I briefly come back to the renewed sense of place I’ve spoken about in the previous article – What Is Place? What Is Space? – where I’ve said that ‘place is any real entity emerging from inorganic, organic, social and symbolic – or intellectual – processes’ (definition I-R. a); more extendedly – and including a basic definition of reality on which I will return in the forthcoming articles – I’ve said that place is ‘any aspect of reality conceived as the realm of existence emerging from that which is concrete or from the correlation between the concrete and the abstract’ (definition I-R. b).
I gave some examples to elucidate the overarching range of those definitions: ‘a photon is the place of physical processes (or a photon is a physical state of place I’ve said elsewhere); a carbon atom is the place of chemical processes (or a chemical state of place)…’. We could go on with an unlimited number of examples: for instance, with respect to language – which is the main argument we have dealt with so far, in our attempt to elucidate the meaning of the concepts of place and space – words and texts could be understood as the place of symbolic – or intellectual – processes; and, to be more precise, given that words and texts are the place of symbolic processes, they are also the place of cognitive (that is biological) and sociocultural processes, since, within the systemic framework that I propose, processes of a higher order always include processes of lower orders; this means that language is a complex phenomenon where physicochemical, biological, socialcultural, and symbolic processes are mutually intertwined, even if with different degrees of influence with respect to each another.
I’ve also said that the most relevant difference between the renewed sense of place I advocate for in this blog and the traditional understanding of the concept of place is that the distinction between that which occupies some place – that is matter -, and that which is occupied – that is place – evaporates, or withers, when it is considered at different levels of explanation. I mean that the difference should be considered on the base of intrinsic cognitive and linguistic modes of knowledge, which are mutually related to the actual, material reality of facts; these modes of knowledge sometimes fail to correspond to (or to recognize that) material facticity, and when this happens, a misplaced mode of abstraction might lurk behind the apparent antinomy place-matter. Strictly speaking, by saying that the distinction place-matter is conceptual, I’m questioning a commonly accepted dualism, which – I believe – is based on the missed correlation, or not always acknowledged correlation between words and things, between language and the reality of facts, or, in the end, between the abstract and the concrete as different but correlated dimensions of one and the same reality. With the definitions of place that I’ve briefly mentioned in the opening part, I’m simply trying to recombine a dualism – place versus matter -, within a unitary conception – place-as-matter – made up by congruent counterparts – place and matter – that are able to unveil the reciprocity between language and the reality of facts, or, even more radically, between ontological and epistemological dimensions of reality. Of course, different explicative passages are needed to introduce and elaborate on such a fundamental issue.
A good place to start with the elucidation of the ambiguous relation between place – or even space – and matter is the analysis of language and its function, precisely. What I am talking about, here, can be ultimately referred to the evanescent difference that exists, under closer scrutiny, between ‘the where of the thing’ and ‘the where as the thing’. Such scrutiny obliges us to put into question both the meaning of the where and the meaning of the thing (in this item I’m going to deal specifically with ‘the where’, leaving the elucidation of the meaning of ‘the thing’ to forthcoming articles).
From a linguistic point of view, what is ‘the where’ of the thing if not the topos of the thing itself, properly? Etymologically, this is exactly what the Greek term topos – τόπος – means according to the intuition of the English linguist, classical philologist and lexicographer John Chadwick, who argued that the term topos was an accidental linguistic invention, a fortuitous ‘back-formation’ used to express ‘the where’ of the thing, its position; an abstract term indeed, which, in its original designation, ‘filled a very useful function in the language’ , as Chadwich said, which, until that date, had no single noun to describe the very location of physical entities. The new coinage expressed a primordial ‘where’ – ποῦ in Greek – which, almost by chance, transformed itself into a ‘whereabouts’, a notion whose meaning is close to the notion of ‘place’ – this is the traditional interpretation of the Greek τόπου, the genitive form of τόπος, precisely. Then, in its original designation topos – ‘the where of the thing’- served to fulfil a pure linguistic function in a language that had no single name to describe the position of things; an abstract function indeed, the result of an abstract process of learning, or knowledge. In the end, language is an utmost abstraction.
