hubert dreyfus

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intro’d to Hubert via fb share by Jon:

Interviewer: “What IS consciousness?”

H. Dreyfus: “Nobody has ANY idea, and they should just keep quiet (about AI) until they do.

It is THE hardest question – how does matter, how could it ever produce consciousness, and using computers and AI is not helping us understand it one bit.””


consciousness seems to be a subject in which everyone agrees we know nothing about.. it’s the hard problem.. and everybody says .. yes.. it’s the hard problem.. and then they go on talking about .. what makes it so hard .. anyway..

how could this 3rd person thing.. in a computer/brain every produce this first person phenom.. where i’m looking at the world from some kind of perspective.. i think that’s a hard question..  i think it’s such a hard question that i don’t understand why anybody wants to talk about it.. i don’t..

but there is something i will talk about.. i think part of the problem is .. people are sort of under describing/theorizing what they mean by consciousness.. and there are two many different something or others.. under the same rubric consciousness.. and maybe we could.. if we took them all apart think of the differently

but one of the big deals.. consciousness gets so much tied in with self-consciousness.. with being a subject.. and a subject is conscious.. a human subject.. that means a subject has something inside it which is its .. stream of consciousness.. and that’s its inner story

2 min – and i think that that’s the wrong thing to look for.. i don’t think that it’s false.. that sometimes people have streams of experience.. and maybe they see after images.. but it’s certainly not our normal way.. basically consciousness is not a matter of something inner

it took ages for the people in the west.. who are the only ones who believe this maybe.. i’m not sure.. maybe buddhists.. all that meditating.. anyway.. it took a lot of time to get anybody to believe that there was an inner

in homer.. where i was teaching the odyssey.. you find a funny place at which.. there’s the usual big dinner party for the heroes to come and hear people sing about them.. and homer comments that… had this amazing trick.. he was crying inside but his eyes were dry as bone.. he was the only one who could have inner emotions.. all of the rest of them.. as you read it..  they’re all crying all over the place.. all the time.. they were very emotional

3 min – but low and behold there… you could have an inner secret emotion.. then the next big move.. there are two big moves.. augustus saying.. who was very interested in making a plug for the inner.. says that the people came from all over to watch st gerome read the bible.. now what could st gerome be doing.. it was so interesting..  it was that he was reading the bible but his lips didn’t move and no sound came out.. he was reading it to himself.. everybody up to then in the history of the west apparently at least.. read out loud.. it’d be fun to see what it was like in other cultures… and augustan immediately draws the conclusion.. the ideas were going directly from the page to his inner self.. and he didn’t have to pass thru the external world.. he didn’t have to listen to himself at all

4 min – and then .. descartes comes along and talks about after images.. look at that.. there’s nothing really there and you see that spot on the wall.. that couldn’t be a spot on the wall.. it must be a spot in your mind…

so there .. they get more and more interested in the inner.. but phenomenologists think that’s a very marginal breakdown sort of experiences.. all of those.. kind of inner.. emotionally we’re out there in the world.. having moods.. acting..  interacting w other people and so forth..

and then.. you have a diff story.. and sarde has a good ie of that diff story.. sarde wants to answer people who think that the phenomenology amounts to introspecting and finding out what reveal and what you believe.. he says (sarde) when i’m running to catch a streetcar.. i have disappeared.. there is no me.. there is no .. i am running.. there is just.. street car to be caught..there is a world full of attractions and repulsions and that’s what consciousness is.. a world of attractions and repulsions.. it’s not inner stuff

5 min – (but it feels like inner stuff): does it when you’re chasing .. well no.. not when you’re chasing the streetcar.. it feels like.. i’ve gotta get it.. getting closer… not even i’ve gotta get it.. that’s wrong…. getting closer.. pulling.. and so forth..

