Susanne Langer on Architecture

Ethnic Domain, Virtual Space, and the Feeling of Life


  • Paul Guyer Brown University



Susanne Langer, architecture


That human thought is essentially symbolic was Susanne Langer’s “new key” to philosophy.  No approach might seem less promising for understanding our experience of architecture: apart from a few academics who have confused architectural drawing with architecture itself, most people think of architecture as comprising three-dimensional, physical objects built of wood, stone, steel, glass, and all sorts of contemporary composites, as real rather than symbolic as it can get. We should begin where she did, namely, by distinguishing what she called “discursive” and “presentational” symbolism. Langer’s main point is not merely that architecture provides ethnic domains, but that it provides images of ethnic domains


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