Even if we accept Chadwick’s intuition about the origin of the term topos as a linguistic mode to specify the whereabouts of things, it is not a mere synonymy to speak about ‘the where of the thing’ and ‘the topos of the thing’, since there is a degree of abstraction that separates the two expressions. To understand that difference, we should introduce the argument about ‘the thingness’ of the thing, even if in broad terms.
What is a thing? As I have said, this is a basic question that I’m going to deal with in a series of forthcoming articles, since it is a question that needs separate analyses; for the moment, it suffices to say that there are at least a couple of determinants that we should necessarily consider to introduce such a ticklish argument: first, ‘the thing’ – any particular thing – entails the questioning of boundaries, since, as Edward S. Casey explicitly noted, ‘a thing is something with a distinctive contour… a condensation of matter (…) that stands out in the natural domain.’ Second, to speak about boundaries means speaking about the relation that exists between the world of objects and the perceiving subject: the thing – the bounded entity Casey refers to – is the result of the relentless activity that the subject exerts upon the object or the world of objects, and vice versa; there is reciprocity between the two. Both the subject and the object are inscribed within the boundary in which and out of which the thing appears. To use a Heideggerian terminology, we could say that the boundary ‘gathers’ within itself the subject and the object to define the unique structure of the thing. Other and before than Casey and Heidegger, the relevant argument of the gathering-function of contours, boundaries, or limits, combines with Aristotle’s theory of place: in Physics (212a 20-21) Aristotle defines place – ‘topos’ is the Greek term that Aristotle uses – ‘the innermost motionless boundary of the container’; or, in Edward Casey’s own words, place is ‘the first unchangeable limit of that which surrounds.’ ‘Boundary’ and ‘limit’, the two terms used by the authors, refer to the Greek word ‘peras’ used by Aristotle.
Now I give the following interpretation to the three authors: for Casey, the boundary represents the distinctive character of the thing. For Heidegger, the boundary gathers within the same structure – the thing, properly – the world of the subject and the world of objects (‘a boundary – Heidegger says – is not that at which something stops, but (…) that from which something begins its essential unfolding’). While for Aristotle a boundary – in Greek peras – can gather entities within the distinctive character of place, or put it otherwise: place is the container that holds things. Without that container, or, more generally, without boundaries, there are no things, or better, there is no-thing. To sum up, we could say that we have a boundary out of which the following three circumstances may emerge: we have the thing; we have the thing as the moment of encounter between the subject and the object; and we have place. I believe these are just three different, yet related modes of depicting or describing the same phenomenon: as a first truth there is always something present, that is, there is always a place (Aristotle). This place is nothing other than the thing that gathers – brings together – the subject and the object or the world of objects (Heidegger). The reciprocity between place and objects is explicitly hinted at by Casey when he says: ‘things, taken in this primordial sense are as much places as they are discrete objects, and finally both at once. Take a mountain: is it a thing or is it a place? It is an elemental thing-place.’ 
In the original structure that is pre-existent to the human intervention, there is a unitary substantial matrix made up by the where–the what-and-the when of the multitude of actual entities-place that constitute reality. These entities-place are occasions for the human being to engage with reality – a possibility for the encounter between the entities-place-as-object and the subject ultimately (‘actual occasions’ according to Whitehead’s terminology). It is from such encounter that things emerge as bounded entities, that is, as entities that, according to the processes involved, are endowed with physicochemical, biological, sociocultural, and symbolic properties. But without, or before, that encounter, before the existence of things as bounded entities (such boundary is subsumed to the human agency since in the origin, before the encounter, there is no real boundary – like the one we see – that delimits one physical entity from the other, so that we couldn’t even speak of things but we should generically speak of physical entities, or of objects intended as philosophical notion regarding that which comes before the subject) the where, the when, and the what of the physical entities that pre-exist that encounter, defines a single unitary structure. Apparently, this structure seems unable to resists the human possibility and allure to divide what was originally combined into a single structure (a possibility to be explained in epistemological terms).
