The phenomenology of everyday expertise and the emancipatory interest

Philosophy and Social Criticism 39 (9):0191453713498388 (2013)
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This is a critical theoretical investigation of Hubert Dreyfus’ ‘phenomenology of everyday expertise’ (PEE). Operating mainly through the critical perspective of the ‘emancipatory interest’ the article takes issue with the contention that when engaged in expert action human beings are in non-deliberative, reason-free absorption. The claim of PEE that absorbed actions are not amenable to reconstruction places those actions outside the space of reasons. The question of acting under the wrong reasons – the question upon which the emancipatory interest rests – is thereby rendered groundless. A further difficulty for the emancipatory interest is the elimination by PEE of reflective agency. Framing expert action as perception- and affordance-driven, PEE diminishes practical reasoning. Furthermore, it understands freedom – consistently with its notion of action as affordance – as primarily the capacity of human beings to submit themselves to processes rather than to step back reflectively from them. Several criticisms of the philosophical delimitations created by methodology of PEE – phenomenology – are also developed.
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