To journey along a way of life
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Everyone has probably had the experience, at some time or other, of feeling lost, or of not knowing in which way to turn in order to reach a desired destination. Yet for most of the time we know where we are, and how to get to where we want to go. Ordinary life would be well-nigh impossible if we did not. It remains a challenge, however, to account for everyday skills of orientation and wayﬁnding. This challenge is compounded by the considerable potential for misunderstanding surrounding the question of what it actually means to know where one is, or the way to go. For the map-using stranger, making his way in unfamiliar country, ‘being here’ or ‘going there’ generally entails the ability to identify one’s current or intended future position with a certain spatial or geographic location, deﬁned by the intersection of particular coordinates on the map. But a person who has grown up in a country and is conversant with its ways knows quite well where he is, or in what direction to go, without having to consult an artefactual map. What, then, does he have that the stranger lacks? According to a view that has found wide support in the literatures of geography and psychology, there is no difference in principle between them. Both are map-users. For both, knowing where one is means identifying one’s position in the world with a location on the map. The difference is just that the native inhabitant’s map is held not in the hand but in the head, preserved not on paper but in memory, in the form of a comprehensive spatial representation of his usual surroundings. At any moment, it is supposed, he can access this mental or ‘cognitive’ map, and determine his location in terms of it.