AGAINST METHOD

PRODUCTORA (250 words statement written for booklet ‘Proof’ / Young Architects Forum, Architectural League New York, Selected Entry, February 2007)

 

Feyerabends epistemological masterpiece ‘Against Method’ was first published as an essay in 1970; as the name of the writ­ing suggests it is an critic on the idea that science has a single ‘method’ to expand knowledge. Feyerabend describes the history of science as a complex fabric of serendipity, poetic challenges, erroneous observations and hazardous discoveries in a continuous dialectic with a rational and sci­entific procedure. Contradiction and irrationality are therefore just a much a part of a strategy as the established scientific roads to enlightenment. They are particularly important, he states, in the challenging of fundamental as­sumptions which leads to ‘revolutions’ or ‘paradigm shifts’.

In the field of architecture we can state the same conclusions. Our architec­tural projects always start with an anarchic series of intuitive explorations. Sometimes they might be linked to specific environmental parameters, budget limitations or programmatic necessities; in other occasions they might be mere formal explorations through drawings or models. There is no way to judge the supremacy of one method above the other: the only way to discover the value of these initial intuitions is by further developing the project, to make headway. When a strong diagram looses its power during the course of a project, maybe the initial axioms are wrong. When - on the contrary - the conceptual idea becomes stronger and we start to perceive a correspondence between the initial starting point and the resulting solu­tions (technical, structural, architectonical...) the project is ‘proofed’.

 

 

(Illustration from Paul K. Feyerabend, Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge, 1975)