Modes of Existence: Architecture and Philosophy (MAP)

Categorie
LDE-minor
Code
MINFW-21
Tijdsduur
10 weken

Content

Architecture and philosophy, as a material-discursive practice, has literally and materially shaped our built and living environments for centuries, building on concepts such as identity and socio-economic status. Nevertheless, we are often oblivious of a) how these environments are produced; b) how they affect us; and c) how we may affect them in return. What if architects and philosophers work together to approach the world not through the worn dualism of objective structures and subjective interpretations, but in terms of its various modes of existence? It would be to understand the urban environment relationally, that is, as composed of heterogenous but intersecting processes of becoming. Dynamic and incomplete by definition, it is through the convergence of modes that nature and technology, culture, science, politics, law, and daily existence become coherent and concrete.

To think and build in terms of modes, moreover, means to participate in their ecology. This calls out for the development of new conceptual and methodological frameworks capable not only of describing ‘what is’, or anticipating ‘what might be’, but especially to become aware of processes that produce and foster actual change. Thus, the transversal convergence of architecture and philosophy is a vital component in the formation of new environmental knowledges and urban awareness.

The broadening minor ‘Modes of Existence: Architecture and Philosophy’ (MAP) offers a theoretical and practical merger of philosophy and architecture via (speculative) design. It gives students of architecture and philosophy the opportunity to close-read key contemporary theoretical texts, while learning to put concepts into practice by addressing transdisciplinary problems with a design-oriented eye. Further, students will learn how to bring ideas to life within a given urban context by working closely with other human and non-human interlocutors, including residents, stakeholders and cutting-edge technologies. Teaching will be hybrid and involves workshops (offline) and seminars/lectures (online optional).

Learning objectives

Upon completion of the three modules, the students will have:

  • Acquired the academic skills for thinking, reading, presenting, and collaborating in an inclusive and transdisciplinary manner, in particular a sensibility for problems at the interface of architecture and philosophy;
  • Acquired a conceptual toolbox for thinking in terms of relations and speculative-interactive design;
  • Learned to apply contemporary ideas and debates in a dynamic urban setting in engaged, responsible, and non-reactive ways;
  • Acquired or developed basic (technical) design skills while contributing to ecological literacy

Special aspects

The minor is open to all students under the LDE agreements. No prior knowledge, skills or specialisation are required, but it is recommended for students with affinities and interests in theoretical and philosophical questions as well as in (architectural, environmental and spatial) design.

BK and EUR students follow part A (module 1-3) for 15 EC minor. Additional courses award 15 EC in part B (module 4-6).

Overview minor modules

Module 1. Key concepts for Ecological Encounters

  • EC: 8
  • Content: The course focuses on the co-constitution of thinking and doing allowing students to learn how to orient themselves relationally. The emphasis is on a pedagogy of the senses, in which we approach experience as something that is produced, and therefore, can be designed. We thus explore architecture and philosophy as arts of creating concepts, perceptions and actions, leading to the eventual production of new modes of existence. The course is structured around key philosophical concepts such as: individuation, information, urban ecology, interactivity, generative and productive design.
  • Teaching methods: Presentations and close-reading seminars
  • Teaching materials: Module Reader with select text of contemporary philosophy, architecture and social design
  • Contact hours: 6 hours per week.
  • Self study:  22,5 hours per week.

Module 2. Technicities and Collectivity

  • EC: 5
  • Content: Contemporary culture is out of phase with technical progression, either considering it as a threat or as neutral matter to be exploited by humanity. According to the philosopher of technology Gilbert Simondon, both positions are inadequate. Instead, technology must be understood in its technicity, which is fully relational and involves a reconsideration of classical conceptual dualisms such as form and matter, design and production, work and life, all of which obscure the mode of existence of technical objects. In this intensive three-week workshop students will examine how the form and the function of technical objects have the capacity to transform both humans and environment. The aim is to extract knowledge from the readings and orient them into speculative research statements that will produce a series of material and technological experimentations as a final output. The students work in transdisciplinarily composed groups of max. 5 and are asked to produce a physical model that serves as the materialisation of their speculative research statement. In addition, they should prepare supplementary material to the model, such as drawings or short texts. The students are asked to present their models and other material in the end of the workshop in 20 min. presentations followed by (peer-)feedback. The products will be exhibited online.
  • Teaching methods: (Guest) lectures and tutorials
  • Teaching materials: Module Reader with selected preparatory texts by Simondon, Stiegler, Leroi-Gourhan, Hui, etc.
  • Contact hours: 8 hours per week.
  • Self study: 20 hours per week

