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DANIEL RUEDA GARRIDO Rethinking Sartre’s Philosophy Forms of Life and Subjectivity © 2021 Daniel Rueda Garrido This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0). This license allows you to share, copy, distribute and transmit the text; to adapt the text for non-commercial purposes of the text providing attribution is made to the authors (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work). Attribution should include the following information: Daniel Rueda Garrido, Forms of Life and Subjectivity: Rethinking Sartre’s Philosophy. Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers, 2021, In order to access detailed and updated information on the license, please visit https:// Further details about CC BY licenses are available at All external links were active at the time of publication unless otherwise stated and have been archived via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine at Digital material and resources associated with this volume are available at https://doi. org/10.11647/OBP.0259#resources Every effort has been made to identify and contact copyright holders and any omission or error will be corrected if notification is made to the publisher. ISBN Paperback: 9781800642188 ISBN Hardback: 9781800642195 ISBN Digital (PDF): 9781800642201 ISBN Digital ebook (epub): 9781800642218 ISBN Digital ebook (azw3): 9781800642225 ISBN XML: 9781800642232 DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0259 Cover photo by Cosmin Serban on Unsplash at S9g Cover design by Anna Gatti 3. Habits, Identification and Forms of Life1 1. Introduction From the phenomenological ontology that I have outlined in the preceding pages, it has been possible to distinguish between the praxical image and the anthropical image in the experience of our action and its meaning as a unity. And it has been shown how that unity is a form of life as a transcendent-immanent totality. So, every action has meaning, and every meaning refers to an action in the form of life. It is the latter that confers identity and subjectivity, for the subject is an incarnation of a form of life. This means that every subject is an incarnation of a ‘We’ or a particular image of human being. And therefore, in it the individual and the community are expressed in a unitary and inseparable way, as well as the set of possible actions with meaning. The following chapters are concerned with examining what exactly is the relationship between actions and the form of life as a unit of meaning; or how the latter is expressed in its habits. I do this in dialogue with various authors of contemporary philosophy as well as cognitive and social psychology. The result of this discussion aims to establish the concepts that will be key to the analysis of particular forms of life and the relationships between them. This chapter aims to show that every habit is an action but not every action is a habit. The distinction between the two is important, because only habits are actions that imply identification and therefore 1 Some of the contents of this chapter have been expressed earlier in Daniel Rueda Garrido, ‘Actions, Habits and Forms of Life’, Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 50:3 (2020), 321–34, © 2021 Rueda Garrido, CC BY-NC 4.0 102 Forms of Life and Subjectivity endow identity, although every action can become a habit. Moreover, this distinction is intended to undo the prejudice held throughout much of the history of Western philosophy that habits are automatic acts as opposed to actions. Thus, it is a matter of showing that habits are behaviours governed by a unitary principle and that this principle implies a way of being and acting, that is, the ontological principle of a form of life. This requires arguing about the relationship between habits and that form of life; and to argue that such habits are so because they would cease to be carried out if identification with another form of life were obtained. If the habits did not exist, there would be no personal identity either, nor could one speak of a communal identity. And these arguments contribute to the conclusion that habits are not automatic, yet require an identification and a will to be or to incarnate a particular image of being human. In the second section, I explore the concept of habit in its structural characteristics. The first structural characteristic of habit that I underline is that of being an act born of a pre-reflective consciousness, that is, a consciousness that serves as the background to any consciousness of a particular object or action. That pre-reflective consciousness implies an identification with a particular form of life. I argue that habits require a free will to be obtained and that this can only be directed by a prior identification of the subject with a form of life as a whole. This leads me to discern the responsibility of the free agent with respect to his pre- reflective identification over and above his particular actions. Moreover, if habits are the product of a free will and a form of life with which the subject identifies, one cannot conclude but that habits are not an automatic behaviour, since they imply a certain analogical reasoning by which, wanting to maintain a particular course of action, I give myself a whole form of life. And finally, once the concept of habit and its structural characteristics have been shown, I devote the last section to its comparison with and distinction from other phenomena that are often confused with habits, such as physiological reflexes, routines or skills. But, in fact, these last ones are automatic or repetitive behaviours, which moves them away from habits as actions carried out freely and under an identification with the form of life they constitute. 