The experience of home and the space of citizenship

Southern Journal of Philosophy 48 (3):219-245 (2010)
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I argue that, although we are inherently intersubjective beings, we are not first or most originally “public” beings. Rather, to become a public being, that is, a citizen—in other words, to act as an independent and self-controlled agent in a community of similarly independent and self-controlled agents and, specifically, to do so in a shared space in the public arena—is something that we can successfully do only by emerging from our familiar, personal territories—our homes. Finding support in texts from philosophy, psychology, and the social sciences, I construe the claim that citizenship is a developed stance as a spatial issue. I conclude that a state (or, for that matter, a philosophy) that takes the human being to begin as an isolated individual agent fails to recognize the essential spatial relationships on which we depend—namely, those arising through our way of being-at-home in the world; and, as a result, such a stance not only misconstrues the parameters on which citizenship is itself possible but also risks developing a social situation that encourages behaviors we see in the agoraphobic—namely, the behaviors of alienated and fundamentally homeless human beings



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Kirsten Jacobson
University of Maine

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