Sacred Space, Profane Space, Human Space Author(s): Larry E.

Shiner Source: Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 40, No. 4 (Dec., 1972), pp. 425-436 Published by: Oxford University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1460891 Accessed: 07/08/2010 13:55
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"Landscape. 1972) O AAR . 12-17. van der Leeuw. As philosophy of religion and theology stir toward a wider consciousness. 1961. we owe a tremendousdebt to their work. Importantwork on the problem of sacredspace has also been done by the geographerof religions Erich Isaac. XI. Some of the intellectual forces which were responsible for our fascination with time such as relativity theory or existential phenomenology have also held out new perspectives on space. Like most obsessionsit has tended to numb our perception for other realmsof experience. much remainsto be accomplished we are fully to appreciatethe religious valorization if of space and begin to lay the foundations for an existential understandingof nature."(3) to reconsiderthe concept of sacredspace and profane space in light of the analysisof humanspatiality." My contributiontoward that end is to show how the typical to polarityof sacredand profanespacehas been overdrawn the point of obscuring the actualcharacter human spatialityin its manifold dimensions. New York. as in so many others. 1963. G. II. Religion in Essenceand Manifestation.however. LARRY E. Isaac and others usually attributeto sacred space than with the polarizationof the data which resultswhen the concept is applied. Van der Leeuw. One of the first tasks that needs to be taken up is to clarifythe meaning of "sacredspace. Of course.' Although in this respect. SHINER ALMOST every period life with Western intellectual hasbeenpreoccupied the problem of time and history. It will be arguedthat distortionsof both present and past spatial experienceare IN 'Mircea Eliade. Among the studentsof religiousphenomena. (2) to describethe structures of "livedspace. My quarrelis less with the qualities which Eliade.New York: Harper& Row.there have long been premonitionsof this turn towardnature. Acre. 28-32. JAAR XL/4 (Dec. Winter 1961-1962.SangamonState University. SHINER is AssociateProfessorof Philosophy.Human Space LARRY E. Winter 1964-1965. "God's Landscape.Vol. pp.The Sacredand the Profane. Patterns in CompartiveReligion. 1963.only van der Leeuw and Eliade have given space equal prominence with time. In place of of this radicalpolarityI will sketchin a descriptionof "livedspace"and will suggest that lived space is the possibility of both the homogenousspace of objectifying thought and the luminosityof sacredplaces. In the last fifty years this preoccupation has become an obsession. See "TheAct and the Covenant. Vol. especially in literatureand theology. pp.SacredSpace.they are slowly beginning to focus on the realmof natureand space. My procedurewill be (1) to briefly summarizeEliade'sconceptionof sacredand profanespace since it is the most complete and sophisticatedaccountwe now have." Vol. New York: MeridianBooks. XIV.Profane Space.

20.p. By repeating"thearchetypeof the sacredspace in illo tempore" the chaos of the unknownor uncultivatedterritoryis transformed into a cosmos. 375-78. In keeping with his polar understandingof sacred and profane."withoutstructure consistency.p. 372.amorphous. 21. Profane space is above all homogenous and neutral. these hierophaniesneed not be as explicit as Jacob'sdream. pp. a breakin plane which createsan opening between cosmic levels. of course."2Such relativity and or lack of orientationis virtuallyequivalentto an experienceof space as chaos.. sanctuariesor cities. accordingto Eliade. p. SHINER bound to occur unless the conceptsof sacredand profane space are rooted in an analysisof the structuresof human spatiality. Here an additional aspect in the consecrationof sacred space comes into play. SACRED AND PROFANE SPACE Although Eliade'sconcern with sacred and profane space is a concern with experiencenot conceptually. 5Ibid. 3Ibid. l Ibid.4 Techniquesof orientationare particularly importantin the selection or constructionof high holy places such as centralceremonialgrounds. he describes the contrastingspatial experiencesof homo religiosus and modern." "power. earth and underworld. *Eliade.. Whether village or city. relativity/absoluteness.. the central axis for all future orientation. This manifestationof the "real. 1. Insteada sign may be given or even provoked. (4) by consecratingboth a horizontal point of reference and a vertical axis of communicationa world is founded."or "being"founds a world by "revealinga fixed point. 