Space and Place (by Yi Fu Tuan)


What the Reading is saying:

What Yi Fu Tuan talks about in this paper is about how culture, the common experience and the human body is what defines our understanding of spatial values.

People differ in how they divide up their world, assign values to them, and measure these in quantities. The Fundamental Principles of Spatial Organization is firstly Posture and structure of the human body, followed by Relations between human beings.

In other words, space is organized to fit our biological needs and social relations. It is human-construed, based on the body’s coordinates and intentions.

Space offers Direction, Location, Distance, Language and Area. 

Direction influences one’s perception of cultures and beliefs in human terms. For example, being placed higher or in front means that you are more superior and better than the ones lower and at the back. The Right side also refers to sacred power and being good, while the left side is more commonly associated with the profane and the impure.

Location refers to our spatial awareness, and this provides the human body a sense of space when they have points and coordinates to demarcate their understanding of space.

Distance is measured and better understood (which will then be translated to how it is compared to space) through human body parts and our common experience in comparing our body and feelings with other objects.

Language can be locational. It directly guides you to understand how space is being organized.

Finally, Area is compared to the human body when it is treated as a container. The common experience determines how we measure capacity.


My Thoughts:

I feel that the human body requires all 5 senses to be able to feel the space around us. This includes how we believe a space should feel like, and what elements are included in this space. For example, there can be a sofa in a room, and only through sight can you identify where the sofa is, and only through the common experience of how wide your steps are and what way you can travel to reach the sofa can you travel correctly to the sofa and take a sit.

Ultimately, I feel that since culture (what we believe about and how we interpret things thereafter) plays a huge role in determining what we think of space, humanism can be seen as a scientific counterpart in its identification of geography. An actual space is influenced by the cultural process people have, where there is a relationship between the common experience and perceptions hereafter.

Even though both concepts are largely different, with distance etc. being largely practical and scientific and the body’s instinctual movements and identification of measurement being humanistic in comparison, they both have to work together to create a space that can be accounted for by people.


My Questions:

A couple of questions I would like to bring up includes:Since everyone are unique individuals and have different human perceptions as a result, how did they come to agree that body parts can be used as a good estimation or comparison with space? Wouldn’t their perceptions be vastly different based on how they understand things? Who decided that body estimation was a good idea? e.g. Foot, Mile, Feet, Thumb, Palm, etc.


Thaaanks for reading! 😀

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