Hubert Dreyfus on Practical and Embodied Intelligence

In Carlotta Pavese & Ellen Fridland (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Skill and Expertise. Routledge. pp. 123-132 (2020)
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This chapter treats Hubert Dreyfus’ account of skilled coping as part of his wider project of demonstrating the sovereignty of practical intelligence over all other forms of intelligence. In contrast to the standard picture of human beings as essentially rational, individual agents, Dreyfus argued powerfully on phenomenological and empirical grounds that humans are fundamentally embedded, absorbed, and embodied. These commitments are present throughout Dreyfus’ philosophical writings, from his critique of Artificial Intelligence research in the 1970s and 1980s to his rejection of John McDowell’s conceptualism in his 2005 APA Presidential Address. The present chapter articulates Dreyfus’ proposal for a contentless, non-mentalistic form of intentionality by contrasting his position with that of his U.C. Berkeley colleague John Searle and defending it as a plausible alternative to the so-called “Standard Story” of intentional action as the effect of an agent’s mental states.

Author Profiles

John Schwenkler
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Kristina Gehrman
University of Tennessee, Knoxville


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