This article is an exploration of David Hume's philosophy of custom and habit as a way of living with skepticism. For Hume, man is a habit-forming animal, and all politics and history take place within a history of custom and habit. This is not a bad thing: life without custom and habit would be a nightmare. Hume draws on the "new science" of thinkers such as Locke, Shaftesbury, Mandeville, Hutcheson, and Butler to foreground the importance of (...) custom and habit. His own contribution is a detailed exploration of philosophical psychology that brings out the role of habits of action such as politeness and manners and habits of thinking such as opinion and reasoning. Finally, life in accordance with customs and habits is not inherently conservative or quietist: there are endogenous and exogenous sources of change and progress in custom and habits. (shrink)
A study of habit and other unconscious backgrounds of action shows how shapes of spiritual life in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit each imply correlative senses of lived time. The very form of time thus gives spirit a sensuous encounter with its own concept. The point that conceptual content is manifest in the sensuous form of time is key to an interpretation of Hegel's infamous and puzzling remarks about time and the concept in ``absolute knowing.'' The article also shows how (...) Hegel's Phenomenology connects with current discussions of lived time, habit, and, via discussion of Wallace's Infinite Jest, addiction. (shrink)
The essays collected here demonstrate that the philosophy of habit is not confined to the work of just a handful of thinkers, but traverses the entire history of Western philosophy and continues to thrive in contemporary theory. A History of Habit: From Aristotle to Bourdieu is the first book to document the richness and diversity of this history. It demonstrates the breadth, flexibility, and explanatory power of the concept of habit as well as its enduring significance. It (...) makes the case for habit’s perennial attraction for philosophers, psychologists, and sociologists. (shrink)
in Jeremy McKenna (ed), At the Boundaries of Cricket, to be published in 2007 as a special issue of the journal Sport in Society and as a book in the series Sport in the Global Society (Taylor and Francis).
This paper begins by reflecting on the concept of habit and discussing its significance in various philosophical and non-philosophical contexts – for this helps to clarify the connections between habit and selfhood. I then attempt to sketch an account of the self as ”nothing but habit,“ and to address the questions this raises about how such a self must be constituted. Finally, I focus on the issue of freedom, or liberation, and consider the possibility of moving beyond (...)habit. I emphasize the body since it is through the body that the un-doing of habit must take place. Deleuze and Merleau-Ponty are distinguished from the many philosophers who have recognized the importance of habit by their more radical claim that we not only have habits, but are habits – and for this reason I draw on their work in the first two sections of this paper. (shrink)
Hegel's discussion of the concept of “habit” appears at a crucial point in his Encyclopedia system, namely, in the transition from the topic of “nature” to the topic of “spirit” (Geist): it is through habit that the subject both distinguishes itself from its various sensory states as an absolute unity (the I) and, at the same time, preserves those sensory states as the content of sensory consciousness. By calling habit a “second nature,” Hegel highlights the fact that (...) incipient spirit retains a “moment” of the natural that marks a limitation compared to “pure thought” but that also makes perceptual consciousness possible. This makes Hegel's account analogous in important respects to John McDowell's “naturalism of second nature.” But Hegel's account of habit can be seen as a version of a Kantian synthesis of the productive imagination—and hence presupposes a given material that can become one's own by means of habit. This does not mean that Hegel falls into the Myth of the Given, but it does suggest that an appropriate account of second nature might be committed to something McDowell wants to deny: that nonconceptual states of consciousness play a role (even if not a justificatory role) in perception. (shrink)
This paper examines Flix Ravaisson's account of habit, as presented in his 1838 essay _Of Habit_, and considers its significance in the context of moral practice. This discussion is set in an historical context by drawing attention to the different evaluations of habit in Aristotelian and Kantian philosophies, and it is argued that Kant's hostility to habit is based on the dichotomy between mind and body, and freedom and necessity, that pervades (...) his thought. Ravaisson argues that the phenomenon of habit challenges these dualisms, and at least in this respect anticipates the discussions of habit in the work of twentieth-century phenomenologists such as Merleau-Ponty and Ricoeur.
