Gilbert Ryle  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Gilbert Ryle (19 August 1900, Brighton – 6 October 1976, Oxford), was a British philosopher, a representative of the generation of British ordinary language philosophers that shared Wittgenstein's approach to philosophical problems, and is principally known for his critique of Cartesian dualism, for which he coined the phrase "the ghost in the machine". Some of his ideas in the philosophy of mind have been referred to as "behaviourist." Ryle's best known book is The Concept of Mind (1949), in which he writes that the "general trend of this book will undoubtedly, and harmlessly, be stigmatised as 'behaviourist'." Ryle, having engaged in detailed study of the key works of Bernard Bolzano, Franz Brentano, Alexius Meinong, Husserl, and Heidegger, himself suggested instead that the book "could be described as a sustained essay in phenomenology, if you are at home with that label."

Contents

Legacy and reputation

Ryle's notion of thick description, from "The Thinking of Thoughts: What is 'Le Penseur' Doing?"[1] and "Thinking and Reflecting", has been an important influence on cultural anthropologists such as Clifford Geertz.

The Concept of Mind was recognized on its appearance as an important contribution to philosophical psychology, and an important work in the ordinary language philosophy movement. However, in the 1960s and 1970s the rising influence of the cognitivist theories of Noam Chomsky, Herbert A. Simon, Jerry Fodor and others in the neo-Cartesian school became predominant. Chomsky even wrote a book entitled Cartesian Linguistics. In philosophy the two major post-war schools in the philosophy of mind, the representationalism of Jerry Fodor and the functionalism of Wilfrid Sellars posited precisely the 'internal' cognitive states that Ryle had argued against. However as influential modern philosopher and former student Daniel Dennett has pointed out, recent trends in psychology such as embodied cognition, discursive psychology, situated cognition and others in the post-cognitivist tradition have provoked a renewed interest in Ryle's work. Dennett has provided a sympathetic foreword to the 2000 edition of The Concept of Mind. Ryle remains a significant defender of the possibility of lucid and meaningful interpretation of higher-level human activities without recourse to an abstracted soul.

Richard Webster endorsed Ryle's arguments against mentalist philosophies, suggesting that they implied that "theories of human nature which repudiate the evidence of behaviour and refer solely or primarily to invisible mental events will never in themselves be able to unlock the most significant mysteries of human nature."

Writings

Books

  • The Concept of Mind (1949)
  • Dilemmas (1954), a collection of shorter pieces
  • Plato's Progress (1966)
  • On Thinking (1979)

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Gilbert Ryle" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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