Geography between the general and the specific: A review on Geographic Thought: A Critical Introduction
YIN Liangming;YIN Qingmei;XU Jianhua;YE Chao;School of Geography Science, East China Normal University;School of Urban & Regional Science, East China Normal University;
Geography is a profound subject and the history of geographical ideas is important to the development of the geographical science itself. Western geography not only seeks for general theory, but also focuses on particular problems. The tensions between the general and the specific is one of the major concerns of geographic thoughts. And these tensions were getting stronger as many schools emerged after World War II, including positivist geography,humanistic geography, Marxist geography, feminist geography, postmodern geography, poststructural geography, post-human geography, and relational geography. This paper is a review of Geographic Thought: A Critical Introduction, which reveals the evolutions of the Western countries geographic thoughts, focusing on the thoughts of post-World War II geography schools; summing up the dialectical interaction between general and special, by introducing a brief history of geographic thoughts. And pointing out a critique is a core of Chinese geographical research and education. Since ancient Greece when Eratosthenes laid the tradition of mathematics, pursuing the general, Homer built up the tradition of description, region, art,what, in fact, is the special. Regional geography concentrates on specific areas, emphasizing particularities. Positivist geographers criticize regional geography and seek for general rules of science, which are universal. Humanistic geographers believe that something in reality must happen in a specific place. They are eager to rediscover that particularities are everywhere and cannot be covered by generality. Marxism geography digs out a theory of conditions to make such theory possible, and then challenges these conditions, focusing mainly on generality.Feminist geography not only focuses on common problems, but also emphasizes the difference between cognition; it is a combination of generality and particularity. Postmodern geography rejects the existence of absolute space order, emphasizing heterogeneity, peculiarity and uniqueness, but neglecting the regularity of things. Post-structural geography analyzes the surface without digging the truth of the structure, focusing on contextualization and diversity,rather than identity and universality. Relationship geography insists on universal materiality.Post-human geography is still concerned about the issue of particularity. Geography schools switch constantly between the general and the specific. This means that in future Chinese geography research and education should focus on critique, only through critical thinking and practice can we achieve a deeper understanding of the discipline and its evolution process, and only then we can better carry out popularization and theoretical innovations.