370. the principal characteristics sacredspace are that it (1) marksa break in the homogeneityand amorphousness hitherto undifof ferentiatedspace. . place consecrated the hierophanymay come to be honoredas any by the navel of the cosmos. (5) this foundation is seen as a repetitionof the primordialact of creationby the gods. According to Eliade." In Eliade'sinterpretation of then. a world.his own presentationis.is the symbolismof the Center.426 LARRY B. (3) the Centeris also an axis mundi. grove or mountain. profane man in terms of a series of opposites: homogeneity/heterogeneity.conceptual.quantity/quality. the junction of heaven.Sacredand Profane.e. Patterns.p.5 The chief symbolismin all these consecrations. it also cuts an opening for communicationbetween cosmic planes. (2) these breaksprovide a spatial orientationespeciallywhen they bear the symbolismof the Center as almost all major breaksdo.house or sanctuary. For sacred space comes about-as do all sacred phenomena for Eliade-through a or hierophany."3 Not only does the hierophanybreakthe continuityof profane space. by turning an animal loose to wanderand then acceptingthe spot where he is later found and sacrificedas the designatedlocus of village or altar. chaos/cosmos. ' Eliade.g.. since these ceremonies are seen as a repetition of the work of the gods.

SMaurice Merleau-Ponty. LIVED SPACE 427 be presented if thisviewrepresents a faithful as account ournativeexperiof less enceof space thana special thereis no doubtthat kindof abstraction. roundings. in of and the spatial explorations architecture painting.whether a non-lineal to archaic societysuchas thatof the TrobriandIslands to traditional or culture whichtreatsthe interval(ma) Japanese not as a characterless but as possessing void formandsignificance its own. John White. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall. temporalized the spaceof relathat culture thereis moreto space tivitytheory-all thesesuggest withinWestern thanmeetsthe measuring eye. Hall. that space is continuousand infinite.SACRED SPACE.it missesthe waywe live spaof environing We do not natively in tially. Oursituation is space rather morelike thatof a deerin a clearing. The variegated phenomena territoriality men and animals. Architecture as Space. In the discussion which follows the conventionalpublic idea of space as a homogenouscontinuum will play the role of a foil.totally sensible the critical of distance mustmaintain she frompossible ings. Gaston Bachelard.we of areforced admitthatthe "common to sense" viewof spacedoesnotrepresent the essential of albeitone convention.7 And when we turnto cultures quite different fromourown.Through intermingled as humanspaceis percontinuum. Of eventhe unreflective is of Westerners strongspatial everyday experience literate medium. 1968. p.instinctually our bodieswe are intimately with our surpredators. London: Faber and Faber. 1964. Through the Vanishing Point. New York: Harper & Row. aware hersurroundof alert. New York. New York: Doubleday. quitepowerful In the firstplacethe normative Westernview of spacedoes not reflectthe of character ourexperiences space. The Birth and Rebirth of Pictoral Space.9We arenot "in" as shoesarein a box. If we stepbackfromourconof along ventional we environpresuppositions will beginto see thatspaceis a populated mentwe inhabit. ' Dorothy Lee. differences socialdistance and urbanorganization fromsocietyto society. Marshall McLuhan and Harley Parker. 1945. 1967. Freedom and Culture. spatiality our world. T. New York: Orion Press. 1966. p. PROFANE SPACE. 1959. Particularly useful for the way they reflect on the general problem of human spatiality are Bruno Zevi. 162. The Poetics of Space. that no directionhas any privilege over any other. Homogeneity means that every point is of equal value to every other point. HUMAN SPACE 2. Paris: Gallimard. Horizon Press. There are numerous works on space in the arts. Human spatialitywill . La Phenomenologie de la Perception. Yet if alongwithclockandcalendar in theearly we look morecloselyand withoutprejudice will discover richesof spatial we orientation conception and whichdo not fit the conventional apgeometricized in of the proach. course.8 It is but a parochial whichhasproved usefulandfor somepurposes indeed. experience spaceas a kindof container whichwe findourselves with a collection objects. The Hidden Dimension. influenced this concept spaceas a homogenous qualityless of and ly by It is already on the smallchildthrough normal familial associations his impressed andtheninculcated time grades. 56. 1957.Farfromappearing an abstract 7 For social space in cross-cultural perspective see E.

