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Extraordinarily Real: Ethics, Aesthetics, and the Promise of Modern Architecture

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Nathaniel ColemanORCiD


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Publication metadata

Author(s): Coleman N

Editor(s): Sanda Iliescu

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: The Hand and the Soul, Aesthetics and Ethics in Architecture and Art

Year: 2009

Pages: 116-134

Publisher: University of Virginia Press

Place Published: Charlottesville, Virginia

Notes: THE BOOK (Publisher's Description) The essays in The Hand and the Soul explore the question of how ethical ideas guiding the design process--a concern for the environment or for social justice--relate to the beauty of our buildings, cities, and artworks. The book presents a range of viewpoints and does not ignore the perils of an easy association of ethics and aesthetics. Yet the majority of contributors, among them historians, theorists, as well practicing designers and artists, argue passionately in defense of the idea that the good and the beautiful can and should be able to find a common ground in the design disciplines. The book begins with an exploration of recent difficulties in pairing ethics and aesthetics. Can one effect a philosophical convergence of these elements, or is it dangerous to conflate moral and aesthetic terms? The discussion continues with considerations of the overlap that occurs between the fine arts and the design disciplines, the intersection of aesthetic theory and practice with sustainability and environmental science, and the concept of “open works”—projects whose design processes are flexible, nonhierarchical, and attuned to the unique features of a particular place or cultural situation. The book concludes with a look at several contrasting ideas developed in the essays and examines ethics as a desire for community, as well as a sense of responsibility, an obligation to contemplate not only what buildings offer us but also what they may take away. In juxtaposing the work of historians and theorists with that of practicing designers and artists, The Hand and the Soul, whose title is drawn from an essay by American artist Philip Guston, seeks to bridge the divide between theory and practice, between abstract ethical or aesthetic concepts and practical ways of making tangible artifacts. In a field dominated by esoteric studies and, at the other extreme, primarily illustrated works, The Hand and the Soul offers a vital discussion that is at once theoretically rigorous and grounded in the practice of art, architecture, landscape architecture, and urbanism. Contributors Richard Shusterman * Joan Ockman * Howard Singerman * Robin Dripps * Nathaniel Coleman * Thomas Berding * Steven A. Moore * William Sherman * Timothy Beatley * Elissa Rosenberg * Phoebe Crisman * Sanda Iliescu * W. G. Clark Reviewers’ Comments: “We are living in an age of aestheticization: life styles, architecture, personality, politics and even war are being deliberately aestheticized. At a time when everything is regarded as mere appearance, image, fashion and style, we need to be reminded of the real essence of beauty and its relationship with ethical values and judgements, as the thoughtful essays in The Hand and the Soul certainly do. Joseph Brodsky argues, ‘Every new aesthetic reality makes man’s ethical reality more precise – aesthetics is the mother of ethics.’” — Juhani Pallasmaa architect, writer, professor “This is a thoughtful and thought–provoking book, and its contributors are to be congratulated for re–opening this ancient and important line of inquiry: the instrumental and exemplary role that the arts may play in not merely reflecting but actively constructing the values by which we would aspire to live in relation to each other and the environment. Rooted in the work of architects at the university of Virginia, the book is also a testament to the sort of role that a school of architecture might play today: as the convener of a richly layered conversation about the motivating values of the discipline and the professions, one that begins with the faculty itself, and grows to include a community of colleagues and collaborators.” — Alan Plattus architect, urbanist, founder of the Yale Urban Design Workshop;Professor of Architecture, Yale University “I am startled by the audacious title of this book: both aesthetics and ethics have been ruthlessly extirpated from contemporary commentary, impoverishing our lives as citizens and participants in the realm of thinking. Sanda Iliescu’s gathering of authors who dare to reconsider the hallowed categories of existence is a gift, an indispensable source of necessary retrieval for the territories of architecture and art.” — Dore Ashton writer, art historian and critic; Professor of Art History, The Cooper Union, New York

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9780813927725