David Kolb

David Kolb
Bates College · Faculty of Philosophy

PhD

About

129
Publications
28,542
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421
Citations
Introduction
After growing up in a placid suburb near exciting New York City, reading nature books and science fiction, becoming a high school debater and amateur astronomer, I embarked on an intensive Jesuit education steeped in ancient literature and art. When I ran headlong into the 60s demands to question everything, and then the 70s encounter with Other cultures and histories. I was torn by a clash between old and new. I felt caught between the rich textures of the old and the excitement of new and open horizons. It was time for change in philosophy and architecture and writing, yet without losing the accumulated treasures of the past. I wanted to hold on to the past without being held back, shaping new traditions and values for our new world. So it's Hegel and Hypertext and Modernity...
Education
October 1969 - June 1972
Yale University
Field of study
  • Philosophy
June 1962 - June 1964
Fordham University
Field of study
  • Philosophy
September 1959 - June 1962
Fordham University
Field of study
  • Classics

Publications

Publications (129)
Preprint
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For Hegel, nature embodies the necessary structures described in his Logic, but spread out in space, the realm of externality. Human culture, on the other hand, develops by a complex process of internalizing its history through time. But this way of reading a Matter/Spirit dichotomy is too straightforward. For nature includes its own modes of inter...
Presentation
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Slides from a series of lectures on how our conception of matter and space has changed. Argues that Greek atomism was more different than we expect from recent views, and its hold on our imagination makes it difficult to appreciate how large those differences are.
Article
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Karsten Harries had asked people to respond to the ideas in his book The Ethical Function of Architecture. I discuss several locations in the US and Brazil, with pictures, and evaluate strategies for building in ways that confirm an identity: It could happen in a church. Martin Heidegger (2010) saw it in a Greek temple. A place we go. A building si...
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We need new skills for dealing with a deluge of predatory addictive media. I talk about the way we learned to read in the old world of books and libraries, and how the flood of new media swept away the old landmarks. I stress the dangers in this new media world, and suggest tools and attitudes for defending ourselves, along with new ways to critici...
Conference Paper
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What follows are the introductory remarks and a series of questions that were raised for a discussion about what Hegel is doing in the paragraphs 669-71 of the Phenomenology of Spirit, with reference back to paragraphs 444 and 650-5. Broadly speaking, the issues concern the place and the nature of that self-consciousness that Hegel describes as the...
Chapter
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In the introduction to his Philosophy of Nature, Hegel speaks of metaphysics as “the entire range of the universal determinations of thought, as it were the diamond net into which everything is brought and thereby first made intelligible. Every educated consciousness has its metaphysics, an instinctive way of thinking”. Both Wittgenstein and Hegel...
Presentation
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Slides from a series of talks about American identity today. I examine what it means to have a personal and social identity, and the difference between modern and traditional identity. I argue that no identity was as simple and fixed as we imagine our ancestors, nor as floating and empty as we fear for our selves. Then I describe what makes America...
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What does it mean to be a modern American? Just how different is American from other cultural identities? We have thought of ourselves as the specially modern nation, spreading the revolutionary gospel of freedom from traditional restrictions. Some condemn this American exceptionalism, while others celebrate it. Don't take sides too quickly, there...
Article
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This essay develops from Hegel's Philosophy of Nature a different critique of the ideal of a global market society inhabited by purely rational economic actors. It extends this to critique the use of mathematical models in political philosophy. Along the way it finds a parallel argument in Wittgenstein, and argues that for Hegel the fractious Europ...
Chapter
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This essay develops from Hegel's Philosophy of Nature a different critique of the ideal of a global market society inhabited by purely rational economic actors. It extends this to critique the use of mathematical models in political philosophy. Along the way it finds a parallel argument in Wittgenstein, and argues that for Hegel the fractious Europ...
