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.
Linked to the current discourse on rethinking aesthetics, this chapter argues that the revision of the traditional “modern system of the arts” (Kristeller) is inevitable for at least two reasons. First, because that system has to face the increasing dynamics of its enlargement through new phenomena that are considered to have artistic value; and secondly, because of the eruptions of old anomalies and disproportions that characterize the traditional conception of the arts. It is particularly important to record the performative and somatic deficits present in the modern arts through attempted adaptation to the ideal model of literature. My thesis is that the interpretation of the experiential dimensions of architecture (including its multisensory nature) plays a crucial role in repositioning and interrelating the heritage of the five major art forms and recent artistic practices. What’s more, it makes graspable those aesthetic experiences as well that are not classified under the heading of art. All this could be done without parting with systematic thinking in aesthetics. My proposal is that traditional aesthetic thinking founded on specific ideas about literature and then expanded to all the other arts, has to be replaced with another possible aesthetics inspired by the experience of architecture. Thereby the rights of the somatic dimension, which is a decisive factor of the aesthetic experience in its fullness, could become reinstated. I believe the art of architecture provides a more appropriate paradigm for the other arts and for the aesthetic phenomena in general. We can thus offer a relevant alternative to our Hegelian legacy.