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15.1. The Sociological Approach to Religion

Further, it may be that recognizing intentions is irrelevant to judging a built structure as architecture, as when we judge as architecture the vernacular structures of foreign cultures.

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Finally, inclusivism has its own commonsense justification: we standardly refer to a creator of a mundane built structure as the architect, which seems less a linguistic shortcut than recognition of the training and ethos attached to the creator of architectural objects. It is not clear how to craft intermediary positions between inclusivism and exclusivism, given that the various brands of exclusivism are not absolute and test cases are instead subject to judgment along any number of parameters.

Inclusivism, by contrast—along with any attached views on, for example, architectural appreciation or the nature of aesthetic success in architecture—is an absolutist doctrine. All elements of the built environment—and much else besides—must count as architectural objects, or else the view fails.

The metaphysics of architecture covers a surprising range of questions for those who see in architecture no more than metaphysically mundane built structures or stones, wood, metal, and concrete arranged in a pleasing fashion: the nature of architectural objects and their properties and types, the relations of architectural parts and wholes, and the prospect of architectural causality.

Given the familiarity of architecture in, and as constitutive of, our physical surroundings, it is strongly intuitive to think of architectural objects simply as buildings, in the way we think of the objects of the sculpture artform as sculptures, or the objects of cutlery as forks, knives, and spoons. Yet such intuitions may be misguided. For one, though some built structures—including roadways, bazaars, and newspaper kiosks—are not buildings per se , we may take them to have architectural properties and thereby consider them as architectural objects.

For another, the outputs of architecture are not limited to built structures but include as well models, sketches, and plans, and this variety prompts questions as to whether these are all reasonably considered architectural objects and which, if any, such form of output represents a primary sort of object in architecture.

A third consideration is the focus in architecture, not solely on whole or individual buildings, but also on parts of buildings and buildings considered in context, among other buildings and in landscapes downwards and upwards compositionality or modularity. A fourth consideration is that—as with music and photography—where multiple instantiations of a given work are possible, we may dispute whether the work is identical to the instancing built objects or else to the common entity e. In addition to such challenges, the intuitive view must best alternative views.

Instantiating architectural objects. To address one sort of question about the identity of an architectural object, we seek kind-wise criteria that establish when an object is architectural , instead of being non-architectural altogether or only derivatively so. To address another sort of identity question, we look for instance-wise criteria that establish when an object is this or that singular object, or an instance of a multiple object. Ready criteria for identifying object instances in architecture include historical, environmental, stylistic, and formal features—all of which may be read as signaling intentions to design particular, self-contained architectural objects.

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Architectural objects as ontologically distinctive. Yet another way to pick out architectural objects is to set them apart from other art objects or artifacts. An inclusivist may add features special to the built environment beyond the realm of buildings. Kinds of architectural ontologies. One option is concretism, which—in keeping with standard causal efficacy claims and expressed intentions of architects, clients, and users—suggests that architectural objects are either built structures or, on one variant, otherwise physically instantiated designs for such structures such as models.

Concretism is supported by an artifactual ontology that subsumes architectural objects into the class of objects that are the product of intentions, designs, and choices on the view that all art objects are best so understood, see Dutton , S.


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Davies , Thomasson , and Levinson One version of architectural artifactualism identifies buildings as systems Handler As against concretism, intentionality may be the mark of materially constituted, designed architectural objects but that need not commit us to their existence alone or their primacy among such objects. Moreover, taking intentions as determinative leaves the concretist with the problem of shifting intentions and unintended goals attached to built structures over time. Abstractist alternatives follow a well-worn path in aesthetics Kivy ; Dodd ; critics include S.

Davies ; Trivedi ; Kania ; D. Davies and accommodate an expansive architectural domain that includes historical, fantasy, and unbuilt works. Per classic Platonism, abstractism allows identification of an architectural object and concrete counterparts—including multiple replicas—by reference to a single, fixed, and unchanging background source of what real world structures or fantasy structures are and should look like. Against abstractism, some architectural objects are apparently singular because historically and geographically contingent Ingarden ; it is unclear what an experiential account of architectural abstracta looks like; and abstracta are not created whereas architectural objects are.

