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
architecture, ethics, Gadamer, Harries, Heidegger, hermeneutics, Holl, interpretation,
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.” 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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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. There are important ways in which Gadamer can
be seen as modifying Heideggerian thinking so as to mitigate this resistance.
Heidegger and the Philosophy of
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. 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
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. 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.
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,
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
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.
Difficulties with the Heideggerian
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. 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
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. 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. 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.
A Gadamerian Approach to Architecture
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. 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.”
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. 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.
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. 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
Architecture as Interpreted and
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.
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. Yet these same technologies can be employed in
producing extraordinarily singular works, thus making possible a consciously
hermeneutical way of creating architecture.
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. 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
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.
these heavy walls from the exterior, trimmed with yellow stone, one thinks of
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
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.
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. 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.
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.
on July 7, 2011.
 Karsten Harries, The Ethical Function of
Architecture (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1997), pp. 2-4, 12.
 Harries, Ethical
Function, pp. 85-9, 105-9, 123-5, 129-30.
 Harries, Ethical
Function, pp. 8-10.
 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.
 Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method, 2nd ed., trans. rev. J. Weinsheimer
& D.G. Marshall (New York: Crossroad, 1990).
 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
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).
 Martin Heidegger, “Letter on Humanism,” 229; “The End
of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking,” Basic Writings, pp. 441-3.
< 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.
 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.
 Heidegger, “Building Dwelling Thinking.”
 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.
 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.
 Harries, Ethical
Function, p. 167; Art Matters, pp.
 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.
 Hans-Georg Gadamer, Heidegger’s Ways, trans. J.W. Stanley (Albany: SUNY Press, 1994), p.
 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:
 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.
 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.
 Hans-Georg Gadamer, “The Speechless Image,” in The Relevance of the Beautiful, p. 83.
 Gadamer, “Relevance of the Beautiful,” pp. 31-3. See
also “Composition and Interpretation,” in The
Relevance of the Beautiful, pp. 68-70.
 Gadamer, Truth
and Method, pp. 271-307.
 Cf. Vesely, Architecture
in the Age of Divided Representation, Chs. 5 and 8; Lampugnani and Zohlen,
“Hans-Georg Gadamer: Storie Parallele.”
 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).