Skip to main content

Prophetic Peirce - how we can change habits with body and mind

Charles Sanders Peirce: … the event that causes a habit-change may be a muscular effort, apparently. If I wish to acquire the habit of speaking of "speaking, writing, thinking," etc., instead of "speakin', writin', thinkin'," as I suspect I now do (though I am not sure) -- all I have to do is to make the desired enunciations a good many times; and to do this as thoughtlessly as possible, since it is an inattentive habit that I am trying to create. Everybody knows the facility with which habits may thus be acquired, even quite unintentionally. But I am persuaded that nothing like a concept can be acquired by muscular practice alone. When we seem to do that, it is not the muscular action but the accompanying inward efforts, the acts of imagination, that produce the habit. If a person who has never tried such a thing before undertakes to stand on one foot and to move the other round a horizontal circle, say, as being the easier way, clockwise if he is standing on the left foot, or counter-clockwise if he is standing on the right foot, and at the same time to move the fist of the same side as the moving foot round a horizontal circle in the opposite direction, that is, clockwise if the foot is moved counter-clockwise, and vice versa, he will, at first, find he cannot do it. The difficulty is that he lacks a unitary concept of the series of efforts that success requires. By practising the different parts of the movement, while attentively observing the kind of effort requisite in each part, he will, in a few minutes, catch the idea, and will then be able to perform the movements with perfect facility. But the proof that it is in no degree the muscular efforts, but only the efforts of the imagination that have been his teachers, is that if he does not perform the actual motions, but only imagines them vividly, he will acquire the same trick with only so much additional practice as is accounted for by the difficulty of imagining all the efforts that will have to be made in a movement one has not actually executed. There is an obvious difficulty of determining just how much allowance should be made for this, in the fact [that] when the feat is learned in either way, it cannot be unlearned, so as to compare that way with the other. The only resort is to learn a considerable number of feats which depend upon acquiring a unitary conception of a series of efforts, learning some with actual muscular exercise and others by unaided imagination, and then forming one's judgment of whether the greater facility afforded by the actual muscular contractions is, or is not, greater than the support this gives the imagination. …It is from such experiments that I have been led to estimate as nil the power of mere muscular effort in contributing to the acquisition of ideas. CP 5.479

Cap tip Dennis

Stephen's Remarkable Kindle Store 

Follow Me on Pinterest

Popular posts from this blog


"Sto Perigiali" One of the Surpassingly Best Tunes Theodorakis Has Written

A Setting for a Poem "Denial" Beloved by the Greek People by the Nobel Prize Winning Poet Giorgos Seferis
The remarkable video at the link above is of a performance of "Sto perigiali" Mario Frangoulis and Mikis Theodorakis in 2001.

Frangoulis and Theodorakis are joined by musicians, including two bouzouki players, and a very large audience that is completely familiar with the words. The audience joins in at Frangoulis' prompt.

This is my very favorite Theodorakis melody. Those who know Theodorakis only for his "Zorba" music are in for a treat. When I was in Athens in 1966, for a short period of study with Constantinos Doxiadis, I knew nothing of Theodorakis. But about five years later, my friend Irene Vassos sang "Sto perigiali" to us. I have never gotten the tune out of my mind.

Later, when Irene joined our group to form a travelling company performing "New Rain", I learned to pick out a …

Obama Ads Should Be Grass Roots Cinema Verite

ShortFormContent at Blogger: How President Obama Can Win Christian Conservatives:

'via Blog this'

To counter the invidious efforts of Karl Rove and the Brothers Koch, simple videos of everyday people expressing gratitude for specific results from specific things that the President has achieved will create a signature response that will turn the tables on the Super PACs.

There could be an intro that flags lies distortions and anonymous attacks as unreal and even criminal and a cut to what is real, recognizable and not anonymous I am (name). I have lived here in (name) for (time). Thanks to (President Obama's (name) Act ... and so forth for ten seconds. Close with a continuation of the story narrated over evocative images and simple acoustic music.

This would be a fantastic way to counter the attacks on the President. For every specific attack, a video that shows the truth. And grass roots people who intend to vote for the President.

Charles Sanders Peirce - Thinking in Three…