Saturday, September 12, 2015



D. R. Khashaba

Dedicated to George Berkeley

Hylas has been reading Gilbert Ryle’s The Concept of Mind. When he saw Philonous approaching, even before he returned his friend’s greeting he blurted out: The concept of mind us empty; it denotes nothing.

Philonous: Naturally, since the mind is no thing. The concept, the Aristotelian universal, is the common character in a multiplicity. The multiple existent things are all evanescent and are not self-sustaining. The mind is the ground of all existing things. We should not speak of the concept of mind or of the existence of mind but of the reality of mind.

Hylas: What kind of reality is this that does not exist?

Philonous: It is not in the nature of reality to exist. Not only Mind, Life, Love, Justice, are realities that cannot be found in the world, but you will search the world in vain for an Animal that is not a giraffe or a lion or a rabbit, just as you can never find a triangle that is neither isosceles nor scalene nor equilateral. It is only when the mind that is real but does not exist forms the idea Animal that we see animals and only when it forms the idea Triangle that we have triangles with the essential characteristics of triangles and only when the mind forms the idea Justice that we see persons and acts as just or unjust.

Hylas: Yet we do find actual animals, triangles, and instances of justice in the world, but we do not find actual minds.

Philous: That is because animals, triangles and instances of justice only have a borrowed reality, a reality conferred by the mind on the multiple perceptible things. But the mind is only to be found in ‘its own place, and its place is, as Milton says, none other than itself. The mind is the one reality we know best, the reality we find immediately within ourselves, or better said, it is the reality that is ourself; the mind is our own reality. But we are so engrossed by the tumultuous things pressing in on us from all sides in the world that we, not finding the mind among those boisterous things outside us, say there is no mind.

Phylas: I still find it hard to digest the idea of a reality that is no thing.

Philobous: That is because you persist in thinking of the mind as an object, as a substance. Descates led us into many an error when he made thought into a substance. Let us forget about the word ‘mind’ that throughout a long history has been encumbered with so much junk. You will find it easier to say there is intelligence in you as you say there is life in you. That intelligence in you is your inner reality, your whole reality. And that intelligence in you is not a static thing or condition but is ceaseless activity. You, your real you, are not a thing; you are ceaseless activity, intelligent activity, intelligent creativity. That is life and intelligence in one. That is the reality of Mind.

Cairo, September 12, 2015.


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