Iris Aravot



Whereas traditionally proper conduct on the part of the architect implied loyalty to a patron and to a craft-guild, in Modernism ethics came to constitute a major component of the normative approach of architecture towards form and design principles. Since the 1960s, this approach has been severely criticized for its contents. However, the conviction that architecture needs an ethical backbone has persisted unequivocally. This paper suggests that prior to form and design principles, which necessarily vary in place and time, an ethical disposition should be cultivated that relates architecture to a larger sense of life. The paper outlines a platform for such an ethically oriented architectural disposition, rooted in the triple cornerstone of “I”, “The Other” and “Thing” - major phenomenological concepts in the writings of Husserl, Levinas and Merleau-Ponty. Although these universal concepts are ultimately irreconcilable, they are strongly recommended as part of architectural education precisely because architectural acts are so particular and specific.

Nobel laureate Herbert A. Simon, whose research focused on the nature of intelligence, problem-solving and decision making, classified architecture as one of the “sciences of the artificial,” centered on the intentional action of design (Simon, 1969). Architecture, unlike science, is not about the world but involved in the world, intending to transform it through projects grounded in intentions, ends, and values (d’Anjou, 2004:211). As such, architecture necessarily embodies an ethical dimension; a nexus of ethics that is embedded in architecture (Wasserman et al., Spector, 2001; Ray 2005) The nexus has a history (Bell, 1990:25) and a current situation, and it is against the backdrop of this current situation that this paper aims to outline an ethical platform for architectural education.


ethical-disposition; I-other relation; I-thing relation

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