The Functions of Form: Recent Architectural Aesthetics Author(s): Peregrine Horden Reviewed work(s): Source: Oxford Art Journal

, Vol. 5, No. 2, Architecture (1983), pp. 39-45 Published by: Oxford University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1360234 . Accessed: 10/04/2012 04:57
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it is ultimately redeemed as a vehicle for the Idea only by being decked out with statuary. a firm and honourable place among man's occupations". But the difference between the attitudes of these two architects reflects a deeper division: between the claims of beauty and the claims of reason.. Mallarme hoped to evolve a poetry of essences unsullied by meaning. But unlike them he also envisages a 'pure' aesthetic of architecture .though on the other hand "with the range and expense of its works and the narrow sphere of its aesthetic effect." And in his classification of the arts Kant included under the heading of architecture not only temples. Wright's hostility to traditional patterns of fenestration is after all hardly unique. They operated with an impoverished notion of utility and had little to say specific to architecture that is now positively instructive. Wagner concealed his orchestra in the cavernous Bayreuth pit and then wished he could make the drama invisible too. for example. For Kant. Schopenhauer had a low opinion of architecture. In the philosophy of Hegel. The philosophical system of Schopenhauer. is now probably even more remote from common understanding than Hegel's. he notes (anticipating Wright). The ideal is achieved when the building would collapse if any part were removed. which invented both the category of 'the aesthetic' and the modern classification of the arts. the architect's purpose is to "sound the bass notes of nature". the third of the great Idealists.an aesthetic of which his functionalism is paradoxically an intrinsic part.at least not as considered indictments of a whole art form. were it not intended for a church. his stress on the visual intelligibility of a building as a criterion of its success. Like Kant and Hegel. art's potential contribution to the development of human freedom is generally a very large one: art accomplishes a sensuTHE OXFORDARTJOURNAL 5:2 1983 ous embodiment of the Idea. but also household furniture. "on the ground that adaptation of the product to a particular use is the essential element in a work of architecture". Yet he finds architecture totally incapable of true expressiveness. Schopenhauer distinguishes the aesthetic and the utilitarian aspects of architecture even more sharply than Kant and Hegel do. as a useful and necessary profession. and must be 39 . The eighteenth century. That is the extent of his observations. Considerable space is given to the phases of architectural history in Hegel's Berlin lectures on aesthetics. whose preoccupation is with the process by which metaphysical Spirit or Idea arrives at self-consciousness. Social utility apart. triumphal arches and mausoleums.. "if only it were unnecessary to cut windows in them". Frank Lloyd Wright once remarked.and his principles and prejudices are at least conveyed in plain language. In providing a roof over our heads architecture reveals its essence: the relation of load and support. "Architecture has its existence primarily in our spatial perception". But Schopenhauer's remarks in two sections of The World as Will and Representationperhaps get a little closer to an acceptable theory of architecture's character . A sloping roof. houses. "might be added to a building that would immediately please the eye.virtually reversed the alignment and emphasized architecture's infirmities. Partly for that reason. was increasingly happy to transfer architecture from the ranks of the 'decorative' to those of the 'fine' arts. is neither support nor load and cannot therefore be either functional or aesthetically intelligible: it is merely utilitarian. architecture is. It is the supreme artist's prerogative to chafe under traditional constraints and dream their abolition. And it points to what is often taken as an affliction peculiar to the architect's endeavour and one which can supposedly emasculate him as a creative artist: the demands of utility. Le Corbusier was quite ready to deny his buildings windows when he felt it was justified. a version of classical rationalism. and his argument for the superiority of a particular style all find numerous echoes in more recent theories. This is because he also distinguishes functionalism from social utility. But the really significant philosophers of art . the conflict between gravity and rigidity as exemplified in column and entablature.The Functions of Form: recent architectural aesthetics PEREGRINE HORDEN "Often I used to gloat over the beautiful buildings I could build". with whose Critiqueof Judgementmodern philosophical aesthetics begins. The arbitrary practical demands society makes upon an architect (most numerous in cold climates) inevitably restrict the scope of architecture as an art form . his severe functionalism. For one thing its beauty is of what he calls the "dependent" variety and aesthetic judgement of it is contaminated by our concept of its purpose. it certainly could not maintain itself merely as a fine art unless it had at the same time..all in the German Idealist tradition . "Much". architecture has been poorly served by philosophical aesthetics. like horticulture. And this equilibrium must be aesthetically apparent. This is Schopenhauer's 'pure' aesthetic. Nevertheless his attention to the aesthetic importance of the disposition of masses and of the play of light on a building. Ambitions like these do not have to be taken entirely seriously . hardly a fine art at all. Though it imposes order on the external world and may aspire to conspicuous beauty of form despite its utilitarian purpose.