103 3. Habits, Identification and Forms of Life 2. Actions and Habits Following the body-mind dualism, the distinction between habits and actions assumed by a great many of the philosophers of the Western tradition have tended to identify, on the one hand, habits with automatic behaviours or mechanisms, endowed with a strong biological component and subjected to a necessary and unconscious realization associated with body functions. On the other hand, in the opposite direction, actions have been considered rational, free, related to the mind and the conscious states, the spirit or Geist, and ultimately, are the ones that has traditionally deserved the interest of philosophical studies.2 This traditional distinction, as I say, can be traced throughout Western philosophy, both in the continental tradition and in the analytical one. This treatment of habits has not allowed us (among other things) to think properly about their relationship with forms of life and the responsibility that agents have regarding them. In continental thought, René Descartes referred to habits as a sort of ‘knowledge in the hands’.3 So, although he attributed to it certain knowledge, this was purely bodily, a master movement but alien to the mind or consciousness, aided by his essential dualism. The same can be found centuries later in Maurice Merleau-Ponty,4 for whom habits are strictly bodily habits, a sort of memory and knowledge that bodies exhibit without the aid of reflective thinking, as, for instance, the immediate knowledge we have about whether a doorway is high enough or wide enough to pass through it with our body, and by which we bend down so as not to hit our head with the frame of the door, without the need for reflection or calculation. Thus, as Dermot Moran puts it, ‘Merleau-Ponty is keen to argue against habit as involving an initial mental act of recognition or the performance of an intellectual synthesis.’5 So it is with Henri Bergson, who, in conceiving consciousness 2 See Bill Pollard, ‘Identification, Psychology and Habits’, in New Ways in Philosophy of Action, ed. by Jesús H. Aguilar, Andrei A. Buckareff and Keith Frankish (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), pp. 81–97. 3 René Descartes, Philosophical Writings of Descartes, Vol. III: The Correspondence, ed. by John Cotingham et al. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), p. 146. 4 Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception (London and New York: Routledge, 2002 [1945]). 5 Dermot Moran, ‘Edmund Husserl’s Phenomenology of Habituality and Habitus’, Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, 42:1 (2011), 53–77 (p. 58). 104 Forms of Life and Subjectivity as the product of the principle of life, or élan vital, and in identifying this with constant creativity, cannot but treat human habits in terms of mechanical repetition, as condensation of that creativity, and, ultimately, as a restriction of freedom. In his own words: ‘Our freedom, in the very movements by which it is affirmed, creates the growing habits that will stifle it if it fails to renew itself by a constant effort: it is dogged by automatism.’6 In the Anglo-Saxon tradition, William James referred to habits in the sense of second nature; because for him, in his Principles of Psychology, habits are strictly related to animal or biological instincts. In fact, habits are those repetitive actions that (controlled by an external force, such as the environment or the education received) select and stabilize some instincts and, conversely, let others fade away. The habits thus understood are a second nature derived from instincts by means of repetitions imposed and carried out mechanically or automatically as well as unconsciously: ‘A habit, once grafted on an instinctive tendency, restricts the range of the tendency itself, and keeps us from reacting on any but the habitual object, although other objects might just as well have been chosen had they been the first-comers.’7 It is precisely this condition of automatic response that is relevant in James’ account, for habits economize the expense of nervous and muscular energy and render easier and more accurate human actions.8 Again, in his view, the distinction between habits and rational actions is obvious, the former being a response to sensation (body), while the latter is a movement guided by an idea or some high-level cognitive function.9 In the analytical tradition, very little has been written about habits, and probably partly because of its inherent conception of habit as a mechanical behaviour that is far from expressing any meaningful aspect for intellectual analysis in relation to consciousness. In Pollard’s words: Habits have had some bad press in analytic philosophy. This is not only due to a prevailing intellectualism about what can count as an action in 6 Henri Bergson, Creative Evolution, trans. by Arthur Mitchell (London: Macmillan & Co., 1922), p. 134. Italics are mine. 7 William James, The Principles of Psychology, 2 vols. (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1890), II, p. 395. 8 Ibid., I, p. 113. 9 Ibid., I, pp. 115–16. 