Philosophy of Mind
Introduction Dualism Behaviourism Identity Theory Functionalism Dennett


  Mental Privacy
  Category Mistakes
  Further Reading

  Category Mistakes

Gilbert Ryle picks up on this point and tries to show how such philosophers as Descartes have distorted language. Since mind can only mean “what it is like to be me” or “your experience of the world”, it is a distortion of language to make it mean “a distinct mental substance” - as Descartes attempts to. Such an attempt is called by Ryle a “category mistake”.

Ryle uses this approach to dismantle the mind body problem as stemming from a misinterpretation of common terms. For instance, imagine someone were to ask to be shown your home. So, you show them the living room, bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, etc., but on finishing the tour they say, “That’s very nice – but now show me your home”. This sort of mistake would be ludicrous because what they have been shown is your home – and yet, Ryle argues, this is what Descartes and other dualists are doing when they are looking for some special entity separate from the body and forms of behaviour called a “mind”.