All posts by Jong Hwan Lee

About Jong Hwan Lee

Sophomore in the College, major undecided.

Is the mind distinct from the body?

In Descartes’ Myth, Gilbert Ryle states that the central principles of the doctrine from Descartes, which explain the relationship between the body and the mind, are unsound. According to Ryle, Descartes’ belief makes a “category mistake” by putting “the mind and body in the same logical type or category when they actually belong to another” (Ryle). Ryle believes that although the body exists in space and time, the mind only exists in time and not space. Therefore, there is a distinction between mind and body. Also, as a behaviorist, Ryle believed that the mind was not something behind the behavior of the body; the mind was part of that physical behavior.

The category mistake is when one incorrectly categorizes something as if it belonged to a different group. For example, if I go around the campus telling everyone that my pain is red, this idea is false because pain cannot have a color “blue.” Since the feeling of “pain” and the color “blue” does not belong to the same logical type, this can be seen as a category mistake.

Additionally, contrary to our classroom discussion of free will, Ryle is completely against the belief of Descartes’. He believes that the problem of free will was that the idea of “free will” was made as an excuse. In another words, free will was invented to answer the moral responsibility and ethical actions of what is right and wrong. He also states that since the mind is an entity outside and not related to the body, there cannot be free will. If the body is separate from the mind, then how can each and every human being think and act differently? Ryle’s view of free will gives a different view of the question asked in class: “if someone commits chains of murder, do we put the murderer into jail concluding that he or she is a maniac?” The answer will be no, since the mind is separate from the body.

There is another philosopher who agrees with Ryle’s beliefs. Arthur Koestler published a non-fiction book that discussed the view that the mind is not related to the body and is temporarily inhibiting in the body (NYTimes).  Koestler gives an example of the evolution of the human brain. As the brain evolved, they have improved upon earlier, primitive brain structures.

On the contrary, the identity theory discussed by Churchland rejects Ryle’s beliefs. Identity theorists believe that the “mental state” is the same as “brain states.” However, Ryle would accuse this belief as a “category mistake,” since the mind is abstract and information is not matter. This can be also known as the “Ghost in the Machine,” a term that Ryle uses to poke fun at identity theorists, which implies that physical body is like a machine that is controlled by a nonphysical, ghostly mind.

After reading from proponents of different spectrum, what do you think?



Fleck, Susan. “Behaviorism and Identity Theory.” Behaviourism & Identity Theory. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.

Lifton, Robert. “Man As Mistake.” The New York Times. The New York Times, n.d. Web.

Defining Knoweldge

In this week’s reading of What is this thing called Knowledge by Pritchard discusses how people define knowledge. According to Pritchard, everyone has difficulty in defining knowledge, with this difficulty also known as the problem of the criterion. He argues that the person needs to identify instances of knowledge in order to determine the criteria for knowledge (21). This problem leads to the Justified True Belief Account (JTB), which proves that a person has knowledge of something if he has a proof for it, or justification for his belief. Let’s look at an example for better clarification.

Jong is told by Joe that someone in his class has a pencil (a). Jong believes Matt has a pencil, because Matt is holding an object that looks like a pencil (b). Therefore, Jong believes that someone in his class has a pencil (c).

In this example, Jong is justified in believing that someone in his class has a pencil, simply because he saw Matt holding one. Since Jong has a proof in his belief, it is considered as JTB. However, Gettier argues that it is possible for a belief to be true and justified without being knowledge, because two features constructs Gettier’s cases: fallibility and luck. In his examples with two cases, he argues that “the combination of truth, belief, and justification does not entail the presence of knowledge” (Hetherington).

As an example for Gettier’s arugment, what if Matt was actually holding a pen that looked like a pencil? This statement totally contradicts Jong’s belief. However, if a student other than Matt happened to have a pencil, then it is out of pure luck that Jong’s belief is, in fact, true and justified. However going with Gettier’s argument, this cannot be considered as “knowledge” because it was out of luck that Jong’s JTB was in fact true.

In another class reading by Feldman, Meyers and Stern argued that if the principle (ex. Jong’s belief) is false, then the counter-example that Gettier gave fail. They argued that (a) can justify (c) only if (c) is true (Feldman 68). However, Feldman disagrees (defending Gettier), saying that “there are examples that do not rely on this false principle” (Feldman 68).

To fully understand what Feldman is saying, let’s go back to the example. Let’s say that Matt is not holding a pencil, but a pen that looks like one. For this example, Meyers and Stern would say Jong’s JTB in (c) is false because the principle is false. However, what if Jong generalizes a statement that he deduced from (a)?

Someone in Jong’s class told him that someone in Jong’s class has a pencil, and that person is very good friend of Jong, who he trusts (d).

In this generalization, we can say that from (d), Jong believes (c). As a result, Jong has a JTB in (c) because of this proof, even though Jong still doesn’t know (c) (Feldman 69).

An outside source was found to see the arguments that went against the Gettier’s cases. Hetherington proposed a contrary interpretation of luck, as he calls this interpretation the Knowing Luckily Proposal (Hetherington). He gives an example by reinstating Gettier’s Case I. Hetherington states that Smith is lucky to have a belief that whoever gets the job will have ten coins in the person’s pocket (which happened to be true). This does not mean that Smith is lacking knowledge, but rather came close to lacking knowledge (Hetherington). So he concludes that “because Smith would only luckily have that justified true belief, he would only luckily have that knowledge.” (Hetherington). I found this interesting because this proposal directly goes against Gettier’s reason for refuting the JTB Account.

I wonder now: will we ever be able to clearly define knowledge? With every proposed argument comes with a rebuttal. Maybe we will never have a unanimous agreement. Who knows what’s going to happen in the future?


Sources: (by Hetherington)