The book of Rene Descartes (1641) entitled, Meditations on First Philosophy, argues that human being’s existence is composed primarily of two components, which are mind and body-formally being known as the theory of Dualism. Descartes has represented the human existence through his six forms of meditations that negates absolute belief on uncertain things and further differentiates these from those that are real. From this six, the second meditation is the representations of Descartes’ metaphysical system that basically corresponds to his idea of dualism – mind versus body.

On the other hand, Gilbert Ryle (1949) describes Descartes’ idea as a fundamental mistake, which conforms mainly on Western philosophy. According to Ryle’s argument, the fundamental error of Descartes’ argument is the category mistake. Ryle pinpoints the inaccurate and inappropriate conjoining of two logical terms proposed by Descartes, particularly the mental process and physical processes. Discussion Descartes’ argument presents the logical principles of Dualism wherein he proposes that human being is composed of two independent entities, the mind and the body.

The mind or the soul is responsible for thinking and performing other activities under the aspect of cognition. The body, on the other hand, responds to the dictations of the mind being derived from the laws of nature. Descartes performs these ideas by using his second meditation, the nature of Human Mind and Body, wherein he considers the separation of physical access from mental access of ideas, which is only accessible by individual means.

These ideas are considered part or content of mind, such as perceptions, images, memories, conceptual frameworks, etc, which are mainly part of his thought pattern or known as representationalism. On the other hand, Ryle contradicts the proposition of Descartes under his book entitled, The Concept of Mind, that views Descartes’ dualism as a fundamental error emphasizing a categorical mistake. Dualism, in Ryle’s view, concerns the assumption of causes, processes, or events under dualism cannot actually implicate both processes.

Ryle acknowledges that Descartes’ myth of body and mind separation coincides in a category with peculiar language inappropriate to one another. Nevertheless, Ryle does not negate the principles of Descartes rather he proposes a relocation of components and ideas present in his theory on dualism. Descartes’ defensive stance considers the category to which events of a person’s trying to do something is physical while being dependent to human beings’ cognitive aspect, which considers appropriate categorical placement on Descartes dualism of mind and body relationship.

Descartes’ view on mind and body’s dualism provide significant portrayal of rational mind/soul powers over the body, which entail intellectuality over man’s physical embodiment; although, Ryle’s argument questions the use of the terminology, soul, which can be inappropriate in application of logical statements to a cognitive-based component. The argument of Ryle is answered back by Descartes’ concept of rational soul, which, according to him does not require physical manipulation (e. g. by pineal gland).


Since both components comprise two separate characteristics and principles, body and mind should be handled independently from one another. Descartes’ second meditation in his book, Meditations on First Philosophy, proposes the idea of Dualism of Mind and Body. He considers the two components as separate identities independent from each other. On the other hand, Ryle’s The Concept of Mind proposes the argument that the Cartesian dualism is one large category mistake, which is an incorrect placement of terms from psychological vocabulary to logico-linguistic category, and should therefore consider replacement or re-categorization of ideas.