expert coping as beyond both thought and automaticity

Joshua A. Bergamin

pp. 403-424

Hubert Dreyfus argues that explicit thought disrupts smooth coping at both the level of everyday tasks and of highly-refined skills. However, Barbara Montero criticises Dreyfus for extending what she calls the "principle of automaticity' from our everyday actions to those of trained experts. In this paper, I defend Dreyfus' account while refining his phenomenology. I examine the phenomenology of what I call "esoteric' (as opposed to "everyday') expertise to argue that the explicit thought Montero invokes belongs rather to "gaps' between or above moments of reflexive coping. However, I agree that the "principle of automaticity' does not adequately capture the experience of performing such skills. Drawing on examples of expert performance in sport and improvised music and dance, I argue that esoteric action, at its best, is marked by a distinct state of non-conceptual awareness- an experience of spontaneity, flow and "owned-ness'- that distinguishes it from the automaticity of everyday actions.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s11097-016-9463-1

Full citation:

Bergamin, J. A. (2017). Being-in-the-flow: expert coping as beyond both thought and automaticity. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 16 (3), pp. 403-424.

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