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The Concept of Mind

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,629 ratings  ·  49 reviews
This now-classic work challenges what Ryle calls philosophy's "official theory," the Cartesians "myth" of the separation of mind and matter. Ryle's linguistic analysis remaps the conceptual geography of mind, not so much solving traditional philosophical problems as dissolving them into the mere consequences of misguided language. His plain language and esstentially simple ...more
Paperback, 348 pages
Published December 15th 2000 by University of Chicago Press (first published January 1st 1949)
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Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Bob Dylan

I remember when I picked up my first copy of this landmark brain-bamboozler - I was travelling to Britain, and I saw it at the airport.

Can you imagine that nowadays? Really brainy books at a little airport bookstop? Brainy books that only exist to prove a nonsensical idea is true?

Cause I remember, too, when I was seventeen, and a girl I knew in high school told me she had dated one highly neurotic guy who asked everyone he knew
Roy Lotz
Men are not machines, not even ghost-ridden machines. They are men—a tautology which is sometimes worth remembering.

The problem of mind is one of those philosophical quandaries that give me a headache and prompt an onset of existential angst whenever I try to think about them. How does consciousness arise from matter? How can a network of nerves create a perspective? And how can this consciousness, in turn, influence the body it inhabits? When we look at a brain, or anywhere else in the phys
Jan 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
This is a monumental book in modern philosophy which sets out to destroy the issue of dualism, expressed most succinctly by Descartes and often referred to as the mind/body problem. As a graduate student perusing this text, I was dismayed to read as Ryle apparently destroyed argument after argument which sustained Cartesian thinking.

Though this left me profoundly impressed at the time, I did not realize until much later that destroying a series of arguments concerning a given thing is not the s
Apr 08, 2013 added it
Shelves: aha, philosophy
My father's father's name is Gilbert Royal, Sr.

A riel is a monetary unit in one of those Asian countries, I forget which.

Sometimes I get riled up in a solipsistic muddle. It can become rather uncomfortable.

The copy of this book I was given early one morning was from a shared bookshelf in a shared rental residence that included at least one cat, at some point in time.

I am severely allergic to cats. I have been told by various health professionals that that allergy is in fact due to a specific pr
Alexander Francis
May 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Concept of Mind
The common conception of how minds work is engrained in every facet of western society and culture. For centuries philosophers have been operating on various assumptions that without putting them to the test. This belief is that all humans, except possibly infants and idiots, have both a body and a mind. Human bodies are in space where human minds work outside of space. Being outside of space minds are not observable and therefore the possessors of these minds have privileged acc
Joshua Stein
Ryle is indispensable reading for folks in the philosophy of mind or 20th century philosophy. Part of the reason that I wanted to revisit The Concept of Mind was to see how it stood up historically, and whether it was important to read Ryle or whether one might be better off reading him through those on whom he had a large influence. I think my most significant finding in this discussion is that it is really important for philosophers of mind to read Ryle and come away with their own interpretat ...more
Sep 02, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
This is the give away.

"Ryle's linguistic analysis remaps the conceptual geography of mind, not so much solving traditional philosophical problems as dissolving them into the mere consequences of misguided language".

In other words this is not about the mind but rather the way in which we use language to talk about the mind.
Jun 11, 2011 rated it liked it
lotsa fun. presents the well known "ghost in the machine" thesis, and develops the fallacy "category mistake." presents a persuasive deductive critique of the concept of "volition." eat that, objectivists! ...more
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this for graduate school in Applied Behavior Analysis. It remains one of the best attacks on Cartesian dualism and had a large impact on cognitive psychology. The concept of "the mind" is like the soul. It can't be measured, proven, or disproven. We can observe and measure actions, but we can't necessarily infer the internal reasoning behind these actions. We can observe that someone smokes and measure their smoking habit, but it's not pragmatic to theorize that the person smokes due to a ...more
Jan 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Philosophy
Shelves: philosophy
Descartes helped establish the idea of the mind as a separate entity from the body, separate, perhaps, to the point of having altogether different origins. His theory bridged a gap opening up in his day between a newly natural conception of the universe and the traditional supernatural one. Cartesian dualism, in other words, made the intellectual arena safe for both scientists and theologians. Three centuries later comes this book, whose author, Gilbert Ryle, has decided to put paid to the two-t ...more
Sandro Brincher
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First published in 1949, Gilbert Ryle’s The Concept of Mind is one of the classics of twentieth-century philosophy. Described by Ryle as a ‘sustained piece of analytical hatchet-work’ on Cartesian dualism, The Concept of Mind is a radical and controversial attempt to jettison once and for all what Ryle called ‘the ghost in the machine’: Descartes’ argument that mind and body are two separate entities.
Feb 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book felt very much like a lite version of Heidegger's corpus. Do yourself a favour and skip directly to "Being and Time", the heavy handholding and excessively drawn out explanations of simple arguments make this book a frustrating and dull read. ...more
Sep 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I happen to think Ryle misses the shot on what mind 'is' but he certainly does a brilliant job on sweeping away many of the previous misconceptions. If you care about the current debate on ToM you need to read this to get your thinking straight on what it is not. ...more
Frank Spencer
Aug 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
certainly a classic; still has information that makes you think
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
Reasoning that comes off as cloying and pedantic, frequent seeming misrepresentations of the position Ryle argues against (although it's very hard to tell, since he doesn't give explicit references to books he thinks get things wrong), terminological distinctions which don't match up with my everyday understandings of words (which explicitly clashes with Ryle's supposed plain English style), a literary style which comes off as someone who loves Wittgenstein but isn't nearly as clever... Doesn't ...more
Kim Li
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Unbearably excruciating and revelatory! As if someone took my pre-frontal cortex out on a triathlon. I really didn't think there's a way to quantify "consciousness" in anything remotely scientific. Come on! I'd say. Yet I was proven very wrong (thank you books). Who studied this for their major? Did you survive? :) ...more
Jan 02, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is like an old man with a very old bundle of cables meticulously unknotting everything while explaining the exact methods of his untangling as he does so.