empiricist. arbitrary and trivial. with music becoming the prey of semiologists and information theorists. and we all at some time or another have to do with pieces of architecture whose utility is not so easily specified and whose claim to our attention is perhaps primarily aesthetic (Lincoln Cathedral). Is the architect really a schizoid being animated by aesthetic impulse yet shackled by utilitarian necessity? Kant is to blame for that image. That is certainly how the battle lines are drawn in modern polemic: aesthetics against utility. Energies have gone into more general questions: about the definition of art and the 'aesthetic attitude' for example. It symbolizes a way of life. That last assertion has a more modern ring to it than Schopenhauer's rationalism. create. There has been too much extrapolation from tentative solutions of the conceptual puzzles of painting. or the spirit of the age". I want to consider two theories from no-man's-land. unlike music and literature. And architecture? Condemned by general neglect.is much less compelling. limited scope and misapplication have been demonstrated (from somewhat differing points of view) by David Watkin. It is what the two extremes have in common. To expect the philosophers to apply their findings to architecture is to impose an additional and quite unnecessary burden.that is perhaps not reducible Wittgenstein's term to a theory of aesthetic appreciation and is only inadequately categorized as a human need. literature (or at least reading it) being pronounced impossible by the post-structuralists.whether social. so his few pages on architecture have until recently been the last word on the philosophy of architecture. We easily recognize strictly functional buildings (Pevsner's bicycle shed). Frankfurt School Marxist. Reyner Banham. The record is bleak: since Schopenhauer published the third edition of The Worldas Will and Representation in 1859. or as the expression of some external centre of gravity such as social and political ideals. The functional aspects . Idealist.are best left to theorists from other departments. That application of the old doctrine that form should express function comes from Rudolf Arnheim's TheDynamicsof Architectural Form. It is Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona chair of 1929: two oblong cushions in a shiny metal frame whose front legs and back describe an arc of a circle and whose support and rear legs form a gentle S-curve. and that any account of the "human needs" met by architecture is incomTHE OXFORD ARTJOURNAL 5:2 1983 . But Scott was best at exposing fallacies. theory has certainly had its say. "The validity of the constellation goes far beyond the expression of the particular chair. Its publishers tell us that the sensory appearance of our man-made environment influences our way of life and our conduct of affairs "quite directly". safekeeping) and the "illusions" of virtual space which buildings. is a piece of architectural theory. Even Mrs Langer. There is no attempt at an easy impression of stability.based on Lipps's notion of Einfihlung or empathy ("We transcribe architecture in terms of ourselves") . Here first is the substance of a psychologist's account of a chair. however rhapsodically incoherent. Aesthetics and utility have merged. psychological or mechanical . whose Feeling and Form does have a section on architecture. There is no problem about its division between art and functionality. phenomenological. and so on . The artistic element falls under the heading of general aesthetics and. there has been hardly any discussion worth taking seriously of the philosophical problems architecture raises.easy to understand and appreciate. In an attempt to show how the debate might be more fruitfully conducted. dogmatically telling us how to build but taking the criteria of success largely for granted. To say that is not to dismiss the protracted labours of aestheticians in a variety of schools of thought . and the subsequent reassertion of its importance have of course both been much too strong. where neither can be explained except in terms of a form of life .to borrow . Thinking principally of Viollet-le-Duc. David Watkin writes of those "who see only two possible alternatives for architecture: either as capricious fashion. Does that matter? In support of the Idealists it might be argued that architecture does not really need an aesthetic of its own. And in default of an acceptable philosophy of architecture. she spends too much time quoting Le Corbusier's Vers une Architecture. Theory's confused origins. technological necessity. none of the unconpromising rectangularity of a Mies tower. The chair obviously encourages its user to recline comfortably. comfort. That book. and what comes between them on the spectrum. Music and literature have suffered worst from the narrowness of focus. What is left out of this account is the crucial area where art and function overlap. Its underlying firmness can be related to the contrast between thick studded cushions (which have an air of traditional plushness) and sleek metal frame. Peter Collins and others. That is the effect of combining circle and S-curve. The humanist aesthetic he propounded . does not need special attention. Nor is it to belittle the undoubted achievement of Geoffrey Scott's The Architecture of Humanism. and also to the contrast between the frame's curvature and the imaginary square which can be seen in a diagram to contain the chair's profile and to determine some of its key aspects. The physical object is transformed into a constellation of forces. The reaction against theory. humanism against Stalinism. and recent attempts to patch it up have only proved what an incomplete theory it is. fails to investigate the relation between the "actual values" of buildings (shelter. the cultural circumstances under which the object was conceived". and later philosophers have 40 barely challenged it.even though it is hard to see what new clarity or certainty has been engendered by the brow furrowing. according to her philosophy. Just as he is probably still unrivalled as a philosopher of music. Instead. which is almost the same as the reaction against Modernism. that philosophers surely ought to be concerned with. imagination against reason.