105 3. Habits, Identification and Forms of Life the first place, but also due to misunderstandings of what habits are. Among other things, acceptance of the position on offer will depend on our being free from such prejudicial preconceptions.10 A champion of this conception was Gilbert Ryle, who in his book The Concept of Mind (1949), wrote a section that carries the significant title of ‘Intelligent Capacities versus Habits’, or, what is the same, distinction between ‘skills’ and ‘competences’. For him, neither intelligent capacities nor habits involve propositional content (statements that can be viewed as true or false and trigger a reasoning for action), and only the former can be treated as a type of ‘knowing how’, that is, a behaviour that implies vigilance, judgment, training, and so on. So, ‘when we describe someone as doing something by pure or blind habit, we mean that he does it automatically and without having to mind what he is doing’,11 while, when we describe skills, on the contrary, we describe someone doing something with care, judgment and learning from previous occasions. That entails another difference between habits and intelligent capacities, according to Ryle: ‘It is of the essence of merely habitual practices that one performance is a replica of its predecessors. It is of the essence of intelligent practices that one performance is modified by its predecessors. The agent is still learning.’12 Thus, habits are from then onwards in the analytical tradition seen as automatic responses caught in repetitions from which no learning and no variation is possible. In order to find a different approach to habits and actions, we must go back to the origins of Western philosophy, to Aristotle. In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle considers the hexis as a disposition that changes the nature of the action.13 Making (craftsmanship or poiêton) and acting (praktikon) are different because of the disposition that is associated with each of them. In the first one, the end is beyond the action (a product or ergon), while in the second, the end is the action 10 Pollard, ‘Identification, Psychology and Habits’, pp. 85–86. See also, Bill Pollard, ‘Habitual Actions’, in A Companion to the Philosophy of Action, ed. by Timothy O’Connor and Constantine Sandis (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), pp. 74–81 (pp. 74–75). 11 Gilbert Ryle, The Concept of Mind (London and New York: Routledge, 1949), p. 30. Italics are mine. 12 Ibid., p. 30. 13 Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics, in Complete Works, ed. by Jonathan Barnes, 2 vols. (Princton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984), II, 1140a 1–20, pp. 3863–64. 106 Forms of Life and Subjectivity itself. In the mentioned sense, virtue is related to action (praktikon), not to making or creation. Then, in the opening lines of Book II, Aristotle intimately connects habits to virtue, in remarking that ‘moral excellence [i.e., virtue] comes about as a result of habit’.14 The precise nature of this relationship between virtue and habit is principally explicated through a partial analogy between virtue and the arts. Aristotle first wonders ‘what we mean by saying we must become just by doing just acts, and temperate by doing temperate acts’ given that ‘if men do just and temperate acts, they are [or seem to be] already just and temperate’.15 Aristotle’s solution to this dilemma lies in a distinction (one not shared with the arts) between the internal and external conditions of virtue. The goodness of virtue, in contrast with the goodness of art, requires some addition: the moral agent must also be in a ‘certain condition’ when he acts.16 In short, unlike the arts, virtue requires harmony between the external action and the internal states of an agent (hexis). Thus we might say that while the person learning virtue will do virtuous acts, he or she will only learn to do those virtuous acts virtuously with the practice that comes with real-life experience.17 In exploring the dis-analogy of virtue to the arts, Aristotle also enumerates three other necessary ‘conditions’ of the moral agent: knowledge,18 choice,19 and character.20 In sum, according to these three conditions imposed upon the moral agent, virtue cannot be either accidental, or involuntary, or erratic. It must then be a habit. And here the difference with respect to modern philosophical analysis becomes clear. For Aristotle, habit is not a mere repetition, but an action linked indissolubly to an internal disposition or internal state, which implies at least the consciousness of its realization; an action, thus, whose intrinsic value guarantees that it is done by itself 14 Ibid., 1103a 16–17, p. 3746. 15 Ibid., 1105a 17–20, p. 3752. 16 Ibid., 1105a 28–30, p. 3753. 17 Ibid., 1104a 33–b3, p. 3751. Blaise Pascal refers to a similar strategy in Pensées and Other Writings, trans. by Honor Levi (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), the so-called argument of the ‘necessity of wager’ (Fragment 680, pp. 152–58). He wrote that, in order to believe, the subject needs to act as if he already believed, for the acts or habits in themselves would make him believe (it will change his internal state, which, in turn, will make him attain the desired practice). 18 Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics, 1105a 31, p. 3753. 19 Ibid., 1105a 31–32, p. 3753. 20 Ibid., 1105a 31–b1, p. 3753. 