The central objective of the Tranquille project is to explore the lived experience of place. We share with many others an interest in meaning, but a notion of meaning that is not restricted to narrowly linguistic or cognitive senses. In this regard, it would be accurate to say that we want to explore the interface of meaning and experience, and to show how meaning is grounded in human physicality and emotionality. The philosophical inspiration for the research is the phenomenological tradition, though we rely more on Merleau-Ponty than Heidegger. It is widely recognized that Merleau-Ponty owed an “enormous debt” to Heidegger. They shared a common interest in the links between self and world and both sought “to reverse the ontological priorities of Cartesian rationalism”. But in contrast to Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty explored in considerable detail the crucial role of human embodiment and its relation to “being in the world.” Merleau-Ponty’s view of the importance of embodiment is expressed in the quotation cited above, where he speaks of knowing the world through the body, and there is a sense in which our analysis starts from this idea of embodied knowledge. We see it as a key element of place-making and of the processes through which places become remarkable to those who inhabit them.
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