Carlotta Pavese
Cornell University
The diverse and breathtaking intelligence of the human animal is often embodied in skills. People, throughout their lifetimes, acquire and refine a vast number of skills. And there seems to be no upper limit to the creativity and beauty expressed by them. Think, for instance, of Olympic gymnastics: the amount of strength, flexibility, and control required to perform even a simple beam routine amazes, startles, and delights. In addition to the sheer beauty of skill, performances at the pinnacle of expertise often display a kind of brilliance or genius. We observe an intelligence that saturates the body. The unity of physicality and intellect, mind and body, meshed and melded. Apart from sports, people develop a host of other skills, including musical and artistic skills, linguistic and social skills, scientific and medical skills, military and political skills, engineering skills, computer skills, business skills, etc. What's more, skill acquisition and refinement occurs throughout the human lifespan. In the Introduction to the Routledge Handbook of Skill and Expertise, we introduce and contextualize the various chapters that compose the Handbook. Before providing substantive overviews of each chapter, we also discuss the topic of skill in general and its importance for various areas of philosophy. Chapters are organized into six sections: 1. Skill in the history of philosophy (East & West), 2. Skill in Epistemology, 3. Skill, Intelligence, and Agency, 4. Skill in Perception, Imagination, and Emotion, 5. Skill, Language, and Social Cognition, and 6. Skill and Expertise in Normative Philosophy.
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