Proust and the Discourse on Habit

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2004-12-20

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A la recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust is replete with a discourse by the principal character, the narrator Marcel, on the subject of habit ("habitude" in French). This discourse meticulously explores the ubiquitous but concealed role that habit plays with respect to the most significant aspects of life, such as emotions, cognitive processes, and aesthetic experiences, and it explicitly relates not only to the novel's characters, but to humanity in general. The critical commentary on the novel has largely ignored this subject. This dissertation provides the only comprehensive collection and analysis of the Proustian commentary on habit in A la recherche du temps perdu.

It is not by chance that habit was deeply explored in Proust's novel or that it has been largely overlooked by the critical commentary.  Historically, philosophers have paid substantial attention to habit.  Habit was a focus of controversial philosophical/psychological theories in 19th century France regarding memory and consciousness, spirit and matter.   Proust's commentary was directly related to the prominent philosophical issues of his time.  

This dissertation discusses the broad meanings of habit, first as developed by Aristotle and St. Thomas; then by French essayists, through Montaigne, Pascal, and the philosophes; and finally culminating in the great 19th century works on habit by Maine de Biran and Félix Ravaisson. It also reviews substantial contributions on habit made by other French writers and philosophers, notably Stendhal and Alfred Fouillée. Proust's reflections on habit may thus be appreciated in context.

This dissertation then analyzes the contributions which Proust's novel made to contemporary theories on habit and argues that they were substantial. It also argues that presentations of the major themes in the novel should include, prominently, habit. For example, on the philosophical plane, Proust's theories relating to involuntary memory and time are inextricably interwoven with his theories on habit. Finally, this dissertation considers why habit fell out of the philosophical/psychological discourse after about 1930, and the extent to which Proust's novel may inform the philosophical/psychological/biological discourse in the 21st century, which is reflecting a renewed interest in habit.

A la recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust is replete with a discourse by the principal character, the narrator Marcel, on the subject of habit ("habitude" in French). This discourse meticulously explores the ubiquitous but concealed role that habit plays with respect to the most significant aspects of life, such as emotions, cognitive processes, and aesthetic experiences, and it explicitly relates not only to the novel's characters, but to humanity in general. The critical commentary on the novel has largely ignored this subject. This dissertation provides the only comprehensive collection and analysis of the Proustian commentary on habit in A la recherche du temps perdu.

It is not by chance that habit was deeply explored in Proust's novel or that it has been largely overlooked by the critical commentary.  Historically, philosophers have paid substantial attention to habit.  Habit was a focus of controversial philosophical/psychological theories in 19th century France regarding memory and consciousness, spirit and matter.   Proust's commentary was directly related to the prominent philosophical issues of his time.  

This dissertation discusses the broad meanings of habit, first as developed by Aristotle and St. Thomas; then by French essayists, through Montaigne, Pascal, and the philosophes; and finally culminating in the great 19th century works on habit by Maine de Biran and Félix Ravaisson. It also reviews substantial contributions on habit made by other French writers and philosophers, notably Stendhal and Alfred Fouillée. Proust's reflections on habit may thus be appreciated in context.

This dissertation then analyzes the contributions which Proust's novel made to contemporary theories on habit and argues that they were substantial. It also argues that presentations of the major themes in the novel should include, prominently, habit. For example, on the philosophical plane, Proust's theories relating to involuntary memory and time are inextricably interwoven with his theories on habit. Finally, this dissertation considers why habit fell out of the philosophical/psychological discourse after about 1930, and the extent to which Proust's novel may inform the philosophical/psychological/biological discourse in the 21st century, which is reflecting a renewed interest in habit.

A la recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust is replete with a discourse by the principal character, the narrator Marcel, on the subject of habit ("habitude" in French). This discourse meticulously explores the ubiquitous but concealed role that habit plays with respect to the most significant aspects of life, such as emotions, cognitive processes, and aesthetic experiences, and it explicitly relates not only to the novel's characters, but to humanity in general. The critical commentary on the novel has largely ignored this subject. This dissertation provides the only comprehensive collection and analysis of the Proustian commentary on habit in A la recherche du temps perdu.

It is not by chance that habit was deeply explored in Proust's novel or that it has been largely overlooked by the critical commentary.  Historically, philosophers have paid substantial attention to habit.  Habit was a focus of controversial philosophical/psychological theories in 19th century France regarding memory and consciousness, spirit and matter.   Proust's commentary was directly related to the prominent philosophical issues of his time.  

