Coping Without Foundations: On Dreyfus’s Use of Merleau‐Ponty

International Journal of Philosophical Studies 18 (5):629-649 (2010)
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Hubert Dreyfus has recently invoked the work of Maurice Merleau‐Ponty in criticizing the ‘Myth of the Mental’. In criticizing that supposed myth, Dreyfus argues for a kind of foundationalism that takes embodied coping to be a self‐sufficient layer of human experience that supports our ‘higher’ mental activities. In turn, Merleau‐Ponty’s phenomenology is found, in Dreyfus’s recent writings, to corroborate this foundationalism. While Merleau‐Ponty would agree with many of Dreyfus’s points, this paper argues that he would not, in fact, agree with the foundationalism. Furthermore, when understood in the right way, Merleau‐Ponty’s early phenomenology supports the idea, opposed to Dreyfus’s foundationalism, that conceptual activities are tied up with our coping activities. The paper ends by considering the upshot of this reading of Merleau‐Ponty’s work for Dreyfus’s phenomenology.



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Joseph C. Berendzen
Loyola University, New Orleans

Citations of this work

A Phenomenological Grounding of Feminist Ethics.Anya Daly - 2018 - Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 50 (1):1-18.
On being motivated.Donnchadh O’Conaill - 2013 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 12 (4):579-595.

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References found in this work

The return of the myth of the mental.Hubert L. Dreyfus - 2007 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 50 (4):352 – 365.
Overcoming the Myth of the Mental: How Philosophers Can Profit from the Phenomenology of Everyday Expertise.Hubert L. Dreyfus - 2005 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 79 (2):47 - 65.
Response to McDowell.Hubert L. Dreyfus - 2007 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 50 (4):371 – 377.

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