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Philosophical Hermeneutics and the Ethical Function of Architecture

  Paul Kidder

Abstract
Karsten Harries’ book, The Ethical Function of Architecture, raises the question of how architecture can be interpretive of and for our time.  Part of Harries’ pursuit of this question is done in dialogue with the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, whose evocatively expressed ontology of building and dwelling recovered, in philosophical and poetic terms, the power of buildings to symbolize and interpret the most fundamental truths of being and human existence.  The present essay identifies contributions to this hermeneutic and ontological approach to architecture drawn from the philosophy of Hans-Georg Gadamer, emphasizing Gadamer’s notions of play (Spiel), symbol, and the relation of the present to the past.  While Gadamer expanded upon Heidegger’s hermeneutic, he also diverged from Heidegger in ways that mitigate some of the difficulties that Harries and others have found with Heidegger’s archaism, rural romanticism, and singularity of philosophical focus.

Key Words
aesthetics, architecture, ethics, Gadamer, Harries, Heidegger, hermeneutics, Holl, interpretation, modernism,

 

1.  The Ethical Function of Architecture

Among the many powerful contributions that Karsten Harries’ book, The Ethical Function of Architecture, has made to the philosophical study of that art is his formulation of a central, guiding question: How can architecture interpret our time?  Because the character of a time and a culture is an “ethos,” such an interpretive function is the “ethical” function of architecture.”[1]  But because an interpretation seeks what is important, bringing normative possibilities to light, architecture also connects with ethics as a form of philosophical reflection on moral principles and practices.  It is important to Harries that ethico-architectural reflection in either of these senses avoid compromising the unique character of architecture as a form of art.  Architecture speaks but does not do so discursively.  Like the Oracle of Delphi, it neither affirms nor denies but indicates through connotation, evocation, and symbolism.  Whatever in its meaning can be voiced in language must also be experienced in its visual, tactile, haptic, and kinetic sensuousness.[2]

If the interpretation is for a particular time period, questioning the ethical function of architecture initiates questions of human history and historicity.  More specifically, one must consider whether modernity’s and modern architecture’s dramatic break with traditions of the past, and, to some extent, with the very idea of the authority of tradition, has enhanced or inhibited the flourishing of our humanity.  This, in turn, implies a corollary question of how architecture, in light of the successes and failures of modernity, should relate to its own past.[3]

2.  The Relevance of Heidegger and Gadamer

A central interlocutor in Harries’ pursuit of all of these questions is Martin Heidegger, who thought deeply on matters of interpretation, history, language, and artistic creation.  For Heidegger, it was not merely that there are human subjects who interpret objects, but the very nature of worldly existence was hermeneutical.  It was always caught up in countless worldly involvements, and it pursued interpretation by making explicit the ways of being in which experience was always moving.  At the heart of Heidegger’s thinking on these questions was the primitive phenomenon of openness to the very being (Sein) of beings (Seindes).  For him, meditation on the question of being can comprehend the coming to be and passing of beings, their intelligibility as well as their dark mystery, more fully than was possible through mainstream Western traditions of metaphysics and science.[4]

My purpose here is to make connections between Harries’ project and another voice that has been heard regularly, though not as frequently, in this hermeneutic conversation. Hans-Georg Gadamer did not produce writings specifically dedicated to architecture, but his hermeneutic theory, philosophy of art, and incidental observations on architecture have been appropriated by architectural theorists in fruitful ways.[5]  Gadamer’s most famous philosophical work, Truth and Method, sought to raise the art of hermeneutics, with its long traditions in the fields of rhetoric, theology, and law, further to the level of ontology; that is, to identify “hermeneutic” as a structure or a natural dynamic that shapes every form of thinking and being.[6]

This notion of an ontological hermeneutic structure was central to Gadamer’s appropriation of Heidegger in the areas of thought that are now used extensively in the study of architecture.  One of these is the issue of the nature of artistic meaning itself, which must be understood as different from discursive thinking and conceptual speaking, but which possesses an open and exploratory quality that can pull hardened and unimaginative conceptual thinking out of the ruts into which it habitually falls.  This is the function of art as “play” or “game” (Spiel).  Another is the ability of artistic form to point beyond itself, to make its place overt within a nexus of meanings in a way that invokes the whole of that nexus and its mysterious origins.  This is the symbolic function of art.  A third area is that of historical understanding, that is, the role of hermeneutic investigations in making sense of the past in relation to the present and future.

