Thought and place : the imagination and memory of eternal places in the philosophy of Giambattista Vico
- Kunze, Donald Edwin, 1947-
- [Place of publication not identified] : [publisher not identified], 1983.
- Physical Description:
- 171 leaves
- Geographic thought is native to ordinary human beings and is coextensive with temporal and cultural span of their experience. Geography as a human a science has concerned itself with this native geographic ability, not simply to expand its traditionally "objective" interests to include a more comprehensive understanding of subjects, but to explore the more important questions of the relations of place and thought in general. Although approaches to this topic have reflected a variety of philosophical and methodological attitudes, three interrelated intellectual outlooks have prejudiced and limited research as a whole. In general, it has been assumed that perception involves the formation of mental representations with order the raw data of the senses. The active addition of subjective structures has justified, in turn, the relativistic view that meanings can be coherent only within a personal or intersubjective cultural context and thus only partly open to investigation. Representationalism further involves an ultimate scepticism about the ultimate knowability of the world, both for ordinary subjects and scientists; but to science it accords a privileged, in contingent, view. Representationalism, relativism, and scepticism have grown out of the general empiricist orientation of the human sciences as a whole, and with them has come the widespread attitude that the relation between place and thought is best studied through the methods used by social science in general. The hesitation to incorporate philosophical approaches has been matched by the near-equal paucity of Western Philosophical interest in the nature of place. The one striking exception to this general neglect of place is the philosophy of the eighteenth-century Neapolitan, Giambattista Vico. Working from a theory of imagination and metaphor in myth to comprehensive account of history, culture, and thought, Vico used the idea of place in three distinctive and original ways. "Place" first stood, in his early philosophy, as the topic or metaphor in rhetoric which united disparate subjects and linked the speaker with this audience. Vico enlarged this rhetorical concept into a general model of mythic thought's creation of universals in absence of rational concepts. Mythical topics began, however, with a vividly geographical kind of place: the ritual clearing in which the sky and temple reflected each other in a universal poetic geometry. The third use of place in Vico's thoughts came with his identification of humanistic study with the use of the imagination. In a manner which suggests Giullio Camillo's Renaissance memory theatre, Vico's theory of culture itself identifies thought with the discovery of a place in which memory may recover the origins of humanity as well as humanity's products through time. This order is recreated in the narration of an "ideal eternal history," aided by images placed to recall thought's limmal but essentially spatial form. The thertrical and principally visual "space" of Vico's theory of history recalls the Renaissance tradition relating genius to the cosmic figure of the Ptolomaic universe; the Platonic account of thought as the motion of the soul; and, touching on the remoter antiquity, the primitive practice of apotropaic magic. Common to all those references is the idea of liminal space, in which both geography and rhetoric discover their philosophic centrality. The universality of liminal space calls for a fresh, interdisciplinary approach to geography as a humanistic enterprise. As Vico has connected the scholar's own questions of method to the substance of history and thought, geography may find, in the architecture of liminal space, both a mthod and new object of study.
- Dissertation Note:
- Ph.D. Pennsylvania State University.
- Reproduction Note:
- Microfilm (positive). 1 reel 35mm., (University Microfilms 83-20896).
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