Mind-Body Separation In Gilbert Ryle's Descartes Myth
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In “Descartes Myth” the author, Gilbert Ryle, challenges what he considers the official theory of mind-body separation. Ryle describes mind-body separation, according to the official doctrine, as every human being having both a mind and body, but the mind existing separately from the physical world while the body exists in the physical world. Ryle expands more on the distinction between both the mind and bodies attributes with some supporting evidence.
His first point of supporting material is the fact that human bodies are “in space and subject to mechanical law” while minds are not in space and their functions are not subject to mechanical law. (Ryle 250) Another point would be that bodily movements and actions can be observed by external observers, hence making a mans physical life a public affair. (Ryle 250) The mind is different than the body, in this case, because one cannot witness what someone is thinking or see the mind at all. A persons mind is private unless said…show more content… (Ryle 252) He thinks the whole doctrine is one giant categorical mistake, and says it’s because one does not recognize the entity and only recognizes the parts. To explain this mistake Ryles gives the example of a person being given a tour of a campus, for the first time, and then that person asks the question‘ I have seen the students, buildings, and different colleges, but where is the university?’(Ryle 253) He gives another example of someone asking a friend to show them pictures of their family and after showing them pictures of their dad, mom, brothers, sisters, cousins, etc. the person replies with ‘which one of these is your family?’(Ryle 253) These categorical mistakes have one common feature, which is that those people did not understand the concept of the language. Understanding these categorical mistakes begins Ryles argument of distinction between mind and