On his nominalist view, the objects turn out to be the built structures but an available realist interpretation—which may better accommodate the multiples that are key to his story—takes the objects to be the class of such structures. Another alternative suggests that architecture consists in actions or performances per Currie ; D.

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Philosophy of Architecture

Lopes proposes the possibility of an events or temporal parts ontology for a kind of built structure that passes in and out of existence, though De Clercq , counters that such can be rendered in a material objects ontology through temporal indexing. Yet other ontologies are contextual or social constructivist, proposing that architectural objects exist, beyond their status as structured materials, in virtue of ways our reality is framed, psychologically, socially, or culturally per Hartmann , Margolis A shift in any such frame may bring about shifting identity in an architectural object, in the manner of Borgesian art indiscernibles Danto , and it may count in favor of those ontologies that architectural indiscernibles are all around, in the form of repurposed built structures.

Picking an ontology has wide-ranging significance, relative to questions of material constitution, composition, part-whole relations, properties, and relations in architecture, as well as the character of architectural notation, language, cognition, or behavior; there are also ramifications for simplicity and complexity, and the nature of ornament, proportion, context, and style. In architectural practice, the ontology of choice also colors perspectives on such matters as intellectual property rights, collaborative work, and preservation of architectural structures.

On one customary view of architectural objects, individual built structures or their abstract counterparts represent the primary unit of our aesthetic or, for that matter, any architectural, concern; all other ways of carving up the architectural world are derivative. This view is consonant with an equally customary perspective identifying architectural objects with architectural works.

Both alternatives share a commitment to some form of compositionality among architectural objects, that putting bits together yields aesthetically meaningful and utility-bearing composites, and taking them apart yields like results. In this, the mereological view represents a downward -compositionalism, suggesting that architectural aesthetics demands our focus on structural or other elements that can be meaningfully distinguished.

Questions about causality may seem out of place in discussions of immobile objects, such as most architecture represents. Yet architectural objects appear to have a role in causing events to happen or other things to come into being. For example, socio-psychological evidence suggests that architectural objects cause behavior, and much of architectural design is predicated on this claim.

Thus, the presence of one or more architectural objects might have a causal effect on the genesis or character of one or more further works by dint of social utility, planning needs, or aesthetic drivers. If true, then—as with consequentialism in ethics—further questions arise regarding the range of causal possibilities. Where ethicists ask whether a bad may generate a good, we may ask whether the presence or construction of a functionally or aesthetically impoverished architectural object might occasion the presence or construction of a more useful or pleasing architectural object.

The notion that there is or should be an architectural language—or more than one—has a provenance dating to ancient times. Variations of the thesis range over elements of an architectural language, how it may be used, and from whence it may be derived. The core idea, in its most prominent form, is that architecture as a corpus of design ideas realized or otherwise features a set of fundamental design and style elements which can be combined and related according to a set of rules syntax , capable of constituting or parlaying meaning semantics , and subject to contextual sensitivity and internal or relational constraints on deployment and realization pragmatics.

Beyond these structural parallels with basic facets of natural language, it is held that the purposes and possibilities of architecture qua language yield further parallels, best explained by the notion that architecture has, or even is , a language.

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Proponents of such views tend to subscribe, however, to defenses rooted in one or another feature of language. On syntactically-inspired views—the perspectives most indebted to the Vitruvian account—there is at least one architectural grammar or set of rules for guiding proper assemblage of parts and orientation, relation, and combination of whole architectural objects.

Some late twentieth century architectural theory embraced a grammar framework Alexander et al. Adherents of the view Summerson assign themselves the central task of identifying such rules. Even if this is achieved, though, a greater puzzle is whether there are identifiably preferable syntaxes—and what the criteria should look like.

