Rational action and habits: a non-hierarchical vision


  • Mario De Caro Università Roma Tre, Roma
  • Massimo Marraffa Università Roma Tre, Roma




According to William James, on the one side, habits are humble mechanisms; on the other side, in the most important cases they have a very noble genesis. We reject both these ideas insofar as they depend on an old conception of the mind — one that appears to us to be totally inadequate. This is the “pyramidal” conception the mind, which was historically associated with the hierarchical conception of the cerebral functions dating back to the 19th Century. In our view, in order to make the most of James’s conception of habits, one has to uncouple the pragmatist elements of that view from the pyramidal picture of the mind. We conclude that the pragmatist view of habits does not need the pyramidal conception of the mind; neither does it need the connected ideas that habits are, at the same time, humble and noble.





The formation of habits in the education of affectivity