Habits, awareness, and autonomy

Vincent Colapietro

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


The word consciousness is, if anything, even more ambiguous than habit and more or less closely allied terms or expressions (e.g., disposition, practice, routine, ritual, convention, and pattern of action). The pragmatist consensus regarding habit change (and it is the change of habits, not simply habits, that is at the center of this consensus) encompasses an account of consciousness or awareness in one or more of its most central senses. According to the pragmatists, the arrest of habits intensifies or heightens awareness; and such an alteration of consciousness aids agents in exercising control over both environing circumstances and their somatically rooted habits. That is, consciousness is not a mere epiphenomenon: “it seems to me,” Peirce claims, “that it exercises a real function in self-control” (c. 1906, CP 5.493). In addition to the intimate connection between arrested action and heightened awareness, however, we must also consider the integration of habits and the emergent, precarious, and yet quite effective form of autonomy characteristic of human agents. While the consensus in question involves a shift in perspective, one from consciousness to habituation and hence the alteration of habits, it does not simply jettison the concept of consciousness. It rather tries to explain consciousness in reference to the operation, dissolution, and modification of habits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationStudies in Applied Philosophy, Epistemology and Rational Ethics
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages17
StatePublished - 2016

Publication series

NameStudies in Applied Philosophy, Epistemology and Rational Ethics
ISSN (Print)2192-6255
ISSN (Electronic)2192-6263

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy


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