Ghost in the Machine

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The "Ghost in the Machine" is a metaphor in philosophy. The philosopher Gilbert Ryle called mind the Ghost in the Machine, and the idea that it was separate from the brain was the mistaken "official doctrine".[1][2]

Ryle was referring to René Descartes' mind-body dualism.[3] In dualist systems like Descartes', mental activity carries on in parallel to physical action, but the means of interaction are unknown or speculative.[4] Ryle thought this was absurd, and as a kind of error which he called a "category mistake". It is like saying something like "cars move by motive spirit".

References[change | change source]

  1. Ryle, Gilbert. 1949. The concept of mind. London: Hutchinson. p15–18 The absurdity of the official doctrine. ISBN 0-226-73295-9
  2. Pinker, Steven 2002. The blank slate: the modern denial of human nature. London/New York: Putnam Penguin. Chapter 1 The official theory: p8–11. ISBN 0-670-03151-8
  3. Descartes knew that Galileo's methods of scientific discovery could provide mechanical explanations for every occupant of space, but he was convinced that mental activities were not just a more complex variety of the mechanical.
  4. Tanney, Julia 2007. "Gilbert Ryle", in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.