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  A philosophy, the central concern of which is with the human subject\'s existential \'being\' in the world (which Heidegger called Dasein). Existentialism posits that all persons are typically estranged from their intrinsic creativity and live instead in worlds of objects which exist for them only as externalized \'things\' — a passive attitude which Tuan (1971, 1972) called environmentalism — and that any attempt to realize a truly human condition through an active \'openness\' to the world necessarily involves a freely entered struggle against estrangement. Following in some part the ideas of Buber, Heidegger and Sartre, Samuels (1978) has argued that this struggle entails an essentially spatial ontology: that it is \'a history of human efforts to overcome or eliminate detachment, which is to say, to eliminate distance\' through the creation of meaningful, so to speak \'authored\' places. Many of the early existentialist explorations in human geography were concerned not so much with the elaboration of a spatial ontology, however, as with a more general assault on those \'technical\' conceptions of the subject, usually closely associated with positivism, which reduced it to a so-called \'scientism\'. \'For the existentially aware geographers\', Buttimer (1974) suggested, the human being:

is more than a cultural, \'rational\' or dynamically-charged decision maker out there to be observed, analysed and modelled: he [or she] is a \'subject\' of lived experience, past, present and future. An existentially aware geographer is thus less interested in establishing intellectual control over [people] through pre-conceived analytical models than … in encountering people and situations in an open, inter-subjective manner.(See also Gibson (1978) for the Weberian alternative.)

As Buttimer\'s remarks indicate, existentialism involves a critique of both rationalism and idealism, which certainly extends to Weber\'s interpretative sociology — because it (quite literally) regards existence as primary. And while it has important connections with both phenomenology and historical materialism, especially through some of the contributions of Sartre (see Poster, 1975), it can be distinguished from both by its fundamental concern with what Buttimer describes as \'the quality and meaning of life in the everyday world\' (cf. taken-for-granted world). Hence, Buttimer invokes Heidegger\'s distinction between Herrschaftswissen (\'knowledge of meaning and overlordship\') and Bildungswissen (\'knowledge of meaning and creativity\') to support her plea for a \'more concerned, caring approach to knowledge and action\' which can resist and ultimately transcend the rationalist impulse for technical control, and the estrangement which this entails, and thereby provide for a truly human existence (Buttimer, 1979a, 1979b; cf. critical theory). Not surprisingly, these sorts of criticisms have been applied a fortiori to the relations between human geography and planning (e.g. see Cullen and Knox, 1982), but they are clearly intended to have a much more general purchase.

Indeed, Relph (1981) widened the existentialist critique within the subject far beyond the sphere of spatial science to confront what he calls the \'ontological triviality\' of humanistic geography (p. 155). In his view, too, Heidegger\'s writings are an indispensable source for a genuinely human geography; but whereas \'Heidegger\'s philosophy was a form of contemplation\', the \'environmental humility\' which Relph is concerned to foster must embrace not only \'an openness to Being\' — \'allowing things to disclose themselves as they are\', \'letting ourselves be claimed by Being\' — but also \'a manifest guardianship for the individuality of places and landscapes\' (pp. 187-91). Similar ideas were pursued by Samuels (1979, 1981) in his search for \'an existential geography\' directed towards the elucidation of what he termed \'the biography of landscape\'. They have been developed most rigorously by Pickles (1985), who has drawn upon Heidegger to identify the significance of the \'existential analytic\' for the human sciences in general and human geography in particular. He seeks to clarify the fundamental importance of what, following Heidegger, he terms a \'regional ontology\' of human spatiality for both enterprises.

Present in virtually all of these discussions is the idea of \'openness to Being\', and in a remarkable essay Gould (1981) worked with Daseinanalysis to recover the root meaning of the word \'theory\' (theoria) in a way which connects up to the foregoing. He suggests that theoria connotes both openness and \'the reverent paying heed to phenomena\'. If we see conventional \'theory-building\' from this perspective, then Gould believes that \'our deep and legitimate concern for a scientific geography\' may have gone astray:

In attempting to map the description of human phenomena onto the forms of science generated by those who assault the inanimate or nonconscious physical and biological worlds with their questions, we have objectified, cut off, \'templated\' the very beings-in-the-world that should be of our deepest concern in any geography where the adjective \'human\' is genuinely deserved. There seems to be little \'reverent paying heed\' in the everyday research and questioning of the human sciences today, and the old meanings of theoria seldom seem to shine through the methodical, and often mechanistic, processes of inquiry in these realms.Gould objects to \'con-templation\', therefore, because it involves partition and enclosure — the construction of a template — and prefers instead to explore descriptive languages more appropriate to (open to) human spatiality: in particular languages in which we do not project \'the multidimensional character that seems to characterise the complexity of contemporary life onto the traditional space of the geographic map\'.

