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Character

 
 
coberst
 
Reply Wed 26 Oct, 2005 06:31 am
One significant advantage engineering, physics and much of the natural sciences has is that they speak in mathematical terms. The individuals often speak in formulas or mathematical verbiage that is clear and concise and understandable by all the members. The use of every day words like habit can be confusing because of a lack of clarity. One might also think of attitude as a proper way to describe what I call habit.

What is character? Character is the network of habits that permeate all the intentional acts of an individual.

My understanding of character and the quotations that follow concerning the nature of character are taken from "Habits and Will" by John Dewey http://www.alexandercenter.com/jd/johndeweyhabits.html.

I am not using the word habit in the way we often do, as a technical ability existing apart from our wishes. These habits are an intimate and fundamental part of our selves. They are representations of our will. They rule our will, working in a coordinated way they dominate our way of acting. These habits are the results of repeated, intelligently controlled, actions.

Habits also control the formation of ideas as well as physical actions. We cannot perform a correct action or a correct idea without having already formed correct habits. "Reason pure of all influence from prior habit is a fiction." "The medium of habit filters all material that reaches our perception and thought." "Immediate, seemingly instinctive, feeling of the direction and end of various lines of behavior is in reality the feeling of habits working below direct consciousness." "Habit means special sensitiveness or accessibility to certain classes of stimuli, standing predilections and aversions, rather than bare recurrence of specific acts. It means will."

We display an attitude toward most any subject. An attitude cannot be described explicitly but is a notion, which is an inference, based upon behavior. We are all inclined to behave consistently to a situation and this behavior is attributed to our attitude. Our attitudes can be observed by others and the quality of such attitudes are judged based on observed behavior.

Britannica specifies that attitude is "a predisposition to classify objects and events and to react to them with some degree of evaluative consistency."

If I consult my inner self I cannot focus upon an attitude but can infer such an attitude based on behavior. If I wish to become conscious of my intuition I can through observation of behavior describe the attitude, which, in turn, allows me to ascertain the nature of my intuition.

When a mother tells her son "you must change your attitude". The son cannot change the attitude directly but the son must change his intuition from which the inferred attitude emanates. This does become a bit convoluted but in essence when we wish to change an attitude we are saying that our intuition must be modified.

"Were it not for the continued operation of all habits in every act, no such thing as character would exist. There would be simply a bundle, an untied bundle at that, of isolated acts. Character is the interpenetrating of habits. If each habit in an insulated compartment and operated without affecting or being affected by others, character would not exist. That is conduct would lack unity being only juxtaposition of disconnected reactions to separated situations. But since environments overlap, since situations are continuous and those remote from one another contain like elements, a continuous modification of habits by one another is constantly going on."
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