Module 3. Diagrammatics and Societal Design

  • EC: 2
  • Content: What if our current mode of existence stems from a world populated not with things but with forces, not with subjects but with powers, not with bodies but with functions? In other words, while humans have been good at tracing metric and measurable properties such as lengths, heights, and depths, can they become equally capable of mapping intensive relations? The purpose of this module is to get attuned to the relational space of perception, memory and attention. The exercise will comprise a cartography of tendencies that are probed, discovered and scrutinised in movement, as an entanglement of action and perception. The output (a compilation of GIFs) aims to prove that relations can be directly perceived, thus pointing to a new way of diagramming (architectural) reality. The students will work in groups of max. 3 and will be asked to produce a compilation of 3 different GIFs according to their statement in 2 regarding the relation between action and perception. In addition, they should prepare a caption for each GIF, as well as a short text where they express their statement and the logics behind it. The students are asked to present their GIFs and other material in the end of the workshop in 10 min. presentations, which include peer feedback. Day 1: photographing/site visits Day 2: production Day 3: presentation
  • Teaching methods: (Guest) lectures and tutorials
  • Teaching materials: Module Reader with selected texts by Gibson, Didi-Huberman, Massumi, etc.
  • Contact hours: 8 hours per week.
  • Self study: 20 hours per week

Module 4. Women Philosophers on the Relation of Nature and Culture

  • EC: 5 
  • Content: The ontological status, meaning, influence and interrelation of nature and culture remains an issue of heated debate in both Philosophy and the Sciences. At the heart of this debate lies the question of the primacy of nature vs. nurture in explaining human reality and behaviour. It is this question that often puts into opposition: the natural sciences and humanities; naturalism and idealism; perception and language as well as objectivist and relativist accounts. We see this question expressed most prominently, however, in the debates of nature vs. nurture, or the contested primacy of (biological) sex vs. (social) gender in affecting our reality and behaviour. These are important debates which concern the question of nature as well as culture: what exactly does nature refer to (e.g., our environment, the physical world or biological organisms) and can we access it stripped of cultural (social, linguistic) influences? But also, to what extent does nature influence and even determine all cultural developments? This course seeks to highlight and elaborate on what women philosophers - of different philosophical schools of thought as well as periods of time - have to say to the nature-culture debate. We want to highlight contributions from female philosophers, not primarily because they have been sorely overlooked throughout the history of philosophy due to marginalization, but because they promise novel and alternative perspectives on a topic highly dominated by the perspectives of men. This course, therefore acknowledges that women’s specific gendered situation affects their relation to and even their attitude towards philosophical issues. This is made apparent by the fact that womanhood itself is frequently determined by and held up as an exemplar of the nature-culture divide. Confined to their biology in a way men are presumably not, women are (were) regarded as human embodiments of nature and natural instincts. They are thus deemed too unsophisticated and irrational to philosophize properly. Somewhat ironically, it is the naturalization of womanly character and capacity that can highlight the influence of cultural norms and values on the way one thinks about nature. Every week two members of our teaching team will present some women philosophers and their contribution to the nature-culture debate. Of these members, each week there will be a woman and man philosopher who will represent a specific school of philosophical thought.
  • Teaching methods: Lectures and tutorials
  • Teaching materials: tba
  • Contact hours: 6 hours per week.
  • Self study: 14 hours per week

Module 5. Narrative Identities in Literature and Philosophy (this module may change)

  • EC: 5 
  • Content: How do you answer the question Who are you? You can just tell your name. But you can also tell a story. Philosophical theories of narrative identity presuppose, that narrative structures are essential for the formation and / or self-understanding of personal identity, which is not reducible to a mere numerical identity.
    In this course we will discuss different philosophical theories of narrative identity and confront them with different ways of unfolding narrative identities in literature. Literary narratives about fictional or real persons and their life-stories can be fragmented, multi–perspective, and very creative in their handling of fact and fiction. Literature allows us to “try on stories like clothes”. What does this tell us about philosophical theories of narrative identity and their normative implications?
  • Teaching methods: Lectures and tutorials
  • Teaching materials: tba
  • Contact hours: 6 hours per week.
  • Self study: 14 hours per week

Module 6. Ecophilosophy: Beyond Sustainability and Environment

  • EC: 5
  • Content: In this course, we analyse the transition from a linear, oppositional, externalising, identity based discourse on ecology to a circular, inclusive discourse that is based on an ecophilosophical perspective that focuses on differences and relations. Connecting the domains of art, science and politics to philosophy, a threefold ecology (ECO3) is explored and fed back into the current debates on ecology. The broad perspective is the proposition that after the modern enlightenment of the mind 21st century schizoid man is up to a new, medial enlightenment that acknowledges the productive role of technology for the constitution of our self-consciousness.
  • Teaching methods: Lectures and tutorials
  • Teaching materials: tba
  • Contact hours: 6 hours per week.
  • Self study: 14 hours per week

Examination

Method of examination

Module 1: Students write 2 position papers in the form of critical reading responses of 1,500 words each (2x40%) and give one presentation (20%).

Module 2: Combination of Tests (100%): Speculative research statement, physical model and presentation.
Module 3: Combination of Tests (100%): Making and compilation of GIFs, presentation and peer feedback

Module 4, 5, 6 see courses.eur.nl

Composition of final grade

Part A, module 1 needs to be completed with a 5,5 or higher.
Module 2 and 3 will be completed with a pass/fail.

Part B, all courses need to be completed with a 5,5 or higher.

The end result of the minor will be a pass/fail.

Feedback
Examinations will be reviewed together with the teacher of the specific module.

Categorie
LDE-minor
Code
MINFW-21
Tijdsduur
10 weken
Organisatie
Erasmus School of Philosophy
Studiepunten (EC)
15
Voertaal
Engels
Locatie
Campus Woudestein

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