territory is a world. that is. New York: Harcourt. p. 115. and Robert Ardrey. In addition to the varieties of place and their significance there are our accustomedpathways. by Gregory P. 1969. etc. In trying to find adequate categoriesfor his social psychologyKurt Lewin came to the conclusionthat the usual conceptof physicalspacewas inadequateto expressthe character human of from the non-Euclidian he spoke of life space spatiality. the street." which can easily be coordinatedto psychologicallocomotion. Farberman. . danger spots and spaces of special function such as playgroundsor civic centers. ed. 1966. Waltham. Field Theory in Social Science. Borrowing geometries.428 LARRY E. As an environmentor territory. "Kurt Lewin. SHINER ceived as a horizon peopled with familiar beings whose distancesand directions are impregnatedwith meanings. Ratherthan an empty receptaclein which objects are located. ed. New York: Oxford University Press. The Territorial Imperative. way). cf. its parts are not infinitely divisible but are composed of certain units or regions. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall. Human space is this "1The best known studies on animal territoriality and its implications for human spatiality are Konrad Lorenz On Aggression. cit. New York: Harper & Row. 1951. Within neighborhood.mountainsand rivers which define our possibilities of vision and movement. New York: Athenum. hodos. 1970. as a hodological space (from Gr. Personal Space."12 Lived space is kinestheticbecauseit is composedof pathwaysfor movement-the enclosureof the house or factory. Stanford M.." Although no longer instinctualin man. Studies of depth awarenesshave shown that perception alone cannotgive us three dimensionality. the role of national territoryor the domain of a particularstreet gang or simply the tendencyof each of us to think in termsof "our" underlinesthe persistenceof territoriality. Scott. 1968. F.of the highways.lived space is known primarilythrough our moving about in it. 1 Hall.. the familiarhabitator homelandfor a society or an individual It has its roughly defined outer limits and varied zones within and its "center. Mass. Ashley Montagu. "Territoriality: A Neglected Sociological Dimension. Direction and distance are defined by "distinguishedpaths. 26. the gateways.the piazza." Only by walking througha building or a city squaredo we come to sense its spatiality.some of which we take as a matter of habit or convenience but others which are specially chosen for their aesthetic qualityor becausethey follow an historic route. M." in Social Psychology Through Symbolic Interaction.: Ginn-Blaisdell. Lyman and Marvin B. Man and Aggression. Brace & World. the largerboundsof the territorywhich we think of as our own there are familiar and cherishedplaces. 1966. space begins to appear as something which is given by the relationof the trees and houses. Certainlyterritoriality the fundamental constantsof both humanand animallife. Stone & Harvey S.or simply the gaps between the trees of a park or the flower beds of a garden. meaning a "finitely structured space. Both Lorenz and Ardrey have come under sharp attack. Sociological studies dealing with territoriality are Robert Sommer.10 Fundamentally. op. The environing characterof space is perhaps best seen by considering the must be consideredone of phenomenonof territoriality. p.

