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    Thread: Is habit stronger than reason?

    1. #1
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      Is habit stronger than reason?

      The question is quite simple, but very complex.

      Is Habit stronger than Reason?

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      I say yes.

      When I was a child, I used to suck my thumb all the time. As I grew up, I realized how "baby-like" and generally bad for my health it was. Of course, that didn't make it any easier to stop. It simply gave me reason to.

      It's not like it was a drug or anything addictive. It was just my thumb. And I only did it out of habit.
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      Stronger is a vague word. There are many different contexts and both are important.

      Habit could also be called tradition, and there's a balancing act between tradition, reason and imagination. Lacking any of the three leaves the entity (be it a person, organism or society) vulnerable in some way.

      Too much tradition leads to stagnation, too much imagination leads to instability. Reason acts as a filter between the two so one is not forced to act upon completely random and senseless mutations. However in essence reason can be defined on both sides. For instance in our society irrational traditions have lost their ground in academia, and therefore in most circles (aside from american and middle-eastern politics) the traditions are based upon reason, but this change first came about because people thought for themselves and imagined other possibilities, finding new methods to determine action other than purely dogmatic ones.

      Actions is essentially what it comes down to. One can base their decisions upon tradition or they can experiment. Thanks to science, most traditional action is favored by statistical advantage, however the result still remains uncertain. One can use logic to find the most statistically advantageous action, but not to predict the result.

      Essentially it's unwise to follow someone's advice who is not living a lifestyle you desire. Even if that advice appears logical, you still want role-models in your life who are successful, in whatever way you see success.

      Speaking from a the perspective of neuroscience, habit is also extremely important, for learning something once doesn't make you any better at practicing it. An old kung fu saying is "I'm not afraid of the man that knows 1,000 moves and practiced them all once, I'm afraid of the man that knows one move and practiced it 1,000 times."

      To learn something once, you create a connection in your brain. To practice something over and over again, you become capable of actually utilizing it. There are four levels of comprehension. The first is unconscious incompetence, where you don't know about something and don't know how to do it. This is the stage of a concept before you've ever heard of it. Then there's conscious incompetence, where you begin to recognize there's something you don't know. Then there's conscious competence, where you can practice something but have to think every step. Then there's unconscious competence, where the whole act becomes automatic.

      Using reason may enable you to determine the best action, but you won't be very proficient at the skill itself if you cannot practice it. However practicing shit without reason lead you to possibly practicing it wrong, and becoming unconsciously competent at doing something the wrong way.

      My favorite example of showing people how they're too locked into the wrong side of the scale is approaching females. How easy is it to use reason to decide its not worth it to approach a girl? she probably has a boyfriend, she won't like me anyways, she has small tits anyways, She's just an 8, I'd hit on a 10, etc... People excuse themselves from action and therefore excuse themselves from obtaining mastery of the skill. That's why I like the quote, "If your attitude's right, the facts don't matter." Because it's true. The desire you want is 99.999% more important than the question of how you're going to obtain it. Getting caught up too much in the pragmatic side of things only breeds doubt and people tend to backwards rationalize decisions to ignore the fact that they're just plain fearful of negative results. Reason is good to determine what you want and why you want it, but it's almost completely useless when figuring how you'll get it because you can only see .01% of all the variables at work.

      This is why reason is such a worthless concept when related to determining objective truth. We're just not that smart and it's arrogant to say we know jack shit for certain. In the end it comes back to action, and action is about grasping at whatever you desire. If you ask Thomas Edison how he had the stubbornness to fail so many hundreds of times at making a lightbulb he'd tell you he never failed once, he only figured out hundreds of ways not to build a lightbulb.

