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Ryle, Gilbert (1900–76)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DD060-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2017
Retrieved July 13, 2024, from

Article Summary

Alongside Wittgenstein and Austin, Ryle was one of the dominant figures in the movement of twentieth-century English language philosophy which became known as ‘Linguistic Analysis’. His views in philosophy of mind led to his being described as a ‘logical behaviourist’ and his major work in that area, The Concept of Mind (1949), both by reason of its style and content, has become one of the modern classics of philosophy. In it Ryle attacked what he calls ‘Cartesian dualism’ or the myth of ‘the Ghost in the Machine’, arguing that philosophical questions formulated as problems about the nature of mind and its relation with the body arose from a ‘category mistake’ which led erroneously to treating statements about mental phenomena in the same way as those about physical phenomena. For Ryle, to do something was not to perform two separate actions - one mental, one physical - but to behave in a certain way.

Much of Ryle’s work had a similar theme: philosophical confusion arises through the assimilation or misapplication of categorically different terms, and can only be cleared up by a careful analysis of the logic and use of language. He later became preoccupied with the nature of reflective thinking, since this stood as an example of an activity which seemed to evade the behaviouristic analysis that he recommended. Ryle was also a considerable Plato scholar, though his work in this area has been less influential.

Citing this article:
Lyons, William. Ryle, Gilbert (1900–76), 2017, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DD060-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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