But, for the first time in the history of human knowledge and thinking, if topos offered the abstract (linguistic) possibility to divide the where from the what and the when of a physical entity, it seems to me that both Archytas and Aristotle were still somehow conscious about the power of their abstraction from that aboriginal unity: even if it might have an abstract (linguistic) connotation, their topos – their place – was a speculative attempt to reinstate the original unity of things: as a matter of fact, ‘their’ topos (place) offered things in their full presence, plenitude, essence, or being, the possibility to concretely exist. Through their theories of place they envisioned reality as a plenum against the unbearable idea of the void (to kenon): a reality of things against a reality of no-thing. In their plenist cosmological visions, I still see traces of the original unity and plenitude that the correspondence between the primordial sense of place and the thing entails. With them, even if place (as topos) entered for the very first time into a symbolic dimension – a literary or speculative dimension, properly – we still have room enough to extend the meaning of place to include the very material essence of the things themselves (then topos should not be simply interpreted to mean the where of the thing but it could represent the more comprehensive where as the thing). With this move, I take an apparent stance on (or a distance from) Archytas’s and Aristotle’s conceptions of place. The ontological priority that Archytas and Aristotle guaranteed to place, as well as the fact that topos (as place) was an abstract linguistic modality through which it was possible to say, as an ultimate truth, that ‘everything is in place, but place is in nothing’, is something that bears within itself the possibility to interpret the concept of place the way I do; that is, it bears within itself the possibility to interpret place as an operative concept that unveils the contiguity and reciprocal congruity between the ontological dimensions of place understood as the first principle that subtends concrete things – place as a fundamental and concrete entity (‘the where as the thing’) -, and the epistemological dimension of place understood as an abstract notion (‘the where of the thing’ abstracted from the what and the when), a dimension which tries to cover the distance between the cognitive world of the subject and the actual world of objects. I believe this abstract dimension of place is the one that pushes Archytas to say that ‘place is in nothing’ and also pushes Aristotle (and all of the influential philosophers after him, except Descartes, or, with the opportune distinctions, Spinoza and Alexander) to deny the coincidence between matter and place. But, if we consider the twofold possibility of place understood as concrete as well as abstract entity (a coincidence of the opposites, ultimately) their conception of place could also be interpreted in the guise of the reciprocity that exists between ‘the where as the thing’ (or ‘the topos as the thing’) and ‘the where of the thing’ (or ‘the topos of the thing’) – the abstract character of the thing that has often been misplaced for the sic et simpliciter located character of the thing itself, abstracted from the when and the what that are also intrinsic to the thing, as well as abstracted from any relation to other things. It was because of that unfathomed (or never clearly stated) reciprocal contiguity and continuity between the concrete and the abstract characters of the thing-place that the concept of place as simple location and the concept of space derived, ultimately. The aboriginal character of the topos-as-thing (the ‘elemental thing-place’ Casey speaks of) is the fundamental entity that I call for in this blog, the starting point for rethinking the meaning of the concepts of place and space.
