Chapter 1 A World Is Born: Craftsmanship, Mediality, and the Somatic Implications of Plato’s Timaeus

In: Somaesthetics and Design Culture
Bálint Veres
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This paper returns to a foundational text in the history of Western philosophy, Plato’s Timaeus, and explores the ways in which this text establishes our thinking about design and creation - going as far as recent examples such as Dieter Rams’ famous design principles. The paper shows how Platonic thoughts on the essence of design and creation fit into the general ontological, epistemological, and ethical dimensions of philosophy, thus possessing a much wider scope than one might suspect. If we can talk about Platonic ‘design theory’, however, we can only reveal it as a latent theory whose latency stems from two factors: one is the chorology (a media theory avant la lettre) explicated in Timaeus, and the other is Eros, which involves aspects of desire, fertility, and corporeality. The paper shows that in a less mentalistic context a different design thinking could have emerged from the Platonic heritage, for which craft knowledge and fertility are not isolated from each other but necessarily closely related entities. The chapter concludes with the insight that by rethinking the concepts (and practices) of khôra, fertility, childbirth, and care with a Meliorist purpose, Platonic-based Western design theory could become a proponent of a more satisfying design culture.

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