Research Structure: method and outline of an index
The method for organizing the development of the research is informed by two basic approaches: the scientific method and the dialectical method. The first is seen as the most basic structure for any inquiry. I follow here the basic structure of the general rules of the method proposed in Descartes’ Discourse on the Method, in particular the third and fourth precepts, namely what Lefebvre stated as analysis and synthesis, separation and reassembly, parts and totality. For the purpose of this research I have organized the logical reasoning of the scientific method (deduction, induction, abduction) into three main questions: What to study? Where find the knowledge to study it? How to study it? Each question points to a stage of development: topic, context, and method respectively. Descartes’ third precept states that we should start from the simplest objects or concepts to ascend to the more complex ones, thus arriving at the knowledge that reassembles the original totality or object of study.
The dialectical method as developed in Marx shows a similar development of the argument, especially in Capital. He starts from the simplest elementary object of analysis, the commodity, to arrive progressively at an understanding of the totality of the capitalist system in its development. The dialectical method poses some important problems that the scientific model cannot resolve. For example, it is not a method based on causality and identity, but rather on contradiction and negation. This type of contradiction must not be confused with logical contradictions, as seen in formal logic or philosophy, but rather as the opposing forces within a unity –e.g. use-value/exchange-value, labour/capital, proletariat/bourgeoisie, production/exchange, etc.
Another difference with the scientific method is that, according to Jameson, dialectics is not a method per se, like a recipe that can be used for whatever content. Hegel developed it in his system of the Science of Logic as the triad thesis-antithesis-synthesis, or position-negation-negation of the negation as the movement and development of reason–though the former was coined first by Fichte. I have to admit that I am more close and sympathetic with Marxist science or sociology, namely Historical Materialism, than with Marxist philosophy or Dialectical Materialism, as developed by Engels in his Anti-Dühring. I have not read Anti-Dühring yet, but the whole idea of applying dialectics on the natural sciences seems somewhat suspicious –see Lukács’ critique. I’m concerned here with the social world, though one cannot understand this without some understanding of nature. I think that the operating laws in each one are completely different if not opposed, which is almost the same as saying that there is a fundamental contradiction between the human world and the natural world.
Marxian dialectics are fundamentally materialist, which means that it focus on the real processes of production in society and not only in its ‘discourses’ or mental conceptions. In the preface of Capital, Marx claimed that he had turned Hegel’s dialectic on its head, that his dialectical method was the opposite of the Hegelian one: instead of seeing the material world as the outcome of the human mind, it understood the human consciousness and systems of thought as reflecting the material world in various ways. Marx also was concerned about how to best present his argument, so he argues that his method of inquiry (dialectics) must differ from his method of presentation, and that in Capital the later has been improved. For him, analysis has to start from a totality which has to be disassembled to understand its different parts and elements, and the inner connections between them, also its different forms of development in time, its origin, development, and decline. He proceeds from general to particular. The next step is go backwards, namely from particular to general, and to deliver a dynamic model of the whole totality in its motion. This is what he did in Capital. I find this thinking procedure astonishingly brilliant, and I wanted to do something similar in this research. However, to do that I would have to go through the whole analysis and only after this I could start working on the presentation of the argument, and that is exactly what Marx did, he laid out the analysis in his Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy and then he presented this analysis in an ‘improved way’, namely he starts with the most irreducible element of capitalism, the commodity, and he moves quickly into the central concept contained in this element: value. Perhaps a considerable amount of time is required to undertake this path of research.
