Skip navigation

Hubert L. Dreyfus

Hubert L. Dreyfus is Professor of Philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley.

Titles by This Author

A Critique of Artificial Reason

When it was first published in 1972, Hubert Dreyfus's manifesto on the inherent inability of disembodied machines to mimic higher mental functions caused an uproar in the artificial intelligence community. The world has changed since then. Today it is clear that "good old-fashioned AI," based on the idea of using symbolic representations to produce general intelligence, is in decline (although several believers still pursue its pot of gold), and the focus of the Al community has shifted to more complex models of the mind. It has also become more common for AI researchers to seek out and study philosophy. For this edition of his now classic book, Dreyfus has added a lengthy new introduction outlining these changes and assessing the paradigms of connectionism and neural networks that have transformed the field.

At a time when researchers were proposing grand plans for general problem solvers and automatic translation machines, Dreyfus predicted that they would fail because their conception of mental functioning was naive, and he suggested that they would do well to acquaint themselves with modern philosophical approaches to human beings. What Computers Can't Do was widely attacked but quietly studied. Dreyfus's arguments are still provocative and focus our attention once again on what it is that makes human beings unique.

A Commentary on Heidegger's Being in Time, Division I.

Being-in-the-World is a guide to one of the most influential philosophical works of this century: Division I of Part One of Being and Time, where Martin Heidegger works out an original and powerful account of being-in-the-world which he then uses to ground a profound critique of traditional ontology and epistemology. Hubert Dreyfus's commentary opens the way for a new appreciation of this difficult philosopher, revealing a rigorous and illuminating vocabulary that is indispensable for talking about the phenomenon of world.

The publication of Being and Time in 1927 turned the academic world on its head. Since then it has become a touchstone for philosophers as diverse as Marcuse, Sartre, Foucault, and Derrida who seek an alternative to the rationalist Cartesian tradition of western philosophy. But Heidegger's text is notoriously dense, and his language seems to consist of unnecessarily barbaric neologisms; to the neophyte and even to those schooled in Heidegger thought, the result is often incomprehensible.

Dreyfus's approach to this daunting book is straightforward and pragmatic. He explains the text by frequent examples drawn from everyday life, and he skillfully relates Heidegger's ideas to the questions about being and mind that have preoccupied a generation of cognitive scientists and philosophers of mind.

Entrepreneurship, Democratic Action, and the Cultivation of Solidarity

Disclosing New Worlds calls for a recovery of a way of being that has always characterized human life at its best. The book argues that human beings are at their best not when they are engaged in abstract reflection, but when they are intensely involved in changing the taken-for-granted, everyday practices in some domain of their culturethat is, when they are making history. History-making, in this account, refers not to wars and transfers of political power, but to changes in the way we understand and deal with ourselves. The authors identify entrepreneurship, democratic action, and the creation of solidarity as the three major arenas in which people make history, and they focus on three prime methods of history-makingreconfiguration, cross-appropriation, and articulation.