Correspondingly. 1962. lived space is permeatedwith human significance.""walking distance. places of lived space are the not abstractlocationson a grid but centers of human activity. of a "here"and "there. But even though the 'Heidegger designates the fundamental spatiality of human being-in-the-world as Ent fernung (de-severance). 116. The most fundamental mark of sacredas opposed to profane space is also the preeminentcharacteristic of lived space: it is heterogenous."'3 In lived space distanceis alwaysa matter of the kind of relation we have to anotherpersonor locale. 139. . Distance arisesfrom the character our bodily orienof tation in an environmentand must be understoodin terms of specific intentions to bring or come nearor get far from something. commercialand culturalaspects."' As the encompassinghabitat of human life. economic or spiritual focus but such rudimentaryindicatorsas up and down. the parallels are remarkable. art. New York: Harper & Row. As comparedto the homogeneityand indifferenceof geometricalspace.""' Nor can it be assertedthat the "profane" man of modern industrialsocieties exno privileged orientationin space. economic.lived spaceis heterogenousand discontinuous. finance. If one thinks of the districtsof a city such as Boston or New York with their complex identities combining ethnic. it lets any entity be encountered close by as the entity which it is. right and left come to bear a certain symbolic weight. LIVED SPACE. where distance. e.. op. There may indeed be a tendency periences to find centersof significance and orientationmore dispersedand more specialof ized. 200. p. When we estimateor calculate distancesin our ordinaryexperienceit is usuallyin such active terms as "within reach."'4 Direction in lived space is not only related to our purposive involvement with things but the territory itself comes to be ordered in terms of privileged directions. "Dasein is essentially de-severant. its orientations and places are interlaced with symbolic associations. One simply cannot characterize spatiality the of modern man's life-world as "without structureor consistency.. mode. p. It is tied to humanaims and meanings. 1 Eliade. PROFANE SPACE.amorphous.direction and place are determinedby valuationand purposivemovement. the "capitals" politics. 3." intersectingcoordinates than of "sites. It is the relation of making something far come near by. of coming closer and bringing closer.""driving time. pp. cit.g. SACRED SPACE If we put the basic characteristics lived space alongsideEliade'scharacterof ization of sacred space. Human of space is less a matter of "positions"than of "situations. p. Not only may the environing territoryhave its center or centers of political. 1 Ibid. Sacred and Profane. it is evident that the "North End" or the "LowerEast Side" are not merely terrains of definite geophysical location and size but territories whose symbolic meanings define their location and significance in human space.. " Merleau-Ponty. 140-141. HUMAN SPACE 429 separationof things which gives the possibility of movement.SACREDSPACE." Being and Time.

17." Eliade dismissesthe modern house as a merely functional and interchangeable product of industry.20 Moreover. 18Ibid. To be sure the "rationalism" Corbusier's of Le theory is even more pronouncedthan that of most contemporary architects. cit.pp. Modern Architecture. See pp. 42-48.p. Far from requiring a hierophanyto found a world. pp. Egypt.but he believes he is picking up motifs which are ancient. 24.""7 Accordingly. indeed. 1961."21 If we begin our investigationof sacredspace from the concept of lived space ratherthan the sacred/profanedichotomy. "* Corbusier. One could arguethat "being-in-the-world" (Heidegger) or being-towardthe world (Merleau-Ponty) are fundamentalstructures of the human mode of being rather than peculiaritiesof religious man. LARRY SHINER and their symbolism have developed specialized functions the spatial "centers" landscapeis not a chaos.buildings and ous architectsof the International cities as a spiritual activity.op. . if we in the context of the whole book from which it the "house-machine" put phrase came. 1 Ibid. On this point see also Vincent Scully. "peculiarto the religious experience of space. man and world are correlative.19 However. Jr. pp. the opening chapterof Le Courbusier's early manifestowhere he schools and the public demand for "historicalsouvenirs..1931. There are no doubt some modern spatial orientations and valorizations which are survivals and others which are outright continuationslittle altered in essentials from remote times. for example. 41-52."profaneman's"experienceof spatial heterogeneityis dismissedas a "degradation desacralization religious values." rails against the architectural Towardsa New Architecture. ancestors.430 E. But he treats these as mere survivals since heterogeneityis.in Ancient India.the analysisof modern sacred space and "survivals" can be put on a sounder footing. as the founding of a world. it is there primordiallyas the human environment.Eliaderecognizesthat modernman still experiencessome orientation and some privileged places. it appearsas a criticism not of the archaicdwelling but of the literally spiritlesspasticesof eclecticism. One ought to considerhis discussionof the geometricalorder to be found in the buildings of archaicsocieties. 50-51.. "Architecture is the first manifestationof man creating his own universe. Greeceand Rome. p.not only Le Corbusierbut numerSchool see the design of houses. "spirit" the 1 Ibid. Of course. in his words.New York: George Braziller. Even at the most elementarylevel of human experience. 69-74.. On the contrarythe surface of the earth is just as orderedand specified symbolicallyin modern as it is in archaicsocieties. ' See. London:John Rodeker. As survivalsone can point to the usual public dedicationceremonywhich has a primarilypragmatic aim such as political reinforcementor cultivating alumni the of supportbut is also overlaidwith invocationsof God. as a meaningfulenvironment. 153-173.space is organizedas a world. Lived space is a world. 13-17."18 An example of the exof and tremes to which so polarizeda view of the modern ("profane") experience of of space can lead is his characterization the modern house with Le Corbusier's famous phrase "a machine to live in.