What is important about the dialectical method is that it is a method that aims to be used to explain processes of change within society and its history. Dialectics is also the general law that lies behind the formation, transformation, and finally transition from one mode of production to another, from one type of society to another. And that is the scientific value of the dialectical method; it is a method for studying and understanding change, process, and motion in society, history, and space. In the following I present the arguments made above in a schematic form:
- What = intro/question/problem/hypotheses
- Where = theoretical framework
- How = methodology/analysis
- What = conclusions/openings/theses
- Intro (synthesis)
- Problematization (Objectives, Questions, Justification)
- Conceptual framework
- Analysis / Development
- Conclusions (summary)
- Proposition (thesis)
- Opposite proposition (antithesis)
- Third position (synthesis)
- Thesis (position, indeterminacy, immediacy)
- Antithesis (negation, determinacy, mediation/contradiction)
- Synthesis (negation of the negation, sublation, resolution)
- Abstraction (understanding, isolation)
- Dialectics (rational-negative, negative reason, internal contradictions)
- Speculation (rational-positive, positive reason, concept)
3) Marx: science of the general laws of motion, unity of opposites
Dialectics of nature (Engels):
- Quantity changes to quality (Aristotle)
- Interpenetration of opposites (unity and conflict of opposites, Heraclitus)
- Negation of the negation (Hegel)
- Dialectics of movement (history, spiral, leaps)
- Dialectics of reciprocity (economy, pendulum, reciprocal action)
- Change (forms of development, social formation processes, nothing is static)
- Connection (inner relations, all is interconnected)
- Contradiction (all is driven by latent contradictions, conflict ridden system)
- Determination of the concept out of itself (in its relations, in its development)
- Contradictory nature of the thing itself (the other of itself)
- Union of analysis and synthesis (breakdown of parts and totality, sum of these)
The minimum requirements for the deployment of any argument in a consistent way have to include three parts: introduction, development or discussion, and conclusion. This is a narrative construction, a linear sequence, which does not necessarily correspond to the thinking or writing process. Yet, this is a comprehensive structure of argumentation for most readers. How this basic structure would look under the dialectical method? Taking the most elementary form of dialectics (Hegel) I matched thesis with introduction, antithesis with discussion, and conclusion with synthesis. The ideal would have been started with the synthesis as a new thesis and then move forward via dialectical development, as Marx does in Capital when he reconstructs the whole starting with the simplest elements, but we have seen how this requires a considerable amount of time, even just to prepare the argument. Although I have read quite a lot of works that we can consider masterpieces in the practice of dialectics, and also about dialectics itself, I am quite new in the conscious use of this method of reasoning. As a primary intuition my aim is to reproduce the dialectical movement in each part of the research, so inside the initial thesis we would have the sequence thesis-antithesis-synthesis flowing through the argument. Every synthesis engenders a new thesis launching the whole process again which expands in a spiral movement. Below you will find an outline of the research structure, beginning with the proposed merger between the basic essay structure and the dialectical structure.
3 main parts: essay/research structure
1) Introduction: general discussion, thesis statement, questions.
2) Development: theoretical frame, methodology, analysis.
3) Conclusions: restate general discussion, restate thesis statement, outline further inquiries and tasks.
3 main parts: dialectical development of the research
1) THESIS [Intro / Problem / Hypothesis]: Affirmation; Position. Main introductory thesis (main questions, hypotheses).
2) ANTITHESIS [Conceptual framework / Methodology / Analysis]: Negation; Contradiction. Critique of main introductory thesis (further develop questions and hypotheses till arrive to the minimal irreducible contradictory elements).
3) SYNTHESIS [Conclusions / Openings]: Negation of the Negation; Resolution. Reconstruction of the totality in its movement from its elements (outline a program for architecture).
3 main parts: tentative titles
Totality = historically concrete social formation (late twenty-century European-American architecture [discourses, projects, works]) / theoretically abstract mode of production (postmodern architecture in the advent of late capitalism).
Element = architectural object / act / human labour / value.
1) The Architecture of Capital (presentation of the totality, cognitive mapping of the totality, dialectics between levels, almost neutral displaying of the situation, [almost cold/scientific logic] how it really works)
2) The Production of Architecture under Late Capitalism (critical historical materialist analysis of late twenty-century European-American architecture (discourses, projects, works) / postmodern architecture in the advent of late capitalism)
3) An Emancipatory Architecture? (Reconstruction of the totality in its movement from its elements. Outline a program for architecture)
The final provisional index is organized through the main research questions as displayed during the development of the argument. Each essays or group of essays are deployed as a hypothetical answer to the question. The percentages and numbers in brackets correspond to the length of each part since the maximum allowed is 60.000 words (the sequence goes percentage = number of words = number of pages).
Preface (broad research project, methodological remarks)
The Architecture of Capital (20% = 12.000 = 20)
(What are the different programs with which architecture has responded to the major changes in capitalist development?)
