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zyphex
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#11
11-05-2013
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After your last post, it seems that, if we are to see if these concepts run against each other, we must find out what the word consciousness means in the way Bourdieu uses it. If it is different from Mises, it seems their concepts may be compatible. If Bourdieu means consciousness in the same way Mises does, these theories may conflict based on this statement:

Quote:
rejection of mechanistic theories in no way implies that [. . .] we should reduce the objective intentions and constituted significations of actions and works to the conscious and deliberate intentions of their authors
.

My first thought is that they mean different things by consciousness. Mises's definition of consciousness seems to reduce to "not reflexes or involuntary responses of the body's cells and nerves to stimuli." So, as it seems to me, action in accordance with habitus would be conscious in the Misesian meaning of the word because it is obviously not a reflex or involuntary response of the body's cells, because if it were, then there would be no way to act against habitus.

After you get a chance to perhaps read through some of the excerpts I posted above, I'd like to know what you think, because I think this issue really boils down to what is meant by "conscious." (or equivalently what is meant by unconscious and its relation to subconscious).

Your last post really helps in focusing in on the issue I think. Thanks!
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#12
11-07-2013
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i apologize and i'm sorry for being such a truant interlocutor here in my own thread (and for not matching the effort you've put into your posts)

i've a couple more papers to finish before next week, but then i should have sufficient time to respond before i'm back on the treadmill again

i'll just say really quick, i really appreciate your latest post (not so much the one before it wherein you for example mistake what i was meaning to say in that whole bit about advertising), and i think we're getting somewhere now; the debate is really an ontological one-- exciting!

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#13
12-27-2013
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zyphex, the part of the OP i'd like for you to concentrate on and respond to-- if you would-- is the part wherein i say the agents-seeking-Capital (my words not Bourdieu's)'s very "self" is constituted in and through habitus. i.e. in and through the way they are disciplined and learn to seek after Capital(s). (i.e. how they come to discipline their-selves.)

i think this is where mises and bourdieu's ideas of agency and consciousness most obviously differ


bear in mind the whole
Quote:
These dispositions are “objectively ‘regulated’ and ‘regular’ without in any way being the product of obedience to rules, objectively adapted to their goals without presupposing a conscious aiming at ends” (Outline 72). Habit, our everyday activity, is therefore the product of a “scheme (or principle) immanent in practice, which [. . .] exists in a practical state in agents’ practice and not in their consciousness, or rather, their discourse"
bit

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#14
01-06-2014
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From the article that contains what you quoted in your last post:

Quote:
Habitus is an attitude of the body. It is the unspoken, unspeakable, feel for the social game that generates the positions and actions that agents adopt in given situations, in regular if not fully predictable ways. In short, because it is immanent, habitus is both embedded, and so structured; and it is also generative, an immediate rather than external motor of action.
This statement indicates that habitus determines the actions that man takes, i.e. determines the ends that man seeks. Man does not consciously choose his ends. Rather, these ends, these things which man values, are determined by all that habitus implies. Even the means sought by man to attain his ends are in some way shaped by habitus.

This is all fair enough. As stated earlier, Mises explicitly grants this as valid:

Spoiler!


Mises' definition of human action:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mises
Human action is purposeful behavior. Or we may say: Action is will put into operation and transformed into an agency, is aiming at ends and goals, is the ego's meaningful response to stimuli and to the conditions of its environment, is a person's conscious adjustment to the state of the universe that determines his life.... Conscious or purposeful behavior is in sharp contrast to unconscious behavior, i.e., the reflexes and the involuntary responses of the body's cells and nerves to stimuli.
So what is human action? It is choosing means (and the means may be chosen under the influence of habitus) in order to attain a valued end (and why the end is valued is due to habitus). Action is conscious in the sense that it aims at a purpose; it is not pointless behavior or an instinctive reflex. During an action, another man could ask the actor "what is your purpose behind doing that?" and the actor could contemplate and respond. Whether or not you think the terms "conscious behavior" and "unconscious behavior" should be used to separate purposeful behavior (action) from " reflexes and the involuntary responses of the body's cells and nerves to stimuli" is a semantic dispute. Mises does state that he uses conscious and unconscious differently from how a psychoanalyst would, and feels he is justified since he is using the word "conscious" in a different field of study:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mises
The term "unconscious" as used by praxeology and the terms "subconscious" and "unconscious" as applied by psychoanalysis belong to two different systems of thought and research.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PM View Post
zyphex, the part of the OP i'd like for you to concentrate on and respond to-- if you would-- is the part wherein i say the agents-seeking-Capital (my words not Bourdieu's)'s very "self" is constituted in and through habitus. i.e. in and through the way they are disciplined and learn to seek after Capital(s). (i.e. how they come to discipline their-selves.)