      There's a shitload more I could say, related to experiential and conceptual reality, and how conceptual reality =/= experiential reality which is why I say the only real two actions are tradition and and imagination as you can essentially either cling to an action you conceive as being lower risk, or you can try something new. When the rubber hits the road, the fact is logically sound methods can't always compete against sheer, intangible brilliance and creativity. But if there is substantial risk from failure, sometimes it's better to play the odds.
      Last edited by Omnis Dei; 04-18-2012 at 03:22 AM.
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      not inherently. I have reasoned myself out of habits. I have been unable to reason myself out of habits.
      there's a lot of factors that aren't being accounted for.
      assuming Indeed doesn't still suck his thumb, what stopped him from continuing it? apparently not reason, but something did.
      do you mind telling us how you got over it?
      once we have that answer, does that sway the argument one way or another?
      there's probably a different answer for each person.
      but overall this is a bad thread.
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      If you're just doing things without realising it, then yes. Unless you realised your so-called "habit" is hurting you, otherwise there's not much reason to stop.

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      I think in most cases reason is stronger, or at the least they coexist. When a habit is stronger than reason doesnt that usually make it an addiction?
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      No, because you may have an habit which you are unaware. In that case reason is not present therefore habit is stronger and it isn't necessarily an addiction.

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      What do you mean is it stronger - does it have greater motivation, impulse, urge than reason? What are you trying to say?

      If I were to smoke a cigarette through habit even though I know through reason it is killing me, is this a ground for habit being stronger than reason?

      Trying to grasp what you mean.

      Who looks outside, dreams;
      who looks inside, awakes.

      - Carl Jung

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      I said that the complexity of the question is quite big. What do you think it means by "stronger"? Just give your opinions on what YOU think. Maybe we can get a whole different conception if you can explain what are your thoughts.

      Anyways I took this question from a site.

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      Yeah, then I ask you: what is you conception of stronger? I wanna know YOUR opinion and interpretation of the question.

      I personally can't make heads nor tails of the question unless reason is replaced by will power.

      Who looks outside, dreams;
      who looks inside, awakes.

      - Carl Jung

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      I don't think either habit or reason (assuming this means conscious change of habit) are inherently stronger than the other. Either can win over the other and produce their proceeding action. However, habit is a pretty strong thing, you don't even have to be aware that you have one. Conversely, a strong enough will to break a habit isn't usually too easy to get.
      Last edited by Wayfaerer; 05-04-2012 at 01:29 AM.
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      Yeah, it's not an either/or - whether one is stronger than the other is contingent upon the scenario and surrounding variables.
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      who looks inside, awakes.

      - Carl Jung

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      Sometimes.
      157 is a prime number. The next prime is 163 and the previous prime is 151, which with 157 form a sexy prime triplet. Taking the arithmetic mean of those primes yields 157, thus it is a balanced prime.

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      I think a more interesting question is, "when is habit stronger than the desire to change the habit?"

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      Reason is much stronger than habit. With reason we can identify the problem, thus winning a part of the battle. If we then focus on changing it and program our minds we can break the habit.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Name View Post
      Reason is much stronger than habit. With reason we can identify the problem, thus winning a part of the battle. If we then focus on changing it and program our minds we can break the habit.
      How many times have I thought "I should really stop doing this" or "I should really start doing this" and then never do? Reason is not stronger than habit. One must persevere. One's neural pathways are still set to the old pattern, and do not change instantly just because they learn something new. They must persevere to change their neural patterns by using habit.

      That sounds like a job for future me!

      (Dammit future me)
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      Yep, and be glad that our neural pathways don't change immediately from thought alteration.... if they did, our minds would be in utter turmoil. Hence why mantras and positive affirmations are necessarily repeated innumerous times.

      Who looks outside, dreams;
      who looks inside, awakes.

      - Carl Jung

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      "An old dog can't learn new tricks."

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      Quote Originally Posted by Wolfwood View Post
      What do you mean is it stronger - does it have greater motivation, impulse, urge than reason? What are you trying to say?

      If I were to smoke a cigarette through habit even though I know through reason it is killing me, is this a ground for habit being stronger than reason?

      Trying to grasp what you mean.
      First thing to pop into my mind was also smoking.
      I've tried to stop and I have failed, therefor habit seemed to be stronger than reason, as smoking is unhealthy.
      Then again, there's nicotine, and I can't tell if nicotine falls under the category of habit or reason.

