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In this meditation on the difficult choices facing humanity in the next millenium, the author reaffirms his faith in the value of a cosmopolitan world view. He argues that "cosmos" and "hearth" are two scales that anchor what it means to be fully and happily human. Hearth is our house and neighbourhood, family and kinsfolk, habit and custom. Cosmos, by contrast, is the larger reality beyond - "world", "civilization" and "humankind". Illustrating the importance of both cosmos and hearth with examples from traditional China and the modern United States, the author concludes that the universal ideals of enlightenment, an attribute of the cosmic viewpoint of both East and West, can still inspire us with their characteristics.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780816627301
ISBN-10: 0816627304
Format: Hardback
(216mm x 138mm x 18mm)
Pages: 160
Imprint: University of Minnesota Press
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
Publish Date: 1-Mar-1996
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » 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? (Kirkus Reviews)


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