(when you’re in the moment?): yes exactly.. when you’re absorbed in the moment consciousness is gone.. self-consciousness is really gone.. and most of the time.. we are absorbed in the moment.. and therefore we’re looking in the wrong place when we’re looking at these inner feelings..

which are these sort of break down moments when you’re crying inside because you don’t want other people to see it

so.. that’s my only contribution.. and it’s not much.. because i think that’s going to have lots of its own problems.. but at least if you do it that way.. you can look at a more basic level of consciousness than having something that feels inner and that .. is part of your ego.. your subjectivity and all that

6 min – (it certainly enriches our understanding of what consciousness is.. it may not be a complete understanding.. but it enriches it..): that’s right.. exactly.. and if you do that.. if you enrich it with the phenomena.. you can bring together a certain amount of neuroscience which is interested in how you are directly involved in the world.. so that

meaning show up for you directly in the world

and it isn’t inner .. and if you do that.. you may be able to have a better theory of how the brain does it.. and maybe the puzzles will go away

dreyfus consciousness law


as finishing up page.. Jon shares another:


On the foundations of AI (artificial intelligence)

“I said you have to know Merleau-Ponty before you …””

“”I knew that the AI guys had inherited a lemon, that it wouldn’t work …””


1 min – have to trace history of ai to see where you get this relatively new view.. that if you could duplicate all the connections the brain obviously gets consciousness… but.. let’s run thru.. i think ai has failed.. and it’s failed in a way.. that seems to me.. not gonna get.. it isn’t even pointing in the direction of you getting intelligent behavior.. let alone consciousness..

to begin with.. when i came to mit and i taught at mit for 8 yrs.. the ai people were doing their ai.. and they had been doing it for a while.. they came into my class and said.. well you philosophers have had 2000 yrs and you can’t understand consciousness.. intelligence.. language.. learning.. any of that.. and we’re beginning to understand it over here in the ai labs.. and i thought wow.. if that’s so.. i better find out..

2 min – well my brother happened to be hired at the rand corp and just by amazing coincidence.. the guy who hired my brother said.. that his brother had written him saying.. you gotta know merleau-ponty before you know if rand corp should get involved in this ai business.. so they hired me as a consultant..

and that was in 65..  and i wrote a paper called alchemy and ai.. which was to say.. that the way they were trying to achieve intelligence with computers couldn’t be done.. and it was sort of interesting.. as to how i knew it couldn’t be done and they didn’t know it couldn’t be done.. is that philosophers have developed a lot of very sophisticated ways of thinking about the mind.. namely.. that there must be elementary bits of knowledge.. certain primitive something or others.. that concepts were rules.. that we had representations in our minds ofthe world.. and we made inferences from those reps of the world .. and that’s how we came to behave intelligently and understand things

3 min – now.. there wasn’t any particular place in that for consciousness.. but they didn’t care.. they were just trying to make computers at that point that could… behave.. intelligently..

and what was interesting was.. whereas they came to my class and said.. you philosophers have wasted your time for 2000  yrs.. once i saw what they were writing.. reading newal and simon at rand..  i discovered.. they had inherited the whole philosophical story.. the philosophers like descartes believed in atomic ideas.. and hume and so forth.. kant (khan?) said that concepts were rules.. hoseral said that concepts were formal rules.. and hierarchies of rules.. all sounding very ai like.. everyone of these people since descartes believed we had internal mental representations of the world..

4 min – and they bought all that.. and they turned it into a research program.. at the very same time.. about 1957.. the vichtenstein published the logical investigations.. where he was un.. destroying that whole view.. which was his own previous view.. and heidegger had already destroyed the whole cartesian thing in 1927 in being and time..

and since i was teaching those guys.. i knew that the ai people had inherited a lemon.. they had taken over in their research program a 2000 yr failure

and so i said.. ok.. you guys are just behind the times.. you’re going to discover that this doesn’t work.. and they finally did.. minsky was head of the ai lab then.. and said.. all we needed was a few million more facts in the computer and then it will behave intelligently.. to have common sense knowledge.. has now said in an interview in wired.. that ai has been brain dead since the early 70s.. when they discovered the common sense knowledge problem..

