Friday August 21, 2015

Ideas from the Trenches - Force of Habit

One of the habits Kristin Rodier examines is the habit of checking ourselves out in the mirror.

One of the habits Kristin Rodier examines is the habit of checking ourselves out in the mirror. ((Photo by Sasha/Getty Images))

Listen to Full Episode 53:59

There are 50,000 PhD candidates in Canada, toiling away on things their friends and families often don't understand. Part of our continuing series turning a young scholar's work into radio, Tom Howell and Nicola Luksic meet Kristin Rodier -- a newly minted philosophy PhD at the University of Alberta. She studies how we think about habit. Habits are normally understood as either virtue or vice, but as a philosopher she looks at what happens when those habits are disrupted with an eye to social change.

**This episode originally aired February 6, 2015
 

"I don't think habits are mechanical…. We are acted on by the cultures into which we are born and by which we are formed. They act on us but we also act on them. We can't transcend or reverse our upbringing or formation, but we can work with it.... I do see that we have freedom and the capacity for critical reflection even in the middle of our habitual ways of doing things."

-- Judith Butler, Professor of Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley. 


 

Guests: (in order of appearance)

Kristin Rodier, Philosophy PhD from the University of Alberta.

Nadia Rahman and Deyla Antonin - manager and shopkeeper at Meg's in Toronto.

Autumn Whitefield-Madrano is a writer based in New York who triggered a 'mirror-fasting' trend a few years ago. She wrote a blog describing her experiment.

Sean Covey, son of the late Stephen Covey (author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People). Sean is the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens.

Judith Butler, Professor of Comparative Literature at University of California, Berkeley. Author of many books including Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990) and Giving an Account of Oneself (2003).

 

Special thanks and further reading: 

Clare Carlisle who is the author of On Habit.

Diana Meyers who is the author of Gender in the Mirror: Cultural Imagery and Women's Agency.



Ideas from the Trenches - Force of Habit

PhD graduate Kristin Rodier iis fascinated by habits, our attempts to change them, what they mean for our lives, and how they shift over time. To put that in fancier language: she examines "existential phenomenological perspectives on habit." Her thesis title is Habits of Resistance: Feminism, Phenomenology, and Temporality.