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Ryle's criticisms of Cartesian Dualism - Essay Example

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Ryle's criticisms of Cartesian Dualism

This extends to existence as having two separate planes, a material existence and a mental existence, with the two planes diametrically opposed to each other and separated profoundly, having no link of causation between the two. In the physical world, people can communicate, but the mental conscious world is completely hidden from view and unknowable by others. To the question of what kind of knowledge can be obtained by the mind's workings, the Cartesian dualist perspective asserts that consciousness is able to get a good grasp of the present workings of one's mind, which cannot be shaken as unreal, in spite of inputs by Freud with regard to some unconscious, subconscious impulses that can also govern the conscious processes. The data is presented within the immediate time frame, available to the consciousness or mind. Together with this data are the fruits of one person’s going into himself, introspectively, to examine his mind's contents as a kind of self-observation. The other, meanwhile, is not privy and is completely shut out of this immediate consciousness experience. Even language is said to reflect this view of consciousness as something innate and to which the external actions in the environment register and make impressions. Ryle calls this whole infrastructure of thought the ghost in the machine dogmatic formulation. He contests this dogma on several grounds and objects to its validity. Ryle testifies that the whole ghost in the machine infrastructure or theory of mind is completely false (Ryle, 1949, pp. 11-16) “I shall often speak of it, with deliberate abusiveness, as ‘the dogma of the Ghost in the Machine’. I hope to prove that it is entirely false, and false not in detail but in principle. It is not merely an assemblage of particular mistakes. It is one big mistake and mistake of a special kind. It is, namely, a category mistake (Ryle, Descartes' myth, 1949, pp. 15-16, Paragraph #2) The core of the objection is with regard to the Cartesian view of the dualism of mind and body as a category mistake and a myth of the philosopher, meaning that in essence those mental processes are miscategorized and made to fit a category to which they do not belong. Ryle gives the example of the University tour given to someone who after being shown the facilities asks where the university is as if the university was in the same category as the buildings and the grounds, rather than constituting the entire of it. He cites another example of a first-time cricket game watcher, who mistakes team spirit as being in the same category of the different players and the positions that they occupy, rather than being constituted by the cooperation and camaraderie of the players in the team. These are examples of category mistakes, to which the philosophers subscribing to the Cartesian dualist frame of mind likewise succumb to. In the examples, Ryle notes that the problem lay with the perceivers having difficulty in grasping the nuances of language and the limitations of their vocabulary. It is the same with an ignorant man perceiving the constitution as something magical and ethereal, or the fictitious John Doe in the same magical and ghostly terms, because that ignorant man is unable to get away from using the categories of thought that he is familiar with when dealing with physical presences concerning the idea of the constitution and of John Doe. In ...Show more

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Ryle's Criticisms of Cartesian Dualism Table of Contents I. Ryle's Criticisms of Cartesian Dualism 3 II. Account of the Mind Offered by Ryle to Replace Cartesian Dualism 6 III. Weighing in on Ryle and Descartes: On Which of the Two Accounts is More Plausible 8 Reference List 10 I…
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