and with a frieze of prongs.plete unless its psychological qualities are recognized. How will the functionalist appraise their relative merits? Suppose he says that he prefers the clean functional shape of the modern fork to the heavy ornate quality of the traditional one. before the pointed tops apply an ultimate squeeze. Quite how these qualities and principles are to be conceived remains throughout a little obscure. and in its recognition that for most of the time we respond to buildings without really noticing them. they are all in the mind. and the mental map we construct by moving around a building we are thoroughly prepared for a commentary on Cefalu Cathedral or Michelangelo's Porta Pia . Neither the resulting mixture nor its constituents have much to commend them. and in nineteenth-century functionalism. an example rather like the one Arnheim derives from the Mies chair. since the first has comparatively little to tell us. and will rest securely on the edge of a plate. It must therefore display its dynamic properties "uncluttered by accidentals". On the basis of this assumption he draws the reductionist conclusion typical of psychologists that all human needs are "matters of the mind". We have still not arrived at a full understanding of how a chair might contribute to a style of life . with base and capital. Its prongs are in fact too short and too wide apart to hold the food securely and its thin stem slips through the hand: in some respects it is about as functional as a Brancusi sculpture. All he has to offer as a criterion of architectural success is that a building should be "visually efficient" in expressing its purpose and the spirit of the community it serves. Not quite poetry. the nature of order and disorder. It is they which determine the character of our response to a building. (In most of us they are obliterated by the tunnel vision which is all that practical life in an atomistic society requires of us. This he does. all human thoughts must be worked out in the medium of perceptual space (language presumably being inadequate). all its uses seem present in the form. it is hardly surprising that he has nothing very revealing to say about the nature of meaning and value in architecture. then. Quotations from Kant. Heidegger and Piaget only add to the confusion. It might be argued that his judgement is actually aesthetic rather than utilitarian. Arnheim's theoretical background is in the Gestalt psychology he put to more rigorous use in his Art and Visual Perception. The angular design of the traditional fork in contrast gives it all the virtues its modern counterpart lacks. THE OXFORDARTJOURNAL 5:2 1983 It is rather that Arnheim does not really havea theory of visual dynamics . But the phenomena Arnheim is concerned with are familiar enough. and certainly without their becoming objects of aesthetic contemplation. The eye rests with satisfaction on the furled cusp of its handle. But of such things as ultimate squeezes are visual dynamics made. it provides a first contraction of the tower's bulk. proportioned like a column. in integrating all three into a visual ideal of the covered table. Roger Scruton's TheAesthetics of Architecture (from which the above description of the forks is adapted) shows less concern with alleged universals of perceptual psychology than with the nature of aesthetic reasoning and with its intimate relation to everyday practical wisdom and to morality. There is 41 . It is vital to attend to them. And to begin with. in finding knife and spoon to go with the fork. They are also allegedly universal. Arnheim undertakes to examine these "psychological qualities" with "the principles of visual perception". the vertical direction defines the horizontal plane as the only one for which the vertical serves as an axis of symmetry". or color". The virtues of the book lie in its numerous . the relation of inside and outside. Indeed.) Given Arnheim's naive faith in the 'phenomenological' method of introspection (which he misconceives as a way of separating these visual universals from particular cultural accretions). the other of the classical 'fiddle-pattern'.in entirely traditional terms: "the rim serves as a ritardando. sleek lines). partakes of a language rich in implications. space. in its conviction that buildings should be studied in relation to all aspects of their environment. like needs.and not very well organized .nothing important that is."' Visual dynamics have nothing to do with it . It holds the food. It is not just that the force of the exposition is diminished by statements like "in our spatial system.how the aesthetics and utility of architecture might be related. Visualize two forks. And since. He then demonstrates the predominance of the vertical (which is why columns need bases and capitals) and the perceptual effects of gravity (which makes some buildings look as if they continue downwards into the ground). The modern fork only looks as if it makes bringing food to the mouth both easy and elegant. By the time we have moved through an analysis of solids and hollows.descriptions of a wide range of architectural phenomena. Arnheim contends. harmony. They are subsumed by his expanded (Corbusian) category