Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 125–143 | Cite as

Interactional expertise as a third kind of knowledge

  • Harry Collins


Between formal propositional knowledge and embodied skill lies ‘interactional expertise’—the ability to converse expertly about a practical skill or expertise, but without being able to practice it, learned through linguistic socialisation among the practitioners. Interactional expertise is exhibited by sociologists of scientific knowledge, by scientists themselves and by a large range of other actors. Attention is drawn to the distinction between the social and the individual embodiment theses: a language does depend on the form of the bodies of its members but an individual within that community can learn the language without the body. The idea has significance for our understanding of colour-blindness, deafness and other abilities and disabilities.

They say that love's a word,

a word we've only heard the meaning of.

Hubert Dreyfus individual embodiment interactional expertise minimal body Oliver Sacks participatory expertise social embodiment 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harry Collins
    • 1
  1. 1.KES and School of Social SciencesCardiff UniversityCardiffUK

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