As I review these three themes in both Heideggerian and Gadamerian hermeneutics, I shall also have an evaluative thesis in view, for Gadamer is useful not only in his development of Heideggerian ideas but also in his departures from his mentor. These points of departure offer ways of overcoming certain limitations or impasses that are encountered in the classic Heideggerian approach.  Harries identified such obstacles in some of Heidegger’s cryptic terminology and his inclination toward a kind of rural romanticism.  However, I want to emphasize a more general obstacle that arises from the claim often made that Heidegger is a thinker of a single thought.  While Harries, Christian Norberg-Schulz, Robert Mugerauer, Alberto Pérez-Gómez, and a number of others have had great success in developing interpretive frameworks for architecture out of Heideggerian philosophy, they have had to work, in some measure, in resistance to Heidegger, himself, whose reflections move insistently along a single ontological itinerary, and who was never consistently attracted to the idea of producing a “philosophy of” anything.[7] There are important ways in which Gadamer can be seen as modifying Heideggerian thinking so as to mitigate this resistance.

3.  Heidegger and the Philosophy of Architecture

Heidegger sought to recover architecture’s extraordinary capacity for meaning from modernity’s habit of reducing architecture to a form of functional equipment or technology. The strategy for this recovery was a return to origins.  The ultimate origin was, for Heidegger, the event of “opening” or “clearing” or “lighting” in being by which the being of entities is disclosed in an already temporally ordered range of mutual involvements.[8]  I consider this “opening” the primary phenomenon of all Heideggerian philosophizing.  To think of it as a quality of objects or subjects distorts the phenomenon by reducing it to something secondary, granting subjects or objects priority to the very event that discloses them.  Likewise, to think of the primary phenomenon as an event within the world is to incoherently place lighted reality before that by which it is lit.  The opening, we can say, is an opening to being and of being.

While in this context  being is not something other than the ontological dimension of entities, to preserve the primacy of the primary phenomenon it is necessary to think in terms of an ontological difference, of being as more fundamental than, and as irreducible to, beings and their qualities.  For being is not a particular being, nor the totality of beings, nor a supreme being.  It is beings in their enigmatic lighting, the totality of beings in view of the uncanny granting of that totality, and the locus of the clearing inasmuch as the event of clearing has occurred.  In this sense, being is obvious in some ways to everyone but is also deeply mysterious and typically obscured, for the clearing is bounded by horizons of common sense, the philosophical assumptions of a tradition, and the distractions of everyday life.

While architecture has proximate origins in any number of practical needs, its ultimate origin is in the event that brings these practical realities to light.  Dwelling within buildings arises out of dwelling within a lighted opening on Earth.  Architecture that is attuned to this deeper origin seeks to explore it, to announce somehow the event of the opening of a world of involvements.  This is not a calculation or a deliberation; it is work at the limits of the practical concerns of those who determine the programs of buildings.  It is an encounter with the limits of the concepts by which Western metaphysics has catalogued the totality of worldly entities in ways that keep their mystery from shining through.  Language itself often comes up short of the task, but the expressions of the poet, the musician, and the visual artist struggle to articulate that which has eluded prose.  In working at the limits of language and by saying what one had not thought possible to say, creative expression can illuminate how every truth-statement, every disclosure, every aletheia emerges from a realm of hiddenness (lethe) which is latent with ever-further potentialities of expression.[9]  In the play of the poet, the artist, and the architect, we can experience the ways of the world with an incomparable sensitivity to the mystery of their coming to pass, and so to the ontological enigma of the dwelling of all beings on Earth.[10]