I try to put emphasis on the same concept – the mutuality between the concrete and the abstract interpretations of place – with slightly different words, since I believe this is a passage of paramount importance to understand where the traditional notions of place and space stemmed from (in the end, both place and space regards the where of the things). It was from ‘the where’ properly – which is originally inscribed into the bounded character of the thing together with ‘the when’ and ‘the what’  – that topos emerged as separated possibility (an abstract, linguistic entity) from the thing itself; it was by relying on such abstract origin and function of that term that the notion topos, since the times of Archytas, could specifically address the located character of the thing only – ‘the where of the thing’- , as distinct and abstract from the other qualities that are intrinsic to the thing itself. As a result, besides the dyadic relationship between the void and matter (which, in antiquity, had its best expression with the thinking of the Atomists) a new and specific dyadic relation between matter and place (or space, for those coming centuries after Aristotle), was introduced. That relation – the relation between actual matter and place-as-topos – was nothing other than the restatement of the mutual relation that exists between the actual reality of facts and language understood as a symbolic and sociocultural phenomenon, within which we are inscribed (again a question of boundaries…), to decipher some of the multifarious characters of reality itself: in this specific case the located character of the extended thing, or what I previously called ‘the where of the thing’. It was properly by relying on such original abstraction, which was made possible by the newly coined term topos, that, at first, Archytas and, then, Aristotle founded their theories of place: I argue they used the term topos precisely, and not another term, since other terms where already charged with other, and more concrete, meanings (for instance, this was the case for the use of the term chōra, which is sometimes understood as place, but which, in its original designations, had the meaning of land or country, or geographical position rather than spot, location or place – see my previous article ‘The Senses of Space and Place’). Precisely because of such abstraction originally concealed behind the term topos, any theory of place (or of space) may result in fallacious interpretations if we do not properly frame those interpretations between the correlated dimensions of ontology and epistemology. Concerning the interpretation of place as abstract – or with respect to the abstract interpretation of any concept that ultimately refers to concrete entities -, we should say that we risk committing what could be termed a ‘fallacy of misplaced abstractness’. With respect to the converse possibility of misplacing an abstract, or ideal entity, for a concrete entity, we should say that we risk committing a ‘fallacy of misplaced concreteness’ as Whitehead said. I believe the interpretation of space as a physical entity can ultimately be tagged as a fallacy of misplaced concreteness; if so, then, physical space is just an unwarranted oxymoron. Conversely, the fragmentation of reality into bits and pieces – such as the character of simple location, that is, the where of the thing abstracted from the what and the when of the thing itself, as well as abstracted from the other things, and abstracted from the subject as active agent in the creation of the thing itself – could be an example of the fallacy of misplaced abstractness. It seems to me that any human theory that deals with the multifarious aspects of reality is constantly suspended between the antipodes of the two fallacies if that theory is not able to link the concrete to the abstract as its congruent counterpart. To avoid those traps is the scope of my work on to the re-interpretation of the concepts of space and place.
A clarification is needed to understand the sense of what I’m saying with respect to the abovementioned fallacies. It should be clear that we are moving on the ground of interpretations; I believe it is a trivial shortcut to divide the world into right or wrong Parties when it comes to establishing the meaning of such universal concepts (I mean space and place) with respect to which notable thinkers in the past devoted their life of study and research; as I said in an opening article, the appropriate, or successful, interpretation of a concept ultimately depends on the different possibilities offered by that concept to explain the phenomena of reality; the interpretation of the concepts of space and place proposed by Newton had such a great success because it contributed to extending the edge of knowledge with respect to the past centuries and the ancient beliefs; now, more than three centuries have passed, and we have realized the limits of that interpretation, and most of all, we are now seeing the limits of a certain scientific vision of the world, which also derived from that particular interpretation of the concepts of space and of place (I’m referring to the general limits deriving from the reductionist, deterministic and mechanistic vision of the world that the works of Galileo, Descartes and Newton – before others – helped to create and to take its current shape). Now, with respect to the traditional way we understand space and place, not only are the Newtonian notions of space and place surpassed; the very concept of spacetime with which Einstein overcame Newton’s interpretation of physical facts, is a limited notion if reality is probed at the level of quantum physical processes. So, what we are doing here is just an attempt to reconsider the interpretation of the traditional concepts of space and place in the light of new scientific and philosophical frameworks so that concepts of space and place can be still used as working concepts in an epoch that is radically different from that of our predecessors. That’s why I speak of place as a state of reality, which can assume different forms or characters (there can be physical states of place – physical fields are physical states of place -, biological, social, and symbolic – or intellectual – states of place) and of space as an abstract notion – a symbolic state of place in the end.
Coming back to place and the first theories of place devised by Archytas and Aristotle, when we read Archytas saying that ‘it is peculiar to place that while other things are in it, place is in nothing’, or when we read that Aristotle, although denying the substantial reality of place (which would derive from the identification of matter and place), says that ‘everything is somewhere and in place’, it should be clear that we are moving between concrete and abstract dimensions, as if place is simultaneously concrete (if concrete things are in place – as Archytas puts it – or if everything is in place – as Aristotle puts it – it should be clear that place belongs to a concrete domain) and abstract (if place is in nothing – as Archytas puts it – or if place is devoid of substantial character – to refer to Aristotle negation of the identity between place and matter – it should be clear that place belongs to an abstract domain). How can place be simultaneously concrete and abstract? Understanding place as the concrescence of concrete and abstract processes (def. I-R.a, I-R.b – see Paragraph 2 in my previous article, What Is Place? What Is Space?), that is by understanding place as the ‘progressive partnership’ between object themselves and between objects and subjects, is a possibility that admits both extremes.
