Intentions in Architecture

By Christian Norberg-Schulz | Go to book overview

2. Symbolization

OBJECT AND DESCRIPTION

Our actions presuppose an organization of the environment. This organization consists, as we have seen, in abstracting objects from the immediately given phenomena.1 The objects, or the form we assign to the world, are expressed in our behaviour. But we have also suggested that for many purposes it is necessary to fix the objects by means of signs, so that they may be talked about, described and ordered into systems.2 The more complex and differentiated the environment becomes, the more we shall need a large number of 'symbol-systems' which allow [for co-operation and fellowship.

We can only describe order, because every description aims at the demonstration of similarities. The objects are the order or form of reality. The phenomena are immediately given with form, as manifestations of objects, and this form is their meaning. This does not imply that the objects cause the phenomena. The phenomena have no causes, but appear (present themselves) in a certain order. The meaning of the phenomenon is the context in which it appears. We thus understand that 'phenomenon' and 'object' are two aspects of the same matter. We abstract the most invariant properties of the phenomena and call them objects.

We can only describe the phenomena in terms of objects because we can only describe similarities (relations) between phenomena, or structure.3 Any description, any science, therefore, has to be 'vorn Gegenstafid her'.4 A 'phenomenological' description is an illusion, as it necessarily has to classify the phenomena, that is, it has to be carried out in terms of objects. It is not as a matter of fact evident how the phenomena should be classified, as the phenomena may have several properties in common. We could, for instance, classify according to colour, and give the same designation to

____________________
1
See Piaget & Inhelder: op. cit., p. IX.
2
The word 'describe' here means to render an objective account of something.
3
The words 'order', 'form', and 'structure' are used as synonyms.
4
Brunswik:Wahmehmung. . . passim.

-53-

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Intentions in Architecture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Preface 7
  • I. Introduction 11
  • II. Background 25
  • 1. Perception 27
  • 2. Symbolization 53
  • III. Theory 83
  • 1. Towards an Integrated Theory of Architecture 85
  • 2. The Building Task 109
  • 3. Form 131
  • 4. Technics 161
  • 5. Semantics 167
  • 6. The Architectural Totality 179
  • IV. Outlook 191
  • 1. Experience 195
  • 2. Production 201
  • 3. Analysis 209
  • 4. Education 217
  • Bibliography 225
  • Index 233
  • Illustrations 243
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