5 min – that’s what i talked about in my book.. what computer’s can’t do.. there were two problems.. the common sense knowledge problem.. where is all of this knowledge of the world stored… and i said.. well.. if heidegger’s right.. it’s not stored in the mind.. it’s stored out there in the world.. and the proof is that you’ve got something called the frame problem.. that you are sort of repressing.. which is .. if something changes.. like say i get up and walk over there.. how much in my representation of the situation in the computer did actually change.. well my shadow has to go with me.. my feet go with me.. but most of the stuff over there doesn’t go at all.. doesn’t change

they couldn’t deal with that.. and the only way to deal with it would have been to see what heidegger say.. that the best model of the world is the world itself..

(you have to be in the world): yeah you have to be in the world.. where knowledge shows up in the familiarity of things.. and when you learn something new about the world.. things look different.. and you learn.. what looks like it changes when something else changes.. by looking

6 min – and now.. what happened was.. the ai people doing.. what’s called symbolic information processing.. which is the philosophical approach to the mind.. failed.. and now the head of the ai lab.. just recently.. rodney brooks.. not now.. he’s gone off to make robots now.. but anyway.. said.. that the best rep of world is world itself.. that was the slogan of the ai lab.. about the same time that they began to realize that they were in trouble.. they invited me to come to the ai lab.. they never let me set foot there.. and i gave them a lecture on why you have to understand heidegger if you’re going to do ai.. and all this converged into something which is now called heideggarian ai.. which is .. that’s fine.. except there’s a new problem.. rodney brooks makes robots and they keep track of the world by keeping…. their sensors tell it what’s changing.. however.. they can’t learn anything.. they’re insects.. and he knows that.. he calls them animax..

7 min – we don’t learn new facts of the world.. we learn the world keeps changing the way it looks.. for us..  when we discover what’s new.. in a city.. more and more about the city.. the physiogamy of the city changes.. as merleau-ponty says.. it looks like… and you just follow how it looks..

so now.. what’s gonna help them.. get the missing thing.. which is learning.. or even more missing thing.. which is consciousness.. all of this has been done on the behaviorist level.. we just get it to behave like people.. if it fails to be like people .. it darn well must fail to be conscious.. everybody agrees to that..

so what would it take… well.. the latest idea.. which sounds to me like sheer madness and desperation.. is to say.. well.. computer chips get more and more powerful.. and once they get powerful enough.. so that there’s as many bits on them as there are stored in the brain.. then we’ll be able to do this

8 min – for one thing.. that’s been an old story.. as ai was failing and going down and down.. the computer chips were getting cheaper and faster and more condensed.. and they kept saying.. well.. uh.. we’re having trouble now… the next generation of computer chips is going to save us.. and it never saved them.. they just kept getting worse.. and the computer chips kept getting better.. and just as a sane person extrapolating i would say.. why shouldn’t we believe that that’s going to go on even across some line where we get billions of bits..

9 min – (not just bn.. but 10^whatever.. at some point..  you’re going to have this processing power): and now the funny question is .. now these are difficult questions..  there’s a kind of contradiction in this.. surely .. if a computer did it it would do it just the way you said.. bns of computations.. very fast.. that can’t be the way the brain does it..  of course.. because the brain does it.. just as you know being a brain studier..  very  s l o w l y.. and the fact that we’ve got.. what is the latest news…10^20 neurons.. bns and bns of neurons with an average of 10 000 connections on each.. somehow.. it can’t be that just by having all that.. bits in there.. it’s doing us any good at all.. because we’re crunching along at.. you can tell me.. i don’t know how many milliseconds it takes to move a bit around..

(but if it’s not that.. then what is it):  nobody has any idea.. and they should just keep quiet.. until they do.. because i think it is the hardest question.. how in the world matter.. which is this third person material stuff could every produce consciousness.. and ai .. and the use of computers is not helping us understand it one bit


an existential ride with Hubert – 2015

tech for heidegger is the way that we treat everything as resources.. getting the most out of our possibilities

if you ask the students.. what is it they really want out of life.. some think maybe happiness/pleasure.. but most common answer is .. to get the most out of our possibilities..  that’s the thing of treating yourself as resources..