Much of this discussion has evidently been preoccupied with broadly methodological questions — with mobilizing a philosophical literature to displace the assumptions of spatial science — but there has recently been a considerable revival of interest in the historical grounding and substantive implications of Heidegger\'s work across the humanities and the social sciences as a whole. This has followed four interconnected paths, all of which bear directly on work in contemporary human geography:

{img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } the politics of Heidegger\'s philosophy and, in particular, the complex connections between his intellectual work and his involvement in National Socialism (see Wolin, 1990) — this examination connects with parallel attempts to establish the contextuality of geographical inquiry; {img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } Heidegger\'s critique of modernity, and in particular of its technocratic consciousness (Zimmerman, 1990) and its \'enframing\' of what Mitchell (1989) calls the world-as-exhibition — these examinations intersect with attempts to explore human geographies of modernity, to think through society\'s involvement in and responsibility towards nature, and to consider the concept of landscape as a \'way of seeing\'; {img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } the filiations between Heidegger\'s ethical concerns and those of postmodernism (White, 1991) — this examination feeds in to contemporary interests in the geographies of postmodernism and \'postmodernity\' and, in particular, to processes of \'Othering\'; and {img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } the construction of a spatial ontology (Schatzki, 1991) — this effort contributes directly to attempts to clarify the importance of space and spatiality in the constitution of social life.(DG) References Buttimer, A. 1974: Values in geography. Washington, D.C.: Association of American Geographers, Commission on College Geography, Resource Paper 24. Buttimer, A. 1979a: Erewhon or nowhere land. In S. Gale, and G. Olsson, eds, Philosophy in geography. Dordrecht and Boston: D. Reidel; 9-37. Buttimer, A. 1979b: Reason, rationality and human creativity. Geograsiska Annaler 61B: 43-9. Cullen, J. and Knox, P. 1982: The city, the self and urban society. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 7: 276-91. Gibson, E. 1978: Understanding the subjective meaning of places. In D. Ley and M.S. Samuels, eds, Humanistic geography: prospects and problems. London: Croom Helm, 138-54. Gould, P. 1981: Letting the data speak for themselves. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 71: 166-76. Mitchell, T. 1989: The world as exhibition. Comparative Studies in Society and History 31: 217-36. Pickles, J. 1985: Phenomenology, science and geography: spatiality and the human sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Poster, M. 1975: Existential Marxism: from Sartre to Althusser. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Relph, E. 1981: Rational landscapes and humanistic geography. London: Croom Helm; Totowa, NJ: Barnes and Noble. Samuels, M. 1978: Existentialism and human geography. In D. Ley and M.S. Samuels, eds, Humanistic geography: prospects and problems. London: Croom Helm, 22-40. Samuels, M. 1979: The biography of landscape: cause and culpability. In D. Meinig, ed., The interpretation of ordinary landscapes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 51-88. Samuels, M. 1981: An existential geography. In M.E. Harvey and B.P. Holly, eds, Themes in geographic thought. London: Croom Helm, 115-32. Schatzki, T. 1991: Spatial ontology and explanation. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 81: 650-70. Tuan, Y.-F. 1971: Geography, phenomenology and the study of human nature. Canadian Geographer 15: 181-92. Tuan, Y.-F. 1972: Structuralism, existentialism and environmental perception. Environment and Behavior 4: 319-42. White, S. 1991: Political theory and postmodernism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wolin, R. 1990: The politics of Being: the political thought of Martin Heidegger. New York: Columbia University Press. Zimmerman, M. 1990: Heidegger\'s confrontation with modernity: technology, politics and art. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Suggested Reading Samuels (1978, 1981). Schatzki (1991). White (1991). Zimmerman (1990).



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