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Gilbert Ryle (1900—1976) philosopher

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The term first used by the English philosopher Gilbert Ryle (1900–76) on page 17 of his book The Concept of Mind (1949) to describe the dogma of mind-body dualism, which he interpreted as a category mistake.

From:   ghost in the machine   in  A Dictionary of Psychology »

Subjects: Science and technology — Psychology

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A Ghost in the Machine Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of a ghost in the machine, chapter analysis of a ghost in the machine, plot & themes, main character, writing style, books with storylines, themes & endings like a ghost in the machine.

Ghost in the Machine – Meaning & Origin

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| Candace Osmond

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

The ghost in the machine is a bizarre phrase we use to refer to the mind-body dualism theory. Basically, it suggests that the human mind (or soul) is distinct and separate from the physical body. Cool, right? But how did a deep phrase like this come to be? I’ll tell you all about it! Stick with me as I dig deeper into this thought-provoking term’s meaning. Plus, I’ll show you how to use it in a sentence.

Ghost in the Machine Meaning Explained

Ghost in the Machine – Meaning Origin

This phrase, often used in philosophy and cognitive science discussions, is the perfect metaphorical way to describe the idea that the mind (the ghost ) exists independently of the body (the machine ). It reflects the debate around consciousness, mental states, and the physical body—whether they’re interlinked or separate entities.

ghost in the machine book summary

It’s like “Ghost in the Shell,” one of my favorite anime creations. It’s a futuristic cyberpunk story. Just like the phrase in question, ghost represents the mind or consciousness, and shell represents the body (or cybernetic body, in this case).

With the rise of artificial intelligence and tons of other amazing advancements that continue to push humans and machines together, this phrase will definitely get more use in the coming years.

Origin and Etymology Behind the Ghost in the Machine

Ghost in the Machine Ngram

The evocative phrase ghost in the machine was coined by a philosopher named Gilbert Ryle in his book “ The Concept of Mind ,” which was published in 1949. Ryle used it as a criticism of René Descartes’ mind-body dualism theory. He viewed it as a misleading way of understanding human consciousness and behavior.

The Ghost in the Machine Synonyms

It might not seem like it, but there are a few alternative ways to say ghost in the machine . Here are some to consider:

  • Mind-body dualism
  • Cartesian dualism
  • Descartes’ dualism
  • Spirit in the machine
  • Soul in the machine

The Ghost in the Machine Examples in Sentence

Ghost in the Machine – Meaning Origin 1

Here are a few ways showing exactly how you can use this oddball phrase in either conversation or writing.

  • The deep concept of the ghost in the machine has intrigued cognitive scientists around the world.
  • My professor’s philosophical perspective aligns more with the ghost-in-the-machine theory.
  • This new AI technology is so terrifyingly advanced; it’s like there’s a ghost in the machine.
  • The debate on consciousness always circles back to the ghost-in-the-machine idea.
  • I’m writing a paper on the implications of the ghost in the machine in modern neuroscience.
  • Descartes’ philosophy has been critiqued as promoting a ghost-in-the-machine viewpoint.
  • The class discussion about consciousness inevitably brought up the notion of the ghost in the machine.
  • Artificial intelligence often evokes discussions about the ghost in the machine.
  • His theory suggests that there’s no ghost in the machine, only biochemical reactions, and it’s a comforting concept to entertain.
  • Is it the ghost in the machine that makes us uniquely human or just the opposite?

The Ghost and the Machine: A Philosophical Encounter

That’s the philosophical concept of the ghost in the machine in a nutshell. Idioms are where language and ideas intersect and birth special sayings like this for all to use. The more idioms you understand, the broader your vocabulary will become! So, check out my other helpful guides right here on Grammarist!

Check out some others we covered:

  • With egg on one’s face definition
  • Word of mouth meaning
  • Wolf in sheep’s clothing definition
  • Worth one’s salt meaning

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Ghost in the Machine

Ted Marcoux in Ghost in the Machine (1993)

An electric surge causes a serial killer's soul to end up in a computer system. An electric surge causes a serial killer's soul to end up in a computer system. An electric surge causes a serial killer's soul to end up in a computer system.

