In the article, Ryle disputes Descartes’s belief. Descartes believes that a person’s mind and body is separated. Ryle is trying to dispute the official doctrine that he states like this: “With the doubtful exceptions of idiots and infants in arms every human being has both a body and a mind. Some would prefer to say that every human being is both a body and a mind. His body and his mind are ordinarily harnessed together, but after the death of the body his mind may continue to exist and function.” (Ryle, 23) He also regards this official doctrine as “ghost in the machine”. Ryle challenges Descartes’s belief by pointing out that the whole official doctrine is a category-mistake. Ryle does several illustrations such as: a foreigner visiting a campus guiding by a student. The library, admission office, museum are all shown to him by the student. But in the end he asks: “Where is the university?” The category-mistake can also be described as: I show my friend a picture of my family. I told her which is my dad, which is my mom and which is my sister. However, in the end she ask me: “ So who is the family?” Ryle points out that Descartes is mixing two things that are on different logical levels and he assumes that these two things are on the same logical level.
According to the official doctrine, I will be able to know my mental state right away. For example, if I hope some one is going to pick me up after class since it is raining and I forgot to bring the umbrella, I will know it immediately since this is my own mental state. Furthermore, no one else is able to know it directly since this is my own private mental state. When I was waiting for some one to pick me up I saw some one standing in the lobby. I heard this person saying that: “I hope some one is going to pick me up.” and “why I left my umbrella at home.” I also saw this person looking at his watch frequently, walking back and forth. I will think that he is in the same situation with me and he is also hoping some one will pick him up. But what I used to deduce his situation all based on public behaviors and I have no clue and will never be able to know what he is thinking in his mind. On the official doctrine, the mental states of other are forever hidden to me and I will have no way to get to know them. According to this, we can say that it is impossible to tell the difference between a man and a robot (Ryle 29) since all we see are the public side of the others and we can’t tell whether they are faking it or not. Just like the person I thought was experiencing the same situation with me might be faking to say those words and do those actions. If we say so, it will be impossible to define some one as idiots. It will be impossible for the hospital to tell whether this patient has mental disorder or not. Or can we say that the patient who we think having mental disorder actually does not and it should be us who have the problem?