Cosmos and Hearth: A Cosmopolite's Viewpoint

Cosmos and Hearth: A Cosmopolite's Viewpoint

by Yi-Fu Tuan
     
 

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In a volume that represents the culmination of his life's work in considering the relationship between culture and landscape, eminent scholar Yi-Fu Tuan argues that "cosmos" and "hearth" are two scales that anchor what it means to be fully and happily human. Illustrating this contention with examples from both his native China and his home of the past forty years, the…  See more details below

Overview

In a volume that represents the culmination of his life's work in considering the relationship between culture and landscape, eminent scholar Yi-Fu Tuan argues that "cosmos" and "hearth" are two scales that anchor what it means to be fully and happily human. Illustrating this contention with examples from both his native China and his home of the past forty years, the United States, Tuan proposes a revised conception of culture, one thoroughly grounded in one's own society but also embracing curiosity about the world. Optimistic and deeply human, this important volume lays out a path to being "at home in the cosmos."

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hearth, as defined in this erudite, provocative inquiry, means familial warmth, small-scale intimacy, hometown loyalties. Cosmos is the larger reality of society, civilization, world. Tuan, geography professor (Univ. of Wisconsin) and author of Landscapes of Fear-born in China, raised there and in Australia and England-brings a cosmopolitan perspective to his discussion of our need to balance the polarities of hearth and cosmos. The book's centerpiece, a comparative analysis of China and the U.S., touches on the Confucian concept of cosmic harmony, China's centuries-old clash with Tibet, modern China's outward-directed modernization, and American immigrants' struggles against oppression and bias. Championing both the hearth and cities as necessary crucibles of human development, Tuan suggests that we strive for a "cosmopolitan hearth" by recognizing the importance of family and local ties while open-mindedly appreciating one's culture without chauvinism or xenophobia. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
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.) central question in a ranging, very personal study.

Up front, Tuan stakes claim to his cosmopolitan leanings; for him they represent optimism, playfulness, inquisitiveness, opposition to dogma. Yet he also appreciates home and hearth and their gifts of nurturance and renewal, though he is troubled by the current trend toward particularism and the drumbeat of ethnic heritage—does not the typical movement of life tend from hearth to cosmos? The product of both a Chinese and American (and Australian and English) upbringing, Tuan penetrates both cultures to see how they have dealt with the attractions of home and horizon. In China Tuan finds strong pullings in both directions: cosmic harmony and Confucian humanity, an authoritarian heavenly order versus a chaotic heterogeneity on earth. In the US he samples both our worldly role as economic and military power, and the rise of ethnic and cultural aspirations that have a very close-quarters vision. From these deliberations, Tuan proposes his own version of high modernism (optimistic, playful, etc.) couched in front of a cosmopolitan hearth: Know your own place, but know other places as well, the differences contributing to self-awareness. Those many hearths, that self-awareness, yield the ultimate peace: the acceptance of our impermanence. Go forth, read widely, laugh, be open to life's mysterious workings, think, think, think—Tuan's credos are laudable and engagingly presented, but hardly earthshaking.

Readers may wish a bit more spontaneity from Tuan, a man forever on the lookout to improve and elevate. Regarding sex, for instance, he wants to "convert the raw throbs of the body into grand human passions," via literature. So what's wrong with a little unreconstructed raw throbbing?

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780816627318
Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
Publication date:
03/28/1999
Edition description:
1
Pages:
216
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)

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