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[Xmca-l] Re: Habits (Greek: ethos)


Sorry for this long post! It's two rolled into one. Well, maybe three? or 3.14?

Here's a nice discovery to add to the discussion on "ethos." Someone from our happy list emailed me off-list to comment for fear of "facing hoots of derision" and sent this New Yorker link which I thought pertains to this thread better than the "Appeal for help" thread. So I'm positing the link here, from a very recent issue, like from yesterday!:


That means, I can be the one to face the hoots of derision rather than the one who sent the link to me. However I'm going to be optimistic: Let's hope there are no hoots to worry about and we can just have a nice CHAT about things like ...?

If any lurkers would like the same accommodation, I'd be willing to offer the same shelter! Your anonymity will be left intact.


I'm glad to know that "ethos" isn't exactly the word for "habit," but it does seem a nuanced way to consider ethics, and how to decipher what is ethical, based upon habits. So thanks Rob for awaking your classist within. I would, like Greg and James, enjoy to hear a richer description of what "ethos" means. If Rob wouldn't mind doing that.

It feels to me, as I think about it, that frequently, doing the unethical is not usually done with the intent of being unethical. It's done unconsciously and by increments. As if the unconscious mind is having a discussion with the conscious mind, "Well this is just a little fudge here, no one will mind if I do this one little teeny tiny bad thing. No one is looking and I don't think anyone even cares. So I'll just do it!" And then after a series of these little fudges one is left off the map, largely because of *habit*, and then it seems overnight one is far far away from the better-worn track of ethical habits, if that is not a redundant phrase.

There does seem to be this connection between conscious choice and unconscious choice with regard to ethics. That it requires reflection and not mechanical habit.

I had the idea analogously, to consider the way that 2?r (2[pi]r) is the circumference of a circle or [?r-squared or [pi]r x r]] is its area. It's become automatic that I know those are the formulae. But at some point in my math development I had to internalize that formula by figuring it out, though I can't recall off the top how I did that. I think by slicing pies or something! :)

Actually I found this, which is nice, if anyone needs a refresher!

<https://teded.herokuapp.com/on/F3aawBcM>I wonder if being ethical is a similar practice that we come to learn to say thank you without remembering why exactly why, but we just recall it's a good practice. Like being polite is a good practice, even if someone else is being rude.

I also thought that the unethical is also done (incrementally) by remote extension, which seems to me the entire problem with neo-liberalism (capitalism) as we know it. It creates a distance and diffuses the connection between the cause of harm and the effect of harm. So even a well-meaning person can be participating in an unethical act, without meaning to. Say by purchasing electricity from a power company that is mistreating its employees.

I hope I don't have to read swaths of Marx to make that statement, but forgive me if I do. :)

I always felt Vygotsky to be an ethical person and he was sensitively concerned with doing the right thing. I sort of wish there was more to read about how he felt about thinkers like Aristotle. Does anyone know?

Anyway, I find it is useful to discuss the overlaps of cultural-historical approaches and ethics, so thanks everyone!

Kind regards,