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The Fate of Place

A Philosophical History

Edward Casey

Publication Year: 2013

In this imaginative and comprehensive study, Edward Casey, one of the most incisive interpreters of the Continental philosophical tradition, offers a philosophical history of the evolving conceptualizations of place and space in Western thought. Not merely a presentation of the ideas of other philosophers, The Fate of Place is acutely sensitive to silences, absences, and missed opportunities in the complex history of philosophical approaches to space and place. A central theme is the increasing neglect of place in favor of space from the seventh century A.D. onward, amounting to the virtual exclusion of place by the end of the eighteenth century.

Casey begins with mythological and religious creation stories and the theories of Plato and Aristotle and then explores the heritage of Neoplatonic, medieval, and Renaissance speculations about space. He presents an impressive history of the birth of modern spatial conceptions in the writings of Newton, Descartes, Leibniz, and Kant and delineates the evolution of twentieth-century phenomenological approaches in the work of Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Bachelard, and Heidegger. In the book's final section, Casey explores the postmodern theories of Foucault, Derrida, Tschumi, Deleuze and Guattari, and Irigaray.

Published by: University of California Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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Preface: Disappearing Places

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pp. ix-xvi

...Whatever is true for space and time, this much is true for place: we are immersed in it and could not do without it. To be at all-to exist in any wayis to be somewhere, and to be somewhere is to be in some kind of place. Place is as requisite as the air we breathe, the ground on which we stand, the bodies we have. We are surrounded by places. We walk over and through them. We live in places, relate to others in them, die in them...

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pp. xvii-xviii

...The most direct inspiration for this book stems from a graduate seminar I taught at Emory University in the spring of 1992, held under the auspices of the philosophy department and at the instigation of its chairman, David Carr. The intense interest in the history of place that was palpable in that seminaranimated by the keen questioning of the remarkably responsive students who were present-brought home to me the need for a...

Part One: From Void to Vessel

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1 Avoiding the Void: Primeval Patterns

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pp. 3-22

...would sooner have the void for his purpose than be void of purpose," 1 there is an area of human experience in which, indeed, the void plays a constitutive and recognized role. This occurs in theories of creation that concern themselves with how things came into being in the first place. "In the first place": a quite problematic posit. For if there is a cosmic moment in which no things yet exist, it would seem that...

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2 Mastering the Matrix: The Enuma Elish and Plato's Timaeus

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pp. 23-49

...Once we admit that the panic-producing idea of the void is always (in advance) a matter of place-and is thus not reducible to the daunting nothingness, the strict no-place, that occasions the panic-we must face a second major issue. This is the propensity not merely to fill the void as a way of allaying anxiety but, more especially, to...

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3 Place as Container: Aristotle's Physics

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pp. 50-72

...Thanks to this stress on the importance of place for each particular "changeable body"-that is, changeable with respect to motion or size-the Stagirite situates his most scrupulous examination of place in the context of physics rather than of cosmology. Cosmology is of decidedly less interest to Aristotle than to Plato; and of cosmogony only the barest traces survive in Aristotle's text, typically in the form...

Part Two: From Place to Space

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pp. 75-78

...combines both of these latter extremes in a single text: hence its position in the middle of Part I, flanked on one side by imaginative mythicoreligious accounts of creation and on the other side by Aristotle's sober descriptions. Nevertheless, this progression in time and theme is no simple matter of progress. Anticipations and retroactions abound: Aristotle's...

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4 The Emergence of Space in Hellenistic and Neoplatonic Thought

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pp. 79-102

...Part of the perennial appeal of Aristotle's conception of place as something confining and confined is doubtless the philosophical support it offers to human beings' longing for cozy quarters-not merely for adequate shelter but for boundaries that embrace, whether these boundaries belong to decorated rooms in the home or to indecorous glades in the forest primeval. But human beings (and doubtless other animals) also long for...

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5 The Ascent of Infinite Space: Medieval and Renaissance Speculations

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pp. 103-130

...These questions vexed philosophers and theologians of the Middle Ages-construing this period as the entire era stretching between A.D. 600 (a date that marks the demise of Hellenistic and Neoplatonic philosophy) and A.D. 1500 (when the Renaissance was fully alive in Italy). Whichever way you answer such questions, the stakes are high. For if the world cannot move-if it is bound forever to occupy the same place...

