Concept of the Journal
About the Journal
New frontiers in spatial concepts – which frontiers and which spaces need to be considered, and how should they be conceptualized? To start with Space, a starting point can be the ‚classical‘ occidental urban space and its frontiers: what do they look like today, and why so? What are the forces that underlie their shaping and determine their further development? The same questions are valid for another kind of space, the newly emergent virtual spaces, or web 2.0- worlds. The core of occidental urbanity is the idea of a community of people (communitas) located in a communal space, yet recently the spatial frontiers have shifted from the ‚classical‘, essentially urban commune to Internet-based „virtual communities.“ Does such a change signal a shift in understanding of what a community is? And if so, what are the anthropological consequences for man as a `political being´ (Zoon politikon)? The relationship between the material and virtual world heralds a potential shift in the very understanding of communal living, social space, and even of being ‚human‘ as such – these challenging new frontiers await investigation. New Frontiers in Spatial Concepts is about Social Space here and now: its maintenance and construction via communication, its development since the onset of modernity, and its further development into the future, especially in the web 2.0-worlds. Why has the shift from an urban to an internet community taken place, and what are the consequences for society? Related to this shift, what are the problems, potential and meaning of mobility today? What are the anthropological premises and outcomes of these questions? These are some of the new frontiers of interest to us.
Related to these urgent questions for today’s human condition (conditio humana) are those relating to conceptualization, based on an occidental history of ideas. How has space been conceived and perceived in the past, what kind of shifts have emerged since the onset of modernity? How is the conception and perception of space continuing to shift under current accelerating conditions of change? Here are also new frontiers, to be investigated with philosophical as well as historical scrutiny. What are the epistemological and hermeneutical concepts needed to approach the aforementioned phenomena? With respect to new forms of internet-based sociality, the question has to be posed if traditional concepts of explanation are still adequate. In which directions, and in which ways do they have to be modified, even replaced by new approaches of investigating? What ideas transcend discourse to create and shape reality?
We invite critics, scholars and researchers to join in the pursuit of new frontiers in spatial concepts. The journal as a whole is divided into sections: Philosophy, Sociohistorical Analysis, Transcultural Analysis and Spatial Concepts. For purposes of clarity these are to be understood as major domains of investigation only; there will of course be overlap. And they are preliminary, not final. Because investigating the topics may show that in order to gain both a wider and deeper comprehension of the „conversations“ as they develop, additional domains may have to be established. An essential quality of the journal will be that the lines of inquiry initiated in the published papers will continue to develop under the stewardship of a permanent working group concerned with the issues addressed. Thus your contributions, joining the research of the working group, will be the basis of an ongoing communication creating a common investigation of the topics found. In this way, the journal can establish an ideal exchange platform for disseminating, finding, and elaborating ideas and concepts relevant to your respective research focuses. We invite you to participate, and the respective editors look forward to receiving your contributions.
The special appeal of the journal lies in its „to make things going“-orientation since it is not merely a journal like other ones, but linked to a permanent working group concerned with the issues adressed. So, research findings from that group find entrance to the journal; and even more important, your work as it is reflected in your contributions to the journal, it will be further discussed in that working group and communicated to you, thus inviting for common investigation of the topics found. In this way, the journal can establish an ideal exchange platform for disseminating, finding, and elaboration of ideas and conceptualizations relevant to your respective research focuses.
Each article forms part of one of the four chapters of the Journal. For each of these chapters, a scholar representing the specific scientific community is its editor.
In the wider context of spatial concepts, we are concentrating on the philosophy of technology and the philosophy of politics. In adopting these focus areas, we want to consider the following topics: premises, forms, shapes, and consequences of the changes taking place today, and taking place very quickly. We are interested in their starting points and their consequences in the sociopolitical, socioeconomic, as well as sociocultural realms of today’s world. We want to reflect and examine them in a critically. Since the onset of modernity, our occidental history of science is characterized by the tension between scientific and technical innovations on the one hand, and philosophical relection on the other. This relationship deserves closer attention, and therefore we want to focus on past and present attempts to clarify the intersection of these contrasting ways of thinking. These topics constitute our section of Philosophy.
This section embodies a broad domain, which encompasses an array of historical, social, and cultural interpretations made in the academic field, with emphasis on the history of science and technology. A central topic is the evolution of space since the Industrial Revolution as measured by the spatial development of modern industrial nations. Research and reflection on this development overlaps with the section Spatial Concepts. Besides the dynamic history of the use and appropriation of spaces, we are also interested in questions of the philosophy and science of perception. All these topics shall be looked at closely in this section.
This section concentrates on the cultural transfer of technology and its technique. What are the specific triggers and pathways of both technological and cultural diffusion? What influences and consequences are generated by these processes. The introduction of new technologies is not hindered by any cultural barriers but is spreading out and becoming ubiquitous. The continuum of technological innovation dispersing across the globe naturally affects spatial development inside diverse cultures. An example is the case of megacities, where international trends and modes of perception overlap with the local and historical. The result is a palimpsest of new and old, rich and poor, global and local. Cultural difference remains, but interdependencies develop. The dynamics of technological genesis and diffusion, as well as the various perceptions of ‚technique‘, and in particular of technically moulded spaces, inside the different cultural areas, are topics to be dealt with in the section of Transcultural Analysis.
Besides questions of gender, discourse, text, and image, the question of space is ubiquitous and variously engaged in the contemporary praxis of cultural and social sciences. The study of spatial concepts includes a wide array of perspectives, ranging from the sociological, social and cultural traditions of investigation of the ‚classical‘ fields to urbanistic issues and investigations into newly emerged virtual worlds. Some of these adopted ‚constructivist‘ critical framework, long before the rise of constructivism as a specific methodology to investigate cultures and their societies. When not being used figuratively, space is of course three-dimensional and can be analyzed accordingly with respect to geographical, socio-cultural, socio-political, or socio-economic realms. This is the predominant perspective of how to consider the phenomenon of space, of being spatial as a human precondition. ‚Social space‘ on the other hand, shall be looked at in terms of its relations to an occidental core idea, the human community. This embodies a space of its own, yet simultaneously, is located in other spaces. In this respect, virtual space also needs to be examined as new kind of space as such, and generator of new communities. A key is the phenomenon of perception: how do we conceive today’s spaces? What spaces have been lost, and what are new emerging ones? In these ways, „spatial concepts“ includes all attempts devoted to the analysis of socio-communicative processes leading to the construction and emergence of technical and technique-dependent spaces.