of human needs: "the hunger. A second voice. The two forks bear the insignia of contrasting life-styles. privacy. the chill and the fear are on an equal footing with the need for peace. and heady passages on the "productive opposition of Being and Becoming". But to say that is still to give too narrow an interpretation: "The classical fork. order. from no-man's-land. one contemporary in design (glossy surface.except that. balances comfortably in the hand. and no hesitation can be felt in translating them into action. He begins with the way architecture apparently organizes space around and within itself. which sends the upward movement forth into the sky". visual dynamics inevitably bear architectural symbolism of the deepest human significance. There is no difficulty in repeating these forms. in Lipps's notion of empathy (of which he offers only token criticisms). but children and artists are most responsive to them. aesthetic matters do not as such trouble Arnheim.

So too is Scruton's subsequent implication that only the classical fork can be integrated into a visual ideal of the covered table and does not provoke hesitation in its user. "The search for a pure line. "Common culture" . as a collectivity rather like that of the family with a personality and will of its own.and shorn of that unworkable distinction between aesthetics and utility. for example. ill-adapted either to the uses of the table or to the demands of the aesthetic sense. all the technical resources of contemporary philosophy of mind are brought to bear on the immensely difficult task of making the most important conclusions of the Idealist tradition in aesthetics once again vivid and compelling . Now . In his essay in political dogmatics." However. and governmental programmes of social amelioration should all be of less concern than the preservation of what is 'given'.he set down a vision of society as a unitary organism. The book was ignorantly dismissed in Architectural Design as "a threnody for that romantic age when what a building looked like was a matter of style alone. And when The Aestheticsof Architecture appeared it was lambasted by the pundits chiefly for that reason.as befits a conservative . not by retreating from the world but by engaging in it. to some intimation of long-term satisfactions.now de . "leads to a childishness of outline. For it means rejecting the possibility of happiness and fulfilment and limiting oneself to the mindless gratification of base desires: in a very real and damaging sense. The appropriate form ministers not just to present purposes. "In sixteenth-century Venice the very pattern on the prow of a gondola was determined by law". (Hence his fondness for the classical fork. describe Wright's Johnson Wax building as a wax factory: he therefore disqualified himself as a critic of Modernism. redolent of unfussy function". and that means the form which answers to what endures." That is questionable. Selfhood is a necessary presupposition of such awareness. "the contagion of democracy". not just present purposes. "High culture" may embody a shared moral 42 experience and a sense of the past. on the other hand. It is not just that aesthetic objects symbolize pre-existing forms of life: rather that they help to createthem. for Scruton. the fabric of social relations. There is often a point in Scruton's philosophy at which reason gives way to dogma. The self is thus a social artifact: it is developed in the individual's life-long encounter with what is . The Meaning of Conservatism.) His aesthetic bias is an aspect of his political conviction. Surely the only significant difference between the styles of life to which the two forks must be referred is that one of them rates functionality more highly than the other does. In Scruton's political philosophy (and a fortiori in his aesthetics) selfhood and the means to its realization are of the utmost importance. most people recognize that only a very small fragment of practical thought is concerned with function. and his politics certainly lead him to uphold tradition (in architecture and in culture generally). in which individual rights. That. And it is arguable that we can find that intimation only in the search for an appropriate and symbolic appearance.no reliance on a facile notion of human needs. I cannot know myself through introspective observation of the stream of consciousness. Visual continuity and cohesion is as important as any other aspect of culture. But Scruton will not have that: he wants us to share his hostility to nearly all forms of Modernism (the architecture of Mies being honourably excepted). but also distant aspirations. Knowledgeof self. (See his review of Watkin reprinted in The Politics of Culture. for Scruton. but for the self which survives them. so with architecture. The individual finds himself. The comparison of the forks provides a useful way of introducing the argument. to include "given" objects of aesthetic contemplation.apparently mark rigeur among anti-Modernists him out as an ally of David Watkin. a streamlined. but as something necessarily prior to "the individual talent" and without which any sort of individuality is quite impossible." As with forks. Aesthetic