it could scarcely fail to be, a bold and rollicking book. It is also one of the most important works about Plato to have appeared since the first volume of Sir Karl Popper's The Open Society. Whereas The Concept of Mind was a general offensive against Cartesian views of man, eschewing any precise references to particular sources, Plato's Progress deals with scholarly questions of datings and developments, showing and demanding (...) familiarity with a wide literature. Yet Professor Ryle is still incapable as ever of the dry-as-dust. (shrink)
First published in 1949, Gilbert Ryle ’s The Concept of Mind is one of the classics of twentieth-century philosophy. Described by Ryle as a ‘sustained piece of analytical hatchet-work’ on Cartesian dualism, The Concept of Mind is a radical and controversial attempt to jettison once and for all what Ryle called ‘the ghost in the machine’: Descartes’ argument that mind and body are two separate entities. This sixtieth anniversary edition includes a substantial commentary by Julia Tanney and is essential reading (...) for new readers interested not only in the history of analytic philosophy but in its power to challenge major currents in philosophy of mind and language today. (shrink)
Just as there was a vogue at one time for identifying thinking either with mere processions or with more or less organised processions of images, so there is a vogue now for identifying thinking with something oddly called ‘language’, namely with more or less organised processions of bits of French or English, etc.
St. Augustine said “When you do not ask me what Time is, I know perfectly well; but when you do ask me, I cannot think what to say.” What, then, was it that he knew perfectly well, and what was it that he did not know? Obviously he knew perfectly well such things as these, that what happened yesterday is more recent than what happened a month ago; that a traveller who walks four miles in an hour, goes twice as (...) fast as a traveller who takes two hours over the same journey. He knew how to say things and how to understand things said to him which specified dates, durations and times of day; epochs, seasons and moments. He knew when it was midday and he could use the calendar. He could cope efficiently and easily with concrete chronological and chronometrical tasks. He could use and understand tensed verbs. (shrink)
There is a certain emotion of repugnance which I, and I hope a good many would-be philosophers, feel when asked the conventional question, “If you are a philosopher, to what school of thought do you belong? Are you an Idealist or a Realist, a Platonist or a Hobbist, a Monist or a Pluralist?”.
We falter and stammer when trying to describe our own mental acts. Many mental acts, including thinking, are what the author calls ‘chain-undertakings’, that is, courses of action with some over-arching purpose governing the moment-by-moment sub-acts of which we are introspectively aware. Hence the intermittency and sporadicness of the passage of mental activity which constitutes thinking about something.
Common sense tells me I can control my life to some extent; should I then, faced with a logical argument for fatalism, reject common sense? There seems to be no place in a physical theory of the universe for the sensory experiences of colours, taste and smells, yet I know I have these experiences. In this book, Gilbert Ryle explores the conflicts that arise in everyday life and shows that the either/or which such dilemmas seem to suggest is a false (...) dilemma: one side of the dilemma does not deny what we know to be true on the other side. This classic book has been revived in a new series livery for twenty-first-century readers, featuring a specially commissioned preface written by Barry Stroud. (shrink)
Res Cogitans is a stimulating and exasperating book. Again and again Vendler makes new breaks through the crusts of meaning-theory, epistemology and Cartesian exegesis; and then, through these breaks, pulls out plums that had rotted off their trees many summers ago. Out of his valuable improvements upon Austin's locutionary taxonomy he rehashes the most romantic things in the Meno and the Meditations . In Chomsky's wake, he effectively assails Skinnerian stimulus-response learning-theory; but then, in Chomsky's wake, he surrenders learning-theory to (...) Skinner, finding a shelter for just a few epistemic pets in a Darwinianized doctrine of racial concept-inheritance that is, pace Chomsky, unfenced even from Book I of Locke's Essay . Vendler's powerful chapter ‘On What One Knows’ blocks for good current attempts to reduce knowing to an élite suburb of believing; yet the book's central concept of Thinking is so glued to the ‘that…’-clause that thinking is, by implication, denied to Beethoven and Capablanca, as well as to us when doing our undoctrinal car-driving, translating, verse-composing and aporia -tackling. (shrink)