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--What books and written words are to our literacy architecture is to our culture as a whole.
Any serious attempt to understand the true nature of architecture and its role in culture depends on the understanding of the hierarchical structure of the natural world, particularly in view of its corporeality, where architecture has its foundations. The understanding of the natural world (lebenswelt - lived world) is closely linked with the development of phenomenological thinking, which went through several stages, first a stage based on the principles of transcendental consciousness (Husserl), later on the fundamental ontology and question of Being (Heidegger) and finally on the role of embodiment (Merleau-Ponty, Patocka, et al.) In retrospect it is possible to see the problem of the natural world as a problem of experience and articulation from the position of consciousness, ontology and language, and finally from the position of the corporeality of the natural world. It is the latest stage that is most relevant for architecture where embodiment plays a decisive role. It is true that the body and corporeality of the world were discussed already by Husserl (Idee II and III), however their nature was determined in Husserl’s interpretation by the criteria of consciousness. Heidegger also addressed the question of corporeality, but for him its presence is only latent and not fully developed. The nature of Dasein, and being-in-the world opened no doubt the issue of embodiment but did not discuss it any further. As Heidegger himself acknowledged: “The nature of corporeality represents as a whole a problematic of its kind, but we shall not discuss it here” As we know he never returned to it. And yet in his later writings he developed a new interpretation of Being, closely associated with the ontological structure of the
” (The Enigma of Health. As he himself writes as late as in 1986: “The phrase ‘the body and embodiment’ like the ‘living body and life’ sounds almost like a play on words and thus acquires for us an almost mysterious presence. where embodiment. We should perhaps even ask ourselves whether questions concerning the existence of the soul . representing the foursome (Geviert). The point of intersection of the diagonals is a place of Ereignis. Gadamer. (fragmentary) contributions to the understanding of the corporeality of the natural world. but the results of his investigations remained only partial. who was probably more familiar with Heidegger’s thinking than many. seen as earth played an important role. In a further development of this line of thought the most conspicuous is the tension (streit) of world and earth. indeed any talk of the soul at all. 70-71). In the well known diagram Being is crossed out with two diagonals. could ever arise if we did not experience the body both as something living and as something subject to decay. It vividly presents the absolute inseparability of the living body and life itself. pp. has this answer: “The philosophical tradition to which I myself belong as a phenomenologist and as a disciple of Husserl and Heidegger contributed very little to the clarification of the theme of the body and corporeality and their specific mystery. In later years Gadamer returned to the problem of corporeality.G.” It is not accidental that Heidegger himself was forced to acknowledge that he did not reflect (address) the theme of corporeality and did not concentrate his intellectual powers on it in the same way as he did on many other themes related to human existence. Does the tension lead to a different appreciation of embodiment? H. The latent history of the natural world leads inevitably to several questions: Is the natural world a discovery of modern phenomenology? Is it not possible to speak about the natural world (lebenswelt) before Husserl? Do not some historical epochs show the characteristics of the natural world comparable with the . the common presence of man and world in the configuration and play of the foursome.world.
contemporary phenomenological understanding.ever properly be called the language of metaphysical thinking. and are they not also articulated in a way that can tell us (in a certain sense) more about the nature of the natural world than contemporary philosophy? These are questions we have not yet raised. It was among others. totally inappropriate to apply to Plato. but further behind it is the language of the Indo-Germanic peoples. But can a language-or a family of languages. In one of his later texts Gadamer writes: “One thing is clear: the scheme ontotheology or metaphysics is. Why? Partly because it is generally assumed that our modern knowledge is superior to any preceding one and the reference to European tradition in Husserl and the notion of World in Heidegger opened the possibility of historical reference. Is not language always the language of the homeland and the process of becoming-at-home in the world? And does this fact not mean that language knows no restrictions and never breaks down. (Gadamer. anticipated in it. . In a more specific interpretation of the question of metaphysics Gadamer has this to say: “Is it the language of metaphysics alone that achieves the continual coming-to-language of our Being-in-the-world? Certainly it is the language of metaphysics.280). but such reference was seriously undermined by the problematic understanding of European metaphysics and Heidegger’s doctrine of the “forgetfulness of Being” extended back to Plato. which makes such thinking capable of being formulated. who demonstrated very convincingly the impossibility of associating the source of metaphysics with the philosophy of Plato. p. as the word metaphysics itself tells us.” In a similar way as Gadamer. Ernesto Grassi reemphasised the non-metaphysical nature of language mainly in the sphere of poetry. GW 7. because it holds infinite possibilities of utterance in readiness? It seems to me that the hermeneutical dimension enters here and demonstrates its inner infinity in the speaking that takes place in the dialogue. Gadamer.G. H. or what would be more. just because metaphysics was thought.
