A History of Habit: From Aristotle to Bourdieu by Tom Sparrow

By Tom Sparrow

From bookshelves overflowing with self-help books to scholarly treatises on neurobiology to late-night infomercials that promise to make you happier, fitter, and smarter with the purchase of quite a few basic practices, the discourse of behavior is a staple of latest tradition low and high. dialogue of behavior, despite the fact that, has a tendency to overlook the main basic questions: what's behavior? behavior, we are saying, are difficult to damage. yet what does it suggest to damage a behavior? the place and the way do behavior take root in us? Do merely people collect behavior? What bills for the energy or weak spot of a behavior? Are conduct anything possessed or anything that possesses? We spend loads of time considering our behavior, yet infrequently can we imagine deeply in regards to the nature of behavior itself.

Aristotle and the traditional Greeks well-known the significance of behavior for the structure of personality, whereas readers of David Hume or American pragmatists like C.S. Peirce, William James, and John Dewey understand that behavior is a crucial part within the conceptual framework of many key figures within the background of philosophy. much less standard are the disparate discussions of behavior present in the Roman Stoics, Thomas Aquinas, Michel de Montaigne, René Descartes, Gilles Deleuze, French phenomenology, and modern Anglo-American philosophies of embodiment, race, and gender, between many others.

The essays accrued during this ebook display that the philosophy of behavior isn't really restrained to the paintings of only a handful of thinkers, yet traverses the total background of Western philosophy and keeps to thrive in modern theory.

A heritage of behavior: From Aristotle to Bourdieu is the 1st of its style to record the richness and variety of this historical past. It demonstrates the breadth, flexibility, and explanatory strength of the concept that of behavior in addition to its enduring importance. It makes the case for habit’s perennial appeal for philosophers, psychologists, and sociologists.

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If what we get used to conforms to what our human nature really needs, then our way of life will be healthy, fit, and excellent. But if we indulge in superfluity so often that we develop a taste for it, our luxurious habit will make us sickly, reduce our bodies to flab, and infect our minds with disease. Seneca argues that utility, not superfluity, measures our needs. [52] In this way what once provided pleasure becomes an obsessive affliction. Withdrawal from what one has grown addicted to is torture.

A. Kosman, “Being Properly Affected: Virtues and Feelings in Aristotle’s Ethics,” in Essays on Aristotle’s Ethics, ed. A. O. Rorty, 103–16 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980). For a description of the process by means of which hexeis produce pathê or emotions, see M. Oele, “Passive Dispositions: On the Relationship between pathos and hexis in Aristotle,” Ancient Philosophy 32 (2012): 351–68. 22. For parallels between ethical hexis and the arts, see 1103a31–32, 1103b6–14, 1105a8–10, 1106b9–14; for parallels between ethical hexis and medical states, see 1104a14–18, 29–30, 1105b12–18.

Food must be our most familiar source of pleasure. What does Seneca say about choice of diet? We read in the Letters that his teacher Sotion explained to him that Pythagoras and Sextius had different reasons for the same regimen of abstaining from animal food. Sextius believed that we have enough sustenance without resorting to blood, and that a habit 47 of cruelty is formed whenever butchery is practiced for pleasure. Seneca recounts that after a year of abstaining from meat, his vegetarian habit was as pleasant as it was easy and that he was beginning to feel that his mind was more active.

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