Certainly.considerthe ascent in the Eiffel Tower. Sanders.SACRED SPACE.the sense of awe and expectationwhich one may feel in a Roman Catholic sanctuaryis not a survivalbut a continuation. and to shelterand give free space for the spirit of man. ." Irwin T. Numerousother buildings and city plans both old and new come to mind. the family buried earth from a sacred place near the village where they had found a treasuredikon of the Holy Virgin.of the earthand woods. Even more striking examples of continuationscan be found in the house-building practicesof rural peoples in Central and South Europe. To take an unlikely example. of constantly interpenetratingspaces.all are emphaticallyhuman. the human experience of spatiality. HUMAN SPACE 431 institutionor place. 1962.there are places and buildings which do embody and define spaces of great power. As a result of the interplay of inner and outer spacethroughthe open framework. not inferior in force and suggestion to the religious and was laid the family and relativescame together. the imperativethat is now guiding and inspiring modern town planning and architecturein its functionalistorigin and organic development. 54. but perhapsit will be enough if we cite a few of the monumentalworks of Le the Corbusier:the Unite d'Habitationat Marseilles. High Court Building at Chandigarh. p. In effect it is a great religious movement. Or consider Frank Lloyd Wright's famous "FallingWater"where the chthonianresonancesare counteredby the abundance of light and the plasticityof interior spaceswhile its massive stone and concrete exterior forms bespeak endurance. . much of the centeringand differentiationof zones of variedspiritualsignificance which occurs in the modern period is neither a direct continuationnor a mere vestige of the past but a new expressionof our fundamentalhuman spatializing activity. Obviously. PROFANE SPACE.Rainbow in the Rock: The People of Rural Greece. when the cornerstone throat of a cock. Ronchamp.LaTourette. . and town planning has produced much that reflects mere economic and political expediency. and let the blood spill on the four cornersof the house..the constantlychanging perspectiveas we move to a vantagelooking over the whole of the city lying astridethe Seine. selecting the eastern corner first . . . to be an expressionof spirit.seeking to expressthe human scale.to reinstate the spirit of the waters.22 On the other hand. But the idea that the most characteristic contemporaryarchitectureis for that reason a kind of spiritless functionalism which ignores its cosmic context is a gross misunderstanding.Cambridge:HarvardUniversityPress. siting. of air. in the cornerstone .. In the words of Bruno Zevi.cut the 22 . Naturally. . of light. Although modern building. that productof mechanical industry and pure engineering.is not to be interpreted as a materialisticor merely practicalexigency. we look down on the orderand unity of the city like gods and we find this most mechanisticof structureson which we stand.the extent to which any of the preeminent contemporary spatial foci evoke the kind of awe and enchantmentof characteristic sacredplaces is a matter to be settled by analysisof each of being case. It uses the productsof the machine to triumph over the merely mechanicaland functional. lightness of the whole as compared the to the massivesteel beams.