107 3. Habits, Identification and Forms of Life (and not for an end beyond it). The habit from the Aristotelian ethics puts us out of the modern mechanistic biological pattern, which sees in habits an imitation of the automaton. Following Aristotle, then, in this joint treatment of habits and actions, and therefore from a vision that exceeds the mechanistic account, is the starting point of this chapter and its positioning with respect to the subject matter. But still, in both classics and moderns, habits are seen as atomistic or isolated behaviour, with no connection to other habits. So, let us take a step further by reviewing a relevant account in this respect. Recently, a more holistic and comprehensive view of habits has been launched from cognitive science. This view is called enactivism. It was defended for the first time in The Embodied Mind (1991) by Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson and Eleanor Rosch, and it has since then opened a new field of research. In general, they propose an interpretation of cognition that is based on the body: ‘The overall concern is not to determine how some perceiver independent world is to be recovered; it is, rather, to determine the common principles or lawful linkages between sensory and motor systems that explain how action can be perceptually guided in a perceiver-dependent world.’21 Cognition occurs when an organism acts on its environment and that action modifies the point of view from which it is perceived. Enactivism promotes a concept of cognition that is the result of understanding the importance of the activity of the living being (the organism with its particular characteristics, especially its mode of perception) and the environment in which it occurs. Cognition does not presuppose a given world that only later is represented (they refute the concept of representation in cognition), but a type of constructivism, by which cognition is simultaneous to the action on the environment.22 The authors aligned with enactivism see the individual in terms of an organic system made of internal components and functions, which are respectively taken as the whole and its operational parts. There are a few central themes important to underscore in this approach: 1) 21 Richard Menary, ‘What is Radical Enactivism?’, in Radical Enactivism, ed. by Richard Menary (Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Co., 2006), pp. 1–12 (p. 2). 22 Lawrence Shapiro, Embodied Cognition (London and New York: Routledge, 2011), p. 54. 108 Forms of Life and Subjectivity Autonomy: The organic system is autonomous, for it only depends on its internal processes to generate and sustain its identity:23 ‘Autonomous systems are those that are inherently purposeful, in that they generate ends or purposes within themselves in order to maintain themselves.’24 2) Autopoiesis: The organic system produces its own living organization in a metabolic process for which ‘the material components that are constantly being produced sustain that same network that produces them’, that is, its materials are modified constantly but the organization remains.25 The capacity to become a closed system like that is related to what they call operational closure, which, according to Varela, ‘arises through the circular concatenation of processes to constitute an interdependent network’.26 3) Precariousness: This feature of the system makes clear that the individual processes cannot exist without the organizational whole and that, consequently, the metabolic identity of the organic system depends on the internal equilibrium. 4) Adaptivity: This capacity enables an organism to regulate itself in order to couple with its environment, seeking preferable encounters with it and avoiding potential risks: ‘in that way, those situations that contribute to the conservation of its metabolic identity are viewed by the system as “intrinsically good”, while those that challenge its subsistence as “intrinsically bad”’.27 According to this approach, repeated behaviour or habits, understood as regulatory actions performed in order to adapt to an environment (safeguarding their internal balance), form habitual identities or forms of life that organisms strive to sustain. What I am interested in highlighting from this proposal is the understanding that each action is required by the internal balance of the individual’s form of life; that is, the form of life is the organization in which the actions of the individual are accommodated, becoming habitual, that is, habits, to maintain this balance. Enactivism, however, in spite of its important step towards a more comprehensive and accurate description of habits, remains within the 23 Susana Ramírez-Vizcaya and Tom Froese, ‘The Enactive Approach to Habits: New Concepts for the Cognitive Science of Bad Habits and Addiction’, Frontiers in Psychology, 10 (2019), p. 4, 24 Rebekka Hufendiek, Embodied Emotions (London and New York: Routledge, 2016), p. 15. 25 Ramírez-Vizcaya and Froese, ‘The Enactive Approach to Habits’, p. 5. 26 Quoted in ibid., p. 5. 27 Ibid., p. 5. 109 3. Habits, Identification and Forms of Life organic level, referring habits to the living being as isolated from the rest of its species, which, in human beings seems to be essential. That is to say, enactivism remains within the individual sphere. It is not able to go further into the social and cultural level, where habits intertwine with each other in a particular form of life promoted and filtered by what is seen as good or bad, profitable or not for such a community. This same lack in the proposals of enactivism has recently been pointed out by Rebekka Hufendiek, who, although also from an externalist and biological approach, defends the need to think of the individual (organism) embedded in a structured social environment, in which actions and habits in some way do not depend only on the individual and his or her well-being but on what the group establishes as socially regulated behaviour: ‘an ontology that takes organisms to be embedded in a structured environment in which certain things are of value for us and should be approached, while others should be avoided’.28 Thus, by rejecting the presumed automaticity, the habit can be seen again with Aristotle as an action that implies a particular state or condition in the agents, of whom it can be said that they are in a certain way modified by that action and that, therefore, just as enactivism acknowledges, habits define the agents’ identity. However, it happens that agent’s