[SydPhil] Macquarie WIP seminar: Massimiliano Cappuccio

Rachael Brown rachael.brown at mq.edu.au
Wed Aug 5 15:07:29 AEST 2015

Please note the following upcoming event as part of the Macquarie
University Philosophy Work in Progress Seminar Series  (*** Please note
change of speaker).

The Harbinger of Dread: Suggestions for a Phenomenological Account of the
"Choking Effect"

Massimiliano Cappuccio (UAE University)

1-2pm, Tuesday, 11th August
Building W6A, Rm107

 “Choking” is known in sport as the tendency of expert athletes to
experience a dramatic drop in performance during pressure-filled
circumstances that stress the importance of producing excellent
performances. Of the various psychological models that try to explain why
and when this paradox occurs, the most influential are two: distraction and
self-monitoring theories, which impute choking to the exhaustion of
attentional resources and the disruption of fluid  motor routines,
respectively. These models correspond to different theories of skill that
emphasise in opposite ways the relevance of control and automation for the
production of expert performances. In particular, the self-monitoring
theory of choking in sport psychology is often associated to Hubert
Dreyfus’ influential philosophy of skill acquisition and absorbed coping,
which de-emphasize the role of explicit control while maintaining that
effective skill use is necessarily automatized, non-conscious,
pre-representational, and unreflective. As the Dreyfusian account of skill
doesn’t acknowledge any role to decision and conscious awareness in expert
performances, it has attracted criticisms by various philosophical and
psychological perspectives that find this idea counterintuitive or just
factually wrong. While I agree that this general model of skill needs to be
modified in order to accommodate various bodies of empirical evidence and
the results of various conceptual analyses, I will argue that our theories
of skill and expertise can’t forsake the fundamental principles of the
embodied phenomenology that inspired it. Even if the competing models
convincingly demonstrate a significant role played by explicit attention
and control in expert performances, I will try to explore how the
phenomenology of motor intentionality (Merleau-Ponty) and Angst (Heidegger)
can still inspire a consistent anti-representationist non-instructionist
account of choking in sport.

Feel free to bring your lunch.

Contact: Rachael Brown (rachael.brown at mq.edu.au), Adam Hochman (
adam.hochman at mq.edu.au), Mike Olson (michael.olson at mq.edu.au)

A google calendar with details of other events in this series is available
for viewing and subscription by following this link:


18 Aug Neil Levy (MQ)

25 Aug Toshiro Osawa (MQ)

1 Sep Albert Atkin (MQ)

8 Sep* Jennifer Mensch (UWS)
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