In praise of habits – so much more than mindless reflexes | Psyche Ideas - Deepstash

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In praise of habits – so much more than mindless reflexes | Psyche Ideas

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Habit is the foundation of routines

Late philosopher Hubert Dreyfus said that habits are a part of our daily coping practices. We don't consciously assess what we are going to do at any given moment - e.g., we don't deliberately reflect on brewing a morning coffee.

But, even when we do something habi...

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In Gilbert Ryle's book, The Concept of Mind (1949), he rejected the idea that habits were intelligent. Instead, he thought habits were an unintelligent way of responding to the world.

Other influential philosophers held the same view, including Baruch Spinoza, Imma...

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Habits are not stupefied and inflexible reactions to environmental triggers. To understand this, we need to see that it is not possible to make a clear-cut distinction between habit and skill.

  • Many of our skills consist of habits. For example, a sport ...

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In contrast to the view that habits are mechanistic, some, like philosopher Jason Stanley, promote habits as intelligent. In this context, habits are a kind of resolved belief about ways of achieving certain goals.

For example, within a few weeks at a ...

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Habits are generally context-sensitive. Stanley thought habits to be intelligent and rational when unconscious beliefs guide them. His underlying thought is that intelligent flexibility of habits depends on the rapid updating of unconscious beliefs.

  • This is in conflict with his...

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Dreyfus held that we are experts at our daily habitual routines and that our daily habits will be guided by expert-level perception and intuition. It means that we will think only of one course of action for each situation. But his view of habits is too mindless and mechanical.

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As philosopher John Dewey points out, habits are intelligently modified to the context because we see the environment in which habits have been encouraged in light of the vast habitual responses we can make to it.

Habits are then not blunt reflexes but a wellspring of possible respo...

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