Keyword: Habit

News | Posted 25/02/2017
Workshop: 'Habits and Rituals'

IS4IS 2017

Call for papers: Workshop “Habits and Rituals”
Habits and rituals play a fundamental role in human life and are worthy to be considered also because they represent a form of embodied knowledge. They have been considered mostly by disciplines like anthropology, sociology and psychology. Philosophy as well offers interesting analyses from different perspectives, from Aristotle to Bourdieu (Sparrow and Hutchinson). Aristotle relates habits to virtues, while Peircean habits connect to the life of symbols. Of all human belief systems and practices, religions are strongest connected to habits and rituals in form of prayers, meditations, sacrifices, sermons, services, trances, initiation rites and more. Religious practices of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or folk religions engage about 84% of the world's population. Habits and rituals offer a common ground that can help to stimulate the discussion among different religions.

Latin presents two meanings for the English word “habit”. The first is Habitus, that entails a deliberate disposition to act. The second is Consuetudo, that implies the constant repetition of an event or behavior without deliberation.
Starting from these two meanings of the term habit and their relationship with the notion of “ritual”, we invite contributions on the following topics in comparison with contemporary trans-disciplinary and trans-cultural debate:

The traditional sense of habit (Habitus) that is introduced by Aristotle to characterize the notion of “virtue”. Virtue is a habit as disposition to face good or bad emotions and tendencies. Aquinas inherit the Aristotelian view and maintains that habit is not potency (i.e. a capacity) in that it makes us able or unable to do good or wrong. This notion of habit is defined also by Dewey who thinks that it is a human activity that is influenced by previous activity, namely it is acquired. It includes a certain order and a certain system of minor elements of action. It is a dynamic disposition that is operative in a subordinate form even when it is not the dominant activity at a certain time (Human Nature and Conduct 1921).

The meaning of the term habit (Consuetudo), as constant repetition of an event or a behavior, due to a mechanism that can be physical, psychological, biological, social etc. Standardly, it is assumed that this mechanism mostly develop from the repetition of acts and behaviors, and so, in the case of human events, through training. Aristotle, conceived habit a species of mechanism that is analogous to natural mechanisms, and somehow guarantees the uniform repetition of facts, acts, or behavior by eliminating or reducing effort and fatigue and so by making them pleasant. Habit as repetition without reasoning is also exemplarily described by Pascal and Hume. Bergson uses this notion of habit to promote moral obligations as social habits to favor social life and order. Metaphysical interpretations of the notion of habit are offered by Main de Biran, Hegel and Ravaisson. In this case, we can observe a shift to religious views. According to Hegel, habit is the most essential thing to the existence of every spirituality of the individual subject. So the subject can exist as concrete subject, as ideality of the soul, namely the religious content can belong to himself (with his own soul). The metaphysical perspective of Ravaisson considers habit as a law of grace that has the important result to consider nature as spirit and spiritual activity, as it demonstrates that spirit can become nature and vice-versa.

The debate on rituals is very lively in contemporary thought, particularly by reference to performative uses of language (pragmatism and Habermas’ theory of communicative action) and embodied cognition (Schilbrack et al). The disruptive cultural change caused by the process of digitalization invites for discussion of induced changes in habits and practices. There are interesting issues from the perspectives of:

  • Pragmatic theory of knowledge (Rorty, Dewey, Peirce, James, Santajana, Whitehead)
  • Post-Wittgensteinean philosophy (Winch, Lerner, Austin, Searle)
  • Existentialism (Heidegger, Sartre, Bernstein, Eliade)
  • Genealogical approach (Foucault, Bordo)
  • Phenomenology (Merlau-Ponty, Dreyfus, Cross)
  • Cognitive science and neuroscience (Clark, Van Gelden, Varela, Frankiel, Johnson, Graybiel)
  • Feminist epistemology (Grosz, McGuire, Butler among others)
  • Comparative philosophy (Sullivan, Kasulis, Law, Coakley, Clooney, Yasuo, Nagatomo).

