What myth?

Inquiry 50 (4):338 – 351 (2007)
In previous work I urged that the perceptual experience we rational animals enjoy is informed by capacities that belong to our rationality, and - in passing - that something similar holds for our intentional action. In his Presidential Address, Hubert Dreyfus argued that I thereby embraced a myth, "the Myth of the Mental". According to Dreyfus, I cannot accommodate the phenomenology of unreflective bodily coping, and its importance as a background for the conceptual capacities exercised in reflective intellectual activity. My paper responds to this accusation. Dreyfus misreads my invocation of Aristotle, and is thereby led to suppose, wrongly, that I conceive rationality as detached, brought to bear on practical predicaments from a standpoint other than one of immersion in them. I urge that even unreflective bodily coping, on the part of rational animals, is informed by their rationality. Dreyfus mentions Heidegger's distinction, which is picked up by Gadamer, between being oriented towards the world and merely inhabiting an environment. But he sets it aside, whereas it is crucial for the issue between us. Engaged bodily coping involves responsiveness to affordances, and responsiveness to affordances on the part of rational animals belongs to their relation to the world. I explain how the idea that conceptual capacities are actualized in our perceptual experience is connected with the thought that our perceptual experience opens us to the world. Finally, I suggest that the real myth in this area is the conception of rationality underlying Dreyfus's resistance to my picture.
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DOI 10.1080/00201740701489211
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