Habermas and Design
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
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:
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!
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
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.
Best wishes for progress in your work,
Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Movies - Buy advance tickets for 'Shrek 2'