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An Expressivist Psychology of Inhabited Spaces Open Access


Other title
aboriginal philosophy
cultural psychology
john hull
indigenous ontologies
poetic space
moral space
common space
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Lepine, Christopher B
Supervisor and department
Baerveldt, Cor (Psychology)
Examining committee member and department
Shields, Rob (Sociology)
Smythe, William (Psychology)
Nicoladis, Elena (Psychology)
Varnhagen, Connie (Psychology)
Mos, Leo (Psychology)
Baerveldt, Cor (Psychology)
Department of Psychology

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Modern experience is replete with expressions of spatiality. When people try to express their experience for others, they rely centrally upon spatial metaphors to make sense of things. Expressions of being “aimless” or “disoriented” in life, “close” to or “distant” from other people, “inner” and “outer” lives, all tell us something about how people are situated in their spaces. In psychology, too, we often see spatial language used to express how an individual “navigates” or “explores” a space, without much consideration of how the kinds of spatial metaphors used express culturally specific understandings of human existence. I propose a psychology that articulates how human beings experience inhabitation in an inherently spatial manner. I show that the spatial nature of human life requires an interpretive approach centered on expression and space. In this thesis I introduce a new cultural and social psychology based on the “expressivist” philosophy articulated by Charles Taylor and Isaiah Berlin, and exemplified in Gaston Bachelard’s poetics. Unlike the vast number of psychologies that take spatial language for granted, the expressivist arguments explored in this thesis make serious claims about the relationships among language, space and expression. I argue that the language of home is the primary way in which people express their psychological situation. I show how expressivism implies a genuinely cultural and social psychology that acts as an alternative to the “self-contained” conception of the individual inherited from Enlightenment philosophy. In making this argument, I draw centrally upon the expressivist concepts of inhabitation, space and expression. I show how an expressivist psychology can use the languages of space and expression to interpret how people make sense of their inhabited spaces. Ultimately, the expressivist psychology proposed here situates the meaning of personal experiences in common, moral and poetic spaces.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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