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Gilbert Ryle (1900 – 1976) was a British philosopher of ordinary language. Man need not be degraded to a machine by being denied to be a ghost in a machine. 

Gilbert Ryle

Gilbert Ryle

Gilbert Ryle

Gilbert Ryle

Gilbert Ryle

Gilbert Ryle, philosopher of ordinary language


Source of quotes: QuotesDictionary, BrainyQuote, ThinkExist


Quotations from Gilbert Ryle

Man need not be degraded to a machine by being denied to be a ghost in a machine. He might, after all, be a sort of animal, namely, a higher mammal. There has yet to be ventured the hazardous leap to the hypothesis that perhaps he is a man.

A myth is, of course, not a fairy story. It is the presentation of facts belonging to one category in the idioms appropriate to another.

Chronicles are not explanatory of what they record.

So too Plato was, in my view, a very unreliable Platonist. He was too much of a philosopher to think that anything he had said was the last word.

Philosophy is the replacement of category-habits by category-disciplines.

To explode a myth is accordingly not to deny the facts but to re-allocate them.

When the epistemologists’ concept of consciousness first became popular, it seems to have been in part a transformed application of the Protestant notion of conscience. … “Consciousness” was imported to play in the mental world the role played by light in the mechanical world

Overt intelligent performances are not clues to the workings of minds; they are those workings. Boswell described Johnson’s mind when he described how he wrote, talked, ate, fidgeted and fumed. His description was, of course, incomplete, since there were notoriously some thoughts which Johnson kept carefully to himself and there must have been many dreams, daydreams and silent babblings which only Johnson could have recorded and only a James Joyce would wish him to have recorded.

The dogma of the Ghost in the Machine.

Such in outline is the official theory. 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 a mistake of a special kind. It is, namely, a category mistake. It represents the facts of mental life as if they belonged to one logical type or category (or range of types or categories), when they actually belong to another. The dogma is therefore a philosopher’s myth.

When two terms belong to the same category, it is proper to construct conjunctive propositions embodying them. Thus a purchaser may say that he bought a left-hand glove and a right-hand glove, but not that he bought a left-hand glove, a right-hand glove, and a pair of gloves. ‘She came home in a flood of tears and a sedan-chair’ is a well-known joke based on the absurdity of conjoining terms of different types. Now the dogma of the Ghost in the Machine does just this. It maintains that there exist both bodies and minds.

… my today’s self perpetually slips out of any hold of it that I may try to take.

Minds are not bits of clockwork, they are just bits of not-clockwork. As thus represented, minds are not merely ghosts harnessed to machines, they are themselves just spectral machines. . . . Now the dogma of the Ghost in the Machine does just this. It maintains that there exist both bodies and minds; that there occur physical processes and mental processes; that there are mechanical causes of corporeal movements and mental causes of corporeal movements. I shall argue that these and other analogous conjunctions are absurd.

To explode a myth is accordingly not to deny the facts but to re-allocate them.


COMMENTS on Quotations from Gilbert Ryle

Man need not be degraded to a machine by being denied to be a ghost in a machine. Some of these modern philosophers, Ryle included, get themselves all in a tangle of words and concepts which a nonverbal creature would consider useless. The old Greek and Roman philosophers were more interested in the practical problems of discovering ways of living their lives which were meaningful to them. The problems of consciousness, of our self-awareness, or what some call our ghost, are to most people artifacts of living, like blood flowing through their blood vessels. One can create a lot of verbiage about the meaning of it all, but everyone will perform the tasks of their lives better if they don’t waste their time questioning whether they and their friends are conscious. Even if we humans are nothing more than organic machines, in some or even all aspects of our being, we are still capable of joys and sorrows, at least I am, and I believe you are too. So let us value one another, no matter what our ultimate physical structures are composed of, even if it is no more than dirt, and participate in living.


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