A roof is more or less the smallest attribute of shelter. A tree or cave keeps off sun and rain. As prosperity or climate needs advance, shelter requires walls, heat, windows, fire, light, electricity, water, and so on, up to and including internet connections today.  Still, you need that roof even more than a foundation.

Yet it is rarely noticed that shelter, like food, is not something we require every hour of the day. We are often happy to be out and about, naked to the elements, even in extreme conditions. But usually at least part of the night, everyday, we want someplace snug and secure in which we can rest.

Philosophers won’t care much about this topic.  Still, one of the core features of any culture is the type of places it builds. Transient camps, small towns, huge cities and all kinds of other places usually exist anywhere people do.  And it is obvious that the buildings people use is a profound expression of their inner culture.

Deconstruction, however, does not work, which is my point here.  You may learn a lot about people by examining their entire dwelling.  But to look at only the roof, window, or floor piece by piece in isolation _ as many experts tend to do in this scientific age _ will not deepen your understanding of their lives.

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