Keynote Speakers:
Søren Brier CBS- Copenhagen Business School, Copenhagen
Stephen Kepnes (Colgate University, NY)
Chandana Chakrabarti (Institute of Cross Cultural Studies and Academic Exchange (USA)

Keywords: Habit
Encyclopedia Article | Posted 25/11/2016
Fabbrichesi, Rossella: "Peirce, Mead, and the Theory of Extended Mind"

In 1998, Clark and Chalmers addressed a question that remained pivotal in the discussion afterwards: “Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin?” Their inquiry, developed by many others, led to a questioning of the idea of the mind as a thing – a simple res cogitans – with a precise localization. I will discuss their theses, trying to show that the views of the pragmatists can provide us with a different scenario (different but sympathetic nevertheless with some of Clark’s and Chalmers’s theses). For example, Peirce doesn’t think we have to choose between an internalist stance (mind is equivalent to brain and is inside our body) and an externalist one (mind extends itself outside the skin and the skull), because “mind”, as any other thing, is “wherever it acts” (W 5:78), wherever it produces habits of behavior, wherever it guides action and produces “conscious” effects. For Peirce, as well as for Mead, habit is the key-word, not consciousness, not mind. Habit is not internal, and not properly external. It is something that lives “in the exercises that nourish it” and in the “actions to which it gives rise” (CP 5.487). The social origin of consciousness, and the relevance of habits, as social and public structures that situate the mind, are effective pragmatist keys of interpretation that can enhance the actual field of the cognitive sciences.

I will finally present a theoretical hypothesis on the role of the mind in cognition, based not on the extension of it, but, so to say, on the “intension”. In this sense, the cognitive can be read as the “intensive” trait of the pragmatic.

Article in Edited Collection | Posted 20/02/2016
Eco, Umberto (1981). Peirce's Analysis of Meaning. In: Proceedings of the C. S. Peirce Bicentennial International Congress
Monograph | Posted 19/01/2016
Rosenthal, Sandra B. (1994). Charles Peirce's Pragmatic Pluralism
Dictionary Entry | Posted 23/10/2015
Quote from "Consequences of Pragmaticism"

A habit which is objective continues as long as the future conditional proposition continues true, ‘If such and such conditions are fulfilled, such and such will the behaviour of the subject be’. It would be absurd to say that the habit only subsists at the moment that it operates, or that it only subsists if the conditions are about to be fulfilled. For a habit is general, and as such cannot be constituted by any multitude of individual occurrences, – not even by an infinite multitude, not even by an abnumeral multitude of whatever order you please. It is only constituted by the truth of the general future conditional proposition; that is to say by the nonoccurrence of a given kind of event, not by occurrences of the reverse event, however. Moreover, if the conditions never are to arise, still there may be something to determine what could not occur even if they should arise.

Dictionary Entry | Posted 23/10/2015
Quote from "Recreations in Reasoning"

…there are three categories of being; ideas of feelings, acts of reaction, and habits. Habits are either habits about ideas of feelings or habits about acts of reaction. The ensemble of all habits about ideas of feeling constitutes one great habit which is a World; and the ensemble of all habits about acts of reaction constitutes a second great habit, which is another World. The former is the Inner World, the world of Plato’s forms. The other is the Outer World, or universe of existence. The mind of man is adapted to the reality of being. Accordingly, there are two modes of association of ideas: inner association, based on the habits of the inner world, and outer association, based on the habits of the universe.

Dictionary Entry | Posted 22/10/2015
Quote from "Evolutionary Love"

Habit is mere inertia, a resting on one’s oars, not a propulsion. Now it is energetic projaculation (lucky there is such a word, or this untried hand might have been put to inventing one) by which in the typical instances of Lamarckian evolution the new elements of form are first created. Habit, however, forces them to take practical shapes, compatible with the structures they affect, and, in the form of heredity and otherwise, gradually replaces the spontaneous energy that sustains them. Thus, habit plays a double part; it serves to establish the new features, and also to bring them into harmony with the general morphology and function of the animals and plants to which they belong.

Dictionary Entry | Posted 21/10/2015
Quote from "Man's Glassy Essence"

habits are general ways of behaviour which are associated with the removal of stimuli.

Dictionary Entry | Posted 21/10/2015
Quote from "A Guess at the Riddle"

…if the same cell which was once excited, and which by some chance had happened to discharge itself along a certain path or paths, comes to get excited a second time, it is more likely to discharge itself the second time along some or all of those paths along which it had previously discharged itself than it would have been had it not so discharged itself before. This is the central principle of habit; and the striking contrast of its modality to that of any mechanical law is most significant. The laws of physics know nothing of tendencies or probabilities; whatever they require at all they require absolutely and without fail, and they are never disobeyed. Were the tendency to take habits replaced by an absolute requirement that the cell should discharge itself always in the same way, or according to any rigidly fixed condition whatever, all possibility of habit developing into intelligence would be cut off at the outset; the virtue of Thirdness would be absent. It is essential that there should be an element of chance in some sense as to how the cell shall discharge itself; and then that this chance or uncertainty shall not be entirely obliterated by the principle of habit, but only somewhat affected.