On a semantics-inspired view, architectural objects or their component parts bear meanings. A primary motivation for this view is that, like objects of other artforms, architectural objects are expressive, which suggests that what they express is meaning Donougho Proponents point to an array of architectural meanings, internal or external to the object.

The former tells us something about the architectural object its function or internal composition or how it relates to other architectural objects stylistic conventions ; the latter tells us something about the world, as for example, national or cultural associations per geographically variant design vocabularies , theological or spiritual significance per religious design vocabularies , or per Hegel , the Absolute Spirit. A more ambitious proposal Baird has it that architectural objects exhibit such semantic phenomena as metaphor, metonymy, or ambiguity.

Primarily, though, buildings function symbolically through exemplification literal or explicit denotation or expression metaphorical exemplification of properties of ideas, sentiments, or objects in the world. While Goodman may have identified a denotative role for buildings, this is not clearly a semantic role. A third approach, rooted in semiotics, emphasizes the role of architectural objects as signs that prompt spectator behavior Koenig , or indicate aspects of themselves, such as function Eco In either case, architectural objects are taken to operate as communicative systems Donougho The architectural language thesis, in its various forms, is widely discredited in recent philosophy of architecture.

To begin with, architecture features some qualities and exhibits some phenomena resembling those of natural language, but the parallels are neither comprehensive nor fully compelling. On the syntactic side, architecture may feature some brand of compositionality but different parts of architectural objects do not appear to function as do phrases or clauses Donougho As regards semantics, no likely candidate for an architectural vocabulary regularly yields any specific class or instance of meaning. Nor are there truth conditions such as might supply the meaning of a well-defined architectural sequence Taurens As for pragmatics, there is no clear parallel with implicature or related phenomena, hence architecture is incapable of the accuracy or concision of expression we associate with language Clarke and Crossley Finally, relative to semiotics, not all—or even many—buildings signify and we would only want some to do so.

Regarding semantics, whatever we gain in fixing particular meanings to architectural objects, we stand to lose in fungibility of their forms. In the end, it is useful to ask what work we expect the architecture-as-language thesis to do.

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One view Alexander et al. However, it may be sufficient to highlight ways in which architecture is like a language, though they do not add up to an architectural language Forty If so, then the thesis works best as a powerful metaphor rather than as literal truth. Goodman suggests that architecture is a borderline case of an allographic artform, as its notational schemes—in the form of plans—are intended to guarantee that all objects as are compliant are genuine instances of the work. Said intention, Goodman proposes, is not fulfilled.

Goodman, for his part, balks at taking architecture to be truly allographic given the core role of history and context in generating particular structures, and notational ambiguity that marks the analog medium of traditional plans. Digital design may well resolve the ambiguity problem, however, and allow indexing for history and context, rendering architecture allographic per Goodmanian criteria S.

Fisher b. Thus, architectural formalism suggests that the sum total of aesthetic properties of an architectural object are or arise from formal properties, such that our aesthetic judgments are warranted based on experience and assessment of just those properties. As architectural objects are typically non-representational and designed with manipulation and relation of forms as a primary task, it is natural that their formal properties be seen as playing a central role in our aesthetic appreciation of them.

Our aesthetic judgment of I. Variants of architectural formalism take formal properties as the properties of or arising from the material or physical properties of built structures as consonant with concretism , or as the properties of or arising from the total properties specified by a set of formal parameters we identify with the architectural object as consonant with abstractism. For the merelogico-formalist, it might count in favor of considering such parts as independent architectural objects that we can judge those parts on a formal basis alone.

Other, non-formal aspects of an architectural object are discounted as contributing to its success. Mitrovic , embraces a normative formalist approach to criticism, on the grounds that the deeply visual nature of much cognition militates against basing appreciation or evaluation of architectural objects exclusively or primarily on features we understand through non-visual means such as context or history provide.