Who is Gilbert Ryle?

Who is Gilbert Ryle?

June 25, 2021 Off By Felso

Gilbert Ryle (1900-1976) was a contemporary British philosopher.

Gilbert Ryle was born on 18 August 1900 in Brighton, Sussex, England. His father was a philosopher and astronomer, and he took his children to libraries. After graduating from Brighton College in 1919, Ryle studied classics at Queen’s College, Oxford University.

He then left here to study philosophy and finished school with high honors. He remained a teacher at Christ Church until the Second World War. After the war he became a professor of philosophy at Oxford, and was president of the Aristotelian Society and editor of Mind.

From 1945 to 1968 he headed the chair of metaphysics at Oxford University. He developed an understanding of the philosophy of language in which he defined the meaning of a word through rules that allowed that word to be used in a meaningful sentence. The main concept that Ryle focused on was the “category error”.

In his work Philosophical Arguments, published in 1946, Ryle stated that a category error arises from the positioning of a term or concept in a category that does not fit it. Ryle thought that avoiding these inaccuracies would be possible only by determining the nature of these categories. The method he proposed to achieve this was to reveal category differences between concepts through conceptual analysis.

He emphasized that conceptual analysis is not the study of concepts alone, but the investigation of the sentences in which they take place and the connections between them. Ryle also focused on the everyday use of language, and in his work The Concept of Mind, he tried to find a solution to the classical mind and body problem based on everyday language.

Two of Ryle’s most important books are The Concept of Mind and Dilemmas, which is influenced by Aristotle and also interested in Edmund Husserl and Meinong, although it is within the tradition of language philosophy.

Ryle, who stated that the most important task of philosophy consists of showing that false fiction and absurd theories are the result of linguistic idioms in these theories, distinguished between the syntactic form of an expression and the fact forms that these expressions describe, and argued that most of the idioms in everyday language are systematically misleading. Ryle argued that in order to avoid misleading statements of everyday speech, the philosopher must learn to re-state sentences in such a way as to clearly reveal the forms of phenomena that philosophy deals with, and he claimed that philosophical analysis begins with such redefinitions.

Ryle is best known for his 1931 article “Systematically Misleading Expressions”, which he identified with philosophy as uncovering and correcting linguistic confusion at the root of philosophical problems. The most well-known work of Ryle, who has published on many topics from the philosophy of language to the history of philosophy, from the concept of thinking to Plato, is The Concept of Mind. In this work, Ryle aimed to eliminate Cartesian Dualism and replace it with philosophical (or analytical) behaviorism. Although his views on the philosophy of mind are not fully accepted today, his views that the mental should be understood through its decisive role on behavioral stimuli and reactions have been articulated with today’s functionalist approaches.

It is debatable whether Ryle is an analytical philosopher along the lines of Russell and Moore. He can be regarded as an analytical philosopher, as he argued that philosophical analysis is the only and only function of philosophy, tried to analyze the underlying logic of the misleading grammar of the language, and based on the common sense everyday language understanding. Ryle, on the other hand, is totally against thinking of meanings as permanent objects or rules that determine the use of expressions. In this respect, Ryle’s views are closer to Wittgenstein’s in terms of his later views.

Subject Headings
Gilbert Ryle’s understanding of method
ghost in the machine
Predispositions and formations
subject of philosophy
everyday language
Mind-body distinction and category error
Ryle’s Analysis of the Vocabulary of the Mind

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook