Reflection: Ch 4 – Body, Personal Relations, and Spatial Values by Yi Fu Tuan

After reading this particular chapter, I have a deeper understanding on the perceptions of space and how it has evolved from an unknown concept to something that contains multiple meanings and perceptions.

It was interesting to find out the initial perception of personal space through the human body, and his understandings of directions and subsequently the labelled meanings of different directions. It was mentioned in the reading that humans used the perception of their body’s direction of space to define what was front, back, left and right, and this allowed humans to redefine the space of the world, to dedicate the directions of roads, buildings, and even to design recreational spaces such as parks.

Not only did the humans’ perception of space help them define the physical space around them, but it also allowed them to perceive the emotional space between people. And this gave rise to multiple meanings in speech, to define physical space and emotional space differently. In addition, each person’s perception of the meaning is different as well (in the emotional sense). The book used the example of the statement: “we’re good friends”, as the definition can be physically close or emotionally close. Other terms can also be “we’re going out” – it could mean going outside physically or they are dating.