A peg for some thoughts
A few years before he passed away, Ryle discussed his work with Bryan Magee in one of a series of conversations with influential philosophers first broadcast on BBC radio in the winter of 1970–1 and later published, with extensive revisions, as Modern British Philosophy (Magee 1971). At the end of the discussion Magee asked Ryle if his work on thinking , which he had begun in earnest the year after the publication of The Concept of Mind and was still in train 20 years later, would reveal its fruits in a forthcoming book. Ryle's response was that though he had collected various items — a hat, a cap, a mackintosh, a scarf, and a few other things — he had not yet found a peg on which to hang them. Although some of Ryle's lectures and talks were assembled posthumously (with an admirable introduction) by one of his students (Ryle 1979), there was no book-length treatment and, it must be said, no particular peg which would tie together the several nuanced and detailed observations that his survey of the landscape occupied by the concept of thought and thinking reveals. An unfortunate result is that the more prominent commentaries on Ryle's attempts to chart the concept have taken him, mistakenly, to be offering a traditional philosophical "account" (as do most commentaries on Ryle's work on mental and other concepts more generally), which of course are then found wanting (e.g. Sibley 1970). In what follows, motivated by my own interests in bringing Ryle's arguments to bear on contemporary theorising, I have forged my own peg upon which to hang some of the items he collected; and in a way, incidentally, which reveals their similarity with those assembled by the later Wittgenstein.
Tanney, J. (2014)., A peg for some thoughts, in D. Dolby (ed.), Ryle on mind and language, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 126-145.
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