The Phenomenon of Place



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The Phenomenon of Place:


  • According to DesJardins, “environmental ethics presents and defends a systematic and comprehensive account of the moral relations between human beings and their natural environment.)




  • Jamieson replies: “It may seem odd to many people that a book devoted to environmental ethics includes an essay on the city. We often speak of the environment as if it is everywhere except where we live.” (1984)




  • Gunn: “Unfortunately, the central concerns of environmental ethics have been and largely continue to be heavily slanted towards animals, plants, endangered species, wilderness and traditional cultures and not toward the problems of life in industrialized, urbanized society where most people now live.” (1998)




  • Warwick Fox (Ethics and the Built Environment):

  • in a move away from anthropocentrism, attention to the non-human world is logical

  • however, “any truly comprehensive environmental ethic...demands the development of an ethic broad enough to address...all manner of environments – natural, built and mixed;

  • we increasingly live in built environments




  • WCED notes that we live in “the century of the ‘urban revolution’”




  • since 1950, the number of people living in cities has almost tripled.




  • even wilderness areas as existing somewhere and as frequently named, betray our existence as place-based




  • What is place?




  • not geometrically defined space!



  • Casey: “to exist at all...is to have a place – to be implaced...The point is that place, by virtue of its unencompassability by anything other than itself, is at once the limit and the condition of all that exists.”




  • Noël Arnaud: I am the space where I am.




  • Bachelard: prethematic place awareness: “an empty drawer is unimaginable. It can only be thought of. And for us, who must describe what we imagine before what we know, what we dream before what we verify, all wardrobes are full.”




  • significance of embodiment: Merleau-Ponty







  • Being-at-home: Bachelard

  • topoanalysis: “the systematic psychological study of the sites of our intimate lives.”

  • “[houses] are in us as much as we are in them.”



  • “our house is our corner of the world. As has often been said, it is our first universe, a real cosmos in every sense of the word.”




  • Milosz: Childhood memories

I say Mother. And my thoughts are of you, oh, House.

House of the lovely dark summers of my childhood.





  • Place and Placelessness




  • Place and Displacement: Domicide



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