The Fate of Place
A Philosophical History
Publication Year: 2013
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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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Preface: Disappearing Places
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Whatever is true for space and time, this much is true for place: we are im mersed in it and could not do without it. To be at all-to exist in any way is to be somewhere, and to be somewhere is to be in some kind of place. Placeis as requisite as the air we breathe, the ground on which we stand, the bodieswe have. We are surrounded by places. We walk over and through them. We...
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The most direct inspiration for this book stems from a graduate seminar Itaught at Emory University in the spring of 1992, held under the auspices ofthe philosophy department and at the instigation of its chairman, David Carr.The intense interest in the history of place that was palpable in that seminar animated by the keen questioning of the remarkably responsive students who...
Part One: From Void to Vessel
1 Avoiding the Void: Primeval Patterns
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Following Nietzsche's admonition, in The Genealogy of Morals, that "manwould sooner have the void for his purpose than be void of purpose," 1 thereis an area of human experience in which, indeed, the void plays a constitutiveand recognized role. This occurs in theories of creation that concern them selves with how things came into being in the first place. "In the first place":...
2 Mastering the Matrix: The Enuma Elish and Plato's Timaeus
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Once we admit that the panic-producing idea of the void is always (in ad vance) a matter of place-and is thus not reducible to the daunting nothing ness, the strict no-place, that occasions the panic-we must face a secondmajor issue. This is the propensity not merely to fill the void as a way ofallaying anxiety but, more especially, to master the void. To master is not to...
3 Place as Container: Aristotle's Physics
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That place was a continuing cynosure of ancient Greek thought is abundantlyevident in Aristotle's treatment of the topic: for Aristotle, where something isconstitutes a basic metaphysical category.1 Except for the extraordinary casesof the Unmoved Mover and the heavens (ouranos) taken as a single whole,every perishable sublunar substance (including the earth as a whole) is place ...
Part Two: From Place to Space
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In Part I we witnessed a development-or, more in keeping with Aristotle'sthinking, an "envelopment"-of remarkable scope. The scope is impressivenot just in terms of time (a period of approximately two thousand years) butalso in terms of theme: all the way from muthos to logos. Yet Plato's Timaeuscombines both of these latter extremes in a single text: hence its position in...
4 The Emergence of Space in Hellenistic and Neoplatonic Thought
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Part of the perennial appeal of Aristotle's conception of place as somethingconfining and confined is doubtless the philosophical support it offers to hu man beings' longing for cozy quarters-not merely for adequate shelter butfor boundaries that embrace, whether these boundaries belong to decoratedrooms in the home or to indecorous glades in the forest primeval. But human...
5 The Ascent of Infinite Space: Medieval and Renaissance Speculations
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From Archytas's challenging conundrum we can derive a more momentousquestion: not whether an outstretched hand or staff can reach out into some thing (or nothing) but whether the whole world (Le., the physical cosmos asone entity) can move. And if the world moves, in what, into what, does itmove? These questions vexed philosophers and theologians of the Middle...
Part Three: The Supremacy of Space
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Descending from its position as a supreme term within Aristotle's protophe nomenological physics, place barely survived discussion by the end of theseventeenth century. By the end of the eighteenth century, it vanished alto gether from serious theoretical discourse in physics and philosophy. At thatmoment, we can say of place what Aristotle believes has to be said of time:...
6 Modern Space as Absolute: Gassendi and Newton
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To turn to the seventeenth century is to plunge into a turbulent world in whichalchemy vied with physics, theology with philosophy, politics with religion,nations with each other, individuals with their anguished souls. No singletreatment 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...
7 Modern Space as Extensive: Descartes
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Henry More, who had enormous influence on Isaac Newton (the latter's ideaof "absolute space" is, arguably, a tidied-up version of More's "Infinite Im movable Extended"), found in Rene Descartes a much more recalcitrantthinker. Beneath the politesse of their correspondence in the last year of Des cartes's life, one detects an abyss of difference opening up. They differ not...
8 Modern Space as Relative: Locke and Leibniz
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We have just witnessed a revealing vacillation-by no means the first wehave encountered-between an absolutist and a relativist conception of space:between the view that space is one vast (and usually empty) arena and thealternative view that it consists entirely in relations between things. Descartes,in attempting to do justice to both conceptions by his distinction between...
9 Modern Space as Site and Point: Position, Panopticon, and Pure Form
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Leibniz displayed a special alertness to the metaphor oforganism-its dynam ical aspects, its animating force, its inherent vitalism. Far from being some thing merely mechanistic, the organic body of the monad-which we haveseen to be intimately tied to place-is a "living being" or "divine machine." 1Since every monad is in effect a world filled with monads at increasingly...
Part Four: The Reappearance of Place
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Where have all the places gone? In the long wide wake ofAristotle, the answerhas become increasingly evident: submerged in space. Aristotle's ingeniouseffort to "bury space in bodies"-to foreclose it in the tightly fitting placestailored for physical bodies as their most intimately containing surface struc tures-was foredoomed. The yawning emptiness of the void, the "gap"...
10 By Way of Body: Kant, Whitehead, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty
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The most effective way to appreciate the importance of place again is not toapproach it as a total phenomenon, to compare its virtues en bloc to those ofspace in a single systematic treatment. Such a totalizing treatment would leadto nothing but vacant generalities. What is needed is a new and quite particularway into place, a means of reconnecting with it in its very idiosyncrasy. Given...
11 Proceeding to Place by Indirection: Heidegger
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What, on Freud's view, dreams provide for an understanding of the uncon scious mind-a via regia, a "royal road"-the body has provided for place,which by the end of the nineteenth century had come to be as repressed asthe libidinal contents of the unconscious mind. Nevertheless, promising andproductive as bodily inroads into place have shown themselves to be, they do...
12 Giving a Face to Place in the Present: Bachelard, Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari, Derrida, Irigaray
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In tracing out Heidegger's thinking about place and "various phenomenal spa tialities" such as region and neighborhood, we have pursued place into someof its more arcane corners and subtler surfaces. We have learned much aboutthe panoply of meanings that place can exhibit as well as the range of roles itcan assume in widely divergent contexts. If the effect is kaleidoscopic-lead ...
Postface: Places Rediscovered
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Irigaray's challenging reading of Aristotle's Physics reanimates an ancient(and very recent) question: How are body and place related? A first answer,given by Aristotle himself, posits a rigid material body in place by virtue ofits sheer contiguity with the inner surface of what immediately surrounds it a strictly physical intimacy that works by close containment. This containment...
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Page Count: 512
Publication Year: 2013