Cosmos & Hearth: A Cosmopolite's Viewpoint

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U of Minnesota Press, 1996 - Social Science - 204 pages
In a volume that represents the culmination of his life's work in considering the relationship between culture and landscape, Tuan argues that "cosmos" and "hearth" are two scales that anchor what it means to be fully and happily human. Hearth is our house and neighborhood, family and kinfolk, habit and custom. Cosmos, by contrast, is the larger reality - world, civilization, and humankind. Tuan addresses the extraordinary revival of interest in the hearth in recent decades, examining both the positive and negative effects of this renewed concern. Among the beneficent outcomes has been a revival of ethnic culture and sense of place. Negative repercussions abound, however, manifested as an upsurge in superstition, excessive pride in ancestry and custom, and a constricted worldview that when taken together can inflame local passions, leading at times to violent conflict - from riots in U.S. cities to wars in the Balkans. In Cosmos and Hearth, Tuan takes the position that we need to embrace both the sublime and the humble, drawing what is valuable from each.
Illustrating the importance of both cosmos and hearth with examples from his country of birth, China, and from his home of the past forty years, the United States, Tuan proposes a revised conception of culture, the "cosmopolitan hearth," that has the coziness but not the narrowness and bigotry of the traditional hearth. Tuan encourages not only being thoroughly grounded in one's own culture but also the embracing of curiosity about the world. Optimistic and deeply human, Cosmos and Hearth lays out a path to being "at home in the cosmos."

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COSMOS AND HEARTH: A Cosmopolite's Viewpoint

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Can humans meld the desire for a cozy, immediate surrounding with the broadening aspects of cosmopolitanism? This is Tuan's (Passing Strange and Wonderful: Aesthetics, Nature, and Culture, 1993, etc ... Read full review



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About the author (1996)

Yi-Fu Tuan is professor of geography at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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