Few Ryle’s Paragraphs That I Wrote Too

After I mentioned Ryle’s The Concept of Mind in the last post, I went to read a part of it that I haven’t read – the chapter on Sensation and Observation. To my satisfaction I found in it the considerations about appearances which I wrote about in this blog (e.g. in the post on Illusions).

When he says that the tilted plate has an elliptical look, or looks as if it were elliptical, he means that it looks as an elliptical but untilted plate would look. Tilted round things sometimes do look quite or exactly like untilted elliptical things; straight sticks half immersed in water occasionally do look rather like unimmersed bent sticks; solid but distant mountains sometimes do look rather like flat mural decorations quite near to one’s nose.

The squinter, aware of his squint, who reports that it looks just as if there were two candles on the table, or that he might be seeing two candles, is describing how the single candle looks by referring to how pairs of candles regularly look to spectators who are not squinting

When we say that someone has a pedantic appearance, … we mean that he looks rather like some pedantic people look. (p.217-218)

Further Ryle gets to analyze the issue of how the appearances (‘appears as’) and predication (‘is’) relate, and there too I found analysis similar to the one I wrote in the post ‘Appears as a Red Ball’ vs ‘Is a Red Ball’

But when I describe a common object as green or bitter, I am not reporting a act about my present sensation, though I am saying about how it looks or tastes. I am saying that it would look or taste so and so to anyone who was in a condition and position to see or taste properly. Hence I do not contradict myself if I say that the field is green, though at the moment it looks greyish-blue to me; or that the fruit is really bitter, though it appears to me quite tasteless. And even when I say that the grass, though really green, looks greyish-blue to me, I am still describing my momentary sensation only by assimilating it to how common objects that are really greyish-blue normally look to anyone who can see properly. (p.220)

So, it seems lot of what I have wrote in those post has already been written 60 years ago. (Talking about being out of fashion.)

5 thoughts on “Few Ryle’s Paragraphs That I Wrote Too

  1. By the way…judging from the kind of view that I *think* you have (I am still not sure about the details) I predict that you would very much like Wilfred Sellers’ “Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind”. Have you read.heard of it. It is a ‘lessor known’ though highly influential piece…

  2. Hi Richard, thanks for the comments,

    Yeah, I know of Sellars’ book, and once started reading it, but didn’t go very far. I’ve been thinking to return to it, thanks for reminding me.

    As for being a behaviorist, I don’t know. I do agree with Ryle that considering ‘mind’ to be an entity like physical entities is a categorical mistake, and I am also skeptical of ‘inner’ experiences (not in the sense of ‘in the body’, but ‘in the mind’). Probably on lots more, but I intend to write a post putting attention to some things in ‘The Concept of Mind’ that I don’t agree with.

  3. Yeah, Sellers is difficult to get through, but worth it!

    If the mind=the body then would you be skeptical of experience in the mind? (I know that you don’t like identity theories, but they are afterall, correct :))

  4. If the identity theories are correct, yes, I would agree that there is p-experience.

    But I would agree with Ryle that whatever ‘minds’ refers to, it doesn’t fall in the same category as ‘brains’ (though I don’t agree with his positive account).

    It is not that I don’t like identity theories, I just consider them incorrect :)

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