identity, in the cognitive theory, depends exclusively on the individual in relationship with his environment, which can be favourable or dangerous and, therefore, habits would be reinforced or eliminated according to its adaptivity. This way (after all, caught into biology) of understanding the formation of habits and their preservation, does not fail to denounce a serious deficiency, because individuals do not seem to have, to such a degree, either the autonomy or the adaptability that are attributed to them from enactivism. The influence of the social environment, the actions and habits of other individuals as well as a degree of persuasion or constriction from positions of power, are some of the elements that seem to be left aside, because if a subject follows a form of life, being as he is in a social environment, that form of life will be shared and reinforced by the contact and perception of other subjects in that community.29 And what is even more important, this 28 Hufendiek, Embodied Emotions, p. 19. 29 See an account of this necessary relationship of identity between individual and social groups in a recent paper by Daniel Moulin-Stożek, ‘The Social Construction 110 Forms of Life and Subjectivity form of life is not necessarily the best for the subject in isolation, but for the group or community to which he belongs or from which such a form of life emerges. For example, the neoliberal capitalist form of life could be positive for one subject (e.g., a citizen and entrepreneur of a large Western city) and negative or less positive for another (e.g., an under-waged worker in a factory for a Western firm in Indonesia), but such a form of life requires to be implemented by both if the community that is identified with it wants to maintain itself and still integrate even more into it.30 In this sense, we must emphasize that the form of life goes beyond the subject, in the way that, as the subject performs the actions of that form of life, transforming them into habits, he integrates himself more into that life and is more identified with it. This explains why one ends up thinking in the way one lives (thus reducing the possibilities that one would think in a different way). Therefore, the first thing that seems important to point out in this section is the relationship between action and habit. That is, although habits are actions, not all actions are or become habits. Habits are actions that constitute a form of life, that is, a whole. It is, in a first approach, the repetition of certain actions that constitutes a form of life. So, does an isolated action make up a form of life? Only potentially but not integrated yet in it, for an isolated action does not stand for an identification between the agent and the form of life, although it could be the start of building towards that identification. At this point, and having already examined how actions and habits share the same source from which they are generated, and how habits respond to a greater integration in the form of life with respect to actions, it is necessary to emphasize the direct implications that this change of philosophical perception entails in the social and political level, which makes clear the importance of its meaning, especially in the present times. This view implies that habits are interrelated and co-dependent within a network of social behaviour (as stated above by enactivism). So, they cannot be discarded without at the same time of Character’, Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 49:1 (2019), 24–39. 30 For an insight on neoliberal capitalist form of life, see Matthew McDonald, ‘Social Psychology, Consumer Culture and Neoliberal Political Economy’, Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 47:3 (2017), 363–79. See also my analysis of capitalist subjectivity in Chapters 6 and 7 of this book. 111 3. Habits, Identification and Forms of Life discarding the entirety of the form of life to which they belong. That is, a change of habit requires a change in the totality of which it is a part. But that change can only occur if the subjects become aware (in the Sartrean notion of reflective consciousness) that their habits are a product of their free acceptance and not of necessity. That is the sine qua non condition and what I want to draw attention to. A change is possible precisely because habits are not instinctive or mechanical reactions. But neither are they mere isolated actions, without any connection between them and without a guiding principle. The recognition of such freedom and responsibility with respect to the form of life in which the agent is integrated is the inescapable ground without which no change can be expected. And, on the contrary, taking up Sartre’s moral thought, any insistence on the impossibility of an alternative form of life, especially when the demand for change has been experienced, leads to a life lived in bad faith (mauvaise fois).31 3. Habits and Form of Life Harry Frankfurt established in a well-known article the agent as a cause of his actions with regards to a second-order volition.32 That is to say, actions that are carried out because the agent has motives that go back to an identification with what the action represents, so they go beyond a decision about carrying out that specific action. The incompatibilist libertarians defend, on the contrary, that only in decisions taken without any kind of constriction or conditioning motivation, can free will be obtained. Some have followed the criticism made by Gary Watson (1975) to Frankfurt’s notion of second-order volition, alleging an unnecessary reduplication of levels, for a second level cannot explain what it leaves without explaining the first-order volition.33 And in this regard, the 31 Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, trans. by Hazel E. Barnes (New York: Philosophical Library, 1956 [1943]): ‘the one who practices bad faith is hiding a displeasing truth or presenting as truth a pleasing untruth. Bad faith then has in appearance the structure of falsehood. Only what changes everything is the fact that in bad faith it is from myself that I am hiding the truth. Thus the duality of the deceiver and the deceived does not exist here.’ p. 49. In L`être et le néant, ‘c’est que dans la mauvaise foi, c’est à moi-même que je masque la vérité. Ainsi, la dualité du trompeur et du trompé n’existe pas ici.’ p. 83. 