To approach architecture from this perspective is to seek to revitalize its symbols.  Drawing on Heidegger’s language of the fourfold (“world,” “earth,” “mortals,” and “divinities”), his notion of “thing” as gathering of world, and his poetic renderings of the bridge and the threshold as capturing the force, the unity, and the fragility of existence,[11] Norberg-Schulz, Harries, and others have developed vocabularies that recover architecture’s symbolic power to befriend a landscape, to gather its elements, to connect the sky and the earth, to embrace the dark depths of mortal dwelling, and to announce transcendence with open and soaring forms.  Such symbolisms draw upon religious traditions even as Heidegger’s philosophical convictions kept him from overtly embracing them.  Heidegger believed that one may perceive the power of the symbols in the evident mysteries of ordinary experience.

Heidegger’s philosophy is hermeneutical in several senses. Because it rejects both objectification and subjective introspection as starting points, looking instead to the interrelations that precede subject-object distinctions, it must progress by illuminating those involvements from within, revising the starting point of inquiry as the inquiry discovers the larger pattern of these involvements.  It is hermeneutical also in that it interprets the past, not from a neutral vantage point, but in a manner that takes up the questions of previous thinkers, sees their strengths and their weaknesses as questions, and critiques these thinkers, often radically and polemically, out of this participation in the direction of their inquiry.  But it is hermeneutical, too, in the task of “retrieval,” in seeing what, in the centuries-long history of questioning and symbolizing being, can be brought forward into an invigorated pursuit of that question.[12]

4.  Difficulties with the Heideggerian Approach

This particular combination of retrieval and critique in Heidegger’s writings on art and architecture is part of what makes those interpretations so insightful and commanding, but the combination also poses difficulties for those who would expand upon Heidegger.  For example, Harries pointed out that the archaic-sounding language of the fourfold, while it provides a potent framework for grasping elemental meaning in traditional architecture, does not seem to be well- suited to modern forms of building that are thoroughly mediated by modern technology.[13]  Given the number of criticisms that Heidegger made of modernity and the technological mentality per se, it is easy to find oneself simply at a loss as to how architecture might move forward, along Heideggerian lines, from where it presently stands. 

Further complicating this conundrum is a certain romanticism that is discernable in Heidegger’s use of the examples of classic Greek architecture and the traditional farmhouses of his native Black Forest.  On the positive side, these examples show an insistence on architecture that is fully identified with its environment, while also confidently asserting its role as the ecstatic articulation of the meaningfulness of that environment.  But the negative side is very negative indeed, for to be romantically traditionalist in rural Germany of the 1930s was to reinforce a very anti-Semitic culture preparing to commit crimes against humanity.  To engage in a romantic retrieval of classical architecture for the Germany of the 1930s was to endorse what Albert Speer achieved for Hitler:  a Nazification of Greek and Roman architectural symbolism.[14]  Heidegger’s preferred examples thus echo, in a distressing way, the foolish and malicious bond he made with that genocidal regime during the period of its rise to power.

But a further philosophical difficulty arises from the singularity of Heidegger’s focus on the question of being and his insistence on a particular understanding of ontological difference.  Heidegger was constantly on guard against any kind of philosophy or methodology that would turn the primary phenomenon, the clearing in being, the event of finite transcendence, into something secondary.  And yet every time one pursues a “philosophy of” something, one risks doing exactly that.  The object, the activity, or the discipline suddenly becomes the primary phenomenon and the question of being becomes an adjunct to that phenomenon.  For Heidegger, any such movement manifested a forgetfulness of being.  Hence, while he regularly used metaphysics, science, and art as ways into the question of being, Heidegger’s aim was never to develop a metaphysics, a philosophy of science, or a philosophy of art.  For him, movement into the being question was more or less a one-way movement.[15]  For this reason, while authors who have used Heidegger to analyze architecture and its history are to be praised for the remarkable, ground-breaking work they have done in turning his limited writings on the subject into a comprehensive theoretical approach, to some extent they have always had to work  against the grain of Heideggerian thinking.  There will always be Heideggerian purists on hand who will argue that such work has failed to be fully mindful of ontological difference, that it has slipped back into an a kind of existential phenomenology, rather than meeting Heidegger’s ontology on its own terms.

