"Consciousness and Skill"

Friday, February 21, 2020
1:30 PM - 2:30 PM (ET)
OCL Gest 101
Event Type
Distinguished Visitors Program

Distinguished Visitor Barbara Montero, professor of philosophy, City University of New York, College of Staten Island and CUNY Graduate Center

Most of my research focuses on two very different notions of body: body as the physical or material basis of the mind, and body as the moving, breathing, flesh and blood instrument we use when we run, walk, or dance...
The second line of research—on the body as that moving, breathing, flesh and blood instrument we use when we run, walk, or dance—has led me to investigate the nature of various mental processes such as awareness, rationality, thought and deliberation via the study of expert action and proprioception (the sense by which we acquire information about the positions and movements of our own bodies, via receptors in the joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and skin). This research includes a book on the role of thought and effort in expert action that aims to counter what I see as the mythical idea that when one has attained a very high level of skill (such as that of the professional athlete, musician, or dancer), action proceeds automatically and effortlessly. This myth resonates with what is called, in psychology, “the explicit-monitoring theory” of choking under pressure, according which expert actions are generally proceduralized (that is, they run offline, without conscious control); according to this theory, choking occurs when extreme nervousness causes one to consciously think about and control actions which ought to be automatic. This is the predominant theory of choking in psychology, and I challenge it.

Tea at 1:15 p.m.

Sponsored by the Department of Philosophy in conjunction with the Distinguished Visitors Program

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