We would like to invite you to our final SSHM Seminar Series event before the summer break! Prof Tony Bennett (Institute for Culture and Society, University of Western Sydney, Australia) will talk about his latest work on “Habit and the Conduct of Conduct”.
When: Wednesday 25th June from 12:00-13:30
Where: room K 6.63, Strand Campus (Directions: Take the lifts after the Great Hall to level 6, turn right out of the lifts and follow the corridor along, past K6.29 and through another set of doors and K6.63 is on your right)
Tony Bennett is Research Professor in Social and Cultural Theory in the Institute for Culture and Society at the University of Western Sydney. He is a member of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and of the Academy of the Social Sciences in the UK. His main books include Formalism and Marxism (1979), Bond and Beyond: The Political Career of a Popular Hero (1987, with Janet Woollacott), Outside Literature (1991), The Birth of the Museum(1995), Culture: A Reformer’s Science (1998), Pasts Beyond Memory: Evolution, Museums, Colonialism (2004), and Making Culture, Changing Society (2013). He is also a co-author of ‘Accounting for Tastes: Australian Everyday Cultures’ (1999) and ‘Culture, Class, Distinction’ (2009).
Abstract: My concern in this paper is not with habit as such – I do not offer an account of the mechanisms of habit, of how habits are acquired or sloughed off – but with the variable ways in which different authorities (philosophical, sociological, psychological, theological, neurological, biological, etc.) have constituted habit as their points of entry into the management of conduct. This requires a consideration of the ways in which different accounts of habit propose different ‘architectures of the person’: that is, different ways of laying out the coordinates of personhood depending on how habit is placed in relation to instinct, reflex action, will, reflection, memory and so on. I shall be particularly concerned with the ways in which accounts of habit produce an interval – a temporal gap – within the person into which the kinds of authority they seek to exercise over the direction of conduct can be inserted. The production of this interval depends on offering an account, first, of how conduct is determined through the accumulated effects of social and biological hereditary mechanisms; and second, of how the force of such determinations is stemmed through the operation of a reflective capacity which opens up the possibility for initiating new lines of action that are not impelled by the mechanisms of habitual repetition. It is this stemming of the mechanisms of socio-sematic inheritance that opens up the possibility of bringing conduct under new forms of guidance depending on the ways in which different epistemological authorities are able to insert themselves into this interval so as to shape the other attributes of personhood through which conduct might be redirected toward varied ends.