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Overcoming the myth of the mental


Can we accept John McDowell’s Kantian claim that perception is conceptual “all the way out,” thereby denying the more basic perceptual capacities we seem to share with prelinguistic infants and higher animals? More generally, can philosophers successfully describe the conceptual upper floors of the edifice of knowledge while ignoring the embodied coping going on on the ground floor? I argue that we shouldn’t leave the conceptual component of our lives hanging in midair and suggest how philosophers who want to understand knowledge and action can profit from a phenomenological analysis of the nonconceptual embodied coping skills we share with animals and infants, as well as the nonconceptual immediate intuitive understanding exhibited by experts.

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Correspondence to Hubert L. Dreyfus.

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Dreyfus, H.L. Overcoming the myth of the mental. Topoi 25, 43–49 (2006).

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  • myth of the given
  • myth of the mental
  • phenomenology
  • expertise
  • skill
  • perception
  • action