5.  A Gadamerian Approach to Architecture

What was important for Gadamer about Heidegger’s forays into ancient philosophy, mythological language, word etymologies, and the arts of poetry, painting, and architecture was not the particular terminological formulations that emerged from them, for one must notice how restless Heidegger was with all such formulations and how much his thinking demanded ever-new manners of expression.[16]  What was important for Gadamer was the pattern of critique and retrieval, that is, Heidegger’s conviction that something had been overlooked in all the ordinary categories of philosophy, science, and the arts.  Therefore, Gadamer’s appreciation of Heidegger was not found in any reproduction of Heidegger’s own particular ways of writing.  Gadamer did not invoke the fourfold, did not engage in the “destruction” of the history of metaphysics, and did not even employ the language of “Dasein,” committing what he called the “holy sin” of bringing back the word “consciousness.”[17] 

Gadamer’s appropriation of Heidegger was embodied instead in the way he developed the structures or patterns that I named at the outset and have used, to a certain extent, in organizing my comments on Heidegger: (1) the structure of play or game in which one is caught up in things in a way that is liberating while also directed; (2) the structure of symbolic mimesis that reveals and conceals meaning, thereby evoking the ontological structures that receive so many different Heideggerian names, such as  finite transcendence, being and nothing, and world and earth; and (3) the pattern of interpretation by which one is taken up in the concerns that drive a text or a work and seeks to make sense of the work by sharing in its struggles to understand and communicate.  Let me now elaborate briefly on each of these structures, play, symbol, and interpretation, seeking to show under each of these headings how Gadamer exhibited a greater openness to modern forms of art and architecture than did Heidegger.

6.  Architecture and Play

Gadamer was certainly not the first aesthetician to focus on the curious nature of play.  Others, notably Kant, defined aesthetic experience in terms of an open-ended play of elements which, though it is liberated from making conceptual determinations, nevertheless exhibits a strong telos and a great deal of form.  But Gadamer provided an added degree of force to the notion of play by connecting it back to philosophy’s original inspirations in Socratic dialogue, what the Platonic dialogues describe as “serious play,” wherein an agreement to postpone forming opinions and making decisions grants the interlocutors a freedom to explore ideas and arguments wherever they might lead without forcing those arguments to serve a predetermined outcome.  Socrates understood that the state of inquiry is in a curious position between knowing and unknowing, where truth and fiction are mixed together and intelligibility emerges when one seeks what is common among many instances, yet also where the verification of that intelligibility requires returning again and again to the instances to inquire of them more fully.  The truth of art is allied with this in-between state of inquiring consciousness.[18]  By exploring and communicating insight, the work of art engages one in a process of generalizing and idealizing, but Gadamer, disagreeing with Hegel, insisted that the ideal content of a work cannot subsist without the artwork itself.  Indeed, it is a defining characteristic of an exceptional work of art that it constantly insists on its instantial uniqueness.  It points to meanings beyond itself but always by continually drawing one back into itself.[19]

In this sense, play is not the privileged possession of any style or period; it is present wherever there is success in artistic endeavor.  Hence, one can find Gadamer endorsing a wide range of modern, abstract, and experimental art forms.  He did not tend to read them as symptoms of modernity’s shortcomings.  On the contrary, the best among them do what great art always does: challenge and inspire the imagination of an audience at a particular point in history.  The history of modern art is replete with innovators who understood this, and who regarded their artistic task as no different from those of the artist of any age, inasmuch as any artist must speak to his or her own time without stepping backward from the achievements of previous innovators.  Works of this sort speak to their contemporaries, in part by transcending the limitations of the contemporary horizon.  They relate to the past not by imitation but by rediscovering and renewing the aspirations and insights of the creators of the past.   