The transformation of cosmological into astronomical thinking. which in his view Heidegger “did not himself know and misunderstood whenever he referred to it”. where the unity of celestial and terrestrial phenomena was reduced to a narrow domain of celestial mechanics (astrophysics). is the anticipation of the contemporary philosophical understanding of the natural world in the structure and articulation of the world of earlier historical epochs.” (p. The foundational role of classical orders was replaced by historical precedents. With a well informed and critical understanding Grassi writes: “One of the central problems of Humanism is not man . et al. Before we address the question of any preceding historical epoch we should remember the development (changes) of architectural thinking and its current form. 29). openness. The most conspicuous in that . lost its ability to serve as a reference for the phenomena on earth. in which architectural principles and order. For this reason we need to reassess and revise the historical categories which still govern our thinking. were formed in the framework of cosmological thinking. 30).) The reference to history was inevitably more relative than cosmology. character and finally by style.In the critique of Heidegger’s theses in the text On Humanism Grassi refers to an authentic tradition of humanism. proportions.F. The loss of cosmological reference was gradually replaced by reference to history. (Fischer von Erlach. symmetries.” (p. The most interesting historical category. We can follow this development in approximately three stages. genealogies. but the question of the original context. In a different context Grassi continues: “In the humanist tradition. that in which historical Dasein can first appear. Boffrand. (p. Blondel. J. 17). The first. culminated at the end of the 17c and in some parts of Europe at the middle of 18c. there was always a central concern for the problem of the primacy of unhiddenness. harmony etc. focused primarily on the question of origins (from Solomon’s temple to the primitive hut). where architecture itself is situated. from our architectural point of view. This led to the well known historical arbitrariness of the 19c and as a result to a search for a new objectivity of architectural principles and order. the horizon of ‘openness’ in which man and his world appear.
(Rain can change the outcome of a battle and the result can change history.L. but as the depth of our present. What is vital for the coherence and meaning of culture is the continuity of reference between the more articulated levels of culture and the levels of its embodiment in natural conditions. in which history is in the end rooted. History therefore could be transformed into a new form of understanding. but is absolutely vital for the place and role of architecture in culture.N. and represents therefore a history. Durand’s selection of the most important buildings in history. In such an attempt it is important to see how our theoretical thinking is rooted in the typicality of our situation(s). In this situation. However. Durand’s work was motivated by the assumption that history had run its course and reached a standstill at the end of the 18c.search was J. The fulfilment of Durand’s theoretical project is a process of which we are still a part today. which would be a recapitulation and consummation of its past as well as the foundation of a new architectural order. . history and nature represent a latent dimension (strata) of our world. analysed and reduced to primary elements that would allow him to create a universal 'mecanisme de la composition'. but their presence and power is still with us in the deeper strata of our culture.) The link between intentions. In other words nature and history were absorbed in theory. Typicality is constituted over a longer period of time. into a theory. It is perhaps not necessary to emphasise that a proper understanding of history as a historicity of our existence leads inevitably to the discovery (re-discovery) of the natural (cosmic) conditions. the theoretical positions and projects that dominate our current situation have not eliminated the presence and role of natural (cosmic) conditions and history in our life and creativity. One of the main purposes of architecture to communicate with the rest of culture can be understood and restored by overcoming the narrow theoretical reference to history and natural (cosmic) conditions. history and natural conditions in our own field may be less explicit. The continuity of reference can be seen as a reciprocity of articulation and embodiment or as an ongoing communicative movement. Not a history as past.
The close link between architecture and earth can support the final conclusion.Communicative movement already takes place in its most elementary form on the non-verbal level through gestures and significant movements. something that penetrates us globally. that is eternally the unshakable ground-the earth. that corporeality testifies also to the power of architecture in our life.” (Patocka). metaphorical and analogical relations and finally to the formation of the communicative space of the world and culture as a whole. by the structuring of our life. as something that has no counterpart in our lived experience. Just as all movements. By our nature. drama. the communicative movement has its inevitable final referent. . but also in the corresponding configuration of space. we experience the earth as a power. we are earth-bound. This leads to the discovery of similarities. as that which is not in motion. It is a power as the earth that feeds us. dance.” (Husserl). At the same time. that to which it relates. “As moving beings. The corporeality of what we strive for in our life testifies to the power of the earth in us. “The earth is the referent of bodily movement as such. we are drawn to something that is motionless. which is firm. embodied in rituals.
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