Chapter
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This chapter criticizes Jürgen Habermas' modernist utopia. By way of an Introduction: These pages contain individual chapters from my 1990 book, Postmodern Sophistications. I have obtained the rights to the essays am making them available separately. The entire text of the book is also available on Research Gate. The underlying aim of this collec...
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If we have no pure self-consciousness,, how do we build places that fit our historical location? By way of an Introduction: These pages contain individual chapters from my 1990 book, Postmodern Sophistications. I have obtained the rights to the essays am making them available separately. The entire text of the book is also available on Research Gat...
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Architectural and cognitive strategies for living in a multiiplex world. By way of an Introduction: These pages contain individual chapters from my 1990 book, Postmodern Sophistications. I have obtained the rights to the essays am making them available separately. The entire text of the book is also available on Research Gate. The underlying aim o...
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This essay asks how we are to know and criticize ourselves, without presuming the purity of so-called modern self-consciousness. By way of an Introduction: These pages contain individual chapters from my 1990 book, Postmodern Sophistications. I have obtained the rights to the essays am making them available separately. The entire text of the book...
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This essay argues that the purported postmodern reintroduction of historical reference into pure modern architecture merely reenacts modernist distance from history in another key. By way of an Introduction: These pages contain individual chapters from my 1990 book, Postmodern Sophistications. I have obtained the rights to the essays am making the...
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This essay asks whether architects can truly rise above history. By way of an Introduction: These pages contain individual chapters from my 1990 book, Postmodern Sophistications. I have obtained the rights to the essays am making them available separately. The entire text of the book is also available on Research Gate. The underlying aim of this...
Chapter
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Architectural Strategies for an age that is neither modern nor postmodern. By way of an Introduction: These pages contain individual chapters from my 1990 book, Postmodern Sophistications. I have obtained the rights to the essays am making them available separately. The entire text of the book is also available on Research Gate. The underlying aim...
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This essay explores ways of expanding our historical rootedness. By way of an Introduction: These pages contain individual chapters from my 1990 book, Postmodern Sophistications. I have obtained the rights to the essays am making them available separately. The entire text of the book is also available on Research Gate. The underlying aim of this...
Chapter
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What does postmodern irony do? And can it succeed? By way of an Introduction: These pages contain individual chapters from my 1990 book, Postmodern Sophistications. I have obtained the rights to the essays am making them available separately. The entire text of the book is also available on Research Gate. The underlying aim of this collection of e...
Chapter
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This essay argues that Plato was mistaken in his fear of the Sophists, and that that fear has infected too many of today's debates. By way of an Introduction: These pages contain individual chapters from my 1990 book, Postmodern Sophistications. I have obtained the rights to the essays am making them available separately. The entire text of the boo...
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This essay argues that it is much more difficult than we think to draw a distinction between us clear-headed moderns and our hidebound ancestors. By way of an Introduction: These pages contain individual chapters from my 1990 book, Postmodern Sophistications. I have obtained the rights to the essays am making them available separately. The entire...
Chapter
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This essay examines what it meant to claim to settle debates, then and now. By way of an Introduction: These pages contain individual chapters from my 1990 book, Postmodern Sophistications. I have obtained the rights to the essays am making them available separately. The entire text of the book is also available on Research Gate. The underlying ai...
Chapter
Full-text available
By way of an Introduction: These pages contain individual chapters from my 1990 book, Postmodern Sophistications. I have obtained the rights to the essays am making them available separately. The entire text of the book is also available on Research Gate. The underlying aim of this collection of essays was to question the opposition between the So...
Presentation
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Plato fears that democracy tends to turn in to tyranny, because it overdoes its best feature, freedom. These slides analyze what he feares and ask whether, despite the many differences between Athenian democracy and our own, we should still be afraid (spoiler alert: yes).
Preprint
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There are always stones, hard and heavy, lying about separate from one another. Then we put them together into buildings. For Hegel, architecture is a curious art. It stands at the beginning of his hierarchy of the arts, the least spiritual, yet with its own distinctive mission. the unifying teleology of an architectural artwork is external archite...