The emergence of the abstract styles of the twentieth century is noteworthy in this regard.  At their best, these styles found thoroughly modern ways to intensify the symbolic communication of paintings, sculptures, and architectural works.  The non-verbal work of art, wrote Gadamer, is not speechless because it has nothing to say, but is like one who stammers for having too much to say.[20]  This is all the more true in successful artistic abstraction.  By representing no single thing, the abstract work is better able to suggest many things at once by condensing multiple meanings into itself so as to participate in many levels of being all at once.  In early cultures this condensation is the source of the magic attached to religious symbols, for example the ability for a stone figurine to possess divine powers.  But in some respects the same homologization of cosmic hierarchies is at work in every living symbol.  The symbol summons the chthonic, the natural, the human, and the divine all at once, gathering them all into a palpable unity.[21]

7.  Architecture as Interpreted and Interpreting

Since architecture is symbolic and ontologically disclosive in the way described in section 6, it must be an interpretive undertaking for Gadamer no less than for Heidegger.  But because it is connotative and multivalent in its disclosure, it also calls for interpretation.  A philosophically hermeneutic response to that call works on the assumption that we as interpreters are always immersed in, and implicated in, the realities that the architecture seeks to embody.  A hermeneutical approach realizes that both the work and its interpreter are products of history and are shaped by a horizon of questions, concepts, assumptions, affects, habits, stories, images, and convictions that only fully enters our conscious awareness through something like a Socratic dialogue with the past.  To call this hermeneutic approach to culture “conservative,” “nostalgic,” or “naïve” is to miss its point.  The relevant form of naïveté, in Gadamer’s view, is in the belief that by being a modern one can simply step out of history, that one can, by the use of some method or by simple declaration, live in a world of one’s own fashioning.[22]

In a Socratic dialogue with the past—questioning it and questioning with it, putting one’s own horizon always at stake in the process—one may find ways of allowing the insights of the past to speak again.  Such an effort is neither a return to the horizon of the past nor an arbitrary plundering of the past.  It is an original movement, a seeking after origins that yields something both old and new.  It is an attempt to become aware of manifold layers of meaning that are sedimented in our language and our imaginations, and that echo through us no matter how original we fancy our creativity to be.  This historically-sensitized hermeneutic project does not confine one to the thought of a single philosopher or even the discipline of philosophy.  It is what all of the humanities should be doing and is the key, according to Gadamer, to reestablishing the authority of the humanities in education.  At the root of this authority is the sense that understanding and truth about human life can come from exercising human powers of rational reflection on one’s own experienced humanity in nature, in community, and in history.

The contemporary circumstances of architecture provide interesting opportunities in this regard.  The spirit of modernism is no less passionate than ever, and yet modernism, by its own measures, at least, is by now something quite old.  Information technology has transformed cultural life in ways that were unimaginable just decades ago, and yet these same technologies also grant a kind of unprecedented access to information about the past.  The technologies of design, fabrication, construction, and imaging always threaten to overwhelm architectural creativity with endless mechanical reproduction, or, in the terms of Dalibor Vesely, of dividing the functional and aesthetic qualities of buildings from their potential for integral meaning.[23]  Yet these same technologies can be employed in producing extraordinarily singular works, thus making possible a consciously hermeneutical way of creating architecture.

8.  The Hermeneutic Dimension of Steven Holl’s Chapel of St. Ignatius

To illustrate one way in which this hermeneutical approach might be realized, let us consider a well-known building by the philosophically astute architect, Steven Holl.  The Chapel of St. Ignatius, built in 1997 on the campus of Seattle University, is best known for its explicit use of Merleau-Ponty’s hermeneutic of seeing and embodiment and his ontology of the intertwining of the visible and the invisible.[24]  But the building also implicitly represents the kind of hermeneutic that I have been discussing here.  In the conception of the building, Holl attempted to realize a type of modern architecture that would exploit all of the possibilities of modern forms and materials but would be particularly attuned to human scale, the human senses, and the work of the human hand.


