1. Introductory

1.0 To raise the question of place today is to return to the issue of modernity. 1 While one can certainly imagine all sorts of reasons why philosophers have traditionally busied themselves with investigation of place and its cognates (locality, site, etc.), in the past two centuries to embrace place has meant to resist the “abstract” character of modern life. Investigation of the place world almost invariably derives from a certain kind of advocacy: that is, the philosopher, sociologist, anthropologist or geographer reflects in order to ally herself with place—as opposed to space or time. Under the banner of topos, a battle is fought, the battle against the leveling and universalizing tendencies of modern life. And this makes sense given that historical development in the early modern arts and sciences which led to the positing of infinite and homogeneous space/time as axes for natural events and human experience. To be modern is to give up the “sense of place” associated with the late medieval hierarchical world in favor of a space and time conceived to be populated by infinite numbers of entirely exchangeable loci. Defending the concrete and particular as opposed to the abstract and general of this Newtonian universe, the placethinker becomes a foot soldier in the army of the anti-modern.

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