Tony Bennett is Emeritus Professor at the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University and Honorary Professor in the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University. Among his many books are
Unwilled Habits: Descending Pathways
This chapter examines the significance of a range of new actors associated with nineteenth-century developments in physiology and psychology—the reflex arc and instincts, for example—in reworking the conceptions of mind-body relations that had informed John Locke's account of the role played by habit in the development of self-governing liberal subjects. Interpreting habit's repetitions as operating through the channels they inscribed in the body's nervous and neurological systems, these developments reworked earlier understandings of the relations between habit and the will. In disconnecting particular habits from their earlier associations with willed acts, these developments gave rise to a conception of “unwilled” habits applied to various addictions. This gave rise to efforts to buttress the will to counter the debilitating force of such habits as well as new forms of action on urban milieus designed to counter their effects on the urban poor and the threat of degeneration they engendered.