  • Rachel Talalay
  • William Davies
  • William Osborne
  • Karen Allen
  • Chris Mulkey
  • Ted Marcoux
  • 55 User reviews
  • 30 Critic reviews
  • 34 Metascore

Ghost in the Machine

  • Terry Monroe

Chris Mulkey

  • Josh Monroe

Jessica Walter

  • Karl's Landlord

Jack Laufer

  • Frank Mallory

Mimi Lieber

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Ken Thorley

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  • Trivia Approximately 40 minutes into the movie, a computer is scrolling through a list of names in a phone book, in search of its next victim. The names listed are mostly Hollywood producers. Going through the list slowly reveals Caryn Mandabach (listed as "Caryn Mandab"), Wink Martindale , Lorne Michaels (of Saturday Night Live (1975) ), Bill Melendez ("Charlie Brown" specials), Neal Marlens ( Growing Pains (1985) ), Thomas L. Miller ( Full House (1987) ) and a host of others. The name the computer is searching for is Terry Munroe, which (maybe by coincidence) happens to be the birth name of actor Stepin Fetchit .
  • Goofs At Terry's ATM and on the computer address search, her last name appears as Munroe. When her son Josh signs in to use the Virtual Reality gear with his friend, he signs as Munroe. On her son's computer info, his name is spelled as Monroe which is what the credits show, recently as December 2020.

Phil Stewart : You don't think a hacker did this do you?

Bram : Well, when you leave it out in the open no self-respecting hacker is going to pass it by.

Phil Stewart : [grits teeth and pulls hair out] Auugghhh! God Damnit!

[tears out of room]

Phil Stewart : Get the hell out of my way!

Bram : You know you don't handle stress very well, Phil.

Phil Stewart : Jesus Christ.

  • Connections Featured in The Ryan Hollinger Show: Pulse & Feardotcom: The Rise of "Internet Horror" (2020)
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User reviews 55

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  • How long is Ghost in the Machine? Powered by Alexa
  • December 29, 1993 (United States)
  • United States
  • Deadly Terror
  • 16711 Bosque Avenue, Encino, Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Twentieth Century Fox
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  • $12,000,000 (estimated)
  • Jan 2, 1994

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  • Runtime 1 hour 35 minutes

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"Ghost in the Machine: Ryan's Journal" by Patrick Carman

ghost in the machine book summary

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Opinionator | the ghost in the machine.

ghost in the machine book summary

The Ghost in the Machine

The End

The End is a series about end-of-life issues.

The month after my grandmother died, I received several emails from her. Not from her, of course, but from an old AOL email account of hers that had been taken over by spammers. My mother and other family members called to ask me — the granddaughter who studies computer security — to make the emails stop. We were all strangely unsettled by these messages from beyond the grave, by my grandmother’s sudden appearance in our inboxes so soon after we’d lost her. More than just spam, this felt like a ghost in the machine.

To my grandmother, born in 1927, everything about computers and the Internet had seemed slightly supernatural. A writer for more than 60 years, she understood that being a professional in this day and age — selling books and articles, communicating with publishers and agents, editing and revising — required using a computer. And so she did.

But she regarded machines with suspicion and mistrust. Above all, she felt a deep sense of despair that something cataclysmic and irreparable had happened whenever she couldn’t find the Firefox icon (which she referred to as Foxfire), or open an email attachment. She would call me and say woefully: “I’ve spent all day looking for the story I was writing and it’s completely disappeared. I don’t know what I did. I’ve broken the Internet.”

ghost in the machine book summary

How ironic that she should have an afterlife on that same Internet she was so sure she had broken. Nowadays, online ghosts and Internet afterlives are not just for those with big digital footprints and major social media lives but even for my grandmother, who considered it a major achievement to find the send button in her email. And if she thought the Internet was magic — good magic or malevolent magic — perhaps it’s also oddly fitting that it should be some 21st-century version of beyond the veil, our gateway to the spirit world.

