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Intersecting Philosophical Planes

Philosophical Essays

Bert Olivier

The philosophical essays collected here are predicated on the conviction that we live in a time when all-encompassing philosophical systems can no longer be seriously entertained as a true reflection of extant reality. Instead, an indefinite number of perspectives on – or discursive appropriations of – what is thought of as ‘reality’ are possible. Sometimes they diverge and sometimes they intersect in surprising ways, as these essays show. While the belief in an all-inclusive philosophical system is rejected, the author shows that every perspective displays a coherence and illuminating power of its own.
The collection is divided into two parts. The first considers philosophy, the individual and society, covering themes including the deleterious effects of capitalism on natural ecosystems, the modern conception of ‘immortality’ in Nietzsche’s thought, Lacan’s provocative interpretation of capitalist discourse, the current status of the humanities in universities, individual autonomy, the meaning of ‘identification’, global ‘terrorism’, and Plato’s philosophical self-subversion. The second part gathers together perspectives on the arts and society, with the author arguing that reflections on cinema, architecture and music never isolate these arts from social concerns, but demonstrate their interconnectedness.

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Part 2 The arts and society 203

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Part 2 The arts and society Chapter 10 Women’s ‘nature’ and architectural design The question of women and architecture may be approached from dif ferent perspectives. One could, for example, catalogue in an encyclopaedic manner some of the contributions that women have made to the discipline world- wide, or here in South Africa as architects or as historians/theorists of architecture (Ora Joubert and Lindsay Bremner come to mind). Alterna- tively one could focus on a specific, acclaimed woman architect and her renowned designs or buildings, such as, for example, Zaha Hadid. Either of these approaches would yield much of value, but although I shall focus on the work of Hadid for purposes of demonstration in due course, I would like to slant it in a certain direction; hence the title of this paper, namely ‘Women’s “nature” and architectural design’. However, before I get there, I must specify that I have chosen an unu- sual angle of incidence – one that addresses the ‘natural’ human capacities (specifically ‘feminine’ ones, in the inclusive sense that also encompasses certain ‘feminine’ characteristics on the part of men) that make architecture possible as an art and a discipline. In the process I hope to draw attention to the tremendous ‘natural’ (note the scare quotes) potential that women have for dealing creatively and imaginatively with spatial modulation via archi- tectural design. I shall argue that Zaha Hadid’s work – which has earned her the first Pritzker Prize for Architecture to be awarded to a woman in 26 years...

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