Towards a Phenomenology of Dwelling

Lisa Guenther

Abstract


This paper explores the connections between contemporary environmental ethics and the
Greek notion of an ethos or €dwelling place€ as articulated by Heraclitus€ fragment 119 (ethos anthropoi daimon, or €Man dwells, insofar as he is man, in nearness to a god€). Moving between textual analysis and phenomenological description, the author proposes that the ethos of dwelling is a space of hospitality and respect for the more-than-human world. This ethos is made possible by the tension between nearness and distance, or relation and difference, in the world we inhabit with others; it is collapsed by our fantasies of incorporating or fusing with the natural world. To dwell responsibly is thus to make room for others by dwelling within certain limits, recognizing that we become who we are as human beings only in response to a complex world which exceeds human existence and comprehension. An analysis of such writers as Heidegger, Hannah Arendt and Ivan Illich brings this ethos into view.

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