Magical or not, my grandmother struggled mightily with the computer. It got harder as her eyesight deteriorated and she was both increasingly unable to navigate the screen and increasingly prone to frustration. Naïve digital native that I am, I periodically believed I could fix her problems with a well-placed technological intervention.

In 2010, I set up a blog for her (tagline: “Five years older than the A train”) so she could continue writing for an audience even as it got harder for her to navigate the world of professional publishing. In the summer of 2012, I persuaded her to buy an enormous 27-inch iMac and set it up in her apartment, magnifying the cursor and the text and the icons so she wouldn’t have to strain her eyes. I created an iChat account that would launch automatically and set it so that I could take control of her desktop remotely, using my own account, whenever something went wrong.

On some level, I understood even then that there was no technology that could make up for going blind, nothing that would make that loss less acute or painful or resented — but I put everything I could think of into that computer, making it so big and simple and user-friendly that maybe, just maybe, while writing on its enormous screen, in type magnified by 400 percent, she would forget that she could no longer read a newspaper or easily navigate the city where she had lived almost her entire life.

There were still lots of despairing phone calls, only now I could hang up the phone and connect directly to her computer from my own laptop, 200 miles away, talking to her and moving her mouse from afar, telling her, when she asked, bewildered, where my voice was coming from, “I’m here, I’m in the computer.”

And then, suddenly, she was the one in my computer — and not just because of the creepy emails that arrived so soon after her death. In the year since my grandmother died, I have inherited some items she loved — jewelry, clothing, books, refrigerator magnets in the shape of Popsicles — and also, inevitably, that computer, which now lives on my desk in Cambridge, with her usernames and passwords still scrawled in her shaky, oversize handwriting on scraps of paper taped to the screen, with the font and icons still magnified, and the blog post she was only 200 words into when she went to the hospital still saved on the desktop.

I’m sometimes startled by how powerfully that computer evokes my grandmother for me. As a break from my own work, I often clean out her inbox or go through her documents — that most intimate of after-death invasions — and read her words: letters, blog posts, essays, short stories, a novel, bad puns, revision upon revision, endless accidentally created automatic backups and copies. I can almost hear her voice (as she so often heard mine) coming out of the screen, can almost see her painstakingly pecking at her oversize keyboard to correct the typos or finish the latest blog post, can almost appreciate what a mystical machine it must have seemed to her.

These days, I use the computer mostly to work on my dissertation, which is about how we defend computers against attacks and about the complex interplay and interactions between the kinds of defenses we use (encryption, firewalls, passwords) and the types of defenders involved (organizations, policy makers, software developers). It focuses on the ways we often end up defending computer systems against the wrong things. We mean to protect against theft or fraud but ultimately only manage to protect against short passwords or open ports — which often turn out to be weak proxies for the real dangers.

I discuss the misleading rhetoric in which we talk about attackers “getting into” computers, when in fact, attacks consist of a series of escalating access capabilities. There is no moment at which an attacker is suddenly “in” a compromised computer.

I make this argument now on that very same machine from which I regularly announced to my grandmother, “I’m in the computer,” the same machine that I tried so unsuccessfully to layer with as many defenses as I could against her worsening eyesight and technological despair, the same machine that has slips of paper with her passwords written on them taped to the bottom of the screen because, poor security practice or no, I can’t bring myself to throw them away.

It is at once funny and strange and sad and fitting to write on my grandmother’s computer. There’s undeniable comedy in the idea that anything of hers should even touch a computer-science dissertation. And, of course, it’s bittersweet, still, to look at her handwritten notes below the screen and her archives of years’ worth of writing and realize all over again, I’m never going to get another call that she’s broken the Internet, never going to find her Foxfire icon, never going to be inside her computer, never going to talk to her again.

But the right way to remember my grandmother is to write, so I go back to my dissertation, and I try to channel her dedication, her passion for writing, if not her belief that the machines were out to get her, into my thesis — she would not have understood a single word, I know, and yet her voice is on every page.

