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Ecstatic Architecture

In an article, to be published this December, I address the developing field of the ethics of architecture. I argue that the judicious choice of materials and techniques is not a sufficient response to any ethical questions which architecture may evoke, because such responses themselves remain trapped in the technological hubris that gives rise to our present environmental malaise. Instead, I propose that an idealized concept of the architecture of Greek temples and other such religious buildings, which I term ecstatic architecture, has the power to return us to the ethos, precisely because such architecture is not strongly anthropomorphic, but rather is given an ecstatic character through its transcendent dimension.

This transcendence reveals that we are not at the centre but rather in the midst of things, a setting which in turn reveals what William Desmond calls the four-fold (metaxological) sense of being. Only a framework that permits an understanding of the fullness of being in its many voices can provide a sufficient ground for an adequate grasp of the ethos, and hence of the ethical.

"Towards a metaxological ethics of architecture," Between System And Poetics: William Desmond And Philosophy After Dialectic. Ed. Thomas Kelly. Ashgate: 2006.

Pre-print of this article (pdf)
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Last update: July 20, 2008