3 min – that’s what we are now.. a time where everybody wants to get the most out of their possibilities.. that’s very bad because that means that you don’t get deeply involved in anything.. you stay at the level in which you can manipulate everything.. you and other people..

what they forget.. this is a kierkegaardian issuer really – the present age –  intro’d notion of nielism: if you just try to max pleasure or try to be ethical.. or try to be mystical.. religious.. you miss

what’s really important about human beings.. that they should be totally committed to some particular thing.. only then can you be a self that isn’t in despair.. to talk in kierkegaard way

the thing you can’t not do.. your art

4 min – we’re in this age now.. where people are not committed .. and you’re going to suffer.. if you live that way you don’t find anything that’s really/fully meaningful/satisfying.. and kierkegaard says that’s the present age.. and i think that’s right.. it is mainly the view of the present age.. i think that’s what the students come into the course thinking..

5 min -maybe if i teach it well enough.. and kierkegaard is smart enough.. which he certainly is.. they come out understanding .. that they better be commited to something.. and those are the ones that come up to me in the supermarket and say i’ve changed their lives… so via kierkegaard.. you go thru the sphere of existence.. that is .. the way of life of keeping all possibilities open and then you go from there to a way of life in which you obey the ethical principles.. feel satisfied that you’re doing the right thing.. then you go thru this mystical.. sort of religious stage in which you try to feel that your one with the .. in dante.. you’re one with the love that moves the sun and the other stars.. kierkegaard has something like that.. i forget what his is.. anyway

6 min – then you get to this thing.. you become totally committed to some political cause or to some person or to some idea.. that tells you who you are.. gives you an identity.. you are the lover of so and so .. or the leader of such movement or whatever… i’m the ipod hero of philosophy

learning thru commitment and taking risks

the question is .. how’s the way we learn thru acting in the world different from the way we learn when we’re reading a book or watching a play/tv or blogging back and forth on the internet.. what’s different..

7 min – it’s different because you’re taking a risk.. that’s also got to do with what happens when you’re teaching.. if you’re not already convinced you know the answer.. and if you don’t write out your lectures.. as a finished thing we give the students because you’ve got it and they haven’t got it.. then you’re sort of out on your own and you don’t know where you’re going to end up .. and sometimes .. when you’r engaged in the world.. wonderful things happen for you and you’re pulled into all kinds of interesting events/possibilities.. that’s how it happens when you’re in body and in touch w things.. and that’s totally diff than when you’re a kind of spectator .. who’s just safely sitting at home or in their book.. or descartes went into a warm room and was free from emotions he said.. in order to write one of the most influential philosophy book ever i suppose.. descartes’ meditations

8 min – so.. you either.. and descartes was.. if this story is right.. a bad influence.. a very bad influence.. because his idea was.. that’s what you should do.. withdraw from the world and think/reflect/so-forth.. and you miss the positive thing you get if you’re involved with the world.. and taking the risks

but i’m trying to ask myself.. why is that a good thing to take these risks.. well.. that’s because.. if you believe that you need something to get you out of despair.. and despair is this business of not ever having anything really important in your life.. everything is equally resources.. which is kind of the world we are in.. then to get out of that kind of world you’ve got to.. kierkegaard says.. plunge in the stream and struggle.. and swim.. and only then do you live a life that’s exciting/meaningful.. and only then do you know who you are..

