Design: Purpose, Form, and Meaning

Design: Purpose, Form, and Meaning

Design: Purpose, Form, and Meaning

Design: Purpose, Form, and Meaning

Excerpt

It is a common, usually critical, observation on life in the modern, technologically developed world to say that it is materialistic. We are a population heavily oriented toward things. We work to produce things and to earn what we need to acquire them for ourselves. We measure individual success largely in terms of things owned--houses, cars, television sets and similar consumer goods. We talk of a standard of living which is measured, in the main, by the per capita count of refrigerators, flush toilets and bathtubs. Scientific and technical achievements often occur as events (a moon landing, for example), yet they are events accomplished with the aid of new and remarkable things such as supersonic aircraft, rockets, orbiting satellites, atomic reactors or, at a different scale, artificial heart valves or kidneys. The concept of progress in human affairs is, if we are realistic, almost entirely concerned with materialistic, that is to say, technological progress. We describe as primitive any society that exists with a limited inventory of comparatively simple things. When we speak of underdeveloped countries, we mean nations whose per capita count of technically advanced goods is low. The absence of technically advanced equipment of course has consequences for underdeveloped countries. Poor diet, disease and a generally low standard of living are characteristic of underdevelopment but the remedies we know of are, in general, technological. Electric power, gasoline engines, modern hospitals, printed books, radios and television sets are proposed as solutions to world problems by the developed countries that produce them and by the people who lack them.

Historically, the rise of civilization is clearly traceable in these . . .

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