19.452 philosophy of design?

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 07:03:31 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 19, No. 452.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 06:52:11 +0000
         From: Ken Friedman <ken.friedman_at_bi.no>
         Subject: Research Request: Philosophy of Design

Dear Colleagues,

This is a research request for articles and books on philosophy of design.

This includes articles and books in which philosophers discuss issues
that can be applied to design process as well as articles and books
in which designers and design researchers discuss or develop a
philosophy of design.

In this sense, I do not restrict the call to full-formed or
comprehensive philosophies, but invite also propositions and heuristic probes.

Please send suggestions and comments to me off-list at


I will compile all responses and post them to the list. The
compilation will incorporate respoinses to an earlier research
request posted to the list PhD-Design.

Thank you.

Ken Friedman

Applicable definitions of the term, "philosophy" in "philosophy of design":

Merriam-Webster's (1990: 883) defines philosophy as:

"2 a : pursuit of wisdom b : a search for a general understanding of
values and reality by chiefly speculative rather than observational
means c : an analysis of the grounds of and concepts expressing
fundamental beliefs 3 a : a system of philosophical concepts <Kantian
philosophy> b : a theory underlying or regarding a sphere of activity
or thought <the philosophy of cooking> <philosophy of science> 4 a :
the most general beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or
group <the hippie philosophy>."

The Oxford English Dictionary (2002: Unpaged) defines the relevant
aspects of the word philosophy the same way:

"1. a. (In the original and widest sense.) The love, study, or
pursuit of wisdom, or of knowledge of things and their causes,
whether theoretical or practical." To speak of a "philosophy of" is
to discuss "The study of the general principles of some particular
branch of knowledge, experience, or activity." OED cites this usage
example, "Expressions like 'philosophy of science', 'philosophy of
history', 'philosophy of government', 'philosophy of law',
'philosophy of religion', and so forth creep into the language,
indicating that after scientists, historians, statesmen, jurists,
priests, and the rest have said all they have to say, there is still
need of a special kind of knowledge to inform us what it is all about."

Webster's International Dictionary (1913: 1077) defines philosophy as
"1. Literally, the love of, including the search after, wisdom; in
actual usage, the knowledge of phenomena as explained by, and
resolved into, causes and reasons, powers and laws. When applied to
any particular department of knowledge, philosophy denotes the
general laws or principles under which all the subordinate phenomena
or facts relating to that subject are comprehended."


Merriam-Webster, Inc. 1990. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate
Dictionary. Springfield, Massachusetts.

OED. 2002. OED Online. Oxford English Dictionary. Ed. J. A. Simpson
and E. S. C. Weiner. Second edition, 1989. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Oxford University Press. URL: http://dictionary.oed.com/ Date
accessed: 2002 January 18, verified 2005 November 27.

Webster's. 1913. Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (G & C.
Merriam Co., 1913, edited by Noah Porter). ARTFL (Project for
American and French Research on the Treasury of the French Language).
Chicago: Divisions of the Humanities, University of Chicago. URL:
Date accessed: 2002 January 18, verified 2005 November 27.

Ken Friedman
Professor of Leadership and Strategic Design
Institute for Communication, Culture, and Language
Norwegian School of Management
Design Research Center
Denmark's Design School
email: ken.friedman_at_bi.no
Received on Tue Nov 29 2005 - 02:29:37 EST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0 : Tue Nov 29 2005 - 02:29:41 EST