Reality – the thing as it is, or, as I’ve already said, ‘the where as the thing’ (which, anyway, is inextricably intertwined with ‘the what’ and ‘the when’ of the thing itself) – can be the expression of an ontological domain where, to begin with, concrete entities are understood as the place of physicochemical processes (this is the reason why ‘everything is somewhere and in place’); conversely, language – through which the thing as ‘the where of the thing’ can be understood, communicated or represented by means of abstract symbols like letters and numbers – can be the expression of an epistemological domain of existence, which is different, yet complementary – that is, interconnected to create a new unity-as-place – to the aforementioned ontological domain (I believe the existence of an abstract domain is the reason why, in the end, Archytas says that ‘place is in nothing’, or the reason why Aristotle denies the identification between place and matter). This dyad – I mean ‘the where as the thing’ and ‘the where of the thing’ – like any other dyad, acquires a fully-fledged meaning only if the two members of the relation function as congruent counterparts. The thing (its concrete and actual character as a total entity, a whole) and the modes through which we have knowledge of the thing (its abstract or ideal, character where parts – for instance ‘the where’ as the positional character of the thing – can be abstracted from the whole) are ultimately the product of the conjoined action of ontological and epistemological dimensions through which the world encounter us and through which we simultaneously encounter the world. Such an encounter, which can be ultimately reduced to the extended place where the object meets other objects and the subject, can only happen by way of place since everything is placial in its fundamental character (objects and subjects, things and bodies, are places: the place of actualized processes, properly). Then, the Greek topos of a thing – which reminds us of the original limit or boundary (peras) that allows the thing to concretely exist and being located or, better, ‘implaced’- could be understood as nothing other than the thing itself, or the where (= place) in which objects and subject – the organic entity that perceives forms, colours, odours, textures, etc. – meet. Ultimately, the domain of reality is a place of places since both things – or objects – and subjects are places: the place of actualized processes that may span from concrete to abstract.
 At this specific regard, the American philosopher Edward S. Casey, illustrating the work of the French philosopher Jacques Derrida, explicitly speaks of the composition and construction of a literary text as ‘a very special kind of place’ so that this place is actually the scene of writing. ‘In the grammatological perspective – Casey says – place is the condition of the possibility for writing… all writing is seen to be subtended by place as precondition’, in Edward S. Casey, The Fate of Place: A Philosophical History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 310-311.
 As a good approximation, I believe that the scientific version of what I’ve just said could be represented by Einstein’s words when he pictures the apparent difference that exists between matter and field: ‘What are the physical criterions distinguishing matter and field?’ Einstein asks. ‘From the relativity theory, we know that matter represents vast stores of energy and that energy represents matter. We cannot, in this way, distinguish qualitatively between matter and field, since the distinction between mass and energy is not a qualitative one (…) Matter is where the concentration of energy is great, field where the concentration of energy is small. But if this is the case, then the difference between matter and field is a quantitative rather than a qualitative one. There is no sense in regarding matter and field as two qualities quite different from each other… There would be no place, in our new physics, for both field and matter, field being the only reality” in: Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld, The Evolution of Physics (London: The Scientific Book Club, 1938), 256-258. Analogously, were we to substitute Einstein’s field with the term place (indeed, according to my definition of place, fields are nothing other than physical states of place) we would find that there is no qualitative difference between matter and place; and when I say that the difference is conceptual instead of ‘quantitative’, I mean that it is as if there is a threshold after which we can distinguish between place and matter, but that threshold is only apparent, in the sense that it is given by the subject in his encounter with reality; a mode of knowledge and not a mode of being apart from knowledge. That difference is not intrinsic to reality at a fundamental level (the level of physical entities): at that level there is no difference between place and matter (or any difference ‘evaporates’, ‘withers’, or ‘is abolished’ I’ve said elsewhere) since that distinction relies on – or requires – man’s symbolic domain (or to put it differently, that difference is first and foremost a question of language and knowledge). By neglecting this fact, we have completely lost the meaning of the primordial intimacy that exists between place and matter; an intimacy that I’m trying to recover by rethinking the concepts of place and space.