education is therefore unavoidable: for it is the means to transform functional calculation into rational choice.construed in its widest. but to a sense of ourselves as creatures with identities transcending the sum of present purpose and desire.and that ought. So to reject the formative potential of culture in the name of some untried abstraction like 'authenticity' is to succumb to a disease. unlike Watkin. To build well is to find the appropriate form.) And it is culture which educates us as rational beings. Scruton does not defend the autonomy of aesthetic values and traditions. anthropological sense .educates us in what to do and what to feel: it intimates to us the ends of conduct. useful epitome from a review-article on Alberti (reprinted in The Politics of Culture): "To understand Alberti's view involves understanding the place of aesthetic reasoning in the activity of design (where design includes anything from the arranging of a dinner-table to the building of a town). not to what expires. and in all choices which affect. he writes of the modern fork. Kant argued against Descartes.Scruton's thinking here is THE OXFORD ARTJOURNAL 5:2 1983 . it is the non-utilitarian residue that is paramount. not just the means to achieve them. unstable fluidity of form. arises only in the sequence of actions for which I take responsibility. His reasoning comes in at least three different versions during the but I quote a course of The Aestheticsof Architecture. Instead. is as it should be. His preference for the classical and his veneration of Lutyens . Despite the enthusiastic propaganda of utilitarian and functionalist architects. All our choices are extracted from a chaos of functionally equivalent alternatives. not its outcome. it is to lack a self. It delighted them that Scruton should. it is the pursuit of fulfilment not just for this or that desire. The pursuit of such appearances is the pursuit of a certain style of life. To find the appropriate form we must look beyond function. which makes us into moral persons. it also brings out some of its weaknesses.

it gratification of ephemeral desires? The latest critique and refinement of the theory. although That the self must be discovered in the world does not mean that it can only be discovered in the customarchitecture is supposed to need its own theory. But St Paul's Cathedral or. bolic overtones. and they possible approaches . Was it worth the effort? These schools have produced no accounts of architeccertainly embrace the weighing of values. and it would not be content application of the psychoanalysis of Melanie Klein with a plan that failed to make itself intelligible to. Why may I not come to know myself through membership of a presents a condensation and. Adrian Stokes's aims. a black-and-white moral vision which refuses to consider the possibility that there might be some remains a little obscure. not only as it ought to be. the one that It is legitimate to ask how far Scruton has succeeded in translating the arguments of the Idealists into nearly all of us encounter most frequently. Scruton is remaking ster to my growing self-awareness through their symhimself as he in an idealist him. Scruton's analysis of aesthetic experience in fact reary behaviour of a settled organic society.) For it is clear from the paragraph I quoted above that. One section of which his overwhelming urges hurl him. A fork that I say about what is "appropriate" in a building (and to have bought. they are not just devoted to saving BenthaIndeed. recorded in a recent volume of History Worklimited to operating. Manfredo Tafuri's Theories and History of Architecture (which Scruton and to satisfy. where rival theories are considered they are mite man from the "chaos of functionally equivalent usually put into the mouths of straw men . The book is in a sense deceptively enterm and 'second-order' desires. shop. a rational member of civil society. But that is not Scruton's own gests they are not. One theme of the book is that architecacknowledged). in all acceptable contemporary terms. not entirely original. Marxist and A less black-and-white account of the place of semiological theories of how the meaning of a buildaesthetic reasoning in the activity of design would ing may be 'deciphered'. and despite strong critihas erected other distinctions in its place. indeed. So may the functionalists and utilitarians whom One way to resolve these contradictions (echoing Scruton castigates in the passage on Alberti. It is therefore radically different from the other arts and needs a theory good deal in the Hegelian philosophy of the self which of its own which will show the particular contribuapparently cannot survive reformulation. he judgement of architecture. remains an eccentric curiosity. needs all the three kinds of aesthetic that Scruton in edited by Amartya Sen and Bernard Williams.that they alternatives" (are they generally so numerous?) into may be more convincingly demolished. often densely philosophical arguments AestheticEducation of Man (the influence of which on (most of which I cannot here adequately summarize. of rationality. or a door-frame whose design I have that extent Scruton owes him much). There is an cism