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The Sense of Space Hardcover – Aug 24 2004
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"This is a very rare book in many ways. First, it directly engages scientific literature that treats the experience of space; not since Merleau-Ponty himself has there been a comparable engagement. Second, it institutes a lively debate with this literature that shows how a different model from that of science--including ecological science as practiced by J. J. Gibson and dynamics systems theory--is required in order to avoid positing a ready-made world taken for granted, or else an infinite regress of models. Third, Morris draws in everyday experiences of space and place in order to elucidate the deep problem of depth--a problem that heretofore has not been elucidated so intelligently and imaginatively resolved. Fourth, he adopts a developmental perspective on perception and motion that makes his work virtually unique and that brings additional light to bear on the question of depth. Fifth, Morris explores the implications of his model of depth for the experience of place in human experience--a bold undertaking that succeeds remarkably well. In sum, this is a groundbreaking work."
What Morris has produced is a subtle retelling of Merleau-Ponty s phenomenological story, one that in emphasizing the role of movement in the development and expression of the body schema [schema corporeal], leads us even more emphatically to ethical questions. Research in Phenomenology
Morris s book is an invigorating, subtle, and suggestive account of spatial perception the issues raised by his book are rich and complex and fully worth chewing over. Dialogue
Faithful to the tradition in which he situates himself, Morris makes skillful use of phenomenological examples to support and clarify his theoretical suggestions The Sense of Space is a highly successful, informative, and insightful engagement with some of recent European thought s most significant influences and its correlative dedication to a genuine thinking of immanence. Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology
In his investigation of the sense of space, Morris not only makes a significant contribution to the development of the phenomenological inquiry into the body of which Merleau-Ponty is one of the pioneers, but the particular modes of argument he deploys, as well as the conclusions for which he argues, have a significance that goes beyond merely the philosophy of the body as such. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences
Morris compellingly assumes the style of the Phenomenology, employing vivid experiential descriptions and scientific case studies while, like the later Merleau-Ponty, driving these phenomenological investigations to fruition in a primordial ontology of chiasmic reversibility that precedes and grounds subjective experience [the book] is written in expressive yet technical prose [and] is an invigorating alternative to scientific and traditional explanations of spatiality. His thesis binds together traditionally isolated questions, placing expression, emotion, and ethics in the very depths in which we dwell. Symposium
Readers interested in embodiment should find the book interesting. University of Toronto Quarterly
I like the combination of sober scholarship with imaginative thought and writing. David Morris is fully at home in phenomenology, while being quite knowledgeable of existing and pertinent scientific literature. Having mastered both, he creates a dynamic tension between them, showing how each can fructify the other, albeit in very different ways. The result is truly impressive.
This is a very rare book in many ways. First, it directly engages scientific literature that treats the experience of space; not since Merleau-Ponty himself has there been a comparable engagement. Second, it institutes a lively debate with this literature that shows how a different model from that of science including ecological science as practiced by J. J. Gibson and dynamics systems theory is required in order to avoid positing a ready-made world taken for granted, or else an infinite regress of models. Third, Morris draws in everyday experiences of space and place in order to elucidate the deep problem of depth a problem that heretofore has not been elucidated so intelligently and imaginatively resolved. Fourth, he adopts a developmental perspective on perception and motion that makes his work virtually unique and that brings additional light to bear on the question of depth. Fifth, Morris explores the implications of his model of depth for the experience of place in human experience a bold undertaking that succeeds remarkably well. In sum, this is a groundbreaking work. Edward S. Casey, author of Imagining: A Phenomenological Study, Second Edition"
About the Author
David Morris is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Trent University.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.