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      Habit is a reason. Addiction is a reason. What.
      Abraxas

      Quote Originally Posted by OldSparta
      I murdered someone, there was bloody everywhere. On the walls, on my hands. The air smelled metallic, like iron. My mouth... tasted metallic, like iron. The floor was metallic, probably iron

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      How?

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      On their own, good, logical or rational reasons to stop something are useless unless they're backed with strong willpower. And yet strong willpower does not necessitate good, logical reasons to beat habit.

      Who looks outside, dreams;
      who looks inside, awakes.

      - Carl Jung

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      I can't speak for everyone/everything... but speaking for myself... yes.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Omnis Dei View Post
      How?
      rea·son/ˈrēzən/
      Noun:
      A cause, explanation, or justification for an action or event.

      I am addicted to cigarettes. I need them to function properly, and that makes me addicted. It is the cause of my smoking behavior.

      I have the habit of chewing my nails. Something in my mind is buzzing around (perhaps it is comforting and I'm unaware of it) that propagates the habit (otherwise, I wouldn't have the habit!). The habit is self-reinforcing.


      Now if you're asking about

      reason
      Verb:
      Think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic... Well, there's logic to satisfying addictions as well as habits, and you can see that from the above. Maybe they aren't the best judgments, in the long term, but they're still judgments obtained from logic. I guess the case could be made for habits whose reinforcement is unconscious, however your mind is still reasoning toward the habit ("I am part of the unconscious. I like things that are good for the body. This habit alleviates stress, and is good for the body. I should continue this habit." Only the unconscious isn't using words, since it's not your, uh, conscious.). Alternatively, you could say the conscious logic behind habits, i.e. why we don't stop a habit, is due to tradition, for instance. That's a premise upon which to form a judgment, although certainly not a sound one.

      Now if you're talking 'reason' as in 'common sense,' as in, 'sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts,' then we have a split. If we're talking about what's sound and practical in the short term, then habits and addictions still conform to reason. It's sound to smoke a cigarette to sate an addiction. In the long term, however, it's not sound to smoke cigarettes, since it leads to lung cancer.

      So the real title of this thread should be something like, "Do we more often seek short term benefits at the cost of long term benefits?", otherwise the semantics render the thread meaningless. But that's a yes or no question (as OP's thread is a yes or no question), and I'd change it to "Why do we so often seek short term benefits at the cost of long term benefits?"

      but whatevs.
      Last edited by Abra; 05-24-2012 at 07:21 AM. Reason: typoooo
      Abraxas

      Quote Originally Posted by OldSparta
      I murdered someone, there was bloody everywhere. On the walls, on my hands. The air smelled metallic, like iron. My mouth... tasted metallic, like iron. The floor was metallic, probably iron

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      I agree to some extent that when it comes to performing a habit we have already reasoned we should not, we use backwards rationalization in order to excuse ourselves. Women, when becoming sexually attracted to a man who's picking them up, backwards rationalize why they're attracted to them instead of realizing he simply turned on all their attraction switches. When smoking a cigarette after thinking one should quit, a person backwards rationalizes that a single cigarette more won't end the world and they can partake one more time.

      But I think this only reinforces the fact that habit is stronger than reason, and that very often, reason is a result of habit, but the two are not the same. That's why I used the term backwards rationalization, which can also be known as confirmation bias in different topics. One has an innately illogical need, desire, impulse or reaction, these feelings are often caused by conditions the person refuses or is unable to be consciously aware of and thus reason through. But it remains there, and because it remains unconscious, their thoughts are colored in a way to justify it.

      Because of this, you cannot reason with habit. The conditions of the habit are hidden away. They can only be dealt with through careful, nonjudgmental investigation of the sensation of impulse which resides before the habit itself. This investigation cannot be a logical one, because logic will side with the impulse whenever it can. And even if we logically conclude for a minute that we should not give in to the impulse, this is a transitory conclusion that does not properly address the impulse.

      The only way to really address the impulse is to sit with the flow of it. All things arise, dance and cease, and the feelings within us are no exception. By sitting with and persevering through the impulse, while neither condoning nor condemning it, but accepting that it is, we have the power to reveal its cause and then address that.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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