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Philosophy of design: an introduction
20 January 2022     1429

Philosophy of design: an introduction

Excerpts from Per Galles article Philosophy of design: an introduction

We see design reflection in the many artefacts we provide and preserve for our environment or bodies; There is no doubt that design has as much impact on our lives as science and technology - if not more. However, the question arises as to what shapes and what influences the design itself. Design may be considered as a field that is highly dependent on technological and scientific knowledge, but its discussion in this context alone will not give us an idea of ​​what design is. Serious philosophical work is required to understand the nature and characteristics of self-design (Galle, 2000); An area that we conventionally call the philosophy of design.

If we look at insight as a goal in itself, the answer [to the question of why design is needed] is quite simple to guess from the above. In this case, the design philosophy is useful even because it offers insights into design that we would not otherwise have found.

Beyond the circles of inquiry, the desire to gain insight needs more justification and explanation. Borrowing and modifying the wording of Warftofsky (1979), I suggest that as an important raison d etre, (design philosophy) helps us better understand, come to terms with, and have assumptions about how the designer himself realizes what he is doing and not just How he does what he does. Exactly the same understanding of what a designer does (and not just how) is about the same insightful design as I discussed. And to achieve such an understanding, in my opinion, is possible only by philosophical means, just as it is presented in the philosophy of design. Such an understanding is, I would say, an important tool for designers.

There are, however, strictly like-minded types of people living outside the academys "high towers" who need more than an anemic reliance on the concept of insight [to be convinced of its meaning]. "Do your Insights on Design help us improve our products, increase our market share, or increase the productivity of our industry?" We can hear such questions from people like you. Instead, try to consider the downside: Are you willing to tell your professional designers that the key is to know how to do it and not what they do? Increase stocks or increase industry productivity.

While we should not become overly instrumentalist about philosophy, it is legitimate to ask the designer whether knowledge of design philosophy will help him to create better designs. I, personally, do not think that there is a direct cause-and-effect chain between such knowledge and the quality of design (although the problem of quality is of interest to design philosophers (Baljon, 2002; Kroes, 2002; Trott, 2002), and one day they may find insights that direct Will have an instrumental value); However, philosophical insight into ones profession may help the designer to have an established, critical attitude towards what he or she is doing. Additionally, you might get a set of conceptual and verbal tools to help you think about how to improve the practice of your own profession (or - at least - avoid the catastrophic impact that Popper mentions on the world).

For similar reasons, a certain philosophical understanding of what exactly [the designer] is doing might prove to be an important additional qualification for students of design professors (engineering, architecture, etc.). Finally, it is important to add that in an educational setting we should not underestimate the value of the additional motivational effect that comes with learning the elements of design philosophy. For engineering students, for example, I think there is a difference between (a) thinking of themselves as a person learning to use scientific results to solve technical problems (which is absolutely respectable) and (b) thinking of themselves as a person who is a promising creative designer of artifacts. A person who can relate function and structure based on knowledge of both; And as a person who can relax and reflect in a calm situation on the whole, fascinating process of design.

Periods during which young people were amazed by technological progress and heroically thought that their own contribution to adulthood was a thing of the past. But mastering the design of technical artifacts in such a delicate world that balances the dangers of technology with the conditions of hope is an amazing thing. So lets teach students how to do exactly that; Give them philosophical insight into what they are doing, and encourage them to be proud of what they see.