AbysmalA Critique of Cartographic Reason

AbysmalA Critique of Cartographic Reason

Gunnar Olsson

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226629308

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

People rely on reason to think about and navigate the abstract world of human relations in much the same way they rely on maps to study and traverse the physical world. Starting from that simple observation, this book offers a critique of the way human thought and action have become deeply immersed in the rhetoric of cartography and how this cartographic reasoning allows the powerful to map out other people's lives. Comprising a reading of Western philosophy, religion, and mythology that draws on early maps and atlases; Plato, Immanuel Kant, and Ludwig Wittgenstein; and Thomas Pynchon, Gilgamesh, and Marcel Duchamp, the book is itself a minimalist guide to the terrain of Western culture. It roams widely but always returns to the problems inherent in reason, to question the outdated assumptions and fixed ideas that thinking cartographically entails.