Since composing the last What Are You Reading? column, I have moved across several states to my new job at Marian University in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin. This event has sparked a reflection on my part about how deeply moving can disturb one’s sense of self. According to one study that examines the experience of leaving one’s childhood home, moving means leaving behind one’s “physical places, social practices and mental meanings,” which inevitably affects one’s dreams and practical possibilities. Another study discusses how one’s attachment to place is criticized by society as a hindrance to success, leading those who stay in one place to believe they are not living up to social expectations.
Despite the safeness of moving (relatively—there was a tornado warning as I passed through Toledo), it can be upsetting to move, as one encounters a new environment, physical location, and social network. And because we are so thoroughly produced by these influences, a new area can change one in unpredictable ways. While the discomfort accompanying moving is often described in terms of ‘stress’ and ‘anxiety’ in popular culture, ontologists have been studying how one’s being, and not just one’s affects, are altered by new surroundings. Here are several papers that examine the way our being is created through the following forces:
- Culture: James K. Feibleman, “Culture as Applied Ontology,” The Philosophical Quarterly, October 1951.
- The Biological Environment: Robert Jason Scott, “Wild Ontology: Elaborating Environmental Pragmatism,” Ethics and the Environment, Autumn 2000.
- Skilled Bodies and Socializing Materials: Chris Gosden, “Social Ontologies,” Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, June 2008.
- Pre-Existing Community: Kyle Stroh, “Intersubjectivity of Dasein in Heidegger’s Being and Time: How Authenticity is a Return to Community,” Human Studies, June 2015.
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