The design of the building exhibits a simplicity in its overall conception, yet it employed computer-aided design and manufacture to create a uniquely sculpted blend of forms.  More important, from the outset these forms were made to serve as guiding metaphors.  From the writings of Ignatius of Loyola, Holl drew the classic image of the divine in the metaphor of light from above.  The seven key elements of the building program were conceived as vessels of different colors, filtering and emitting colored light, and lying, in various positions, in a stone box.


Photo courtesty of Steven Holl Architects.

An insistence on thus organizing the project around sculptural possibilities and guiding metaphors assured that there would be an element of play active in all subsequent handling of program, floor plan, and choice of materials.

Yet it was by keeping all of these elements in a protracted fluid state, while adding further metaphorical associations into the design, that the finished building came to be not simply the architectural expression of a metaphor but a compounding of multiple, multivalent metaphors.  Through its vaulting and the creation of intriguing patterns of light, the building evokes associations of air and sky;


through the light reflected off the polished floors, the interior repeats the aqueous surface of the reflecting pool.


  One almost feels oneself afloat, and can even imagine the curving white interior walls as billowing sails and the building as a sea-going vessel.


Yet encountering these heavy walls from the exterior, trimmed with yellow stone, one thinks of earth.


  The curving rooflines, with their tilting, windowed faces, seem to be reaching up, from their heavy enclosure, to the light,


communicating, across the reflecting pool, to the rising bell tower.


As these forms gather earth and sky, so they gather the regional elements through the use of such materials as local basalt and cedar.


Thus the building embodies elemental symbolisms that are fully comprehensible in Heideggerian terms, while making extensive use of modern forms and technologies.  This is the kind of direction that Gadamer’s hermeneutic endorsed.

As Gadamer sought a resurgence of the humanities, Holl set himself a goal of “humanizing the modern.”


He did this not only by designing from the perspective of the bodily experience of the building but by incorporating all sorts of local hand crafts into its details, including the hammered cedar of the doors, altar, and other objects; the hand-texturing of the plastered walls;


and the use of hand-blown glass in the lighting.


The result is that one experiences the mark of the human hand at every turn, even as one always feels that one is in a very modern place. 


As the human body is reflected in the chapel, so is the working of human history.  The building’s colors bring out associations with old Roman churches, as does its large, processional door, which is opened by grasping a bronze handle sculpted in the shape of a priest’s stole.

Though the walls and floors are of concrete, they were engineered to crack like old edifices.


Colored light recalls a stained glass window as it falls on the wall like a Mondrian or Suprematist painting.


  Nothing about the building seems nostalgic for Gothic forms, and yet from certain angles one sees a Gothic arch.


Nothing about the altar seems traditional, and yet from a certain angle its legs form the shapes of an alpha and an omega. 


By such means the chapel participates in the ongoing interpretation of the past, challenging those who experience it with its modernism, yet making present recollections of centuries of architectural and Catholic tradition.  The presence of the past emerges gradually in the course of interacting with the building and experiencing its purposes through moments of recognition that render its unique forms strangely familiar.  The work surrenders nothing of its freedom in choosing, by that freedom, to find the richness of the past reverberating throughout its every feature.


None of these features, I might note, needed to introduce excessive costs.  Indeed, modern technologies and materials can be recruited to limit costs in some areas so as to free the budget in others.  In this chapel, for example, the walls and floors are concrete, and the color effects are mostly achieved economically by bouncing the light off of unseen painted surfaces.  The limits on creating a highly symbolic modern building are perhaps more a matter of limits of imagination and on the permissions that architects are given, rather than limitations on budgets. 