i think this is where mises and bourdieu's ideas of agency and consciousness most obviously differ


bear in mind the whole

Quote:
These dispositions are “objectively ‘regulated’ and ‘regular’ without in any way being the product of obedience to rules, objectively adapted to their goals without presupposing a conscious aiming at ends” (Outline 72). Habit, our everyday activity, is therefore the product of a “scheme (or principle) immanent in practice, which [. . .] exists in a practical state in agents’ practice and not in their consciousness, or rather, their discourse"
bit

The bolded quote is a little tricky to understand, but it seems apparent he is using the more popular psychological, and not Mises' praxeological, definition of "conscious." The whole notion of a "goal" presupposes an aiming at ends, but in the psychological terminology it does not presuppose a conscious aiming at ends. In Mises' praxeological terminology, however, there appears to be no distinction between "an aiming at ends" and "a conscious aiming at ends" because he has so defined the word conscious to simply mean purposeful, and purpose presupposes an end to be aimed at. Mises views habits as purposeful , and so they are conscious, whereas for Bourdieu there is no direct connection between "purposeful" and "conscious."

So I do think that quote does indeed capture the fact that there is a difference is Mises' notion of "conscious" and Bourdieu's notion of "conscious." This corresponds to the word being used and defined in different ways in two separate fields of thought, praxeology and psychology (thymology).

And to me, this shows that there is not an inherent contradiction between Bourdieu's theory of habitus and Mises' theory of praxeology. Reading the OP, I do not find anything that alters this view, keeping mind of the different uses of terminology.
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#15
01-06-2014
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How much of human activity is truly conscious and purposeful, and what more does Mises say about the unconscious habits and actions whose effects we may not welcome/be aware of?
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#16
01-06-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davobrosia View Post
How much of human activity is truly conscious and purposeful
I'm not sure how to answer "how much" in any precise manner besides saying that any goal-directed behavior (no matter how insignificant the goal) is purposeful. Certainly us typing to each other in this thread is purposeful action, so we know at least such action exists. But I don't think there is any way to quantify "how much" of human behavior is purposeful. But perhaps it at least should be noted again that Mises considers any behavior that cannot be described as "reflexes and the involuntary responses of the body's cells and nerves to stimuli" to be purposeful. Habits being purposeful as well, for when a man finds that his habitual ways of acting are hindering his attainment of a more desired end, he will break the habit (assuming he finds that the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs).


(Just a note: I believe Mises starts using the language of conscious vs. unconscious because we can see that there are biological purposes behind reflexes of the body; however, he is just opening up another can of terminological worms by not just sticking with purposeful vs. nonpurposeful)

Quote:
Originally Posted by davobrosia
and what more does Mises say about the unconscious habits and actions whose effects we may not welcome/be aware of?
I don't know whether he speaks much on this topic because his interest isn't predominantly psychology, and you must be referring to the psychological meaning of unconscious since the notion of "unconscious habit" or "unconscious action" has no meaning in Mises' praxeological terminology.

I think this piece is relevant, particularly the bolded paragraph. I posted the rest of it just for context and since it shows how he is defining his terms.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mises,Human Action, pp. 11 -13
Human action is purposeful behavior. Or we may say: Action is will put into operation and transformed into an agency, is aiming at ends and goals, is the ego's meaningful response to stimuli and to the conditions of its environment, is a person's conscious adjustment to the state of the universe that determines his life. Such paraphrases may clarify the definition given and prevent possible misinterpretations. But the definition itself is adequate and does not need complement of commentary.

Conscious or purposeful behavior is in sharp contrast to unconscious behavior, i.e., the reflexes and the involuntary responses of the body's cells and nerves to stimuli. (zyphex: read that last sentence as a definition, and not as a conclusion!) People are sometimes prepared to believe that the boundaries between conscious behavior and the involuntary reaction of the forces operating within man's body are more or less indefinite. This is correct only as far as it is sometimes not easy to establish whether concrete behavior is to be considered voluntary or involuntary. But the distinction between consciousness and unconsciousness is nonetheless sharp and can be clearly determined.

