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.