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We have been reminded at numerous points over the course of this study that there are, broadly speaking, two dominant methodological approaches to the study of place: from the inside and from the outside. The first approach is subjectivist or phenomenological in orientation; it is interested in place as an environing milieu—something experienced from within. The second approach is more properly objectivist and could be called scientific or cartographic; it emphasizes those aspects of place that can be extracted from phenomenological experience and considered in its absence. The first approach gives precedence to the density, complexity, and qualitative aspects of place experience and is associated with genres like landscape painting and first-person narrative. The second approach relies on the analytic abstraction and decentered perspective associated with maps; it appeals to the impersonal authority of science and emphasizes the search for structural regularities, quantifiable relationships, and other measurable characteristics, which can be represented in schematic or diagrammatic form—that is, as information.1 The first, when pushed to its extreme limit, tends to a kind of fusional ecstasy—a disappearance of the self into the world—as in the Heideggerian account of dwelling. The second tends, in its extreme versions, to reduce human experience to a set of data points (as in quantitative geography) or an epiphenomenal product of deep structures (as in the antihumanist branch of poststructuralism).
KeywordsVertical Integration Grand Unify Theory Human Subjectivity Landscape Painting Phenomenological Experience
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