Book
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Autobiographical reflections by a philosopher finding himself with Parkinson's Disease and wondering how to endure and live with decline and dementia.
Poster
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A Philosopher Moves into Parkinson’s Disease and its World
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What are the ontological commitments in Hegel and Heidegger's discussion of the self? In this essay I approach these continental thinkers with a question from analytic philosophy, to see how they might respond. In different ways Hegel and Heidegger try to locate the question (and its goal of one final language with a definitive list of ontological...
Preprint
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I wanted for a long time to write a historical survey of different ideas about how things become definite and how novelty arises. We tend to think the answer is obvious: there are certain basic definite entities and novelty arises through new combinations of those entities, whether they are physical atoms or psychological perceptions or logical con...
Article
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Discussion of Klaus Vieweg's monumental study of Hegel's Philosophy of Right.
Conference Paper
This essay discusses whether the standard narratological duality of syuzhet and fabula applies to narrative hypertext, and concludes that the hypertext writing complicates the use of those dual concepts.
Conference Paper
This essay explores an analogy that might offer new ideas for the construction of adaptive hypertext narrative systems. The analogy is not with the production of a literary work but with city planning, in particular Christopher Alexander's iterative model for gradual change. In this model, there is no overall plan for the city; instead there are mu...
Conference Paper
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The talk starts with some remarks on the meanings of the word "bearing" as demeanor, relevance, orientation, and center. Then it talks about three changes that are decreasing the bearing of architecture. They are (1) the diminished central role of the architect in the building process, (2) the fragmentation of communities which decreases the import...
Conference Paper
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When an architectural intervention is attempting to re-­-form people's way of living in space, people must experience the new kind of architecture surrounding them. But how? Distanced "aesthetic experience" of architecture is seldom appropriate, and especially not for the work of Arakawa and Gins. Many artists have tried to escape the Museum with i...
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When I was first studying Hegel, I encountered quite divergent readings of his views on religion. The teacher who first presented Hegel to me was a Jesuit, Quentin Lauer at Fordham University, who read Hegel as a Christian theologian providing a better metaphysical system for understanding the doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation. When I studie...
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Abstract: New patterns of suburban development in America after 1945 offered space for modes of life different from the social habits of those moving from crowded cities. Over time those habits changed, and then they kept on changing as new kinds of networks developed, so that now much of the built pattern of suburbia lags behind social activities...
Article
Full-text available
For Hegel, nature embodies the necessary structures described in his Logic, but spread out in space, the realm of externality. Human culture, on the other hand, develops by a complex process of internalizing its history through time. But this way of reading a Matter/Spirit dichotomy is too straightforward. For nature includes its own modes of inter...
Article
Full-text available
New patterns of suburban development in America after 1945 offered space for modes of life different from the social habits of those moving from crowded cities. Over time those habits changed, and then they kept on changing as new kinds of networks developed, so that now much of the built pattern of suburbia lags behind social activities and roles....
Article
Hegel distinguishes religious representations from philosophical statements. In medieval times this issue led to accusations of "double truth" (that religion and philosophy are inconsistent with one another but both are true). This paper argues that Hegel skirts but avoids affirming double truth, two ways, because he removes religion from making fa...
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This essay discusses the situation of philosophy today in an era of mixed modern, postmodern, and traditional values and social patterns. It argues, with reference to postmodern architecture and to the German philosophers Hegel and Heidegger, that we should reject polarizing conceptual dualities, and that we need to seek out new kinds of less cente...
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A collection of short dialogues with the spirits of place (genius loci) in Japan and America, probing what is happening to the classic ideal of a rooted hierarchical centered place and offering a new vision of linked and mobile places.
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Arakawa and Gins have been fomenting revolution for a long time. In the last twenty years their attention has turned more and more towards architecture and urban planning as a way of reforming our bodily existence. Their proposals enter daily life rather than staying in the isolated sphere of the museum or gallery. These constructions are to be liv...
