Space and the Strategy of Life

  • John B. Calhoun


Space has value to life as a continuum which contains resources and provides experiences. Effective utilization of resources has culminated in the evolution of both aggressive defense of area and the formation of groups which share the some range. To the extent that an individual is alone when he experiences some aspect of his environment, he incorporates that item into his personality. The presence of others within his extended ego boundary may generate anxiety and produce defensive antagonism. This process of developing an identity with surroundings initiates the formation of a second kind of space within which we spend our lives. The experience of things becomes transformed into concepts about them until evolution produces a conceptual space in which values are related to relationships between abstract ideas rather than to ways of behaving in relation to physical situations. The responsible choice among ideas forming one’s conceptual space replaces the search for resources in physical space. Commitment to abstract values which guide action replaces aggressive defense of physical objects incorporated into one’s ego. Compassion--the understanding support of others with differing values--replaces submission to aggressive action. Evolutionary progression tends to increase the time and energy devoted to conceptual space. Herein lies a.partial solution to the population dilemma. Increase in numbers must cease within the next century. Nevertheless, evolutionary progression may continue through enlargement of conceptual space. Promoting enlargement of conceptual space requires increasing diversity of physical and ideational resources, kinds of living units, and assemblies they form, while increasing the number and effectiveness of links between these diverse elements and assemblies. Promotion in this sense will replace conservation as we--with compassion--guide the destiny of Earth toward creative exploitation of conceptual space through responsible commitments.


Culture Area Behavioral State Conceptual Space Target Diameter Village Site 
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© Plenum Press, New York 1971

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  • John B. Calhoun

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