of the mandarin aestheticism implicit in so many rival theories of 'the aesthetic attitude'.Alberti in discussing the question of how to build. But the nature chosen from leafing through Serlio. (There is some point to the tenable position between the extremes with which it is criticism. although he the moral education of rational beings. sug. And it is partly from Hegel resolves. Are their the Wagnerian arrogance of Pevsner's introduction to calculations really only concerned with the immediate his Outline)would be to assert that since architecture is a Gesamtkunstwerk of 'pure' and 'applied' art.) Thirdly.in text-book fashion. But it is still hard to see how this could be made the basis caustically reviews in The Politics of Culture)is not menof a complete architectural aesthetic. and on a rather grander scale. future ture that merit being taken seriously.all account the values that permeate a society. the book is devoted to refuting Freudian. may indeed miniof the self was not his concern. a refinement of the general theory he proposed in Art and Imagination revolutionary proletariat? Even proletarians could know how to lay a table using sleek modern cutlery. genstein. The view of the self as something known in action goes most of the illustrations in Scruton's book? It is not back to Kant. ture is par excellence the vernacular art. but display no great fondness for the empiricist view of rather An Aesthetic. Utilitarianismand Beyond.the end allows it. A second theme concerns the nature of our experience and may have found a way to break down the Kantian distinction between aesthetic and practical choice. in part. particularly tion that "the aesthetics of everyday life" can make to the theory that selfhood may be partial. partly from Schiller's Letters on the numerous. and unspecifiable goals. although it is given a currently more clear how the theory accommodates choices that others influential grounding in the later philosophy of Witthave made. That is. that Scruton's ideal spectator is "none other than Scruton on holiday in Italy". They can take into titled. Scruton follows tioned in The Aestheticsof Architecture and would not in THE OXFORD ARTJOURNAL 5:2 1983 43 . and they seem divided in their The Aesthetics of Architectureis pervasive yet barely allegiance. It does not set out to give us The Aesthetics. It would accord aesthetic choices high priority. let alone appraise). as part of a comprehensive theory the individual self which Scruton attributes to them. the place of all-or-nothing character to Scruton's social philothis sort of aesthetic experience in practical life sophy. admits. Which is not to say that it reAesthetics must however also consider art as it flects Alberti's thought either. and there applied to all the arts. They too can operate with longapproach. (Certainly there is a moods and states of awareness. chiefly image. Alberti had much to already is. The political philosophy which goes with I do not think that is a problem Scruton adequately this view is Hegelian. The Aesthetics of Architecture contains that Scruton takes the notion of art as a means of self-realization.

Hence architecture is incapable of that self-conscious pursuit of modernity which has been characteristic of twentieth-century music and painting: it is a conservative art form. we are told at the outset. But values exist on a superior plane that places them quite beyond the reach of functional calculation. as his discussion of Alberti has already implied. They order our world for us and delimit our future aims in advance of our being able to specify (except intuitively) what those aims might be. it only reinforces those arguments which relate to architecture as high art. with mechanical function rather than social utility: needs and desires are cursorily treated in his philosophy.a dismissal based on a strange definition of representation in art as being necessarily propositional or narrative in character."' This seems an extraordinarily humbling definition of the architect's endeavour. that it is a musical setting of a poem. The demands of utility and function. Scruton could more profitably have engaged with convincing and influential accounts of the alleged language of art. "The aims which might actually be offered for the purchase of a denim suit are not. Is he then giving us a more fastidious version of Sullivan's doctrine that form expresses function? Functionalism's merits are surveyed in another (perhaps superfluous) section of the book. They must remain subordinate to something else.and the merest mention of the counter-example provided by Michelangelo)." It is an essential property of a Schubert song. a denim suit. It is the prelude to his transformation of the functionalist doctrine.any case have supplied a Marxist account of aesthetic experience open to rational criticism. as indicated. whatever they chance to be. "An essential property" here utility "may not suffice to define the nature of the thing that possesses it. It would not. proportion. Rational beings have values as well as needs. Architecture is not a quasi-sculptural medium of personal expression (here a predictable stab at Gaudi . which is not so much an aim in itself as a sense of the