5 Reasons There’s No Place Like Home | cultural | Report on arts, music and lifestyle in Germany | DW

So far, philosophers have paid little attention to the house, says Emanuele Coccia. The Paris-based history of philosophy professor set out to change that with his eye-opening book “Philosophy of the house. Lo spazio domestico e la felicita” (Philosophy of tthe House — Domestic Space and Happiness). These are some of his main ideas.

1. Everything that matters to people is in their homes

We build homes to provide cozy shelter for the part of the world that is essential to our personal happiness, writes Coccia. What’s essential for people ranges from granny’s favorite bedding and old apron to their children’s baby toys that still sit on the shelves in rooms they’ve long since left.

But the professor of philosophy invites the reader to look beyond the objects and furniture that people often accumulate – and to look at the people around us and who are often at home, such as partners, children, sometimes parents, grandparents, neighbours. or friends. He also says not to forget the plants on the balcony that are grown with love or the cat that eagerly awaits the return of its owner. Memories and dreams also belong to our house. It is the “museum of our ego”, writes Coccia.

2. We always come back

No matter how enjoyable a vacation trip was, people have to go home sooner or later. “We can still inhabit this planet only thanks to a house.” People live in a certain town or region because that’s where they have a house, apartment, mobile home or pitched their tent.

Cozy and cozy at home

Still, people don’t usually spend all day at home, Coccia says – it’s “the place to come back to.” After a long day at work, a weekend getaway, a summer vacation, a business trip or a stay abroad, this is where people come back, a reliable refuge that allows them first of all to open up to the world. People travel, but the familiar waits at home.

3. A bathroom of one’s own

The author delves into the history of the interior bathroom. For the longest time in human history, toilets were located outside of living space, in outbuildings in people’s yards or in tiny separate rooms in common hallways. According to Coccia, modern indoor bathrooms were introduced following the example of American hotels in the early 20th century.

Having your own bathroom “moved into a more private sector what had until then had a more communal character, namely personal care,” he writes. Anyone returning from a camping trip is probably relieved to jump in the shower in the privacy of their own bathroom.

4. Home is where our wardrobe is.

People also keep their clothes at home. When they travel, they bring their clothes in bags or suitcases. “Clothing is a notion of happiness inseparable from our body that can be taken everywhere,” writes Coccia. He calls people’s wardrobes at home a “moving body.” By the way people dress, they express their home, their identity and their attitude towards life in the public.

An elderly woman holds a dress in front of a wardrobe

Clothing is part of social identity

This has the potential to be revolutionary, writes the philosophy professor. “When Coco Chanel designed her new silhouette by borrowing lines and fabrics from menswear, she not only created another opportunity for showy consumption, but also a new feminine identity,” he writes, adding that women who dressed in this way showed that they were no longer ready to be reduced to their so-called representative functions, but were perfectly capable of working and playing sports.” It is normal to show it, at home and at work. ‘outside.

5. Home is where the love is

Love is the most beautiful of feelings, which is why it has its place in the home, writes Emanuele Coccia. “Love is lived, cherished and celebrated in the home. It is the domestic secret par excellence.”

A secret because only we know what it really looks like in our private space, including a partner’s weird habits or annoying mannerisms, the sweatpants he or she would never wear outside but that he wears all the time at home — everything is in the open at home.

Man with 2 young children in a kitchen, preparing a meal

Home is where the loved ones are

However, Coccia points out that by defining the home as a private space, it has also become “a space of injustice” in which “oppression, injustice and inequality have become an unconscious and self-reproducing habit”. .

“Gender inequality, for example, has its roots in the home,” argues Coccia, listing the millennial belief of patriarchal societies that a woman’s place is in the kitchen, or the increase in cases of domestic violence during the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s why it’s necessary to have a “home philosophy”, he says, to ensure that the home becomes the place where “we can be happy here and now, with others”.

This article was originally written in German.

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