Part Three: The Supremacy of Space

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pp. 133-136

...Descending from its position as a supreme term within Aristotle's protophenomenological physics, place barely survived discussion by the end of the seventeenth century. By the end of the eighteenth century, it vanished altogether from serious theoretical discourse in physics and philosophy. At that moment, we can say of place what Aristotle believes has to be said of time: "It either is not at all or [only] scarcely...

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6 Modern Space as Absolute: Gassendi and Newton

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pp. 137-150

...To turn to the seventeenth century is to plunge into a turbulent world in which alchemy vied with physics, theology with philosophy, politics with religion, nations with each other, individuals with their anguished souls. No single treatment can do justice to this multifarious period of human history. We can, however, pick our way through it by attending to an assortment of figures who occupied themselves expressly with questions...

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7 Modern Space as Extensive: Descartes

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pp. 151-161

...seventeenth century, had become the key to the nature of space. It is revealing that already in Descartes's first letter of response to More the question of whether God is an extended entity comes to the fore immediately. More had said in his opening letter that "God, or an angel, or any other self-subsistent thing is extended," and to this Descartes confesses his utter skepticism: "The alleged extension of God cannot be the subject...

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8 Modern Space as Relative: Locke and Leibniz

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pp. 162-179

...We have just witnessed a revealing vacillation-by no means the first we have encountered-between an absolutist and a relativist conception of space: between the view that space is one vast (and usually empty) arena and the alternative view that it consists entirely in relations between things. Descartes, in attempting to do justice to both conceptions by his distinction between internal and external place, ends by doing justice to neither. His compromise is as unsatisfying as were earlier middle-ground...

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9 Modern Space as Site and Point: Position, Panopticon, and Pure Form

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pp. 180-194

...The double infinity of the universe, at once infinitely large and infinitely small, is held together by an all-pervasive organic bonding of each part to every other part, where "every other" signifies not just a formal relation of substitutability or a physical relation of distance but a comprehensive and enlivening order of nature. As Collingwood remarks...

Part Four: The Reappearance of Place

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pp. 197-201

...Where have all the places gone? In the long wide wake ofAristotle, the answer has become increasingly evident: submerged in space. Aristotle's ingenious effort to "bury space in bodies"-to foreclose it in the tightly fitting places tailored for physical bodies as their most intimately containing surface structures- was foredoomed. The yawning emptiness of the void, the "gap" (chaos) lampooned by Aristophanes and first...

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10 By Way of Body: Kant, Whitehead, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty

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pp. 202-242

...The "new way of ideas" introduced by Descartes and thinkers of the next century had for its most immediate effect the subsumption of every sensible appearance (indeed, all appearances, including those belonging to states of mind) under a representation whose status is unremittingly mental. For any appearance whatsoever to be apprehended it must assume the format of a representation ("idea," "apperception...

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11 Proceeding to Place by Indirection: Heidegger

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pp. 243-284

...the body has provided for place, which by the end of the nineteenth century had come to be as repressed as the libidinal contents of the unconscious mind. Nevertheless, promising and productive as bodily inroads into place have shown themselves to be, they do not exhaust the modes of effective reentry to the place-world. In this chapter we shall consider the contributions of someone who neglected the role of the body in implacement but who managed to find other...

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12 Giving a Face to Place in the Present: Bachelard, Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari, Derrida, Irigaray

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pp. 285-330

...In tracing out Heidegger's thinking about place and "various phenomenal spatialities" such as region and neighborhood, we have pursued place into some of its more arcane corners and subtler surfaces. We have learned much about the panoply of meanings that place can exhibit as well as the range of roles it can assume in widely divergent contexts. If the effect is kaleidoscopic-leading us to savor place's "free scope...

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Postface: Places Rediscovered

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pp. 331-342

...Whether this yielding already yields what is essential to the nondeterminate places of dynamic bodies-especially female bodies-is Irigaray's challenge to Plato and Aristotle alike. 1 Even if this challenge remains unresolved, one thing is certain: the delimitation of body by place is a characteristic Greek obsession and can also be found in the Stoics, various Hellenistic thinkers, the Neoplatonists-and is still visible in Descartes's...


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pp. 343-478


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pp. 479-488

E-ISBN-13: 9780520954564
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520276031

Page Count: 512
Publication Year: 2013