Conference Paper
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Centers have been out of intellectual and political fashion, because they have been often oppressive. We both celebrate and worry about postmodern fragmentation as we enact it in our technology, while fearing hidden centralization. But centering is important. I would like to mull over some issues concerning centers and criticism. I want to agree wi...
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Criticism of art and popular culture usually works from a stable theoretical platform removed from the work being criticized. But what happens when the work requires the critic to enter an immersive total experience. Distanced criticism "afterwards" is always possible, but are there ways to criticize immersive works, virtual worlds, and the like, f...
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What kind of cosmopolitan identity is possible in a world of assertive particular identities? This paper explores universalism by means of a contrast with the failed aspirations of modernist architects to create a style that was valid everywhere, above history. It argues that the real shared identity in all persons and places is the temporal proces...
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A positive review of a book by Lin Ma that disputes claims that Heidegger and Asian thought are closely harmonious.
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Spatial hypertext programs typically display a portion of a larger flat space in which items can be arranged, grouped, and manipulated. In terms of an old philosophical dispute, the space of spatial hypertext is a Newtonian absolute space rather than the Leibnizian relational space created by web pages and other node-and-link hypertexts. After disc...
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Buildings would seem to be easier to interpret than other art works. Architecture stands distinctively exposed to the community. Buildings are unavoidable and they enter into many different activities. Larger architectural works obtrude into the public context with an intensity and physical stubbornness that few art works accomplish. Also, architec...
Conference Paper
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What should a revised edition of a hypertext be? How might revising a hypertext differ from reissuing a printed book? This essay suggests a revision process that is self-reflexive and explicitly made visible, taking advantage of the ability of hypertext to expand the "margins" of a document in new directions. Where the issues are complex enough, th...
Conference Paper
Writers of literary hypertext have urged complexly linked hypertext forms. Some writers have applied this to expository and argumentative hypertext, taking advantage of hypertext's ability to expand the "margins" of a document in new directions. Where argumentative issues or contexts are complex and self-reflexive enough, these writers urge that hy...
Article
People often bemoan the spread of malls, suburban strips, subdivisions, and other sprawling places in contemporary America. But are these places as bad as critics claim? In Sprawling Places, David Kolb questions widely held assumptions about our built environments. Kolb agrees there is a lot not to like about many contemporary places, but to write...
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In the popular press and the halls of politics, controversies over evolution are increasingly strident these days. Hegel is relevant in this connection, even though he rejected the theories of evolution he knew about, because he wants rational understanding and a larger process to comprehend natural processes and their history, but without any clai...
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A centerless sprawl of development replaces the older opposition of cities to small country towns. In some places the sprawl pulls itself together into Edge Cities; in others it just spreads. Its economic, social, and political difficulties are well known, and while sprawl was encouraged by particular incentives and subsidies in the U. S., it has b...
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A study of the differences between Hegel's different versions of the second book of his Logic. The Essence section has more variation than the other two sections and it is not possible to say definitively that one version is superior. The philosophical reasons behind the greater variability of the essence section are that it works with a set of dia...
Chapter
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"The first of the particular arts. is architecture" (VA 1:116/A 1:83).1 For Hegel, architecture stands at several beginnings. It is the art closest to raw nature. It is also the initial art in a progressive spiritualization that will culminate in poetry and music. The drive for art is spirit's drive to become fully itself by encountering itself; ar...
Chapter
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It's popular to require that changes in our social traditions and identities, or in our art and culture, be "authentic." This criterion of "authenticity" is notoriously vague and can be dangerous. In this essay I propose a new criterion for authenticity, based on faithfulness to structural moments of the process of development rather than to some s...
Article
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We can distinguish geometrically defined or indicated areas of space from those areas of space where a structure of social norms gives special meaning to movements and actions. A courtroom, a restaurant, a corridor each have their appropriate norms that distinguish sub-areas and assign behaviors to them. We might call such areas places as opposed t...