accommodation of the suit to all present and future aims. there are simply no points of contact that would make a debate fruitful. For him. But. naturally prone to revivals. that is. Unlike the classical fork. Scruton resorts to Susanne Langer's (and Schopenhauer's) idea of "virtual function" and in fact goes on to analyse "virtual structure" . Scruton needs it to show the inevitability of aesthetic choice in the activity of design. and which Scruton needs to develop his notion that architecture symbolically intimates our long-term satisfactions. between semiological theories of meaning and English analytical philosophy of language. "and often the ambition of the architect resides not in individuality of form. which both exemplified and expressed a civilized functionality. it seems less plausible. necessarily be intelligible to the rational beings for whom architecture is conceived. The stance adopted elsewhere in the book is. but that the proper experience of a building is an imaginative apprehension of it as an organic whole . But when it is incorporated into an analysis of what necessarily happens when we rationally choose. It is one of a set of theories Scruton somewhat artificially groups together as attempts to articulate the essence of what we appreciate in architecture (space. The latter merely reflect their animal natures.) "Architecture is simply one application of what 'fits' which governs every aspect of daily existence. We might appreciate the melody in complete ignorance of the poem set. the Zeitgeist. Yet when it comes to showing how function qualifies the experience of the onlooker. There is an escape clause. the full reason for its acquisition. rather different. it does not shed much light on how utility modifies aesthetics in architecture.in which the important distinction is actually the one between 'pure' architecture and inessential decoration. But what then of the relation of aesthetics to utility? Scruton will hope to persuade us that utility and long-term satisfactions are both essential aspects of architecture. (That the Modern Movement in architecture set out to accomplish what Scruton takes to be impossible is presumably a sufficient explanation of its failure. and there can be no true understanding of a building that ignores its functional side. such as those by Nelson Goodman and Susanne Langer.the asymmetry of architecture with other art forms and the impossibility of applying normal aesthetic standards to it. Scruton reminds us. Nor would it meet the demands of their dual nature. then. He deals.one which took account of all relevant human desires and needs . This part of his book ends with a dismissal of the possibility of representation in architecture . Scruton thinks. say. but not necessarily real. Scruton's first chapter stresses indeed. And so only 'expression' is left as a concept which can adequately capture the experience of architecture. It is "an art of the ensemble" with respect both to environment and to interior decoration. rather than the task of the architect. the purportedly functional denim suit is. He naturally has no difficulty in showing the limitations of the doctrine as it is conventionally stated. but rather in the preservation of an order that preexists his own activity".could still hardly be a genuine solution. even the most perfect "solution" conceivable to an architectural "problem" . qualify every aspect of the architect's task: a certain form is imposed by the needs and desires that the building is designed to fulfil. And finally.5:2 1983 THE OXFORD ARTJOURNAL . But it does not follow that our experience of a song is nothing more than an experience of words uttered in musical form. not really functional at all (except in the general sense of covering and warming the body). Scruton gives a somewhat Kantian definition of values as "one special case of ends of conduct". it seems. and so on).apparent. Tell that to Fischer-Dieskau. surely overstresses ." . In so far as the analogy does not merely restate the problem in different 44 terms. or that a song is beautiful to the extent that it expresses the meaning of the words. Now there are many contexts in which this account of values and needs will seem attractive.

. including Art and Illusion. Feeling and Form. Something of the naive openness of interpretation that characterizes Arnheim's description of the Mies chair is missing here. 'sub- aesthetic' level of practical perception (Arnheim's domain).Knox (2 vols. Hegel's Aesthetics. Art and Visual Perception: Psychology of the Creative Eye. Amelie Rorty (Berkeley and Los Angeles. Morality and Architecture (Oxford. on which Roger Scruton has some useful pages in his Kant (Past Masters. 1977). 1952). 