Philosophical Explorations in Geography: Notes from the Field

Jeff Malpas

Despite Immanuel Kant’s role as the pioneer of modern academic geography, the engagement by contemporary philosophers with the intellectual landscape of geography is slight. Contemporary geographers, on the other hand, seem to make frequent forays into philosophical territory, often remapping geography itself in ways that owes much to philosophical ideas and approaches. As a result, many different pathways have opened up in geography in recent years, pathways that emerge, converge, and diverge, and that have also give rise to a complex and heavily inscribed landscape. As a philosopher who often finds himself in that landscape, trying to find a way into and across the territory, I have been involved in trying to come to grips with geographer’s own mappings as well as to work out my own. Having set up my own small base camp in the geographical foothills, these brief notes from the field aim to identify some of the landmarks that seem to me to make geography so important a landscape for contemporary thinking, but also to show why many of geography’s own mappings of that landscape, especially when they draw on the previous working of philosophers, seem often to go awry. 

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