Wednesday, 25 June 2014

On habits and habitats

There's another great write up on the AIME Group blog. This is my favourite bit from chapter 10 on 'Learning to Respect Appearances':
Without habit, we would never have dealings with essences, but always with discontinuities. The world would be unbearable. It is as if habit produced what stays in place on the basis of what does not stay in place. As if it managed to extract Parmenides’s world on the basis of Heraclitus’s. We can say of habit that in effect it makes the world habitable, that is, susceptible to an ethos, to an ethology. (268)
Without habits we cannot become habitated, we cannot have habitats (Latin habitare "to live, dwell," frequentative of habere "to have, to hold, possess"). Habits are therefore things to be celebrated, with the proviso that there are good and bad habits, habits that forget being-as-other and those that retain a connection with it.

[hab] answers a problem that I've found with Latour's philosophy from the beginning: if everything at every moment is in a perpetual state of perishing and becoming something else (and if this process is essentially discontinuous at each moment) then isn't our everyday experience an illusion? Apparently not; we mostly experience through habit for the most part. If the world seems to flow together smoothly and continuously then this is because, when habitated, this is exactly how it is.

This links nicely with Latour's reading of Sloterdijk's spherology. If spheres seem too smooth and continuous to be incorporated into the ontology of networks then we need only consider that such habitats benefit from regimes of habit. We cannot live in broken, bitty, fractured networks; we can only live in envelopes, blankets and containers that permit implicitation—that allow elements of our environment to be taken for granted (even if they are not God- or Nature-given). Habit permits the connection of these two ontologies: the network and the sphere.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

More on Clive Hamilton on optimism

Reading the pieces mentioned in my last post reminded me that I've had Clive Hamilton's Earthmasters on my bookshelf for a few weeks now. Finally getting around to read it this weekend I've found it to be an outstanding introduction to the issue of geoengineering. I'm about half way through and just getting into the discussion of how these technologies intersect with geopolitics. Anyway, I particularly enjoyed this section on the follies of optimism as an end in itself:
Some people derive a peculiar sort of pleasure in describing themselves as an 'optimist.' It's a kind of one-upmanship used to shut down those arguing that the evidence shows the future is not rosy. 'Whatever you might say, I am an optimist,' they declare, implying that their interlocutor is somehow not bold enough to take on the challenge. It's not so much passive aggression as sunny aggression firmly rooted in the moral superiority of cheerfulness [...] (104-105)