Dictionary Entry | Posted 21/10/2015
Quote from "A Guess at the Riddle"

…habits, from the mode of their formation, necessarily consist in the permanence of some relation…

Dictionary Entry | Posted 21/10/2015
Quote from "On the Algebra of Logic: A Contribution to the Philosophy of Notation"

habits are general rules to which the organism has become subjected.

Dictionary Entry | Posted 20/10/2015
Quote from "Logic. Chapter I. Thinking as Cerebration"

Habit plays somewhat the same part in the history of individual that natural selection does in that of the species; namely, it causes actions to be directed toward ends.

Dictionary Entry | Posted 20/10/2015
Quote from "Methods of Reasoning"

A habit is a general rule operative within the organism

Dictionary Entry | Posted 20/10/2015
Quote from "Design and Chance [W]"

The main element of habit is the tendency to repeat any action which has been performed before. It is a phenomenon at least coëxtensive with life, and it may cover a still wider real realm.


May not the laws of physics be habits gradually acquired by systems[?]

Dictionary Entry | Posted 20/10/2015
Quote from "A Theory of Probable Inference"

In point of fact, a syllogism in Barbara virtually takes place when we irritate the foot of a decapitated frog. The connection between the afferent and efferent nerve, whatever it may be, constitutes a nervous habit, a rule of action, which is the physiological analogue of the major premiss. The disturbance of the ganglionic equilibrium, owing to the irritation, is the physiological form of that which, psychologically considered, is a sensation; and, logically considered, is the occurrence of a case. The explosion through the efferent nerve is the physiological form of that which psychologically is a volition, and logically the inference of a result. When we pass from the lowest to the highest forms of innervation, the physiological equivalents escape our observation; but, psychologically, we still have, first, habit, – which in its highest form is understanding, and which corresponds to the major premiss of Barbara; we have, second, feeling, or present consciousness, corresponding to the minor premiss of Barbara; and we have, third, volition, corresponding to the conclusion of the same mode of syllogism. Although these analogies, like all very broad generalizations, may seem very fanciful at first sight, yet the more the reader reflects upon them the more profoundly true I am confident they will appear. They give a significance to the ancient system of formal logic which no other can at all share.

Dictionary Entry | Posted 20/10/2015
Quote from "Deduction, Induction, and Hypothesis"

Induction infers a rule. Now, the belief of a rule is a habit. That a habit is a rule active in us, is evident. That every belief is of the nature of a habit, in so far as it is of a general character, has been shown in the earlier papers of this series. Induction, therefore, is the logical formula which expresses the physiological process of formation of a habit.

Dictionary Entry | Posted 20/10/2015
Quote from "How to Make Our Ideas Clear"

…what a thing means is simply what habits it involves. Now, the identity of a habit depends on how it might lead us to act, not merely under such circumstances as are likely to arise, but under such as might possibly occur, no matter how improbable they may be. What the habit is depends on when and how it causes us to act. As for the when, every stimulus to action is derived from perception; as for the how, every purpose of action is to produce some sensible result.

Dictionary Entry | Posted 20/10/2015
Quote from "Some Consequences of Four Incapacities"

Attention produces effects upon the nervous system. These effects are habits, or nervous associations. A habit arises, when, having had the sensation of performing a certain act, m, on several occasions a, b, c, we come to do it upon every occurrence of the general event, l, of which a, b and c are special cases. That is to say, by the cognition that

Every case of a, b, or c, is a case of m,

is determined the cognition that

Every case of l is a case of m.

Thus the formation of a habit is an induction, and is therefore necessarily connected with attention or abstraction. Voluntary actions result from the sensations produced by habits, as instinctive actions result from our original nature.

Dictionary Entry | Posted 19/10/2015
Quote from "Prag [R]"

a habit is a general mode of action.

Dictionary Entry | Posted 16/10/2015
Quote from "Note (Notes on Art. III) [R]"

…I should think that the performance of a certain line of behavior, throughout an endless succession of occasions, without exception, very decidedly constituted a habit. There may be some doubt about this, for owing to our not being accustomed to reason in this way about successions of events which are endless in the sequence and yet are completed in time, it is hard for me quite to satisfy myself what I ought to say in such a case. But I have reflected seriously on it, and though I am not perfectly sure of my ground (and I am a cautious reasoner), yet I am more that what you would understand by “pretty confident,” that supposing one to be in a condition to assert what would surely be the behavior, in any single determinate respect, of any subject throughout an endless series of occasions of a stated kind, he ipso facto knows a “would-be,” or habit, of that subject. It is very true, mind you, that no collection whatever of single acts, though it were ever so many grades greater than a simple endless series, can constitute a would-be, nor can the knowledge of single acts, whatever their multitude, tell us for sure of a would-be.