Hubert L. Dreyfus is professor of Philosophy in the Graduate School at the University of California, Berkeley. This volume presents the two Spinoza Lectures he delivered at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Amsterdam in May and June 2003.
The first lecture begins with a discussion of the assumption made by many philosophers and scientists that intelligence is based on knowing facts and following rules. So expert system builders assume that expertise in a field consists in analysing a situation in terms of its objective features, and then finding a situation-action rule, that determines what should be done. But such systems have failed to exhibit expertise. This failure, Dreyfus argues, results from a misconception of the nature of expert understanding. He develops a phenomenological description of how normally humans acquire a skill: one progresses in a five-stage process, from beginner, via advanced beginner, competent performer and proficient actor up to expert performer. The expert, after many years of experience, uses intuition, not calculation, even when he is reflecting upon his field.
In the second lecture Dreyfus addresses the problem that Heidegger on the one hand grounds intelligibility in the inauthentic everydayness of conforming to the practical norms of the one (das Man), and on the other hand acknowledges that such average understanding is banal and conceals more than it reveals. In Division II of Being and Time, in which Heidegger describes the authentic way of being human, he holds on to his first claim, but he supplements it by arguing that in the face of anxiety a person can resist conformism and refine standard ways of acting. His model is Aristotle¿s phronimos (man of practical wisdom) who responds with ethical mastery to the demands of the concrete situation. Further, Heidegger suggests that, when a person is fully authentic, he can transform everyday practice. Here, according to Dreyfus, his model is Kierkegaard¿s reborn individual, whom Heidegger sees as a radical world discloser capable of changing the issue for his age.
Hubert L. Dreyfus is the author of What Computers Can¿t Do: The Limits of Artificial Intelligence (1972, revised editions in 1979 and 1992), Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics (together with Paul Rabinow, 1982), Mind over Machine: The Power of Human Intuition and Expertise in the Era of the Computer (together with his brother Stuart E. Dreyfus, 1986), Being-in the- World, A Commentary on Heidegger¿s Being and Time, Division I (1991) and On the Internet (2001)."