54 (1979). Amartya Sen and Bernard Williams (Cambridge. Scruton's "aesthetics of everyday life" is incomplete. in The Ideas of Freedom: Essays in Honour of Isaiah Berlin. The point is. vol. To close the gap would require a more patient analysis of needs. there is a weakness in his concluding argument that aesthetic education is indispensable to the projection of the self onto a public world (an argument which leads him to the suggestion. one in which symbolically represented values (in buildings as much as in clothes) become essential as "means" to future ends. The Politics of Culture(1981). The Architecture of Humanism (1980 ed. on Scruton's definition. But why should symbolizing a value bring an end closer to fulfilment? There are. a scrutiny of the contribution 'the way it looks' can make at the ordinary.V. There are some implied criticisms of Arnheim's approach in the works of E. ed. Oxford.) with foreword by David Watkin. New York. 1975). David Watkin. Utilitarianism and Beyond. and David Dunster's review of The Aestheticsof Architecture in Architectural Design. 1979). A The psychologists: Rudolf Arnheim.M. that the allegedly functional denim suit is chosen because it symbolizes the values of the people who will wear it. after all. and Hegel's Phenomenologyof Spirit. translated by James Creed Meredith (Oxford. Nelson Goodman.translated by T. Arnheim has no real theory at all. Julian Hochberg and Max Black. also made in The Politics of Culture. See also the report of a symposium on 'The New Right and Architectural Aesthetics' in History Workshop(Autumn 1981). Manfredo Tafuri. Alan Ryan (Oxford. Other works cited: Geoffrey Scott. and The Perception of Order(1979). that buildings should have strongly vertical facades to mirror the human self that stands before them). 1982). Theories and History of Architecture(Granada. Cyril Barrett (Oxford 1978).F.E. ed. vol. A Theory of Art (1953). Languages of Art (1969). fifth edition (1977). and The Dynamics of ArchitecturalForm (Berkeley and Los Angeles. The New Version (Berkely and Los Angeles. 1972). symbolizing values enables the wearers to assess the "appropriateness" of their clothes in advance of any purpose for which they may wear them. Scruton argues that "there is no clear distinction between 'the way it looks'. Laner. 1974). 1982). For this alone the book would be a major contribution. counter-intuitive definitions to be an entirely credible version of the relation between aesthetic choice and practical decision. in Philosophy. 1967).5:2 1983 THEOXFORD ARTJOURNAL revised as 'Emotion. The most powerful chapters of The Aesthetics of Architecture are those which depend least on his philosophy of the self. On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters. And pursuing a style of life requires more than the appropriate appearances. on which see the essay by Patrick Gardiner.Gombrich. 1980). Friedrich Schiller. with the 'Interpretative Essay' by Charles Karelis preceding the to 'Aesthetics'(Oxford. Practical Knowledge and Common Culture'. See also E. 1979). 'Freedom as an Aesthetic Idea'.J. It is a theory which contains too many stipulative. Perception Works by Roger Scruton: Art and Imagination(2nd corrected ed. The Meaning of Conservatism (Harmondsworth. Oxford. Wilkinson and L. Willoughby (Oxford. 1977.Gombrich. ed. ed.A.Anscombe (Oxford. December (1979). To the extent that the gap remains. and Lectures and Conversations on Aesthetics.M. Scruton perhaps theorizes too much. The 'analytical' tradition: Susanne K. And to the same extent. separate edition of Hegel's Introduction and Schopenhauer's The Worldas Will and Representation. translated by E. 1977).H. 1980). ed. And according to Scruton's definition. Yet the examples of the denims and the modern fork (as well as many of the architectural analogues Scruton adduces) shows that there is. Not all values can find their aesthetic embodiment.At first sight that is a tall order . It is something which aligns Scruton's work with that of the Idealists on whose shoulders he sits. 1980). function and utility than Scruton is prepared for. 45 . a powerful defence of objectivity in aesthetic judgement. 1982). Miller (Oxford. ends that are not values. BibliographicalNote The Idealist tradition: Kant's Critiqueof Judgement. and translated by Elizabeth M. it heralds "the nature they wish to claim as their own". 49. There is an analysis of aesthetic experience as "the imaginative contemplation of an object for its own sake" (where the only defect lies in its account of "literal" perception with which "imaginative" perception has to be contrasted).327. and a superbly Ruskinian plea for the importance of detail in architecture ("God is in the details". translated by A. 1966). For the crude psychology of the functionalist Scruton has substituted a somewhat schematic philosophical psychology of his own. and Reality (Baltimore and London. 'what it means' and 'what it does"'. in Explaining Emotions. 'The Significance of Common Culture'. however. 1972). Philosophical Investigations. Art. translated by G.particularly since Scruton implies that a rational being really cannot have too clear an idea of his future. and a less doctrinaire approach to the place of expressive visual qualities in architectural choice. The Aesthetics of Architecture(1979). That the overall philosophy remains debatable should be taken as a measure of its scope and interest.H.Payne (2 vols. Psychology and Religious Belief. that the use of terms borrowed from moral and practical life in aesthetic description conceals a possible gap between being functional and expressing functionality. p. The 'background' to Scruton: Ludwig Wittgenstein. Against the functionalist. desires. as Mies said).