32 This is one of the versions of the so-called ‘source argument or principle’. 33 Gary Watson, ‘Free Agency’, Journal of Philosophy, 72:8 (1975), 205–20. 112 Forms of Life and Subjectivity notion of habit defended in this book has something to add. For if habits express a certain need with respect to the form of life and the principle that constitutes it, they nevertheless do not cease to exhibit a certain freedom in the adoption of the form of life that these precise habits demand. That is, the chosen form of life and the constitutive principle with which the agent identifies can be interpreted as Frankfurt’s notion of second-order volition, while the first-order volition is the habitual actions that constitute the particular form of life. If the former is freely chosen (at least insofar as it involves free identification with it, or ‘want to want’), the latter is necessary (it is determined by the first), and more so the more the agent is integrated into the form of life with which he identifies. Against Watson’s critique, then, it can be added that, on the one hand, it is necessary to resort to the form of life to understand how habits are an expression of a free identification of the agent, even if the habits themselves are not free in the incompatibilist sense of being able to do otherwise (the one who identifies with a particular form of life cannot but behave according to it). On the other hand, we must emphasize that in the agent, these two levels (methodologically distinguished) are phenomenologically only one, that is, the agent maintains his habits precisely because they constitute his form of life. The latter clearly expresses that the perspective taken in this section concerning habits, as a conscious, rational and free behaviour, is situated within the compatibilist position. That is to say, habits present us with a behaviour that is both free and necessary: the form of life with which the agent freely identifies requires a series of habits, which if they are necessary as constitutive of a form of life, are, nevertheless, the expression of a freely accepted commitment. My habits define me, and I define my habits by identifying myself with a particular form of life. The latter leads us to a somewhat more detailed analysis of the characteristics that habits share with actions, as it has been analyzed traditionally and, in particular, in the philosophy of action: consciousness, free will or intentions and rationality. As Pollard writes: Habitual actions do not fit comfortably into contemporary philosophical conceptions of action, or not at least in analytic philosophy. Under the influence of Anscombe (1957) and Davidson (1980), debate has focused on the nature of intentional actions; on issues such as the role of the 113 3. Habits, Identification and Forms of Life reasons ‘for which’ we act; and on the nature of psychological antecedents of actions such as beliefs, desires, and intentions.34 In the first place, to be conscious does not necessarily mean to reason, that is, calculation of means for ends. Consciousness has two dimensions: a reflective consciousness and a pre-reflective or non- positional consciousness, where the former is impossible without the latter, as Sartre insisted.35 This distinction between consciousness of different orders is also confirmed by the cognitive science, which uses respectively the terms high-powered sense of self-conscious or self- reflective agency and rationality, and, on the other hand, lower-powered sense of conscious pre-reflective intentional agency and desire-based volition: The crucial point here is that self-consciousness or self-reflection requires pre-reflectively conscious sensorimotor subjectivity, but pre-reflectively conscious sensorimotor subjectivity does not require self-consciousness or self-reflection.36 Being aware of something presupposes as a background a passive consciousness on which one focuses. When we act, we focus only on those moments that are required, but deep down the non-positional consciousness continues to guide our behaviour. For example, when we dress or wash ourselves, a repetitive action gives us a certain capacity, so we do not need to constantly look at what our hands do, which does not mean that we are not aware of what we are doing; we only focus when we do not find the sleeve of the sweater or we do not succeed in buttoning our shirt. This consciousness is precisely the one that assures the identification between the agent and his behaviour. If it were automatic, the agent would not conceive certain habits as belonging to his idiosyncrasy. This conception of human action as conscious, even in relation to habits, surpasses the dualism between action and habit, as well as between mind and body, because the agent is a consciousness that acts in the world, and that consciousness is indissoluble from its action. 34 Pollard, ‘Habitual Actions’, pp. 74–75. 35 See Chapter 1 of this book. 36 Robert Hanna and Michelle Maiese, Embodied Minds in Action (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 32.