9 min – which is not the most important thing.. to know who you are.. i don’t think.. it’s to know .. well.. depends on what you mean by that.. if you mean..

know who you are: know what is crucially important to you.. such that you can’t give it up and still be you.. that’s the most rewarding way to be..

kierkegaard’s the first to have said that.. i believe.. that is.. that you have to jump in over your head.. swim over 20 000 fathoms.. in the deep water.. if you’re going to have a life worth living

being in the world.. investigating embodiment

10 min  – this kinning the body story together with the commitment story is so important.. i guess i’m learning right now from your question that i’ve never really seen that these two different views i hold don’t immediately fit together.. i’m sure they fit together .. but it’s not obvious to say that the body is important and to say that commitment to some cause or to do science or to love somebody.. all those are .. that’s what’s important.. if that’s what’s important.. then it’s not all that obvious that the body is important.. it’s funny.. kierkegaard doesn’t have much to say about being embodied.. hiedegger.. my other hero.. doesn’t have.. has only one sentence about having a body.. in his big fat book being and time.. the most important philosophy book of the 20th cent i think.. he says.. well it’s somebody else’s job to think about having a body

11 min – fascinating.. so merleau ponty does the job and somebody else i think is very important that nobody else has ever heard of named samuel    todes..  who’s thesis i think is so brilliant.. i convinced mit press to publish it.. called.. the human body as material subject of the world.. and todes is the one who is the most thought out of the things that i have just been talking about.. he never wrote a book.. but i got his thesis published as a book.. but.. nobody will ever see that book…but he’s the one who tries to bring together having a body and having.. these unconditional commitments

12 min – perception is important.. and your body is what you use when you perceive things.. you don’t need your body when you’re thinking about things.. but perception is absolutely based .. but it’s a different level.. … everybody’s got perception.. it isn’t as each one having his own unconditional commitment.. without a body.. of course you don’t perceive objects and you don’t get a grip on them.. and having a grip on objects is very very fundamental/important.. that’s merleau ponty’s .. discovery.. it’s thru a body we get what he calls an optimal/maximal grip on reality

13 min – you’ve got to show somehow.. the way you perceive.. and are embodied and coping with things.. gives you a sense of what it is to have a .. grip on things.. as opposed to being outside just sort of looking in .. or looking at your computer.. or looking at the scenery.. and it’s your body that enables you to get a grip on things

and when you’ve got a grip on things.. among other things.. this sense of what’s crucially important to you.. but how you get from your body grip on perception to the fact that there are things that are crucially important to you… i just don’t know…. there’s so many things.. that’s the point.. that’s why i’m so eager to teach in a way that i learn.. some smart student.. some future todes in the audience/classroom .. is going to tell me.. very important.. very valuable things..

so why not just do.. listen for that.. as the day.. all of us.. not just those in ie: classroom

14 min – my co author.. one of the main ones.. my brother.. there’s so much to be understood that isn’t understood.. that i’m just eager to hear what’s going to come up next in my own course.. that’s what’s exciting..

disclosing new worlds and the critic of ai

well that’s interesting then we have to go back and think about what it is that discloses a new world.. one of the things that will help us understand.. perhaps.. what this relation to authentic.. running forward into death.. what that could be like.. is to ask about.. what people have when they have worlds.. animals don’t have worlds heidegger says animals are world poor..

15 min – but we have worlds.. a world.. each of us.. and there’s a shared world too.. that we all have.. and creative people can disclose new worlds.. heidegger thinks.. and i think that’s right.. and..

it’s hard to understand what it is to be a creative person and disclose new worlds.. but it’s got to do with having a completely new take on something important that people have all gotten wrong..

a nother way

and you have this kind of moment of aha if you get it right.. i can think..

16 min – one kind of ie of that which i’ve been interested in.. there’s some sense in which steve jobs is disclosing new worlds when he opens up the idea of the iphone/ipad.. the digital movies.. pixar.. movies.. he’s invented about five totally new ..different ways of having a world and having activities .. and that’s pretty amazing.. and that’s that’s what it would be like in a local ish way to disclose new worlds.. but they’re big deal ways to new worlds..

so people talk about einstein or they talk about descartes for instance.. though in a certain way he’s a bad guy..  in a certain way he’s a big deal discloser of modernity.. just modernity may not be such a nice thing to disclose

17 min – so .. what am i saying.. that you need to know about what it is to disclose worlds in order to understand what it is to lose worlds.. too.. it’s true that to disclose a world.. you’ve got to give up the previous one.. that was some kind of misunderstanding

when i was some thing like discovering a world.. that’s different than my brother.. we each did it in a different…different disclosing of a different world.. so with me.. at mit.. i came to mit to teach at just the time when everybody was interested in computers and believed that we would soon have ai where computers would be smarter than we are.. and so forth.. and they .. made movies about it.. they made speeches about it.. and they thought that they were the leaders of the discovery of the new world..