"Sur le symbolismpolitique en Gr&ce Ancienne: le Foyer Commun. the circularhearth which formed centerof the houseandaround the whichvarious ritessuchas marriage ' Zevi.1969.24 the Vincent of has Scully's study Greek temples underlined the importance the relation of between humanconstruction the sacrality of and the formsandspaces the natural of One landscape.No doubttherearesometendencies tion andflattening human of But it is unacceptable to spatial today. pp. LARRY SHINER spiritualmovementswhich inspired the spatial conceptionsof the past. op. and the Gods. Stein "Architecture et Arts peniee religieuseen extreme-orient. New York: Praeger.432 E. Both these concern aspectsof sacredspace which assureto its centerednessan absolutecharacter referenceto anotherworld." de Cahiersinternationaux Sociologie.Vol. SVincentScully. cit. 1957. 1951. 163-186. Thereis no question a greatdealof symbolism that omy whichmatches or Eliade's vanderLeeuw's criteria sacred for spacemaybe found in AncientGreeceas well as the FarEast. No. 158-159. Vol. One is the notion of a breakin plane which opens a communicationbetween cosmic levels. 4.the Temple. XI. but which goes beyond comfort to face the life and death problems of a problems of circumstantial for society in which the individualcravesfreedomand seeks passionately an integration of his culture." Asiatique.. A. 3. hillock the a of dirtor a conical stonewhichborethe numinosity Earth of herself of which and it signified Center. An excellent summaryof Asian themes which supportsmuch of Eliade'sanalysis is R. the other is the idea that the act of foundationis a repetition of a divine establishment. omphalos. pp. there remain two characteristics sacredspace in Eliade'sformulation which are only faintly reflected in contemporary lived space.The Earth. "Louis Gernet.without orientation or places of intrinsic significance.' of However. p.for example. a movement which is immanentin aim becauseit is human. off whichempelledto "take ourshoes." Nor doesit meanthereareno centers orderrecollections "other" human of worldsnow bodyin theirnameandspatial into the toward disorientapassed memory.25 of the mostcharacteristic manifestationsof Greek sacred space was the hestia. we cannothelp askingif it does complete to the spatialorientations of justice SomerecentFrench in Clasresearch spatial on previous peoples. spatiality If the sacred/profane falsifies contemporary our of polarity experience space. life What does matter is that the mere absenceof an absolutepoint of referencewhich connects us with the world(s) beyond does not leave in a spatial chaos. symbolization sicalGreececastsfurther doubton the adequacy the sacred/profane of dichotas an interpretive tool. That one no longer sees his own temple or his own capital as the absolutecenter or as paradigmatically linked to a trans- cendent doesnotmeanthatthereareno places awewherewe feel comof world. 22. Whether the fading and of absolutismand supernaturalism meant an unmitigatedimpoverishmentof has ourmodern is beyondthe scopeof our presentconsiderations. . experience the sacred of homoreligiosus the supposedly to anddisoppose space profanized oriented of man industrial andthen dismissthe spiritual conspatiality modern tent of modern as a merevestigeor survival.