The paper outlines Ravaisson's account of habit in general, showing how his analysis of the “double law” of habit develops from the work of Maine de Biran, and highlighting the way in which Ravaisson offers a new and original philosophical interpretation of the phenomena of habit. Whereas Maine de Biran remains within a dualistic framework, and finds that habit is problematic within this framework, Ravaisson uses habit to demonstrate continuity between mind and body, will and nature. Then the focus is narrowed to consider how this analysis of habit is applied to a specifically moral context, and how it illuminates traditional Aristotelian theories of virtue. The paper ends by considering several practical consequences of the foregoing discussion of habit and the moral life. (shrink)
Hans Joas's The Creativity of Action (1996) posits that conceiving of all action as fundamentally creative would overcome problems inherent in rational and normative theories of action and would provide an alternative basis for action-based theories of macrosociological phenomena. Joas conceives of creativity as a response to the frustration of "prereflective aspirations," which necessitates innovative adjustment to reestablish habitual intentions. This conceptualization creates an unsupportable duality between habitual action and creativity that neglects other possible sources of creative action, including (...) class='Hi'>habit itself. Combining strengths from Bourdieu's concept of habitus, creativity can be redefined as the necessary adaption of habitual practices to specific contexts of action. Creative action continually introduces novel possibilities in practical action and provokes a variety of social responses to its products. This revised concept of creativity overcomes the dichotomy presented by Joas, identifies a microsocial source of innovation in creative action, and calls attention to patterns of creative authority in society at large. (shrink)
It is hardly a secret that with the philosophy of David Hume a conception of habit comes to occupy center-stage within epistemological and psychological reflection. Habit or custom is the "great guide of human life,"1 particularly in that it conditions, as the ground of the association of ideas, all our inductions concerning the objects of experience, and our beliefs that causal relations obtain between them. Yet according to Hume, we cannot say what habit itself is. Certainly, An (...) Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding describes a general and apparently common conception of "habit or custom"—terms which are presented as synonymous—in the following manner: "Wherever the repetition of any particular act or operation .. (shrink)
: This paper demonstrates how John Dewey's notion of habit can help us understand gender as a constitutive structure of bodily existence. Bringing Dewey's pragmatism in conjunction with Judith Butler's concept of performativity, I provide an account of how rigid binary configurations of gender might be transformed at the level of both individual habit and cultural construct.
A careful reading of Heloise's letters reveals both her contribution to Abelard's ethical thought and the differences between her ethical concerns and his. In her letters, Heloise focuses on the innate moral qualities of the inner person or animus. Hypocrisy—the misrepresentation of the inner person through false outer appearance, exemplified by the potentially deceitful religious habit or habitus—is a matter of great moral concern to her. When Abelard responds to Heloise's ideas, first in his letters to her and later (...) in his Collationes and Scito te ipsum, he turns the discussion away from her original interests. He transforms her metaphor of the habitus as false appearance into a discussion of another type of habitus, the habitual process of acquiring virtue, and integrates her focus on the animus into his developing ideas about sin as intention. Examining the differences between Heloise's ethical thought and Abelard's allows us to appreciate the distinct contributions of both. (shrink)
In our daily life we develop habits that, being constantly practiced, become part of who we are. Two areas in which we develop habits are the evaluation of sources of food, and the evaluation of sources of happiness. It is my contention that the habits developed in those areas could affect one another. Thus, acquiring good habits in one area is of utmost importance to develop the other one. Conversely, if we develop the bad habit of picky eating this (...) will have as one of its outcomes the development of a bad habit that restricts our openness to rmding avenues for happiness. In order to show how the two habits affect one another, I will use Aristotle's theory of habit as developed in his Nicomachean Ethics. (shrink)
