phenomenology - Currently no debate

General definition:


  1. A philosophy or method of inquiry based on the premise that reality consists of objects and events as they are perceived or understood in human consciousness and not of anything independent of human consciousness.
  2. A movement based on this, originated about 1905 by Edmund Husserl.




The Phenomenology of Perception (1945) was the magnum opus of French phenomenological philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

Following the work of Edmund Husserl, Merleau-Ponty’s project is to reveal the phenomenological structure of perception. However, Merleau-Ponty’s conceptions of phenomenology, and for that matter the dialectic, do not follow Husserl’s nor Heidegger’s to the letter. The central thesis of the book is what Merleau-Ponty later called the “primacy of perception.” We are first perceiving the world, then we do philosophy. This entails a critique of the Cartesian cogito, resulting in a largely different concept of consciousness. The Cartesian dualism of mind and body is called into question as our primary way of existing in the world and is ultimately rejected in favor of a intersubjective conception or dialectical concept of consciousness. What is characteristic of his account of perception is the centrality that the body plays. We perceive the world through our bodies; we are embodied subjects, involved in existence. Further the ability to reflect comes from a pre-reflective ground that serves as the foundation for reflecting on actions. In other words we perceive phenomena first, then reflect on them via this mediation which is instantaneous and synonymous with our being and perception in,as,and with body, i.e. embodiment.

His account of the body helps him undermine what had been a long standing conception of consciousness which hinges on the distinction between the for-itself (subject) and in-itself (object) which plays a central role in Sartre’s philosophy. (One of his main targets was his colleague Sartre, who released Being and Nothingness in 1943, shortly before the publication of Phenomenology of Perception.) The body stands between this fundamental distinction between subject and object, ambiguously existing as both.[1]

  1. ^ Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Trans: Colin Smith. Phenomenology of Perception (London: Routledge, 2005) [eg. pp. 408]



Phenomenology (architecture)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Phenomenology is both a philosophical design current in contemporary architecture and a specific field of academic research, based on the experience of building materials and their sensory properties.

Beginning in the 1970s, phenomenology, with a strong influence from the writings of Martin Heidegger, began to have a major impact on architectural thinking. Christian Norberg-Schulz was an important figure in this movement. A Norwegian, he graduated from the Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule (ETH) in Zurich in 1949 and eventually became Dean of the Oslo School of Architecture. His most important writings were Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture (New York: Rizzoli, 1980) and Intentions in Architecture (1963). These books were widely read in architectural schools the 1960s and 1970s.[1] Thomas Thiis-Evensen, a follower of Norberg-Schulz, contributed to architectural phenomenology with the book Archetypes in Architecture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987).

Another architect associated with the phenomenology movement was Charles Willard Moore, who was Dean of the School of Architecture at Yale from 1965 to 1970. Phenomenology, generally speaking, favored an approach to design that was highly personal and inward looking. Though most phenomenologists, Norberg-Schulz, for example, were highly critical of modernism and the International Style in particular, phenomenologically-oriented architects favored the clean and the simple over the complex or the organic. The approach that was most at odds with phenomenology was that of Robert Venturiand Denise Scott Brown, who were influenced by Pop art. Though interest in phenomenology has waned in recent times, several architects, such as Steven Holl and Peter Zumthor are described by Juhani Pallasmaa as practitioners in phenomenology of architecture.

In the 1970s, the School of Comparative Studies at the University of Essex, under the influence of Dalibor Vesely and Joseph Rykwert, was the breeding ground for a generation of architectural phenomenologists, which includes David Leatherbarrow, professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania and Alberto Pérez-Gómez, professor of architectural history at McGill University. Architect Daniel Libeskind also studied at Essex in the 1970s.

Present-day architectural phenomenology has widened its scope to include theorists whose modes of thinking are bordering on phenomenology, such as Gilles Deleuze and Henri Bergson, and Paul Virilio(urban planner).

Notable architects of this academic movement include:

[edit]Major works of this movement

  • Paul Andreu, The National Grand Theater of China
  • Karsten Harries, The Ethical Function of Architecture (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1997)
  • Deborah Hauptmann (Ed), The Body in Architecture (Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, 2006)
  • David Leatherbarrow, On Weathering: The Life of Buildings in Time, with Mohsen Mostafavi ( Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1993)
  • Christian Norberg-Schulz, Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture (New York: Rizzoli, 1980)
  • Juhani Pallasmaa, The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses (New York: Wiley, 1996/2005)
  • Alberto Pérez-Gómez, Architecture and the Crisis of Modern Science (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1983)
  • Steen Eiler Rasmussen, Experiencing Architecture (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1959)
  • Joseph Rykwert, The Dancing Column: On Order in Architecture (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1996)
  • David Seamon & Robert Mugerauer (Eds), Dwelling, Place & Environment: Towards a Phenomenology of Person and World (Martinus Nijhoff 1985/Krieger Publishing 2000)
  • Thomas Thiis-Evensen, Archetypes in Architecture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987)
  • Dalibor Vesely, Architecture in the Age of Divided Representation: The Question of Creativity in the Shadow of Production (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004)



Currently no practice associated to this term.