Ibid. Sur 1'expression religieuse de 1'espace et de mouvement chez les Grecs. from any point to any other"Hermes does not indicate an to experienceof the homogeneityof space. who representsthe open space of the world of shepherdsand tradersas she representsthe closed space of familial gathering. However. Hermes. In the Hestia Koine we no longer have an analogyto the omphaloswith its chthonianconnectionsnor even a direct reflection of the relatively mild numinosity associatedwith the hestia. p.26 The hestia was also the seat of the goddess Hestia who accordinglysymbolizedthe solidity and immobility of the cosmos as well as the centeredness enclosed.27 If we consider Hestia together with her usual consort. Vol. 40-15. Howof ever." So far there appearslittle in what we have said aboutGreek spatialsymbolism which would suggest the inadequacy the usual sacred/profanepolarity. HUMAN SPACE 433 and the depositionof the infant took place. 42. Gernet. PROFANE SPACE. Of course. 21 " N Ibid. Yet it hardlyseems appropriate term this homogeneity profane since it is the medium of the god himself. ..29 "Jean-Pierre Vernant.." L'homme: revue francaise d'anthropologie..the sacrificesand the communal meals held at the common hearth were primarilyacts of political representation and solidarity rather than consecrations or renewals of chthonian of powers.domesticspace. Nevertheless.in Greece hardlyanything was political without at the same time being religious and vice versa.a fixed point of priviof leged value from which one can orient and define qualitativelydifferent directions. 48.p. cit. 15. At the least the figure of Hermes shows that even in archaicGreece space was not always conceived in terms of hierophanticpoints which defined orientation and provided communicationwith other cosmic levels. No. can organize it anywhere and even move it about. 1963. but at the same time space is the place of movement.. op. but a primarilypolitical center. if we reflect for a moment on the spatial significance of the figure of Hermes we cannot help wondering whethtr in symbolizingmovement in space as the "transition. pp. The Hestia Koine signifies a new representation social space since men can arrange it as they like. the common hearthfound in many of the majorcities. 3. 24-28. Not only did the of hestia anchorthe house to the earthbut throughthe roof opening over it the god's portion of the meals cooked on the hearthrose to the world above. The couple Hermes-Hestia expressesin its polaritythe tension which marksthe archaicrepresentation space: space demandsa center. p. we have a comprehensiveimage of both the masculine and feminine aspectsof Greek spatial experience.SACRED SPACE. the implications of the figure of Hermes are less decisive for our questioning of the interpretive value of the sacred/profanepolarity than is the transformationin the spatial meaning of Hestia once she becomesHestia Koine. "Hestia-Hermes.. 8.which implies the possibilityof transitionand passagefrom any point to any other.

" p." If we are "still in a religious context."35 we were to try to If understandwhat happens here using the customarysacred/profanepolarity.33 But as or with respect to the Roland Crahayhas pointed out. and in the balanceof the two terms it is the latter that weights most . characterof From the time of Cleisthenes (VI century B. as it appearsin the political symbolismof the common hearth.30 The city and countrysidewere divided into areas. to be sure.. 8 Roland Crahay. "Espace et organisation politique . new frameworks of experience develop which respond to the organizational needs of the world of the city. Economics. 41. The agorabecamethe site of the assemblyhall for the 500 elected representatives the new spatiallyconceivedterritoriesand these repreof sentativeswere given the right of being lodged at the common hearth (Hestia the Koine). 8 Jean-Pierre Vernant. "Espace et organization politique en Grece Ancienne."the hearthlost its chthoniandealings.it excluded mystery. 518. to speak of "secularization" classicalperiod in Ancient Greece is to introducea distinctiontotally foreign to Greek thought." Annales. "The Political Background of the Religious View of Man in Ancient Greece. On the contrary. As L6veque a decisive political reformoccurredunderCleistheneswhich shifted the principle of political organizationfrom that of clan representationto a purely territorial basis.434 LARRY SHINER E. 579. "the notion of center.. has taken on a markedlypositive and abstractcharacter. 82 m Ibid. 579. 60f. Although what happens is not a secularizationin the modern sense..) the "rational" and Vidal-Naquet have shown. the Hestia Koine'was accentuated.p. Paris: Les Belles-Lettres. pp. the usual sacred/profanedichotomy is even less so. Sociitds.34 If the secular/religiouspolarityis inadequateto grasp what is going on here. Clisthdne l'Athenian. 1963. 1965.".Civilizations. this properly human world where citizens deliberate and decide on their common business for themselves. Cleisthenes did not inauguratea political order in which space was treatedas a homogenous medium without orientation or significant direction..its cosmic implications."it is a new form of religion. Yet this new space is also homogenousin the sense that it lies about its center as an egalitariandeterminantof political representation. 85Vernant.C. p. 1964.31 In sum: As compared to former spatial. charged with religious values. a center which still bears traces of the symbolismof Hestia.we 80 Pierre IUv&queet Pierre Vidal-Naquet. temporal and numerical representations.. In the words of Jean-Pierre Vernant. a religion itself political.it is a space decisively oriented to its political center.with the reorganized agoraat their center." he continues.. Ibid. Under this arrangement common hearthdefines a centeredspace. p.8" of One possible characterization the shifts which occur in sixth centuryAthens is to speak of a secularization the inaugurationof a lay state. 579. .but one which is organizedon a principle of human equality (homogeneity) ratherthan in terms of proximity to a manifestationof the sacred. 20." Diogenes. Vol.

