Yi (邑): Chinese sense of place

Yi (邑), which literally means “county”, actually implies, on the hermeneutic level, a far more evocative and reflective attunement to a unique cultural sense of place that defines the traditional, earthbound Chinese attitude. For the Chinese, existence is not merely presence in spatiality, but an existential reference to place – what the German philosopher Heidegger describes as the engagement with the “placeness” of place (Örtlichkeit der Orte) as the “placehood” (Ortschaft) of being (Heidegger, 1996). Yi, in essence, is existential topology. In its meaningfulness, yi is also the voice of the Chinese people. Often found on Chinese gravestones in foreign lands, yi speaks beyond death, hence beyond the temporal limitations of an individual’s temporality.

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