Habit and the Limits of the Autonomous Subject

Body and Society 19 (2-3):58-82 (2013)
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After briefly describing the history and significance of the nature–reason dualism for philosophy this article examines why much of the Kantian inspired examination of norms and ethics continues to appeal to this division. It is argued that much of what is claimed to be rationally legitimated norms can, at least in part, be understood as binding on actions and beliefs, not because they are rationally legitimated, but because they are habituated. Drawing on Hegel’s discussion of ethical life and habit it is argued that human subjects identify most practices and norms as their own through self-feeling, not reason. It is on this basis that norms are taken not just as the basis for action but are constitutive of human identity, an identity that is spiritual, embodied and affective. While habit is central to the way Hegel reconfigures ethics and norms, as well as the distinct model of freedom that he develops in his social and political thought, it will be argued that habit has its limits as a model for human freedom, limits of which Hegel is well aware.



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Simon Lumsden
University of New South Wales

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Veganism, Normative Change, and Second Nature.Simon Lumsden - 2017 - Environmental Philosophy 14 (2):221-238.

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References found in this work

The sources of normativity.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1996 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Onora O'Neill.
Difference and repetition.Gilles Deleuze - 1994 - London: Athlone Press.
Elements of the philosophy of right.Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel - 1991 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Allen W. Wood & Hugh Barr Nisbet.
The Sources of Normativity.Christine Korsgaard - 1999 - Philosophical Quarterly 49 (196):384-394.

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