what conceptscan we use? It seemsto me Vernanthit upon the right term when he spoke of the new spatial experience as responding to the needs of the "worldof the city.C. We all start with our own world and read backwardfinding expressionsever more strangeto our own experience and yet for all their strangenessstriking a sympatheticresonance. this properlyhuman world where citizens deliberateand decide for themselves. In cases of rival interpretations which take different startingpoints a few examples. p. from the fact that those who put forth the sacred/profanepolarity as a starting point are in a similar situation. date the kinds of extreme phenomena for which the concepts of sacred and profane space were developed without distorting the phenomenawhich lie between these poles.do not make a proof."36If we begin with a sacred/profane or religious/secular dichotomy every piece of evidence tends to get polarized from the beginning and we end up with artificialparadoxes. I am aware that the course I have pursued in impugning the value of the sacred/profanepolarityas an interpretivecategoryfor the historyand philosophy of religion has run roughshodover some delicate hermeneuticalissues since I have in part based my critique on an interpretationof both contemporary and ancient spatialexperience. What shall we take as paradigmatic-the differencesor the similarities? Shall we start by contrastingthe profanityof modern city life with the sacralitywhich pervadesso many aspects of traditionalvillage life. On the other hand. HUMAN SPACE 435 would have to describethe spatial experienceof the sixth centuryB. lacking orspatial N Ibid.we can accommomentally heterogenous. Athenian in the same terms Eliade reservesfor the citizen of modern.of lived space with its fundaoriented and meaningful organization. If the sacred/profanepolarity is inadequateto characterize kind of spathe tiality which emerges in the developmentof the Hestia Koine and its amalgam with Cleisthenesreforms. however.. I think we have seen that althoughmodern spatialitylacks the sense of absolutenessand communicationwith other worlds which characterizes some ordersof past societies. especially with respect to contemporary materials. I can draw some comfort. modern space is not a kind of chaos. 578. PROFANE SPACE. profane industrial society where supposedlyonly faint survivalsof the sacredpunctuate an otherwise homogenousspace. The argumentsand evidence I have presentedshould at least caution the historian or philosopherof religion to be more exact in his definition and application of the sacred/profane polarity. Italics mine.SACRED SPACE. . or shall we start with the territorialityand orientation to centers of functional or historicalmeaning which is commonto both modernand traditionalmen? I am suggesting the latter starting point becauseI believe it can do justice to the experienceswhich are intendedin the usual opposition of sacredand profanespace without falling into the temptationof pressing every past or present spatial phenomenon into the dichotomousmold. even if successfullyinterpreted. if we begin with the concept of human spatiality.

. SHINER ientationor intrinsicsignificance. From this base one directionleads to the abstraction characteristic homogenous. So long as one understands human space or lived space to be the primarysource of both these poles one can use the designations"profane" "sacred" them. and for But then it would also be understoodthat both extremesrepresentin most contemporarysituationsthe exception ratherthan the rule.metric space and of of the other directionto the intensificationof meaning characteristic holy places. The interpretivealternativeI have proposed is to reject dualismfrom the outset and regardboth the picture of natureconstructed by the scientific tradition and the symbolismof natureemerging from the reliin gious traditionas equallygroundedin the "life-world. We are dealing with a continuumspreadingout from the averagehuman structural possibilities of spatial experiencetowardtwo kinds of limit.436 LARRY E." the fundamentalstructures of the humanexperienceof temporalityand spatiality. The spatial experienceof modernman is not profane but merely human.