Category Mistakes

This week, I started ready Gilbert Ryle’s book, The Concept of Mind. In it, he seeks to dispel the Cartesian idea that mind and body are separate. Thomas Szasz wrote fondly of Ryle’s book in his book The Meaning of Mind (reviewed here).

I usually wait until I’m done with a book before I start to write about it, but I thought I’d try a pre-review in this case. He presents the interesting idea that Descartes’s thinking about mind and body are complete category mistakes. He says to put the idea of the mind in a separate ethereal category doesn’t make sense.

He gives some funny examples of category mistakes, such as:

  1. A person visits a University and sees all the different buildings, but asks: “I’ve seen the science center, the library, the rec center, and the cafe, but where is the University?”
  2. A person goes to a baseball game and sees all the players, the shortstop, the batter, the pitcher, the outfielders and asks: “I see all the different players, but where is the team spirit on the field?” 🤣

Asking these types of questions is a form of category error.

I’m looking forward to finishing the rest of the book and will post a review when finished.

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