The unconscious behavior of the bodily organs and cells is for the acting ego no less a datum than any other fact of the external world. Acting man must take into account all that goes on within his own body as well as other data, e.g., the weather or the attitudes of his neighbors. There is, of course, a margin within which purposeful behavior has the power to neutralize the working of bodily factors. It is feasible within certain limits to get the body under control. Man can sometimes succeed through the power of his will in overcoming sickness, in compensating for the innate or acquired insufficiency of his physical constitution, or in suppressing reflexes. As far as this is possible, the field of purposeful action is extended. If a man abstains from controlling the involuntary reaction of cells and nerve centers, although he would be in a position to do so, his behavior is from our point of view purposeful. (zyphex: "from our point of view" = from the praxeological point of view using the praxeological definition of conscious)


The field of our science is human action, not the psychological [p. 12] events which result in an action. It is precisely this which distinguishes the general theory of human action, praxeology, from psychology. The theme of psychology is the internal events that result or can result in a definite action. The theme of praxeology is action as such. This also settles the relation of praxeology to the psychoanalytical concept of the subconscious. Psychoanalysis too is psychology and does not investigate action but the forces and factors that impel a man toward a definite action. The psychoanalytical subconscious is a psychological and not a praxeological category. Whether an action stems from clear deliberation, or from forgotten memories and suppressed desires which from submerged regions, as it were, direct the will, does not influence the nature of the action. The murderer whom a subconscious urge (the Id) drives toward his crime and the neurotic whose aberrant behavior seems to be simply meaningless to an untrained observer both act; they like anybody else are aiming at certain ends. It is the merit of psychoanalysis that it has demonstrated that even the behavior of neurotics and psychopaths is meaningful, that they too act and aim at ends, although we who consider ourselves normal and sane call the reasoning determining their choice of ends nonsensical and the means they choose for the attainment of these ends contrary to purpose.

The term "unconscious" as used by praxeology and the terms "subconscious" and "unconscious" as applied by psychoanalysis belong to two different systems of thought and research.
Praxeology no less than other branches of knowledge owes much to psychoanalysis. The more necessary is it then to become aware of the line which separates praxeology from psychoanalysis.
Here are my general feelings as to the topic we are discussing:

Mises is defining terms for praxeology. Some of the terms he uses already have well-established definitions is another field of thought (psychology); cognizant of this, Mises explicitly states that he is defining consciousness for a separate field of thought, and that he does not mean that all action is conscious behavior from a psychological standpoint.

What seems to be the issue is that we are seeing that, from a psychological standpoint, not all action is conscious. However, we see statements by Mises which state that all behavior that is not an instinctive reflex is necessarily conscious. So we are driven to question him on habits and other conduct, which from the psychological point of view, are not conscious.

But this is a pointless investigation. Why? Because Mises is not making a psychological claim and is not using the psychological meaning associated with the term "conscious." He is defining the term for praxeology. We can question his choice of words, the usefulness of the definition, but we can't say that Mises is "wrong" or "right" in calling all action conscious....he has so defined the word such that "conscious" describes any behavior other than "reflexes and the involuntary responses of the body's cells and nerves to stimuli!" So when Mises says things which reduce to "All human behavior that is not attributable to reflexes and the involuntary responses of the body's cells and nerves to stimuli is conscious," he is not announcing a shocking (and incorrect) psychological conclusion. He is announcing a definition for the word as he will use it in the course of his praxeological treatise.

This is why I do not see a contradiction between Bourdieu saying "most action is unconscious behavior" (<<< a psychological conclusion) and Mises saying "all action is conscious behavior" (<<< a definition). The contradiction is apparent, but not real. To see a contradiction, one must equivocate the psychological meaning of "conscious" (which Bourdieu uses) and the praxeological meaning of "conscious" (which Mises defines and uses).
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Last edited by zyphex; 01-06-2014 at 11:03 AM.
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#17
01-06-2014
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Then I'm questioning the usefulness of the definition, I guess, because there are certainly things we do that we aren't cognizant and aware of--there's no will or intentionality in them--but yet nonetheless still greatly influence human life, activity, interaction, etc. I guess I don't think they should be secondary in a description of behavior or activity (e.g. economic activity), but it seems that to Mises the unconscious is subordinate to the conscious?

Like,
Quote:
Whether an action stems from clear deliberation, or from forgotten memories and suppressed desires which from submerged regions, as it were, direct the will, does not influence the nature of the action. The murderer whom a subconscious urge (the Id) drives toward his crime and the neurotic whose aberrant behavior seems to be simply meaningless to an untrained observer both act; they like anybody else are aiming at certain ends.
This just seems to contradict
Quote:
Human action is purposeful behavior. Or we may say: Action is will put into operation and transformed into an agency
to me, because it requires an action to be teleological.
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#18
01-06-2014
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Note: I will use the psychological meaning of conscious and unconscious in this post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by davobrosia View Post
Then I'm questioning the usefulness of the definition, I guess, because there are certainly things we do that we aren't cognizant and aware of--there's no will or intentionality in them--but yet nonetheless still greatly influence human life, activity, interaction, etc.
Sure, but cannot the satisfaction of an unconscious urge be a goal of action? It is quite clear that when one interprets an action of another as the result of an unconscious urge, one is necessarily assuming the behavior had a purpose or telos, namely the satisfaction of a subconscious urge.

