मुख पृष्ठ » Epistemology » Concept of Mind according to Philosophical Bahaviorism

Concept of Mind according to Philosophical Bahaviorism

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The Word ‘Mind’

The words mind, soul and spirit do not have quite the same meaning, but for the sake of simplicity we may call them our mental or perhaps our psychical life, and that when we use the substantiative words mind, soul ,consciousness, spirit, ego, self are merely different names applied to this inner life. Of course, these words are not synonymous for mind and mental suggested intellectual activities, while soul and psychical are apt to call up emotional and vital elements. When use the word spirit, while the adjective spiritual suggests moral and religious values.

In real sense, the mind is a complex thing, including, first a group of cognitive tendencies or biological interests; second, a system of adaptive processes which we call behaviour (mind in the narrower sense) and the third, consciousness. It would be better if we could use the word soul for mind in the broader sense to include the totality of dispositions, processes and relations and reserve the word mind for the narrower group of process included in adaptive behavior, the corresponding adjectives psychical and mental, falling into their appropriate places.

Behaviorism

Near the beginning of the twentieth century, physicalism began to dominate philosophy of mind. The first of these physicalist movements was behaviorist view that mental properties could be identified with behavior or tendencies to act i certain ways under certain conditions. Behaviorists hold that earlier approaches and methods in psychology were insufficiently scientific. The philosophical behaviorist holds that Cartesian conception of mind errors in a fundamental way.

According to Wittgenstein philosophical problems arise “when language goes on holiday”. When we lose touch with the way our words are actually used. In our everyday interactions with one another, we are not puzzled by our capacity to know what others feel or what they are thinking. The philosophical problem of other minds arises when we wrench mind, thought, feeling, and their cognates from the contexts in which they are naturally deployed. We put special interpretation on them, and then boggle at the puzzles that result.

Conception of Mind According to Ryle

Ryle’s book The Concept of Mind(1949) is a prolonged attack on Cartesian dualism, which Ryle mockingly labels it “the official doctrine”, of the dogma of the ghost in the machine”. He extends Wittgenstein point. He argues that the cartesianism is guilty a serious “category mistake”. In other words, that it has been misled by systematically misleading expressions. Exactly what a category is ,is never made clear but roughly it is a range of items of which the same sorts of things can be meaningfully asserted.

According to Ryle the supposition that minds are kinds of entity amounts to a “category mistake”, it represents the facts of mental life as if they belonged to one logical type or category…. when actually they belong to another . In the same way, the fact that “mind” is a substantive noun, or that we speak of ” states of mind” should not lead us to assume that “mind” functions to designate a particular entity, and that states of mind are states of this entity.

Ryle’s positive thesis, which assigns mentalistic talk to what he regards as the correct category, treats talk about mind as talk about the way in which we behave. In describing the workings of a person’s of mind, he tells us, “we are not describing a set of shadowy operations. We are describing the ways in which parts of his conduct are managed.

Problem about the nature of the mind and the recurrent temptation to think of our mental life as a set of operation performed in a private “inner” that are continued to preoccupy Ryle in his later writings and some of his subsequent reflection can be found in the second volume of his Collected Papers (1971) and in the two posthumous collections of material On Thinking (1979) and Aspects of Mind(1993).

Although a few philosophers would now endorse the behaviorism of The Concept of Mind, its insistence on a priori connections between mind and behavior would still be widely accepted. For example, by functionalists among others. Even philosophers such as D.M. Armstrong and D.C.Dennett, who would count themselves among Ryle’s critics, would acknowledge the influence on them of Ryle’s thinking. If Ryle’s writing now seen as the products of an earlier era, it is because their considerable lessons have be so thoroughly absorbed into contemporary thinking.

References:

Descartes, Meditations on the First Philosophy

Gilbert Ryle, The Concept of Mind

John Heil, The Philosophy of Mind

Richard Creel, Thinking Philosophically


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