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The Sense of Space Hardcover – Aug 24 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: State Univ of New York Pr (Aug. 24 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0791461831
  • ISBN-13: 978-0791461839
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #962,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa581cccc) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7b829f0) out of 5 stars Outstanding Research, Groundbreaking Philosophy--6 stars! May 20 2005
By John Russon - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a fabulous book, which should be read by anyone interested in phenomenology, in cognitive science, or in perceptual psychology, and probably by anyone seriously interested in philosophy. In stylish, exhilirating prose, Morris takes us deep into the rich connection of the moving body and the earth, and he develops a philosophically rigorous conception of the body that is responsive to the dynamic and perceptive character of our bodies. Morris's philosophical orientation is primarily drawn from Merleau-Ponty's phenomenological philosophy, but he relies on resources as varied as psychological accounts of infant development, the poetry of Pablo Neruda, the weightlessness-experiments of Lackner and various engaging personal anecdotes. Overall, Morris's account challenges the sterility of many traditional scientific accounts of the body and spatial perception, and replaces them with a phenomenologically rich account that is perhaps most impressive for its demonstration of the centality of emotional and ethical values at the very heart of our bodily engagement with space. This book fits well with the works of cognitive science by such figures as Francisco Varela, Shaun Gallagher, Evan Thompson, Maxine Sheets-Johnstone, Mark Johnson and George Lakoff, and also with contemporary work in Continental Philosophy by such figures as Ed Casey, David Wood, John Llewellyn, Len Lawlor and Renaud Barbaras. Very highly recommended!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa596f9f0) out of 5 stars A New Space of Thought Oct. 26 2015
By StreetlightReader - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What does it mean to have a sense of space? Enveloped as we are in the depths of a world that radiates about us, space’s intimacy has nonetheless never ceased to pose problems for our many attempts to give an account of it. With David Morris’s book in hand however, the many mysteries of space reveal themselves to be far less daunting – if not far more interesting – than we once thought. Taking his cue from the ‘problem of depth’, Morris sets himself the challenge of developing an account of depth perception that would not fall into the impasses posed by ‘inferential’ approaches to depth, approaches which construe depth as an inferential projection of two-dimensional ‘sense data’. As Morris notes, such accounts inevitably presuppose the very answer they seek to provide: why would we even begin to make such inferences if we were not minimally acquainted with a sense of depth to start with?

In order to escape the “Hydra of blooming explanatory heads” that accompany such accounts, Morris’s book charts a vertiginous path that weaves its way through phenomenology, ecological psychology, dynamic systems theory, and child developmental studies in order to develop an account of depth – and hence space – which would do justice to precisely this primordial sense of bodily depth. Key to Morris’s approach is a refiguring of space no longer in terms of a homogeneous, geometric expanse laid out according to ready-made metrics, but rather space as it is lived by moving, breathing, animated beings. Following the lead of French phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Morris’s approach is grounded in rejecting any notion of a ‘ready made world’ – one in which space would exist ‘out there’ as an already-constituted positivity, wholly extricated from the beings who, in the words of Merleau-Ponty, are not simply “in space”, but rather, “of it.”

To this extent, Morris moves to develop a reworked conceptual vocabulary for thinking about space, one couched in terms of ‘folds’, ‘envelopments’ and ‘expressions’, all of which serve to highlight the dynamic, developmental and genetic dimension of space, in contrast to the static, ‘ready made’ understanding of it advanced by inferential accounts. From this dynamic, Morris in turn shows how sense – the sense of space – is itself engendered in the movement that runs across body and world, emerging at the site of their perpetual ‘crossing’, rather than residing neatly on the side of either the ‘subject’ or the ‘object’, as traditional accounts would have it. Deepening Morris's account of space are his compelling chapters on both 'place' - which link up to and expand the important work of Ed Casey - and spatial orientation, both of which show the importance of grounding - quite literally - the perception of space in an ecological and even earthly frame of reference.

Fittingly, Morris ends his book with a beautiful mediation on the ethical implications of thinking about space in the manner so outlined. Indeed, among the most important results of Morris's study is the way in which space is as much implicated in the social as it is in the terrestrial and the biological. Morris's attempt to forge a non-reductive, developmentally informed approach to the study of space opens up new vistas of disciplinary cross-pollination, one that positively encourages further investigation. If, in fact, I had any qualms at all, it'd be the wish that Morris drew connections to the work of political geographers like Doreen Massey and David Harvey, linking the thought of space to the operations of power and politics. But I doth protest too much; as it stands, 'The Sense of Space' offers a richly textured and deeply profound mediation on space that extends phenomenological thought into terrain of vital exploration.