18 min – but they weren’t. . they were exactly making the mistakes of all the traditional philosophers.. from descartes on.. that believing that you’re in a world when you can step back and reflect and disconnect and contemplate and so forth… so my relation to mit was to totally criticize what they were saying.. and say.. no .. that’s not how people are.. and i get back to kierkegaard.. people are capable of unconditional commitments.. to define them.. nobody’s ever gonna have that level in ai..

computers don’t have.. aren’t self-defined individuals.. and they never will be..

..but if they want to play jeopardy and a couple world chess champions.. that’s not the same as being a human being.. so .. and i was sort of surprised at this conclusion.. no .. that’s not the way to put it..

19 min – i was drawn into the debate.. whether there ever would be ai.. the way they were trying to get it at mit.. who knows what there could ever be.. but.. the way they were going about it at mit.. trying to make ai.. i said .. they’ll never be able to do it.. and they tried firing me at mit for giving false plausibility to my stupid remarks.. by the fact that i make them as a professor at mit.. and my book on the subject.. what computers can’t do.. got read by experts all over the world.. and finally the president of mit called me in and said.. no.. they’re not going to fire me.. they’re going to keep me… that was all interesting.. mainly because.. people say.. boy.. you were so courageous to fight against the people who could fire you at mit and so forth.. and i want to say..

20 min – no.. i wasn’t courageous at all.. because i didn’t say to myself.. this is risky but i have to do it.. i just was outraged that they were sort of lying to themselves and to the general public about things that they didn’t understand..

telling people.. in 8 or 10 yrs they’re gonna be computers more intelligent than me.. that just seemed to be so utterly wrong thing to believe.. and wrong to go around telling people and giving constant interviews about it.. so .. i couldn’t resist.. this is the important thing.. putting my career on the line to say.. no this is wrong.. and to be id’d by my book.. what computers can’t do and my next book.. what computers still can’t do.. and to take the risk of being kicked out of mit..

21 min – the important thing is.. what it is to be courageous is to be open.. to be drawn into something that you’re committed to.. even if it’s risky.. that’s what happened to me with computers.. ai.. i was drawn into something completely risky.. i almost lost my job.. and i put all my energy into books that said they were wrong and tried to given reasons why they were wrong.. and that’s not courage.. well.. that’s what really happens.. i think.. i don’t think.. for a minute.. that it was anything about courage.. there was something about not wanting to be lied to.. that was for me a big surprise.. that you could get into this kind of risky situation .. and that it was really very rewarding.. even if you turned out to be wrong and lost your job

22 min – at mit they had a meeting every year.. there were about 500 students.. and where they got me debating the ai people.. in front of those students .. and more and more.. i think i won over some followers..

the new skill model.. how to master actions

everybody gets to be.. if they’re hard working and take risks and so forth.. an expert at something.. or a master.. if you really want to go all the way.. and it’s something.. since *everybody has had this experience.. it’s odd that philosophers never explained the experience.. and worse.. they totally mis explained it.. that’s why they misunderstood the computers.. and thought they could be intelligent..

they thought being intelligent was having the right rules in your mind and the right descriptions in your mind and in fact.. it wasn’t like that at all..