This dissertation discusses the broad meanings of habit, first as developed by Aristotle and St. Thomas; then by French essayists, through Montaigne, Pascal, and the philosophes; and finally culminating in the great 19th century works on habit by Maine de Biran and Félix Ravaisson. It also reviews substantial contributions on habit made by other French writers and philosophers, notably Stendhal and Alfred Fouillée. Proust's reflections on habit may thus be appreciated in context.

This dissertation then analyzes the contributions which Proust's novel made to contemporary theories on habit and argues that they were substantial. It also argues that presentations of the major themes in the novel should include, prominently, habit. For example, on the philosophical plane, Proust's theories relating to involuntary memory and time are inextricably interwoven with his theories on habit. Finally, this dissertation considers why habit fell out of the philosophical/psychological discourse after about 1930, and the extent to which Proust's novel may inform the philosophical/psychological/biological discourse in the 21st century, which is reflecting a renewed interest in habit.

A la recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust is replete with a discourse by the principal character, the narrator Marcel, on the subject of habit ("habitude" in French). This discourse meticulously explores the ubiquitous but concealed role that habit plays with respect to the most significant aspects of life, such as emotions, cognitive processes, and aesthetic experiences, and it explicitly relates not only to the novel's characters, but to humanity in general. The critical commentary on the novel has largely ignored this subject. This dissertation provides the only comprehensive collection and analysis of the Proustian commentary on habit in A la recherche du temps perdu.

It is not by chance that habit was deeply explored in Proust's novel or that it has been largely overlooked by the critical commentary.  Historically, philosophers have paid substantial attention to habit.  Habit was a focus of controversial philosophical/psychological theories in 19th century France regarding memory and consciousness, spirit and matter.   Proust's commentary was directly related to the prominent philosophical issues of his time.  

This dissertation discusses the broad meanings of habit, first as developed by Aristotle and St. Thomas; then by French essayists, through Montaigne, Pascal, and the philosophes; and finally culminating in the great 19th century works on habit by Maine de Biran and Félix Ravaisson. It also reviews substantial contributions on habit made by other French writers and philosophers, notably Stendhal and Alfred Fouillée. Proust's reflections on habit may thus be appreciated in context.

This dissertation then analyzes the contributions which Proust's novel made to contemporary theories on habit and argues that they were substantial. It also argues that presentations of the major themes in the novel should include, prominently, habit. For example, on the philosophical plane, Proust's theories relating to involuntary memory and time are inextricably interwoven with his theories on habit. Finally, this dissertation considers why habit fell out of the philosophical/psychological discourse after about 1930, and the extent to which Proust's novel may inform the philosophical/psychological/biological discourse in the 21st century, which is reflecting a renewed interest in habit.

A la recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust is replete with a discourse by the principal character, the narrator Marcel, on the subject of habit ("habitude" in French). This discourse meticulously explores the ubiquitous but concealed role that habit plays with respect to the most significant aspects of life, such as emotions, cognitive processes, and aesthetic experiences, and it explicitly relates not only to the novel's characters, but to humanity in general. The critical commentary on the novel has largely ignored this subject. This dissertation provides the only comprehensive collection and analysis of the Proustian commentary on habit in A la recherche du temps perdu.

It is not by chance that habit was deeply explored in Proust's novel or that it has been largely overlooked by the critical commentary.  Historically, philosophers have paid substantial attention to habit.  Habit was a focus of controversial philosophical/psychological theories in 19th century France regarding memory and consciousness, spirit and matter.   Proust's commentary was directly related to the prominent philosophical issues of his time.  

This dissertation discusses the broad meanings of habit, first as developed by Aristotle and St. Thomas; then by French essayists, through Montaigne, Pascal, and the philosophes; and finally culminating in the great 19th century works on habit by Maine de Biran and Félix Ravaisson. It also reviews substantial contributions on habit made by other French writers and philosophers, notably Stendhal and Alfred Fouillée. Proust's reflections on habit may thus be appreciated in context.

This dissertation then analyzes the contributions which Proust's novel made to contemporary theories on habit and argues that they were substantial. It also argues that presentations of the major themes in the novel should include, prominently, habit. For example, on the philosophical plane, Proust's theories relating to involuntary memory and time are inextricably interwoven with his theories on habit. Finally, this dissertation considers why habit fell out of the philosophical/psychological discourse after about 1930, and the extent to which Proust's novel may inform the philosophical/psychological/biological discourse in the 21st century, which is reflecting a renewed interest in habit.

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