It's interesting and peppered with logical deconstructions.

But in the end, when it's all untangled, it really is just a set of old cables.

Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Guide to Effective Communication

An excellent insight into the nuances of everyday communication . As a layman it has inspired me to want to learn more about the responses we give in casual and formal conversation.
This is an excellent guide for anyone who wants to communicate more effectively.
Stephen Bedard
Apr 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
While I disagree with his conclusions, the author has an engaging style. He argues against the idea of "a ghost in the machine," that is a spirit/mind in a body. He argues that we should not even talk about physical and mental as two different categories. This is a very influential book on the theory of mind. ...more
Taojie Wang
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Avoiding the real question of mind, but still a classic, for behaviourists.
Robert Tessmer
Nov 16, 2017 rated it liked it
While I think I agree with the main premise of the book, I did not find the writing very interesting.
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was, I think, the first real book I bought (with real money) and read just before I went off to college in 1974. I ended up doing psychology college as a start.
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
A deep look into the philosophy of mind and thinking. Excellent presentation and thoroughness.
Aug 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
Yeah and I figured this out when I was 14
Clark Vaccaro
Oct 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Paul O'Leary
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gilbert Ryle's Concept of the Mind is a work that has an honored and earned spot in any history of philosophy. Yes, that does imply this is a "dated" work. It is an important work, nevertheless, for the author's investigation into how we ordinarily think of the mind, or, rather, our own mind in an everyday sense and how metaphysics creeps into our relationship with "it" through loose language. Written during a period when many philosophers thought it was of paramount importance to ascertain what ...more
Dan Cohen
Jul 12, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy

I found this a long hard struggle to read through. Maybe because it's been nearly 30 years since I read any analytical philosophy, maybe because I found his arguments obscure, or maybe because I found the book repetitive. His attack on "the ghost in the machine" starts off well and he introduces his main technique of categorising concepts to illustrate how concepts of the wrong category can be misapplied. So far so good. He also introduces his infinite series argument (the ghost in the ghost in
Feb 16, 2017 rated it liked it
An interesting book essential to a complete understanding of the history of philosophy of mind. However, I neither agree with the ordinary language philosophical methodology nor with the deflationary analysis of mind. I am grateful that most contemporary philosophers of mind agree with me here.
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A valiant effort to analyse the ways in which qualities of the mind are invoed in both everyday and scientific discourse. The central thrust of the book is to give a deflationary account of the mental. Quite unlike the traditional Cartesian picture of the mental realm, where mental acts and mental entities dwell, Ryle presents qualities of the mind as modes of engaging with the world - as skills, modifications of behaviour, or processes.
This analysis points out serious difficulties with the trad
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 20th-century
Gilbert Ryle's classic philosophical work, The Concept of Mind, is now best remembered for the least philosophical part of it, the rhetorical dubbing of Descartes mind/body dualism as the "dogma of the ghost in the machine." Ryle's own particular brand of philosophical behaviorism hasn't weathered all that well, and so this book's surviving interest is primarily as a negative work. Nevertheless, the book is interesting as a crucible for Cartesians and those interested in the philosophical merits ...more
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Gilbert Ryle was a British philosopher, and a representative of the generation of British ordinary language philosophers influenced by Wittgenstein's insights into language, 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" (not to be confused ...more

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