23 min – and then .. he has.. the first stage is true.. you need rules..

i’ll give an ie from chess and from driving.. chess is very disembodied i think.. driving is obviously very embodied.. both have this 5 or 6 string stages.. [novice..adv-beg..competence..proficiency..expertise.. master].. i say 6 because my brother doesn’t like (master) stage.. he stops at this stage (expertise) .. and master is a little unclear and being a mathematician he doesn’t like something that’s unclear..

here (stages 1-3) all the thinking is going to get in the way.. even here (proficiency).. but an expert doesn’t think.. he just does what works.. what normally worked for him.. and it will normally work

24 min – chess.. a master/expert chess player just can make w/in a few seconds a high level move.. and that’s what’s exciting about expertise.. and in driving.. just automatically your foot comes up from the gas or goes on the break.. if you start thinking about why/when you should do this.. you stop doing it well.. that kind of thoughtful expression gets in the way of expertise.. and that’s important.. because that’s what i considered the sort of breakthru..

25 min – for 300 yrs at least.. which is how long it’s been since descartes.. or maybe even 1000 yrs.. philosophers have thought.. that the more thinking you do.. the more analysis you do.. the better the performance will be..

and what steward.. just contemplating in driving and chess.. things he knows how to do.. like an expert.. saw that..

that’s extremely wrong..

all this thinking about what to do and memorizing what to do is getting in the way of the spontaneous doing.. of course you can’t just start that way.. you’ve got to have lots of experience.. take risks.. lose sometimes.. win sometimes.. but if you do all that.. and do it a lot.. then you can get to the point where you don’t think anymore.. and then you’re really good.. that’s what the chess expert does.. he just sees the right move and makes it..

ah.. music improv

26 min – you can play blitz chess if you’re a master.. which means you can make a move in about 3 sec or something after you see the previous move.. and you’re still be playing at master level.. and you won’t be thinking at all..

so there’s something higher ..namely intuition.. that you have to have.. which is leading you to see the situation in such a way that it draws you immediately to do the appropriate thing

and then there’s something harder to describe.. which my brother.. this is the revelation (master level) .. that philosophers have been 180 degrees wrong for the whole history of philosophy.. thinking that rules/facts/reflection was the way to become intelligent/expert.. all you needed to do was just..

pay attention to your own experience..

27 min – the reason stewart could do it.. is .. he’s never read a philosophy book in his life at that point.. he maybe has read some since.. he was a mathematician.. an applied mathematician. . he had to just look at what he was doing when he was driving and what he was doing when he was playing expert level chess.. and he did .. and he saw this (6 levels) and it didn’t change the whole world.. but it did change a lot of the way people learned a lot of skills.. now sort of devoted to repeating his views about these things.. and..

it sort of turned the idea about how the mind works when you’re an expert upside down..

that.. to me.. from inside philosophy.. was a big revelation.. and then i realized.. that heidegger was on to that..

heidegger talked about when you.. you have to become skilled in dealing with the world.. and when you are .. you are absorbed.. that’s his word.. you’re absorbed in the situation..

rev of everyday life.. living in whimsy/wild/uncertainty/antifragility..  not training.. living

28 min – so if you’re a carpenter..  you could be an expert carpenter.. but if you’re a really really good carpenter.. you will just.. the hammer withdraws.. heidegger says..  the hammer disappears.. and you sort of disappear.. into this activity.. and that’s..

we are.. the kind of being that can be absorbed in what they’re doing and when they are.. it brings them out at their best..

that’s the moral of this skill story

and.. this is exactly what we’re missing..

begging that we do this firstfree art-istsfor (blank)’s sake


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Hubert, Berkeley philosophy professor, is an original thinker who finds in the classic texts a new relevance for people’s everyday lives.

wikipedia small

Hubert Lederer Dreyfus (/ˈdrfəs/; born October 15, 1929) is an American philosopher and professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley.

His main interests include phenomenology, existentialism and the philosophy of both psychology and literature, as well as the philosophical implications of artificial intelligence. Dreyfus is known for his exegesis of Martin Heidegger, which critics labeled “Dreydegger”.



He is featured in Tao Ruspoli‘s film Being in the World.


