The Phenomenological Dreyfus – Paulo Mendes Taddei (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro / Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro)
Despite characterizing his own project as phenomenological, Dreyfus has been accused of developing stances, towards the end of his career, that are inconsistent with classical phenomenology (e.g. Zahavi 2013, p. 321-2; Christensen 1998, 1997; Olafson 1994). Regardless of the merits these claims might have, I intend to argue in this presentation that Dreyfus did make, in his earlier works, significant contributions to phenomenology. These contributions are to be found under the rubric of “global information-processing” (henceforth, GIP), as this idea is developed in What Computers (Still) Can’t Do (WCSCD) (Dreyfus 1992). One of Dreyfus’s main points in this book is that GIP is a human form of “information-processing” which resists any attempt at formalization. By way of phenomenological descriptions, Dreyfus calls our attention to four modes of GIP: the capacities to (i) “zero-in” on relevant portions of a chessboard on the part of chess players; to (ii) “narrow down” meanings on the part of competent language users; to (iii) have “insights into the deep structure of a problem” on the part of those solving problems; and finally to (iv) “group perspicuously”, on the part of perceivers in general. While the first three modes of GIP have in common the fact that they are processes in which specific horizons emerge out of prior ones, the fourth mode is concretely presupposed by the other three and concerns a dimension of perception that is itself prior to object-recognition. What a complete characterization of GIP should reveal, I shall argue, is that GIP is most likely a somewhat novel conception of genetic constitution. My hypothesis is then that WCSCD offers important lessons in what Husserl had called before “genetic phenomenology”, i.e., a descriptive “inquiry into the history of the content of consciousness” (Sokolowski 1970, p. 193). Should this hypothesis be confirmed, the upshot is a continuity between Husserl and Dreyfus that is at odds with Dreyfus’s interpretation of his own work. The infamous opposition to Husserl’s phenomenology on the part of Dreyfus will then be explained as bearing on Dreyfus’s emphasis on the static dimension of Husserl’s phenomenology.
Key-words: genetic phenomenology, horizon, Dreyfus, Husserl.
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