Philosophy and Ethics

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Monday, 25 May 2020

Home - a philosophy of personal space

An ideal rural 'home'? Not everyone's experience.

Appropriately, during lockdown, I'm working on a book that has been planned for many years. Entitled Home: a philosophy of personal space, it explores the way in which a sense of home impacts on how we understand ourselves and how we change as we move through life.
My present draft has reached the opening of chapter 4 this morning. Having explored the threat posed by the dimensions of the universe revealed by modern cosmology, and the process of mapping, by which we locate ourselves in our world. It then looks at what homes do in terms of our vision of ourselves... 
"Where there is no vision, the people perish."
                                                              Proverbs 29:18
Homes move, change, decay, or may slowly recede from emotional view. New homes offer hope, a glimpse of a desired lifestyle, potential identity.
We take all our previous homes with us, in the traces they have left on our personality, the gifts we received from them, the hurts they inflicted.  We are our homes. Layer upon layer, map upon map, they shape our confused selves. They jostle for attention; strive for primacy. They guide our shifting eyes.
To be genuinely homeless is to drift free, with no sense of self, no place. It is a terrible curse.  
At the opening of this chapter there stands a quotation from the Book of Proverbs. What does it mean to perish for lack of vision? What is vision? Clearly, nobody is going to perish because they fail to understand the relationship between quantum mechanics and relativity; it has to be more personal than that. The sort of vision needed is one that can see the place of mankind within the universe, accept it with all its limitations and still find within the sphere of human activity the sense of something that is of value, noble, tragic or beautiful. Lack of vision leads to despair. The failure to find any purpose or goal that is not immediately destroyed by an overall futility, may lead to frustration, or an obsession with the petty, an escape into trivia.
People need some vision by which to live. But how do you decide between a vision (which sets you in context and therefore gives valid and realistic bases for action) and an illusion - a mental image that is imposed on life in order to avoid the unpleasant features of its reality - a comfort and a return to childhood in a world that has grown up?
The sense of home is universal, but what are its implications?

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