He is considered a leading interpreter of the work of Edmund Husserl, Michel Foucault, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, but especially of Martin Heidegger. He also co-authored Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics, translated Merleau-Ponty’s Sense and Non-Sense, and authored the controversial 1972 book What Computers Can’t Do, revised first in 1979, and then again in 1992 with a new introduction as What Computers Still Can’t Do.



what computers can’t do

While spending most of his teaching career at Berkeley, Dreyfus has also taught at Brandeis University (1957 to 1959), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (from 1960 to 1968), the University of Frankfurt, Hamilton College and held the Spinoza Chair of Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam in 2003.


In 1965, while teaching at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dreyfus published “Alchemy and Artificial Intelligence“, an attack on the work of Allen Newell and Herbert A. Simon, two of the leading researchers in the field of Artificial Intelligence. Dreyfus not only questioned the results they had so far obtained, but he also criticized their basic presupposition (that intelligence consists of the manipulation of physical symbols according to formal rules), and argued that the AI research program was doomed to failure. In 1965, he spent time at the Rand Corporation, while work on artificial intelligence was in progress there. In addition to criticizing artificial intelligence, Dreyfus is well known for making the work of continental philosophers, especially Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Michel Foucault, intelligible to analytically trained philosophers.


Dreyfus’ critique of artificial intelligence (AI) concerns what he considers to be the four primary assumptions of AI research. The first two assumptions are what he calls the “biological” and “psychological” assumptions. The biological assumption is that the brain is analogous to computer hardware and the mind is analogous to computer software. The psychological assumption is that the mind works by performing discrete computations (in the form of algorithmic rules) on discrete representations or symbols.

Dreyfus claims that the plausibility of the psychological assumption rests on two others: the epistemological and ontological assumptions. The epistemological assumption is that all activity (either by animate or inanimate objects) can be formalised (mathematically) in the form of predictive rules or laws. The ontological assumption is that reality consists entirely of a set of mutually independent, atomic (indivisible) facts. It’s because of the epistemological assumption that workers in the field argue that intelligence is the same as formal rule-following, and it’s because of the ontological one that they argue that human knowledge consists entirely of internal representations of reality.

On the basis of these two assumptions, workers in the field claim that cognition is the manipulation of internal symbols by internal rules, and that, therefore, human behaviour is, to a large extent, context free (see contextualism). Therefore, a truly scientific psychology is possible, which will detail the ‘internal’ rules of the human mind, in the same way the laws of physics detail the ‘external’ laws of the physical world.

But it is this key assumption that Dreyfus denies. In other words, he argues that we cannot now (and never will be able to) understand our own behavior in the same way as we understand objects in, for example, physics or chemistry: that is, by considering ourselves as things whose behaviour can be predicted via ‘objective’, context free scientific laws. According to Dreyfus, a context-free psychology is a contradiction in terms.

Dreyfus’s arguments against this position are taken from the phenomenological and hermeneutical tradition (especially the work of Martin Heidegger). Heidegger argued that, contrary to the cognitivist views on which AI is based, our being is in fact highly context-bound, which is why the two context-free assumptions are false. Dreyfus doesn’t deny that we can choose to see human (or any) activity as being ‘law-governed’, in the same way that we can choose to see reality as consisting of indivisible atomic facts … if we wish. But it is a huge leap from that to state that because we want to or can see things in this way that it is therefore an objective fact that they are the case. In fact, Dreyfus argues that they are not (necessarily) the case, and that, therefore, any research program that assumes they are will quickly run into profound theoretical and practical problems. Therefore, the current efforts of workers in the field are doomed to failure.

Dreyfus argues that to get a device or devices with human-like intelligence would require them to have a human-like being-in-the-world and to have bodies more or less like ours, and social acculturation (i.e. a society) more or less like ours. (This view is shared by psychologists in the embodied psychology(Lakoff and Johnson 1999) and distributed cognition traditions. His opinions are similar to those of robotics researchers such as Rodney Brooks as well as researchers in the field of artificial life.)

Daniel Crevier writes: “time has proven the accuracy and perceptiveness of some of Dreyfus’s comments. Had he formulated them less aggressively, constructive actions they suggested might have been taken much earlier.”


what computers can’t do

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