Blogs > Liberty and Power > Category-Mistake

Feb 21, 2005 5:24 pm


According to the philosopher Gilbert Ryle in The Concept of Mind, one commits a category-mistake when one"represents . . . facts . . . as if they belonged to one logical type or category (or range of types or categories), when they actually belong to another."

A case in point is in yesterday's New York Times Magazine, in the article"The Therapeutic Mind Scan" by Paul Raeburn, who laments that most psychiatrists diagnose mental illnesses without examining their patients' brains, but reports hopefully on one exception, Daniel G. Amen, who uses single photon emission computed tomography to scan the brains of his patients. Raeburn is the author of Acquainted With the Night, which the Times says is"a memoir of raising children who have depression and bipolar disorder."

He writes:

"If scanners could uncover the signs of distinct mental illnesses in the soft folds of the brain, the way X-rays can reveal a tumor, and monitor treatment effectiveness, they would revolutionize psychiatry."

Cross-posted at The Szasz Blog.

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Sheldon Richman - 2/22/2005

No problem, and point well taken. I'm a Thompson fan from way back. I read him when I was a young newspaperman and was never the same. Thompson reminds me of an aphorism of Karl Kraus, who was the Thomas Szasz of his day. Kraus said something to this effect: The journalist is like the prostitute in that neither is supposed to show any feelings. The difference is that the prostitute actually has feelings. By that definition, Thompson was not a journalist. Whatever you want to call him, he was something remarkable and unique.

chris l pettit - 2/22/2005

THis is out of place...but I saw it this morning and thought it was fitting...and interesting how they categorize the great journalist. Please excuse the fact that I post it here instead of somewhere more fitting. Long live Hunter S...,6109,1419670,00.html