By R. M. Hare (auth.)
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It aims only at understanding; and its initial move is often to show that we do not understand what we think we understand. That is why it is so unpopular. 3 Function and Tradition in Architecture 'Function' is one of the key words of present-day writing about architecture, and functionalism the most prominent architectural orthodoxy of the present time. Has the word got a distinct meaning? My question was prompted by the reading of a book- a very beautiful book- called The Functional Tradition in Early Industrial Buildings, written by Mr J.
Since we were by this time rather worried about what could be on his The original English version of a paper contributed to the Cercle Culturel de Royaumont in 1957. The French version is published with a report of the subsequent discussion and the other proceedings of the Cercle's conference, under the tide La Philosophic Ana[ytique (Cahiers de Royaumont, no. IV, Editions de Minuit, 1959). 'NOTHING MATTERS' 33 mind, when he came back at about eleven o'clock we sat him down in an armchair and asked him what the trouble was.
The answer is, of course, that it may be of many different sorts; and therefore the obscurities of Mr Richards' intention deepen. For we can commend a building for different kinds of virtues: either because it is aesthetically pleasing, or because it fulfils well the needs it was designed for, or because it is economical to erect and maintain - to name three important qualities of good architectural designs. The problem of understanding what is meant by functionalism is the problem of knowing whether, on the one hand, it is a doctrine about how to achieve one or another of these virtues in buildings independently of the rest, and if so which; or whether, on the contrary, it is a doctrine about the relation between these virtues -a doctrine, for example, that the pursuit of one of them (say the fulfilment of needs) somehow conduces to the achievement of another (say beauty).
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