Volume 14, Issue 1, 2014
Timothy J. Nulty
Hubert Dreyfus and the Last Myth of the Mental
This paper critically evaluates the arguments advanced by Hubert Dreyfus in his debate with John McDowell regarding the nature of skilled coping. The paper argues that there are significant methodological shortcomings in Dreyfus’ position. The paper examines these methodological limitations and attempts to clarify the problems by re-framing the issues in terms of intentionality, and the specific intentional structures that may or may not be present in skilled coping. The paper attempts to show that the difficulties facing Dreyfus arise from his implicit adherence to a final myth of the mental. The last myth of the mental is the belief that
mental coping is fundamentally different than embodied coping because the former is characterized by mindedness while the latter is not. Dreyfus characterizes the mental as constituted by a kind of interiority while everyday expertise or embodied coping is characterized by exteriority to the exclusion of any type of interiority. I undermine this Cartesian assumption in Dreyfus’ position by showing that the criteria and phenomenological descriptions he uses to characterize embodied coping apply equally to mental coping.