Knowledge Management as ADN of Architecture

04Nov12

Reasoning with Waves and Diagrams

Since architecture cannot be ‘true’ or ‘false’ but more or less persuasive, rhetorical reasoning is akin to reasoning in architecture.
There are two basic kinds of argument one can make in Rhetoric, I would like to illustrate with an architectural example. One is the ‘Enthymeme’ which is the rhetorical version of deduction. The other the argument by `Example’ which is the rhetorical version of induction.

All examples consist of drawing analogies between real or invented situations and the situation in the point one wants to make. “all you require is the power of thinking out your analogy, a power developed by intellectual training”

The Hokusai Wave / The Example

An architectural illustration of the example, the rhetorical induction, would be Alejandro Zaera-Polo’s tale of the Hokusai Wave. After the discovery of the `Hokusai Wave principle’ as useful in more ways than just `toying’ with it in the design process, Zaera-Polo explains that they more consciously started to work with this phenomena, which he later calls ‘form with a double agenda’

Seattle Central Library / The Enthymeme

The Enthymeme is as Aristotle calls it, a rhetorical syllogism. A syllogism is a kind of logical argument in which one proposition (the conclusion) is inferred from two others (the premises), the syllogism lies at the core of deductive reasoning. The rhetorical syllogism known as: “The enthymeme must consist of few propositions, fewer often than those which make up the normal syllogism. For if any of these propositions is a familiar fact, there is no need even to mention it; the hearer adds it himself.”(Aristotle) Deductive reasoning in rhetoric is a performative form of reasoning, aimed at effect, and tailored to an audience. An architect will explain his project differently in a pitch to a client than he will to his peers on a conference. Depending on the audience one can leave out steps and propositions in the line of argument, since the concern is if the point gets made with a specific audience. The facts that are at the architects’ disposal are the site, the briefing and an assessment of the complete situation (politically, economically, etc) in which his design endeavour has to take place. To these external facts he adds propositions of his own and constructs arguments, why his design should be one way or the other.

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