The Myth of ‘Just do it’: Thought and Effort in Expert Action preface


The expert as someone who performs automatically



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The expert as someone who performs automatically

There is one conception of an expert, found in both philosophy and psychology, that for my present purposes I need to reject right off the bat—or the golf club or whatever expert sports equipment you happen to favor—and that is the idea that an expert is an individual who has developed her skills to the point where they become effortless and automatic. This notion plays a role in Guthrie’s (1952) classic definition of expert skill as “the ability to bring about some end results with maximum certainty and minimum outlay of energy, or of time and energy” (p. 136), as well as in Dreyfus’s view of everyday driving as expert skill,32 and in Wulf and Lewthwaite’s comment that “relative effortlessness is a defining characteristi­­­­­c of [expert] motor skill” (2010: p. 75). Obviously, since I am going to argue that exper­­­t action is often effortful rather than automatic, I must reject this conception of expertise for my purposes.

Is the idea that expert action is necessarily effortless action an acceptable way to define expert action? Clearly some people think of expertise along these lines, but my aim is not to arrive at a conception that captures what everyone means by the topic, if there be such a thing. Rather, it is to arrive at a conception that is germane for my purposes, and since I am going to argue that expert action is often effortful rather than automatic, I must reject this idea.




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