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Windows Through a Window: A Philosophical View

Malpas, J ORCID: 0000-0003-4378-8937 2018 , 'Windows Through a Window: A Philosophical View', in K Friedhelm Fischer and U Altrock (eds.), Windows Upon Planning History , Routledge, New York, pp. 19-32.

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Abstract

The image of the 'house of fiction', with its many views from many differentwindows (see James 1908), was obviously never intended by Jameshimself to refer to anything other than the practice of literary fiction.Yet the image is nonetheless an apt one whether or not it is the literaryor historical that is at issue - in both cases the idea of a single 'scene'viewed from several different positions provides a useful way of understandingthe way both literature and history operate in relation to theirsubject matter. The use of the image may be thought, however, implicitlyto assimilate history, and so also historical writing - whether in relationto planning or anything else - to a kind of literature, even if not necessarilyfictional literature. Certainly, within the philosophy of history, thework of theorists such as Hayden White (1987) has often been taken toshow, first, how history itself draws on elements from fictional literarydiscourse, and, second, to argue that this means that history is alwaysframed by its literary character - by the conventions of the literary, itsgenres and styles - and that this undermines any claim to objectivity, sothat history does indeed seem almost to become fiction (see Curthoys andDocker 2010). Following such a line of reasoning, and employing James'metaphor, the literary windows through which history looks never allowit a view of the scene alone; instead, the scene is always framed, alwaysstructured, always given within a specific mode of presentation, and inbeing so, what history offers is never just the scene, but always and onlya view of the scene that is itself determined by the window as much as bythe scene. If this is true for history, then it must also be true, of course, forthe history of planning.

Item Type: Book Section
Authors/Creators:Malpas, J
Keywords: design, planning, philosophy, history
Publisher: Routledge
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Copyright 2018 Individual chapters, the contributors

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