CRITICAL THEORY / ARCHITECTURAL THEORY
- The Spectre of Postmodernism (brief history, cognitive mapping)
- Utopia and its Deadlock (politics, temporality, architecture, postmodernism, project)
- Ideological Architecture? (ideology, the political, critique of the critique of ideology)
(What is the role of architecture in the reproduction of this social system?)
- The Real Practice of Architecture (rhetoric vs reality, idealism vs materialism)
- A Political Economy of Architecture (commodities, human labour, value, fix capital)
The Production of Architecture under Late Capitalism (40% = 24.000 = 40)
WHERE (theoretical framework)
ARCHITECTURAL THEORY / CRITICAL THEORY
(What have been the different modes of relation between architecture and capitalism throughout the second half of the twenty century?)
- Bodiless Architecture and the Rise of the Abstract Space of Capital
- ‘Radical’ Architecture and the Reversal of Utopia
- On the Road to Dystopia: The Dissolution of Architecture and Alienated Theory
(What should be the role of architecture in the cities produced by capital?)
- The Reaffirmation of the Human Body and the Ontology of Architecture
- Gestural Systems, Rhythms, and the Human Act
- Human Labour and the Spatial Logic of Capitalist Accumulation
- Architecture and the Law of Value: Private Property and Rent
An Emancipatory Architecture? (30% = 18.000 = 30)
PHENOMENOLOGY / POLITICAL ECONOMY
(How a work of architecture affects our perception and social relations?)
- Physics made Flesh: The Architectural Object
- Value in Motion: Architecture as Mean of Production and Consumption
- Crystallized Social Relations: Human Acts or Use Values?
- The Capitalist Production of Architecture as a Whole
CRITICAL THEORY / ARCHITECTURAL THEORY
(Where lies the political dimension in a work of architecture?)
- The Myth of Functional Transparency (architecture as reflection of social relations)
- The Formal and the Contingent (internal properties vs external interpretations)
POLITICAL ECONOMY / CRITICAL THEORY
(Is an emancipatory practice of architecture possible? What prevents architecture from engaging in social and spatial transformation?)
- The Limits of Architecture under the Laws of Capital (contradictions, subordination)
- Demystifying some Ideological Constraints (architect’s beliefs, lack of mapping)
CRITICAL THEORY / PHENOMENOLOGY
(Can architecture play a role in social transformation? What would be this role and how it would be played out?)
- Morality and Sustainability: Ecology or Ideology?
- Propaganda or Structure (politics, external, internal)
- The Emancipated Architect at Work
- The Silent ‘Language’ of Architecture and the Bodily Unconscious
Conclusions: Propositions in the Form of Speculative Drawings (10% = 6.000 = 10)
(What are the possibilities for developing a vision of architecture that challenge the built environment that capitalism has produced? How to develop possible alternatives to the current relation between architecture and late capitalist societies?)
- Matter in Motion: The Architectural Process as a Whole
- Towards a Program of Architecture: X fundamental propositions
- Concluding Remarks
Index (final draft)
The Architecture of Capital
The Spectre of Postmodernism
Utopia and its Deadlock
The Real Practice of Architecture
A Political Economy of Architecture
The Production of Architecture under Late Capitalism
Bodiless Architecture and the Rise of the Abstract Space of Capital
‘Radical’ Architecture and the Reversal of Utopia
On the Road to Dystopia: The Dissolution of Architecture and Alienated Theory
The Reaffirmation of the Human Body and the Ontology of Architecture
Gestural Systems, Rhythms, and the Human Act
Human Labour and the Spatial Logic of Capitalist Accumulation
Architecture and the Law of Value: Private Property and Rent
An Emancipatory Architecture?
Physics made Flesh: The Architectural Object
Value in Motion: Architecture as Mean of Production and Consumption
Crystallized Social Relations: Human Acts or Use Values?
The Capitalist Production of Architecture as a Whole
The Myth of Functional Transparency
The Formal and the Contingent
The Limits of Architecture under the Laws of Capital
Demystifying some Ideological Constraints
Morality and Sustainability: Ecology or Ideology?
Propaganda or Structure
The Emancipated Architect at Work
The Silent ‘Language’ of Architecture and the Bodily Unconscious
Conclusions: Propositions in the Form of Speculative Drawings
Matter in Motion: The Architectural Process as a Whole
Towards a Program of Architecture: X fundamental propositions