chapter  8
15 Pages

Realism

It is probable that the last decade will be regarded as a turning point in the writing of modern geography. Compared with earlier times, the number of important works advocating different philosophical departures was relatively great. Borrowings from phenomenology, existentialism, Marxism and idealism have been presented as new humanistic approaches. Each, it has been argued, could rescue human geography from the stagnating influence of naturalism, empiricism, positivism and instrumentalism. Of the main philosophical movements of our time, realism is one of the few whose virtues have not been advertised as a cure for geographical discontent. I believe we have need for an exposure to realist philosophy — although I would not go so far as to propose realism as an excelsior. If realist philosophy is not marketed for its overall virtue, it is valuable as a means of showing the limits of other philosophical wonder men now being promoted — particularly idealism, the tradition with which realism is commonly contrasted in our time. Certainly a balanced argument calls for a deeper consideration of the connections between geography and realism.