Certainly, it is nonsensical to say that the actor deliberated and decided to act according to an unconscious urge. And economics makes no claim that man only acts after a clear-headed deliberation of all possibilities.
A man knowing the purpose of his own action and there existing a purpose behind a man's action are two separate things.

When one acts to satisfy an unconscious urge, we can say that the value associated with the satisfaction of the unconscious urge was greater than the value associated with doing anything else in that moment of time. We do not assume that the person understands the purpose behind their action, just like we don't assume people understand why they value the things they do. However, what we know is that they value, and in acting they choose that which they value more over alternatives which they value less.

(If you will let me make a perhaps less tenable argument in continuation: And in satisfying an unconscious urge, they have implicitly decided to forgo many other conscious goals they could have pursued alternatively. Something impelled them to give way to these urges rather than pursue some other goal. Is the will totally absent in the process whereby conscious ends are pushed aside in favor of yielding to an unconscious urge? In any case, I'm only asking this part because, depending on what we mean by will, I may be willing to admit that Mises definition stating "Action is will put into operation and transformed into an agency" is not as general as his other definition that "Action is purposeful behavior".)

Last thing:

Quote:
Originally Posted by davobrosia
I guess I don't think they should be secondary in a description of behavior or activity (e.g. economic activity), but it seems that to Mises the unconscious is subordinate to the conscious?
I think this is a misconception. Mises is not saying anything about whether conscious or unconscious activity plays a bigger role in a description of activity (assuming we are talking about the psychological meaning of these terms). Rather, he is saying that no matter if the action is conscious or unconscious in the psychological sense, it has the same praxeological character. The action still has a purpose or goal, whether or not the actor is cognizant of the true purpose of the action. In any case, the purpose behind that action was, at the point in time that it was carried out, more valued than alternative actions possible in that same span of time. etc. etc.

Farther down the line, it becomes a little clearer that the psychology of the actor does not matter for economic theory. If a group of consumers all of the sudden demand more of a good at each possible price because of an unconscious urge, or if they demand more of the same good at each possible price because of some conscious reason, this matters not on the effect it will have in the market place. This represents an increase in the market demand in either case and, other things being equal, the price in the market will increase. The price change is not dependent on the reasons why people want more of a good; rather, it only depends on the fact that they want more of it.
GT: Zyphex

Last edited by zyphex; 01-06-2014 at 12:31 PM.
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#19
01-06-2014
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I guess my but just tells me a deeper analysis of the qualitative and quantitative (if any) difference between conscious and unconscious valuation is pretty important, but maybe that's more a job for advertising theory and sociology than it is economics.

I think PM may have once asked a similar question but I couldn't find it if I tried, but how does ethics work without accounting for the differences in conscious and unconscious behavior/reducing it to intention vs. reflex?

Sorry these are so short; posting on the go.
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#20
01-06-2014
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sorry for such a quick and simple response here-- hopefully i'll be around later so i can be more thorough. i'm also working out a response to your post in the other thread, however that may take quite a bit longer, since there are so many spoilers and bullet points and it's really becoming a hassle.


Quote:
Originally Posted by zyphex View Post
Farther down the line, it becomes a little clearer that the psychology of the actor does not matter for economic theory. If a group of consumers all of the sudden demand more of a good at each possible price because of an unconscious urge, or if they demand more of the same good at each possible price because of some conscious reason, this matters not on the effect it will have in the market place. This represents an increase in the market demand in either case and, other things being equal, the price in the market will increase. The price change is not dependent on the reasons why people want more of a good; rather, it only depends on the fact that they want more of it.
in other words, for you, we mustn't ask the question: but why do they want more of it?

but the why ties in to the whole point about the viennese legacy (the viennese school as a whole and not strictly related to the class you're familiar with): http://vimeo.com/61857758 (you can skip to 13:20 if you wish, though the beginning is also relevant to the other thread)

in other words, your economical approach to economics isn't valid justifiable.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cursed Lemon View Post
Here's the problem - I am not a means to the end of rape culture, I am the end. I am literally the termination of this whole ordeal.
here's the problem

Last edited by PM; 01-06-2014 at 01:06 PM.
 

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