Classical understanding of genealogy sees it as a process of tracing an origin though lineage: a search for the beginning. It descends all the way to the first ancestor and tends to take the very beginning out of the lineage, to consider it as something atemporal, something that is created in itself, that has no origin, but produces one. That atemporal beginning is considered necessary. Since it has no origin, it has no context to come out of. Nietzsche’s genealogy, however, shows that the beginning is always arbitrary: it is always contextual, because it has its own history. There is always something that precedes that which is seen as an original, someone who is „more first“ than the first. Establishing a beginning is always a matter of convention. Classical genealogy de-contextualizes the beginning, while Nietzsche’s genealogy does exactly the opposite: it puts it in a context, it contextualizes it. The consequences of Nietzsche’s understanding of genealogy, as Foucault shows us, bring not only a radically different understanding of a method, but also crucially affect the understanding of the Greek arche – the basic principal that transcends time and any historical context. Genealogy shows how precisely that context determines even what is considered to be originless – something that escapes every context.
The subject of research in this paper is coffee houses as third places. They are approached and defined from the sociological and the genealogical perspective. When observed as a spatialized history of places, genealogy provides an adequate theoretical and methodological framework for this research. The main task of such genealogy is to research the spatialization of a certain type of sociability and social capital in civil society. We have indicated broader social and historical circumstances in the genesis and development of third places as well as their contribution in the processes of developing a new type of sociability and public reasoning. The rise of coffee houses through history is contextualized: within the framework of a new type of critical public as opposed to the representative public; within the process of division between the private and public domain; as a kind of undifferentiated space/discontinuity/heterotopia that, in the social geography of the civil society, stands vis-à-vis the existing social stratums and the future spatial and class division. In conclusion we claim that, although the third places were privileged social spaces, they were not the only or fundamental places important for the genesis of rational discourse. However, third places were of key importance in the processes of forming urban institutes, development of public spaces, public speech, civil liberties and legitimacy of rationality in the societies of Western Europe.