In this paper we examine the relationship between diligence and ethics and the connection between procrastination and ethical misconduct for lawyers. From there we ask the question of whether legal education does enough to teach law students good habits of time management that might minimize the kind of procrastination that so often goes hand in hand with lawyer malfeasance. Far from concluding that legal education addresses these issues adequately we advance the claim that legal education actually teaches procrastination. Drawing on (...) the work of Neil Fiore and his book: The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play we argue that law students are often susceptible to the psychological factors that lead to procrastination: fear of failure, fear of success and resentment of authority. From there we outline aspects of legal education that feed into rather than combating these vulnerabilities. Finally we outline recommendations for how legal education could begin to take more seriously the relationship between time management and legal ethics and to model and inculcate good time management skills. (shrink)
Descartes says that the Meditations contains the foundations of his physics. But how does the work advance his geometrical view of the corporeal world? His argument for this view of matter is often taken to be concluded with the proof of the existence of bodies in the Sixth Meditation. This paper focuses on the work that follows the proof, where Descartes pursues the question of what we should think about qualities such as light, sound and pain, as well as the (...) size and shape of particular bodies. His inquiry makes crucial use of the notion of a teaching of nature originating from God, as contrasted with an apparent teaching of nature originating from habit. I attempt to reconstruct Descartes's use of these notions in order to clarify the way in which he makes space for his geometrical conception of the corporeal world. (shrink)
While the human agent must have the capacity for reflexivity, intentionality and consciousness, the same agent must also be affected by the social world in which she lives: herein lies the essence of the structure and agency dialectic. This paper argues that while some realists are in principle committed to a dialectical relationship between structure and agency, there is some dissonance between this commitment and the concepts of agency that they develop. I highlight the exclusion of the unconscious and (...) class='Hi'>habit from realist notions of agency and argue that this oversight serves to unbalance the dialectic between structure and agency thereby leading to the over-empowerment of agency. The concepts of agency developed by Margaret Archer, Anthony Giddens and Pierre Bourdieu are discussed in this paper. Archer's concept of agency is argued to focus exclusively on reflexivity whilst neglecting to include the unconscious and habit. Giddens is shown to develop a much improved concept of agency, which includes the unconscious, however, his rejection of the independent causal powers of structure and agency problematises his commitment to the dialectic. A much improved approach to theorising agency, developed within a critical realist framework, is offered drawing on Bourdieu's concept of habitus. The paper concludes with a discussion of gender, and considers how the unconscious and habit can help to better understand the myriad ways in which gender functions in society. (shrink)
Drawing on the phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty, this paper describes the role of habit in the cycle of preconfiguration andreconfigurion of place in architectural practice, especially in the design of homes—les habitations—in which habit and inhabitation intertwine. In this paper, Proust’s novel provides the primary examples of the intertwining of habit and inhabitation. Proust shows us that an artist (or architect) acquires a relation to a prefigured place into which she or he is already thrown and can only (...) reshape that world from the inside out, not the top down. The paper provides an overview of the influence of place in Proust’s novel, then relates these examples to Merleau-Ponty’s reflections on place, along the way considering Merleau-Ponty’s brief mentions of architecture and whether we can justifiably apply his painting-based aesthetics to architecture. Finally, the paper suggests what this might mean for architectural design practice, especially for new digital tools that use gesture to better reflect an embodied relation to place.The program of the paper is to trace the origin of “program”—in its architectural sense of the use-structure of a building and its mediation by habits and inhabitation in the design process. The design process—right down to whether or not architects use pens and pencils or digital tools—must come up for revision if phenomenological evidence (both literary and philosophical) is truly to transform the practice. (shrink)
This paper tries to combine Peirce’s cosmology and metaphysics with current understanding in physics of the evolution of the universe, regarded as an ongoing semiotic process in a living cosmos. While the basic property of Life is viewed as an unexplainable Firstness inherent in the initial iconic state of the vacuous continuum we shall consider and exemplify two sign developing processes: (a) the transition from icon to index is considered as a symmetry breaking emergence of order actualising one among the (...) possibilities of the iconic vacuum; (b) the transition from index to symbol, regarded as a habit formation — an adaptation of the surroundings to the order that has emerged. While the iconic state is characterized by fractal self-similarity the transitions to index and symbol are modelled by the mean field theory of second order phase transitions. (shrink)