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We live within spaces of possibilities with varying degrees of normativity: social rules and expectations, linguistic grammars, artistic genres, conceptual systems, place norms, scientific methods, and the like. They all change. I would like to explore some issues that arise as part of a larger investigation about how sets of possibilities and norm...
Chapter
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I question this idea of a pure presuppositionless self-developing sequence of logical categories. This is part of a larger investigation of the inherence of Hegel's thought in historical language. Concerning the necessary self-development of thought, I have three objections to propose. The first concerns the difficulty of recognizing a uniquely cor...
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While hypertext is often claimed to be a tool that especially aids associative thinking, intellectual “work” involves more than association. So, questions arise about the usefulness of hypertext tools in the more disciplined aspects of scholarly and argumentative writing. Examining the phases of scholarly writing reveals that different hypertext to...
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Response to T. H. Nelson, “Transhyperability and argumedia”, New Rev. Hypermedia Multimedia, 11(1), pp. 27–32 this issue.
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Frederick Neuhouser's The Foundations of Hegel's Social Theory expertly answers many standard objections to Hegel's theory, and offers a careful reading of its basic principles. However, questions remain whether Neuhouser can successfully reconstruct Hegel's theory while avoiding its links to Hegel's logic. Hegel's normative conclusions depend on l...
Conference Paper
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This hypertext reports on issues in hypertext rhetoric and presentation that arise in composing a large argumentative hypertext associated with a book version of the same project. It concerns not the old navigation problem for the lost reader, but the construction problem for the uncertain author. The essay discusses link patterns, the intentions o...
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Les informations offertes par Internet ont un caractere d'immediatete et sont sorties de leur contexte et de leurs relations constitutives. Bien qu'elles soient la, elles ne sont pas dans leur environnement reel. L'auteur souligne la necessite d'un enrichissement contextuel de l'information sur le Web pour dissiper l'experience illusoire d'immediat...
Conference Paper
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We need to give up single visions that are supposed to embrace social and place totalities. We live in overlapping nets rather than single places. We cannot plan unlimited geometrical vistas a la Versailles; but that was always an illusion, and today it would be an oppression. Can we still plan like Sixtus at Rome? Only if we also encourage other m...
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Three kinds of concepts can be distinguished in Plato and Aristotle, empirical genera and species, transcendental concepts such as being and unity, and polarized meanings of being such as power and actuality. Both Kant and Hegel break with the traditional dominance of polarized meanings of being, but they do so in different ways which are at work a...
Conference Paper
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Hegel said that his Philosophy of Right "Philosophy always comes on the scene too late to [give instruction as to what the world ought to be]." (PR Preface). On the other hand, from his early discussions of his home city's government, and throughout his career, to his late essay on the English reform bill, Hegel makes normative statements and criti...
Chapter
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We live in the self-proclaimed time of difference, when particular identities and localities worry about or actively resist the global forces of modernization. This is the time of the other, the exception, the multi-cultural. Why then look again at Hegel, who is reputed to be the philosopher of unity, sameness, and absorption into the whole? Things...
Article
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Hegel congratulated himself on noticing that the German verb aufheben embodied a speculative dialectic in the interrelation of its multiple meanings. Translators have been hard put to find an equivalent English word. I think I have found a similar word in English, which, if not exactly a translation, still shows a similar interaction among the cont...
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A friend once said to me that he would be glad to discuss postmodemity if only he knew what modernity meant. There are so many descriptions. We're all modern: Modern society, modern art, modern philosophy, modern science, modern technologies. The reformation, the wars of religion, the American revolution, the French revolution, the Paris Commune, t...
Preprint
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Excerpts from an unfinished work in progress: This text consists of shortened and rearranged ideas from my Sprawling Places project and The Age of the List, applied with tools drawn from web writing theory to suggest ways to make suburbia a more humane place.
