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Thought in Action: Expertise and the Conscious Mind

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How does thinking affect doing? There is a widely held view—both in academia and in the popular press—that thinking about what you are doing, as you are doing it, hinders performance. Once you have acquired the ability to putt a golf ball, play an arpeggio on the piano, or parallel-park, reflecting on your actions leads to inaccuracies, blunders, and sometimes even utter paralysis—that's what is widely believed. Experts, according to this view, don't need to try to do it; they just do it. But is this true? After exploring some of the contemporary and historical manifestations of the idea that highly accomplished skills are automatic and effortless, Barbara Gail Montero develops a theory of expertise which emphasizes the role of the conscious mind in expert action. She aims to dispel various myths about experts who proceed without any understanding of what guides their action. (For example, that proverbial chicken sexer who can't explain why he makes his judgments? He simply doesn't exist.) Montero's critical task also involves analyzing research in both philosophy and psychology that is taken to show that conscious control and explicit monitoring of one's movements impedes well practiced skills. She explores a wide range of real-life examples of optimal performance-culled from sports, the performing arts, chess, nursing, medicine, the military and elsewhere-and draws from psychology, neuroscience, and literature to offer a refreshing and persuasive view of expertise, according to which expert action generally is and ought to be thoughtful, effortful, and reflective.

Table of Contents

Introduction: What Can a Philosopher Tell you about Expertise?
1: 'Don't think, dear; just do' and Other Manifestations of the Just-do-it Principle
2: Just-Do-It versus Cognition-in-Action
3: What is an Expert?
4: Does Thinking Interfere with Doing?
5: Thinking Fast
6: Continuous Improvement
7: You Can't Try Too Hard
8: Effortlessness with Effort
9: The Pleasure of Movement and the Awareness of the Self
10: The Aesthetic Experience of Expert Movement
11: Intuition, Rationality, and Chess Expertise
12: Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll, and the Meaning of Life
Bibliography


Author: Montero Barbara Gail
Publisher: OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
Pages: 288
ISBN: 9780199596775
Cover: Hardback
Edition Number: 1
Release Year: 2016

Barbara Gail Montero is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York. Most of her research concerns one or the other of two very different notions of body: body as the physical or material basis of everything, and body as the moving, breathing, flesh and blood instrument that we use when we run, walk, or dance. Her recent book Thought in Action: Expertise and the Conscious Mind (OUP, 2016) explores this latter topic. She is also the author of On the Philosophy of Mind (Wadsworth Press, 2009) and co-editor of Economics and the Philosophy of Mind, (Routledge, 2006). She has written over fifty articles, including one for the New York Times, which was reprinted in The Stone Reader: Modern Philosophy in 133 Arguments (Norton/Liveright, 2015).

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