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Lines of Architectural Potency

Zartaloudis, Thanos (2020) Lines of Architectural Potency. AR/Architecture Research Journal, 2020 . pp. 147-205. ISSN 1580-5573. E-ISSN 1581-6974. (KAR id:93861)


It could be said that architecture encounters its end through its self-extraction from its original existential potential –its power of creativity– when at some point it replaces this experience of loss by procuring a self-validation for itself as a techne, an art and end in itself; and, perhaps, even more depressingly today when thought as near-exclusively along the axis of production and commodity circulation. How are we to think of this power, this potentia, other than by appreciating its key formulation, in the western tradition, as dynamis in Aristotle (Metaphysics 1069b19-20)? A paradoxical definition of potentiality (dynamis), perhaps, given that a potentiality, by definition, is, to put it in a modern sense, a possibility that exists. Such a definition posits a line of what could be called an existent (and not merely possible or probable) potentialization in the creative act. By definition, historically, existence has been subject to an understandable logical scission (a dividing line) between ‘what is actual’ and ‘what is potential’, which however as an ontological motor of truth production, including political truth production, leads to a misunderstanding of potentiality as something that once actualized belongs to the past and which crucially thus remains exhausted. Yet in the original formulation in Aristotle, potentiality as a philosophical problem is precisely that of a potentiality which is not reducible to actuality –and this becomes the kernel of Aristotle’s Metaphysics. From this point a remarkable and complex series of consequent medieval formulations came to define potentiality as the problem of sovereign power (whether earthly or divine) and all the way to our time. Giorgio Agamben is of course the thinker who has shed more recent light to Aristotle’s link between power (potere) and potentiality (potenza) throughout his work; and who has centered his critique of the forgetting of its most crucial element (impotentiality); a forgetting that intentionally aimed at capturing the birth of the subject in the form of an alleged sovereignty of a self-grounding being. A self-grounding, an autonomy, justified historically through the political theology of a self-grounding power (Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Trans. D. Heller-Roazen. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press [1995]1998: 47). Thus, as Agamben shows, we have mostly thought of impotentiality as an incapacity, an absence or a negation. Instead, for Agamben, potentiality indicates in a particular way “the existence of non-Being” (Potentialities: Collected Essays in Philosophy. Ed. and Trans. D. Heller-Roazen. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press 1999: 178). But how are we to think of such a paradoxical existence of non-Being or of the unthought, that seemingly has, through a politically conscious misunderstanding, crippled our politics of creativity, including, one may venture to suggest as a hypothesis, that of the existential creativity of architecture? How are we to avoid being impoverished by our “estrangement from impotentiality”? (Agamben, What is an Apparatus? and Other Essays. Trans. D. Kishik, S. Pedatella. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009: 45). I would like to propose that we can first attempt to do that, as a preliminary theoretical step, by exploring further what Aristotle thought.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
K Law
N Visual Arts > NA Architecture
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Depositing User: Thanos Zartaloudis
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2022 12:50 UTC
Last Modified: 06 Apr 2022 14:03 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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