Edward Casey: Subliminal Hermeneutics in the Wake of Place

In Bruce Janz (ed.), Place, Space, and Hermeneutics. pp. 289-300 (2017)

David Morris
Concordia University
Edward S. Casey’s rich and detailed work on place (now spanning at least seven books) harbors many insights regarding the hermeneutics of place—even though he does not directly address this topic under that heading. So I begin by briefly mapping his work in its relevance to the hermeneutics of place. This lets me descry an underlying methodological and conceptual trajectory that contextualizes the main task of this chapter, namely, articulating two of Casey’s distinctive contributions to the hermeneutics of place, and then drawing out a deeper implication. Casey’s first distinctive contribution is his study of moving, bodily implacement as key to the determinate appearance of things in places, places and place itself —and thereby crucial to the hermeneutics of place. The second contribution arises from Casey’s more recent and highly innovative work on what he calls periphenomena. Periphenomena, such as glances and edges, are peripheral to phenomena, yet guide our moving, bodily implacement; they are thus ingredient in our encountering places, and things in places, as determinate phenomena. Periphenomena though, are beneath direct notice and inherently escape clear determination or delimitation—they are what I call subliminal. These two contributions together imply a third, underlying point that I draw out of Casey, namely that a hermeneutics of place and indeed all hermeneutics turns on a hermeneutics of place, that is, an account of hermeneutical activity as itself arising from and granted by place—yet the place that grants meaning is not some already fully given and determinate foundation, but is subliminal. This has ethical implications.
Keywords Edward S. Case  place  hermeneutics  edges
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