9.  Conclusion: Philosophy and Architectural Ethos

An interpretation such as the one I have been offering of Holl’s chapel aims to identify the disclosive power of the work, and thus be compatible with a Heideggerian search for elemental meanings in architecture’s worldly involvements.  But the description does so with the sense that every form of speaking about the building can contain such elemental meanings, including discussions of such practical matters as program, choice of materials, construction methods, and even budgetary considerations.  A Gadamerian approach avoids the esoteric terminology that comes from the Heideggerian project of “destruction” of common sense and disciplinary ways of speaking, preferring instead to emphasize the complementary Heideggerian option of the “retrieval” of potential meanings latent within all of these ways of speaking.[25]  A strength of Holl’s building is, in fact, that the spiritual and symbolic purpose of the building was present in every one of these considerations.

Any retrieval of meaning occurs across historical distance.  This implies that the grasp of that meaning is never simply a repetition but must always let the work speak again in a new context, encountering the horizon out of which the meanings were formed by means of the horizon through which they must be understood.  Such a blending of horizons becomes artistically explicit in a work such as Holl’s, in which architectural and spiritual traditions are interpreted through modernism, yielding, by the same stroke, an interpretation of the possibilities of modernism.

The Gadamerian interpretation acknowledges the strength of Holl’s building out of a sense of poetic dwelling on Earth.  But the Gadamerian account must emphasize the uniqueness of architectural forms of play, forms that compound multiple connotations in such a way as to invite many kinds of verbal expression without ever being exhausted by them.  To verbalize the ethos of works of architecture in a philosophical way serves the worthy goal of bringing these works into a wider sphere of cultural communication and understanding.  Yet Gadamer’s hermeneutics remind us that, in any such verbal form of communication, it is not the concepts alone that carry the meaning of the work.  Nor is it the work alone, considered apart from the process of its creation and appreciation that holds the meaning, or the inner inspiration of the architects, designers, and builders.  It is in the way that all of these are engaged with the world of meaning and truth, and are engaged by it, mediating that world through a uniquely architectural manner of seeking.


Paul Kidder
pekidder@seattleu.edu

Paul Kidder is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Seattle University, where he has taught courses on philosophical anthropology, Existentialism, philosophy of art and architecture, and ethics in urban affairs.   He would like to express his gratitude for editorial suggestions made by an anonymous reviewer.

Published on July 7, 2011.



Endnotes

[1] Karsten Harries, The Ethical Function of Architecture (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1997), pp. 2-4, 12.

[2] Harries, Ethical Function, pp. 85-9, 105-9, 123-5, 129-30.

[3] Harries, Ethical Function, pp. 8-10.

[4] See, for example, Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, trans, J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson (New York: Harper and Row, 1962), sections 5, 12, 14-18; “Letter on Humanism,” Basic Writings, 2nd ed., ed. D. F. Krell (New York: Harper and Row, 1993), pp. 229-31; and William J. Richardson, S.J., Heidegger: Through Phenomenology to Thought, 3rd ed. (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1974), pp. 33-41.

[5] Especially to be noted in this connection is Dalibor Vesely, who brought some of the broad architectural relevance of Gadamer’s philosophy to the attention of Gadamer himself.  See Dalibor Vesely, Architecture in the Age of Divided Representation: The Question of Creativity in the Shadow of Production (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004).  See also Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani and Gerwin Zohlen, “Hans-Georg Gadamer: Storie Parallele,” Domus: Monthly Review of Architecture Interiors Design Art, 670 (March 1986), 17-28.

[6] Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method, 2nd ed., trans. rev. J. Weinsheimer & D.G. Marshall (New York: Crossroad, 1990).

[7] Harries, Ethical Function; Christian Norberg-Schulz, Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture (New York: Rizzoli, 1979) and The Concept of Dwelling: On the Way to Figurative Architecture (New York: Electa/Rizzoli, 1985); Robert Mugerauer, Interpretations on Behalf of Place: Environmental Displacements and Alternative Responses (Albany: SUNY Press, 1994), Interpreting Environments: Tradition, Deconstruction, Hermeneutics (Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1995), and Heidegger and Homecoming: The Leitmotif in the Later Writings (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008); Alberto Pérez-Gómez, Built upon Love: Architectural Longing after Ethics and Aesthetics (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006) and “Dwelling on Heidegger: Architecture as Mimetic Techno-Poiesis” http://www.tu-cottbus.de/theoriederarchitektur/wolke/eng/Subjects/982/Perez-Gomez/perez-gomez_t.html; Adam Sharr, Heidegger for Architects (New York: Routledge, 2007); Pavlos Lefas, Dwelling and Architecture: From Heidegger to Koolhaas (Berlin: Jovis, 2009).  See also the articles by Richard Lang, David Seamon, and Michael Zimmerman in D. Seamon and R. Mugerauer, eds., Dwelling, Place, and Environment: Towards a Phenomenology of Person and World (Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, 1985).