Josephine Wolff is a graduate student at M.I.T. and a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. She writes about cybersecurity for Slate.

Ghost in the Machine Summary and Analysis

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FreeBookNotes found 3 sites with book summaries or analysis of Ghost in the Machine . If there is a Ghost in the Machine SparkNotes, Shmoop guide, or Cliff Notes, you can find a link to each study guide below.

Among the summaries and analysis available for Ghost in the Machine , there are 1 Short Summary and 2 Book Reviews.

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Ghost in the Machine

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Estimated Read Time : 3 minutes

Word Count: 850

ghost in the machine book summary

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COMMENTS

  1. The Ghost in the Machine

    The Ghost in the Machine is a 1967 book about philosophical psychology by Arthur Koestler. The title is a phrase (see ghost in the machine) coined by the Oxford philosopher Gilbert Ryle to describe the Cartesian dualist account of the mind-body relationship.

  2. Ghost in the Machine (novel)

    Plot Ghost in the Machine picks up where Skeleton Creek left off, with Ryan and Sarah trapped in the Dredge. They escape and return home, after finding out about the Crossbones, a secret society that protects the Dredge. Ryan learns that his father, Paul McCray, is one of the last ones alive.

  3. The Ghost in the Machine by Arthur Koestler

    The Ghost in the Machine Arthur Koestler 4.02 628 ratings58 reviews An examination of the human impulse towards self-destruction suggests that in the course of human evolution, a pathological split between emotion and reason developed. Genres Philosophy Psychology Nonfiction Science History Neuroscience Sociology ...more 400 pages, Paperback

  4. Ghost in the machine

    The " ghost in the machine " is a term originally used to describe and critique the concept of the mind existing alongside and separate from the body.

  5. The Racist Roots of New Technology

    By Ruha Benjamin Buy this book Benjamin's personal beginning sets the tone for her book's approach, one that focuses on how modern invasive technologies—from facial recognition software to...

  6. The Concept of Mind

    In The Concept of Mind (1949), Ryle argued that the traditional conception of the human mind—that it is an invisible ghostlike entity occupying a physical body—is based on what he called a "category mistake." The mistake is to interpret the term mind as though it were… Read More treatment of concepts In concept

  7. Ghost in the machine

    Quick Reference The term first used by the English philosopher Gilbert Ryle (1900-76) on page 17 of his book The Concept of Mind (1949) to describe the dogma of mind-body dualism, which he interpreted as a category mistake. From: ghost in the machine in A Dictionary of Psychology » Subjects: Science and technology — Psychology

  8. A Ghost in the Machine

    Plot summary Village resident Dennis Brinkley, an enthusiastic collector of old war machines and torture weapons, suffers a gruesome death after being crushed by one of his own devices.

  9. Ghost in the Machine (Skeleton Creek, #2)

    Skeleton Creek #2 Ghost in the Machine Patrick Carman 4.20 3,741 ratings419 reviews Although forbidden to see each other, Ryan and Sarah continue their investigation of the mysterious happenings at the dredge by communicating through video clips, text messages, midnight meetings, and journaling.

  10. Ghost in the Machine (film)

    A surge from an electrical storm manages to transfer his soul into a computer. Now, as a network-based entity, Karl continues to plot his killing spree using various objects connected to the electrical grid and computer networks . Karl opens the scanned page from Terry's address book and begins to kill everyone listed on the page.

  11. A Ghost in the Machine Book Summary and Study Guide

    Writing Style Accounts of torture and death? - generic/vague references to death/punishment Amount of dialog - significantly more dialog than descript Books with storylines, themes & endings like A Ghost in the Machine Amendment of Life by Catherine Ard Mrs. Mallory and Death in Practice by Hazel Holt

  12. Ghost in the Machine

    The evocative phrase ghost in the machine was coined by a philosopher named Gilbert Ryle in his book " The Concept of Mind ," which was published in 1949. Ryle used it as a criticism of René Descartes' mind-body dualism theory. He viewed it as a misleading way of understanding human consciousness and behavior. The Ghost in the Machine Synonyms

  13. Ghost In The Machine: Psychological Truths From Sci-Fi ...

    'The Machine Stops' by E.M. Forster — On humanity's need for humanity Boy this novella's time has come. 'The Machine Stops' is set in a time when humanity has long since left the ...

