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Habermas and Design

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  • theorysavage
    Hi, I m a new member. I m looking forward to reading through these posts, and I m glad to find a community of people who know a lot about Habermas. I am a
    Message 1 of 2 , May 3, 2004
      Hi,
      I'm a new member. I'm looking forward to reading through these posts,
      and I'm glad to find a community of people who know a lot about
      Habermas.

      I am a graphic design theorist, and I have been trying to get a deep
      understanding of Habermas because I believe the distinction between
      instrumental/dramaturgical/communicative rationality are very
      important for design. Obviously, the prevailing model of "design
      work" has been primarily either instrumental or dramaturgical. But I
      have a feeling that design should be more about something that grows
      from undistorted communication than something that manipulates
      through distorted communications.

      Beyond that, I'm interested in the relation of the spheres of
      rationality, since design is involved with the aesthetic/moral/AND
      objective spheres, not just aesthetics. Design is not art. And I have
      a sneaking suspicion that "design" is at the crux of these debates on
      rationality because it occupies such a broad space.

      In approaching the subject, generally, I have identified design with
      rational action, and this has illuminated some of Habermas' concepts
      for me in terms of what I do.

      Another nagging interest of mine is the separation of the spheres.
      Since design seems to want to bring them all together somehow, how
      are they to retain their autonomy? What would autonomy mean for
      design? Certainly, in finding the mechanisms at work between these
      spheres we are not becoming anti-modern, are we? I mean, to blur the
      distinctions between the spheres (or to clarify their relations) is
      not to revert to mysticism, is it? Design has a tendency to become
      mystified, but I am attempting to resist this at the same time I
      pursue its autonomous "logic" toward reconciling the spheres.

      These are the kinds of questions I am exploring on my blog:
      http://point.blogs.com

      It would really be helpful if those who are knowledgeable about
      Habermas would intervene in my discussions to try to clarify things
      that I might not properly understand. But in any case, I'm hoping to
      participate here as well. Thank you!

      Tom Gleason
      theorysavage@...
    • Gary E. Davis
      Tom, You’re doing so well with your blog! : applying aspects of your readings and knowledgeable background in graphic communication arts to a developing
      Message 2 of 2 , May 13, 2004
        Tom,

        You�re doing so well with your blog! : applying
        aspects of your readings and knowledgeable background
        in graphic communication arts to a developing
        discourse about design generally. In particular,
        you�re making good use of concepts from Habermas�s
        work, among your many influences. I�m impressed by the
        intensity and genuineness of your endeavor to give
        high purpose and progressive promise to design
        professions. Anyone who intently cares about the
        future of design could benefit from keeping up with
        the discursive aspects of your journey/journal. I hope
        to learn a lot about the design profession in light of
        your knowledge, references, and links. I want to read
        the entirety of your blog in coming days and keep up
        with its development.

        T> In approaching the subject [of design], generally,
        I have identified design with rational action, and
        this has illuminated some of Habermas' concepts for me
        in terms of what I do.

        Good. Yet, since rationality is about accountability
        and responsibility, rather than discovery,
        imaginability, and the fullness of intelligent living
        , I wouldn�t identify design with rational action.
        Rather, rational action is one vital model of action
        among others, including creative action, reflective
        learning., and technical efficacy. Design, it seems to
        me, may comprehend more about action than its
        rationality. Rationality of action is vital for
        accountable and responsible living, especially public
        life, which has everything to do with communicative
        action. But there�s more to communicative action than
        its rationality (and more to action than its
        communicability). Habermas is especially concerned
        with the rationality of action because he is
        fundamentally concerned with prospects for democratic
        public life. Design, too, is fundamentally concerned
        with public communication. But design is based in
        discovery, imaginability, and the fullness of
        intelligent living *inasmuch as* it�s communicable,
        but not wholly at the point of communication (or
        focused screen of designed light). The designING must
        gain communicability, thus rationality. But
        communication may contribute to the evolution of
        rationality, not just conform to a given potential for
        rationality

        T> What would autonomy mean for design?

        This is an outstanding question to live through.

        T> I mean, to blur the distinctions between the
        spheres [of rationality] (or to clarify their
        relations) is not to revert to mysticism, is it?

        I suppose you don�t want to *blur* distinctions;
        clarifying relations doesn�t imply blurring
        distinctions, of course.

        T> Design has a tendency to become mystified, but I am
        attempting to resist this at the same time I pursue
        its autonomous "logic" toward reconciling the spheres.

        Admirable!

        Best wishes for progress in your work,

        Gary





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