[8] Martin Heidegger, “Letter on Humanism,” 229; “The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking,” Basic Writings, pp. 441-3.

[9]< Martin Heidegger, “On the Essence of Truth,” Basic Writings, pp. 125-6, 130-2; and On Time and Being, trans. Joan Stambaugh (New York: Harper and Row, 1972), p. 24.

[10] See, for example, Martin Heidegger, “The Origin of the Work of Art,” “Building Dwelling Thinking,” and “…Poetically Man Dwells…,” Poetry, Language, Thought, trans. Albert Hofstadter (New York, Harper and Row, 1971), pp. 15-87, 143-61, 211-29.

[11] Heidegger, “Building Dwelling Thinking.”

[12] Karsten Harries, Art Matters: A Critical Commentary on Heidegger’s “The Origin of the Work of Art” (New York: Springer, 2009), pp. 63-6;  Ethical Function, p. 147; Robert Mugerauer, Heidegger’s Language and Thinking (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1988), pp. 23, 37; Gadamer, Truth and Method, pp. 265-71.

[13] Harries, Ethical Function, pp. 160-2. On Heidegger’s reactions to modern art, see also Julian Young, Heidegger’s Philosophy of Art (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2001), Ch. 4.

[14] Harries, Ethical Function, p. 167; Art Matters, pp. 32-4.

[15] I am not denying that there is a frequent return in Heidegger’s writings from the topic of Sein to that of beings or human being, but I am saying that  in that return Heidegger is always on guard against the primary phenomenon losing its primacy.  Cf. Mugerauer, Heidegger’s Language, p. 198.

[16] Hans-Georg Gadamer, Heidegger’s Ways, trans. J.W. Stanley (Albany: SUNY Press, 1994), p. 135.

[17] See Dieter Misgeld and Graeme Nicholson, Hans-Georg Gadamer on Education, Poetry, and History: Applied Hermeneutics, trans. L. Schmidt and M. Reuss (Albany: SUNY Press, 1992), pp. 128-9. See also Lampugnani and Zohlen, “Hans-Georg Gadamer: Storie Parallele.”

[18] Gadamer, Truth and Method, pp. 101-21; 362-9; “Plato as Portraitist,” Continental Philosophy Review 33 (2000), 245-74; “The Relevance of the Beautiful,” in The Relevance of the Beautiful and Other Essays, ed. R. Bernasconi (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), pp. 18-26.

[19] Gadamer, Truth and Method, p. 58; “The Relevance of the Beautiful,” p. 37; “The Artwork in Word and Image,” in The Gadamer Reader, ed. R.E. Palmer (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2007), p. 215.

[20] Hans-Georg Gadamer, “The Speechless Image,” in The Relevance of the Beautiful, p. 83.

[21] Gadamer, “Relevance of the Beautiful,” pp. 31-3. See also “Composition and Interpretation,” in The Relevance of the Beautiful, pp. 68-70.

[22] Gadamer, Truth and Method, pp. 271-307.

[23] Cf. Vesely, Architecture in the Age of Divided Representation, Chs. 5 and 8; Lampugnani and Zohlen, “Hans-Georg Gadamer: Storie Parallele.”

[24] See, for example, Steven Holl, “Twofold Meaning,” Kenchiku Bunka 52:610 (1997), 115-9; The Chapel of St. Ignatius (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999).

[25] See note 17 above.