This seminar uses two basic ideas as starting points. Firstly, the idea that place is an essential but neglected concept of philosophy, and secondly, the idea that place has an important role in the writings of one of the most renowned, albeit controversial thinkers of the previous century, Martin Heidegger (1889-1976). As Edward Casey, the American historian of philosophy, has pointed out in his very informative studies Getting Back into Place (1993) and The Fate of Place (1997), in western philosophical tradition place is considered a secondary phenomenon in comparison to space, which since the era of Descartes has been regarded as an infinite, homogeneous and objectively countable expanse. In this way, place tends to become the same as a simple position in space. Both the way place connects to space, time, habitation, construction and the feeling of motherland, concepts in other words on which the conceptual clarification of the nature and mission of architecture is based, as well as the way in which these concepts are organized in a single and cohesive entity have not been systematically examined by philosophy. Although Casey is of the opinion that land has reappeared in the writings of a number of thinkers, one of whom is undoubtedly Heidegger, the way in which Heidegger presents land in his latest work, seems to be special. In contrast to Casey, who claims that Heidegger gets to the concept of land through a by-pass, it is worth mentioning that Heidegger’s clearly stated intention is to develop an ontology directed towards the concept of land as such. In his mind, the question about being, which is the fundamental issue of Western philosophy, is transformed into a question about land, ontology into topology: being and land are connected to each other in a way that doesn’t allow us to understand one as a product of the other but on the contrary, compels us to consider being as something that can be revealed only in and through land.
Using Sein und Zeit [Being and Time] (1927) together with the more recent Das Ding [The Thing] (1950), BauenWohnenDenken [Building, Dwelling, Thinking] (1951), „...dichterischwohnetderMensch...“ […poetically man dwells…] (1951), DieFragenachderTechnik [The Question concerning Technique] (1953) and DieKunstundderRaum [Art and Space] (1969) we will try to show: first, that Heidegger’s thoughts are a constant attempt at highlighting land as the medium in which every human experience either theoretical or practical , conative or rational must happen; secondly, that a sufficient understanding of land presupposes a critical dialogue with the way Descartes and Kant see land; thirdly, that an unclear understanding of land carries the risk of a mistaken political stance just like the one adopted by the German thinker himself during the crucial period of 1933-1936; and fourthly, that a thought which demonstrates the vital role of land in composing human experience, contributes directly or indirectly to the discovery of the special importance of imagination (Gaston Bachelard), corporeity (Maurice Merleau-Ponty), the radical alterity of the Other (Emmanuel Levinas), and the materiality of a point (Jacques Derrida).
Bachelard, Gaston, The Poetics of Space, Boston: Beacon Press, 1958.
Buttimer, Anne and David Seamon (eds.), The Human Experience of Space and Place, London: Croom Helm, 1980.
Casey, Edward S., The Fate of Place, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.
Casey, Edward S., Getting Back into Place, Bloomington: Indiana University, 1993.
de Beistegui, Miguel, Heidegger and the Political: Dystopias, London: Routledge, 1998.
de Beistegui, Miguel, Thinking with Heidegger. Displacements, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.
Derrida, Jacques, Margins of Philosophy, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1982.
Derrida, Jacques, Writing and Difference, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1978.
Dreyfus, Hubert L., Being-in-the World: A Commentary on Heidegger’s “Being and Time”, Division I, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1991.
Elden, Stuart, “Hölderlin and the Importance of Place”, Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 30 (1999), 258-274.
Elden, Stuart, Mapping the Present: Heidegger, Foucault, and the Project of a Spatial History, London: Continuum, 2001.
Feenberg, Andrew, Heidegger and Marcuse. The Catastrophe and Redemption of History, New York and London: Routledge, 2005.
Gadamer, Hans-Georg, Truth and Method, New York: Crossroad, 1992.
Harries, Karsten, The Ethical Function of Architecture, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1998.
Heidegger, Martin, Voträge und Aufsätze, Frankfurt: Klostermann, 2000
Heidegger, Martin, Being and Time: A Translation of “Sein und Zeit”, Albany: Sunny Press, 1996.
Kant, Immanuel, Political Writings, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
Leach, Neil (ed.), Architecture and Revolution. Contemporary perspectives on Central and Eastern Europe, London: Routledge, 1999.
Lyotard, J.-F., The Inhuman, Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991.
Malpas, Jeff, Heidegger’s Topology: Being, Place, World, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2006.
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, Phenomenology of Perception, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1962.
Neske, G. and E. Kettering (eds.), Martin Heidegger and National Socialism, New York: Paragon House, 1990.
Norbert-Schulz, Christian, The Concept of Dwelling: On the Way to Figurative Architecture, New York: Rizolli, 1984.
Ott, Hugo, Martin Heidegger: A Political Life, London: Harper Collins, 1993.
Pignatelli, Paola Coppola, “The Dialectics of Urban Architecture: Hestia and Hermes,” Spring (1985).
Sluga, Hans, Heidegger’s Crisis: Philosophy and Politics in Nazi Germany, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993.
(In this site you can find, amongst others, the most important of Heidegger’s texts about technology and architecture translated in English).