  14. The Ghost in the Machine

    The phrase 'the ghost in the machine' was coined by Gilbert Ryle in his 1949 book The Concept of Mind, and was intended to point out the absurdity of traditional Cartesian mind-body dualism; presumably there was also an attempt to echo the phrase deus ex machina, or "god from the machine", i.e. an artificial solution to a complex problem.

  15. Ghost in the Machine (1993)

    Summaries An electric surge causes a serial killer's soul to end up in a computer system. Karl Hochman is a technician in a computer store. He is also known as the "Address Book Killer" due to his habit of stealing people's address books and proceeding to murder anyone listed in the book.

  16. Ghost in the Machine (1993)

    Horror Sci-Fi Thriller An electric surge causes a serial killer's soul to end up in a computer system. Director Rachel Talalay Writers William Davies William Osborne Stars Karen Allen Chris Mulkey Ted Marcoux See production info at IMDbPro RENT/BUY from $3.99 search Amazon Add to Watchlist Added by 3.2K users 55 User reviews 30 Critic reviews

  17. "Ghost in the Machine: Ryan's Journal" by Patrick Carman

    PLOT SUMMARY The book centers around the main character, Ryan, a sixteen-year-old who has thought he has been seeing things. The book's beginning was very odd. ... Ghost in the Machine is definitely a horror book, due to the fact that he thought he saw a ghost. I thought it was pretty scary. If I was Ryan, I'd be scared out of my mind. ...

  18. Ghost in the Machine (Scott Cullen Mysteries #1)

    Great first effort by Ed James. With "Ghost in the Machine" James has set the bar high for his subsequent novels. Taut, gripping and thoroughly engrossing Ghost tells the tale of a smart serial killer driven by revenge and ego, how he almost got away with 4 murders while doing an outstanding job framing someone else for it.

  19. The Ghost in the Machine (Chapter 7)

    The Ghost in the Machine. ... Frontmatter. Dedication. Contents. Acknowledgements. Notes on Convention. List of Illustrations. The Book of the Machine: A User's Guide. 1. Psychopathology of Modern Space. 2. The Lord of the Dynamos ... Platesection. Get access. Share. Cite. Summary. At every Underground stop, people climb to the surface, emerge ...

  20. The Ghost in the Machine

    A writer for more than 60 years, she understood that being a professional in this day and age — selling books and articles, communicating with publishers and agents, editing and revising — required using a computer. And so she did. But she regarded machines with suspicion and mistrust. Above all, she felt a deep sense of despair that ...

  21. Ghost in the Machine

    Ghost in the Machine. The chilling conclusion in the innovative series from bestselling author Patrick Carman. Strange things are happening in Skeleton Creek...and Ryan and Sarah are trying to find out why. Ryan writes down everything in his journal, and Sarah records everything on her videocam. The two move deeper into the mystery they've ...

  22. Ghost in the Machine Summary and Analysis (like SparkNotes)

    by Patrick Carman Genre: Mystery Pages: 205 Est. Read Time: 3 hours Full Book Notes and Study Guides Sites like SparkNotes with a Ghost in the Machine study guide or cliff notes. Also includes sites with a short overview, synopsis, book report, or summary of Patrick Carman's Ghost in the Machine. We found no such entries for this book title.

  23. PDF The Ghost in the Machine

    The Ghost in the Machine Published in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research Vol.62, No 851 April 1998 Vic Tandy School of International Studies and Law ... On page 107 the book lists symptoms caused by frequencies in the range 15-20 Hz. V.T. had no idea of the amount of energy (spl) the infrasound had because we had ...