Space and time
In the preceding pages we have reviewed key concepts used in this “symbolic action theory”. In doing so we have encountered various problems which now require more specific reflection. Thus, in concentrating on “action”, i.e., the ways in which people pursue goals, we had to stress, time and again, that action takes place in situations, and we should now devote some attention to this topic. The environment in which we act is both material and social, and delimits the external conditions for action. Of course, this environment is not just a kind of a priori knowable structure; we cannot just look at it in order to know it. Rather, it has to be experienced, learned, constructed. Have I ever seen a house? Not in its entirety; I never saw more than one or two outer sides at a time, and in the inside I couldn’t see the external walls anymore. Yet I know what a house is, because I composed its image from all these bits of perception. My knowledge of the house is not an experience, but a construction resulting from a multitude of house-related actions. The more the contents of my reality are complex or abstract, the truer this is. I, a university professor, have in fact never seen “a university”: I have seen walls and windows and roofs, amphitheatres and seminar-rooms, libraries and laboratories, cafeterias and gardens, projectors and screens and computers, young people in big numbers and older people in smaller numbers, and in some ways I composed all these and many other perceptions to form my “experience”, or rather my conception, of the university. Our environment is learned and constructed, and this applies to material facts as well as to ideational ones, to things as well as to people.
KeywordsAction Space Future Anticipation Subjective Space Goal Approach Goal Distance
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