Reply To: Human geography

  • Encyclios

    April 24, 2023 at 9:53 AM

    The contribution of the humanist view

    If we avoid conceiving of humans as mere pawns or machines, we discover dimensions of geography previously ignored. Geographical space is differentiated not only by orography, climate, vegetation and the works created in it by human activities: it reveals an ontology of space that is indispensable for understanding the relationship between humans and the environment. The fundamental distinction is between that which is influenced by the transcendent and that which depends only on the intervention of natural forces. In the former case the sacred emerges, evidenced by the existence of places of worship, altars and temples; in the latter there is only the mundane, the profane, the ordinary. From one civilization to another, the division between the two categories of spaces changes: while for animists supernatural forces are present everywhere, are co-extensive with nature and the world is magical, with revealed religions and rationalist philosophies demythicization begins, and the sacred is no longer omnipresent, but emerges only in certain places or in human creatures made in the image of God. However, this demythicization of the world is less radical than is commonly imagined, because ideologies are founded on principles similar to those of the religions they are intended to replace: they too accept the idea of evil, but they mostly attribute its cause to society and its faults, rather than to some original sin. Redemption from sins no longer occurs through individual sacrifices, confession and repentance, but is based on collective sacrifices, those of the classes that caused the evil. Ideologies involve revolutions, that is, gigantic holocausts. The places where the martyrs of the good cause shed their blood are revered as the sacred sites of traditional religions, they are pilgrimage sites, and in them sacrifice is reactualized through great commemorative rites. The geography of the sacred and the profane — to cite just this example — confronts us with some of the fundamental problems of modern consciousness.