Conference Paper
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The paper examines the stories we use to place our own era in a larger historical narrative. In particular the paper examines narratives that impose a teleology, and how those relate to "postmodernity."
Presentation
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I want to tell some stories of ends and transformations in the relation of the past to the future. These stories have implications for education and enlightenment. They are stories in which modernity is seen as an end and a beginning. Modernity is the end of tradition, or oppression, or superstition, or other restrictive conditions. It is the begin...
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Eugene Gendlin claims that he wants "to think with more than conceptual structures, forms, distinctions, with more than cut and presented things" (WCS 29).1 He wants situations in their concreteness to be something we can think with, not just analyze conceptually. He wants to show that "conceptual patterns are doubtful and always exceeded, but the...
Presentation
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Our time has been called "the late age of print" (Jay David Bolter), but the age of print seems in no hurry to end. Computer text and hypertext will coexist with printed books, and so our reading and writing skills need to become more complex as texts mutate and crossbreed. While more critical attention has been paid to hypertext experiments with n...
Article
Most criticisms of suburban sprawl presume that the ideal unity for human dwelling is a spatially dense, centered and hierarchically organized locale. Suburban sprawl and commercial strips have none of these characteristics but it does possess a new kind of unity, that of a list of seemingly unrelated units indifferent to their neighbors, but actua...
Article
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Scholarly hypertexts involve argument and explicit selfquestioning, and can be distinguished from both informational and literary hypertexts. After making these distinctions the essay presents general principles about attention, some suggestions for self-representational multi-level structures that would enhance scholarly inquiry, and a wish list o...
Chapter
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Hegel's system aims at thought's encompassing self-relation. There are many ways of interpreting just what Hegel is trying to achieve in that self-relation and what kind of closure, if any, it demands. It is also difficult to be sure how Hegel intends that self-relation to include the myriad detail of the world. In this essay I look at two models o...
Conference Paper
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A talk given at the 1997 conference in Rome on Urban Preservation as an Aesthetic Problem Our task is the preservation of historic towns. In America as in Europe historic town centers are surrounded by recent additions and suburban sprawl. It is tempting to imagine the task of preservation as protecting our historical heritage from a featureless wa...
Chapter
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Modernity means freedom, we say, and circulation let loose: commodities, technology, choices, the autonomous individual. In contrast to our free exchange, we imagine old traditional societies as regulated exchange along a network of posts defined by fixed roles. In those societies identities and roles were experienced as naturally given. They were...
Article
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A study of how for Hegel the relation of architecture to building function has varied throughout history. Architecture strives to liberate itself, never completely, from domination by function.
Chapter
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What does Heidegger have to contribute to contemporary philosophy? In this essay I will mean by “contemporary philosophy” mostly Anglo-American-European “analytic” philosophy. That is itself hardly a united movement, but much of it shares certain basic methods and goals for the construction and defense of philosophical positions.
Article
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The theses and program below ask about judgment and tradition in a self-consciously plural world. The little program points down a path I am exploring in a pair of texts, one on notions of identity in the history of philosophy, and one on the identity of buildings and places. The underlying issue of those texts is: what will replace the old notion...
Presentation
Full-text available
What follows are the introductory remarks and a series of questions that were raised for a discussion about what Hegel is doing in the paragraphs 669-71 of the Phenomenology of Spirit, with reference back to paragraphs 444 and 650-5. Broadly speaking, the issues concern the place and the nature of that self-consciousness that Hegel describes as the...
Article
Kolb discusses postmodern architectural styles and theories within the context of philosophical ideas about modernism and postmodernism. He focuses on what it means to dwell in a world and within a history and to act from or against a tradition.
Article
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Hegel's claims about the end of history seem bold and disturbingly specific. Could he really have believed that the institutional forms he discerned in the Europe of his day were the last word in society and politics? Many argue that developments since Hegel's time have undermined any claim that the particular political and economic structures he d...

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