 For the explanation of Chadwick’s interpretation on the origin of the Greek term ‘topos’ see John Chadwick, Lexicographica Graeca (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2003), 280. See also my previous article Back to the Origins Of Space and Place, Paragraph 2.2.
 Edward S. Casey, Getting Back Into Place: Toward a Renewed Understanding of the Place-World (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), 215.
 William David Ross, Aristotle’s Physics. A Revised Text with Introduction and Commentary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1936), 376.
 Edward S. Casey, The Fate of Place: A Philosophical History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 55.
 Martin Heidegger, Basic Writings (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1993), 356.
 Casey, Getting Back Into Place, 215.
 ‘Actual entities – also termed ‘actual occasions’ – are the final real things of which the world is made up’, Alfred Whitehead said. See: Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality – An Essay in Cosmology (New York: The Free Press, Corrected edition, 1978), 18.
 Concerning the inversion of meaning attributed to the pair subject/object after Descartes, see Martin Heidegger, What is a Thing? (South Bend: Gateway Editions Ltd., 1976), 105-106.
 The literal quotation, attributed to Archytas and taken from Casey’s Getting Back Into Place, is: ‘it is peculiar to place that while other things are in it, place is in nothing’. Casey, Getting Back Into Place, 14-15.
 I especially refer to Descartes’s concept of ‘internal place’. I think Descartes’s internal place is a conceptualization very close to my ‘where as the thing’; conversely, Descartes’s external place might correspond to the ‘where of the thing’. Then the concept of place – the ancient topos – needs both aspects to be fully grasped (see Image 1).
 The proposition ‘from’ conceals the processes out of which the bounded character of the thing emerges; therefore, behind the thing as unitary expression of the coalescence between the where, the what, and the when, we always find an how and a why, which are nothing other than the modality through which the thing becomes manifest and the reason – causality – for that manifestation (modality and causality are referred to the encounter between the object and the subject, as well as to the physical encounter between the objects themselves; from the latter proposition the careful reader might rightly infer that I believe the world of objects – i.e. the natural world – comes before the subject; from the former, the same reader may infer that only through the correlation, through experience, of object and subject a fully-fledged knowledge of the world is attainable. How the two propositions may coalesce into a principle that escapes both idealist and realist positions, is the subject of this blog; rethinking the concepts of space and place according to the framework I’ve broadly outlined so far, in this and other articles, is also a way to adhere to that principle, out of any dualistic interpretation of reality).
 The accidental error of mistaking the abstract for the concrete is called by Whitehead ‘Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness’. In: Alfred North Whitehead, Science and the Modern World (New York: Pelican Mentor Books, 1925), 52, 54, 59.
 I have taken the term ‘congruent counterpart’ from Edward Casey who used that expression with respect to the mutuality between body and place (‘each needs the other’), in: Casey, Getting Back Into Place, 103.
 Casey, Getting Back Into Place, 14.
 Casey, The Fate of Place, 51.
 See note 12.
Casey, Edward S. Getting Back into Place: Toward a Renewed Understanding of the Place-World. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.
—. The Fate of Place: A Philosophical History. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.
Chadwick, John. Lexicographica Graeca. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2003.
Einstein, Albert and Infeld, Leopold. The Evolution of Physics. London: The Scientific Book Club, 1938.
Heidegger, Martin. Basic Writings. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1993.
—. What is a Thing? South Bend: Gateway Editions Ltd., 1976.
Ross, William David. Aristotle’s Physics. A Revised Text with Introduction and Commentary. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1936.
Whitehead, Alfred North. Process and Reality – An Essay in Cosmology. New York: The Free Press, Corrected edition, 1978.
—. Science and the Modern World. New York: Pelican Mentor Books, 1925.