Between Intellectual and Sensory Reason: Towards an Epistemology of Architecture

Following last year’s course «Philosophy and Architecture: Inequality in the City» which took place at the IUC in Dubrovnik and engaged its participants in topics related to the political and urban implications of social injustice in cities, this year’s summer school’s  focus was on the double bind of architecture as a material practice and as an agent of knowledge production. Philosophers, art historians, theoreticians of architecture, likewise architects joint together in Dubrovnik tackled emerging topics of relationship between architecture and epistemology, their mutual influences and impacts.


Prof. Joerg Gleiter, Prof. Snjezana Prijic Samarzija, Prof. Petar Bojanic, Prof. Vladan Djokic, Prof. Zoran Lazovic, Prof. Ludger Schwarte, Prof. Carla Danani, Prof. Giusi Struimmello, Prof. Katharina Borsi, Dr. Sanja Bojanic, Dr. Luka Skansi, Dr. Mateja Kurir Borovčić Kasper Lægring, Roberto Bonturi, Fabiana Sforza, Jelena Radosavljević, Miloš Kostić, Madeleine Jessica Kennedy, Jovana Timotijević, Jovana Stojković, Hana Samaržija, Juan Almarza Anwandter, Stefana Dilova, Mirza Vranjakovic, Julian Franke, Sandra Meireis, Andrea Weigt, Theresa Rauch and Adria Daraban.

Partners and sponsors:

Technical University of Berlin, University of Belgrade, ERSTE Stiftung, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Croatia.

Host: Inter University Center, Dubrovnik




Architecture as Ideology: the perspectives of critical theory (Benjamin and Adorno). An attempt

“The ideological attunement of architecture will be the key focus of the lecture, where the work of two promi-nent philosophers of critical theory on the topic of architecture, namely Walter Benjamin and Theodor W. Adorno, will be outlined. (more…)


The Metaphysis of Gender. Not Simply a Woman (or a Man).

Is a metaphysically sound objectivist account of sexed identity possible? Do gender categories exist because we recognize real distinctions in the world or because we agree to use gender terms while according to them categorical force? In this paper, I defend a non-realistic view of gender categories vis-à-vis Sally Haslanger’s recent attempt to argue in favor of a “thin” metaphysical realism of gender categories.

The presentation is divided in two parts. In the first, I present Haslanger’s view, as characterized by the two following theses: (i) there is an objective basis for gender distinction; and (ii) this basis is not the product of discursive effect. In my analysis, particular attention is given to her critique of anti-objectivism in relation to sexual categories and to the so-called “ubiquity of mediation thesis”, i. e., that all of our access to reality is mediated by language and knowledge. In the second part, I show why Haslanger’s approach is inadequate, by showing that sexed entities are neither natural kinds (i.e. common essences which a group may share), nor “objective types” (i.e. unities without an underlying essence). Here is a more detailed layout of my argument.

There is a genuinely metaphysical disagreement about whether our gender classifications capture a natural kind or a social kind. According to the genuine nominalist, the world by itself can’t tell us what gender is and humans create categories of sexual preference and behavior: a person is regarded as a “woman” or “man” because they are induced to believe that humans are either “woman” or “man”. Realists hold that this is not the case: humans are differentiated sexually as the woman/man dichotomy exists in reality. Haslanger is critical of both approaches: according to her, gender is an “objective type” (a group of things that have a certain unity) and a social kind of unity (not discursively constructed). On her approach, there is some non-random or non-arbitrary basis for the gender unity and this unity is not a matter of sharing properties. Haslanger’s idea is that gender as a concept is discursively constructed, but gender by itself is independent of us.

Unfortunaly, Haslanger’s defense of objectivism is given without specifying what precisely is objective about sexual difference, and a conflict – I will suggest – emerges between her realistic view and her social constructionist accounts of gender. More specifically, Haslanger’s account falls short of two defects. It does not adequately capture the fact that each person’s gender identity is unique. Furthermore, it disconnects gender from the fact that criteria for distinguishing sexes differ across times and places. These defects, I argue, may be resolved by thinking of gender as referring to tropes, that is particularized property manifestation can only exist in one location at one time. Womanness, for example, is neither the special way a woman participates in a universal, nor a peculiar quality of a woman, but simply something that a particular person – and that person alone – has. Such a way of thinking about gender allows us to see a woman without identifying common attributes that all women have, or without implying that all women have a common – natural or social – identity and to explain what it is for two tokens (individual instances) to be of the same type in terms of resemblance. As result, I conclude, one’s gender may not be entirely stable and there is no feature of identity or unity itself that all women share.

Mariagrazia Portera

Evolutionary Aesthetics. A bridging discipline between the life and human sciences

In the last few years an increasing number of academic disciplines within the human sciences have turned to evolutionary theory to find explanations for various aspects of human behaviour (“Evolutionary Ethics”, “Evolutionary Epistemology”, “Evolutionary Linguistics”). The inquiry into the nature of aesthetics, aesthetic attitude and aesthetic judgment is no exception. Evolutionary Aesthetics (EA) is today a burgeoning sub-field of Aesthetics, the main aim of which is the “importation of aesthetics into natural sciences, and especially its integration into the heuristic of Darwin’s evolutionary theory”. Could viewing Aesthetics through the lens of Darwin’s theory of evolution contribute to the vast knowledge that philosophers have gathered about aesthetic sense, aesthetic experience and the arts? How did the aesthetic attitude originally arise in humans over the course of evolution? What would an explanatorily fruitful Evolutionary Aesthetics look like? Re-thinking Aesthetics as a bridging discipline between the Humanities and Natural Sciences, my research project is intended to analyse what it really means to say that some sort of aesthetic and artistic behaviour is constitutive of our evolved human nature.

Marcello Barison

Types of Spaces. Philosophy of Architecture.

Among the most promising conceptual articulations that constitute the contemporary philosophical debate, a prominent place is undoubtedly occupied by the intersection between philosophy and architectural theory. To date, though, there is no general philosophical approach that problematizes the architectural practice as such, developing an actual philosophy of architecture that, on a conceptual basis, discusses the fundamentals of the architectural practice and its aesthetic implications. On this basis, the research project − Types of Spaces. Philosophy of Architecture − whose general outlines I will present specifically seeks to remedy this gap. Instead of concepts, architects think in terms of lines, shapes, forms, environments, surfaces. Starting from this evidence, it is my intention to analyze ‒ while highlighting their philosophical implications ‒ some prominent ways in which contemporary architecture conceives and articulates space.